View Full Version : Mikio Yahara and KWF Karate

Todd Lambert
2nd November 2006, 08:57
From Metropolis Magazine (http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/recent/feature.asp) comes this...

The Samurai in Shirokanedai

Mikio Yahara fights to keep the spirit of budo alive in the 21st century
Courtesy of KWF

There’s something special in the Barbizon 25 building in Shirokanedai, and it’s not just Mario Frittoli’s modern Italian restaurant, Luxor, where the melodic chink of glass against glass, crockery against cutlery, and the murmur of conviviality are the sounds of a typical Saturday afternoon. Instead, go down to the basement and put your ear to the door for the thwack of a leg swiping through the air, or the smack of flesh against wood and against flesh, and sudden, heart-stopping shouts—the sounds of the pursuit of the killing blow.

Inside the spotless dojo there stalks a figure clutching a long shinai (training stick). When he kicks, he tears up space. His punches are thunderclaps. He barks, and a dozen black-belted men and women fly at each other. It’s impossible not to be affected by his presence. He walks into a room and heads turn. He’s a panther that will rip you to shreds. The knuckles on his hams are covered in layer upon layer of scar tissue. Arms with iron rods for bones and muscles of knotted wood jut from the sleeves of his blood-stained uniform. The jaw is that of the Terminator. And the eyes? The eyes are knives.

There is also artistry here. The man talks about unsu, or “cloud hand,” perhaps the most beautiful and challenging of traditional karate kata, the patterns of movements used to show mastery of technique. In unsu, the performer instantly switches from an artist of graceful, flowing movements to a human pile driver, and the kata is defined by a leap and feline twist that ends in a sprinter’s crouch. In hundreds of demonstrations, this man was unsu, and unsu was his. With it, in 1984, he became world champion, and of it, he is the undisputed master.

This man is Mikio Yahara. As a trainee instructor, he was so poor he’d drink bottles of water flavored with salt, soy and sugar to fill his stomach. Born in Ehime Prefecture in 1947, the fourth brother of a family of local samurai, he rose through the old Japan Karate Association (JKA) to become arguably the most gifted fighter of his era. This was the man who taught Yukio Mishima karate, which literally means “the ways of the empty hand.” Fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto is both his pupil and the chairman of his karate organization. And now, at 59, he is his own master and commander, but still the enfant terrible of his generation.
Courtesy of KWF

Legends surround Yahara. In fact, he’s still making headlines. This April, Gekkan Karatedo, Japan’s most respected traditional karate magazine, in an article entitled “The Return of the Legend!,” printed 22 pages of stories and photographs of him as blood-splattered warrior, as Adonis, and as a would-be karate assassin, dispatching people with kicks to the head.

Talking with Metropolis, he’s introspectively philosophical, describing the meaning of budo and karate, and his concept of death: “You never know, someone may come to this dojo to try to kill me. So be it. When I take that fight, I will be prepared to die. Yahara means ‘no escape.’ I will throw one killing attack. That is definite. That is the only way.”

Yahara is a born fighter; this is a little of his story.
The story continues (http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/recent/feature.asp).

A link (http://www.kwf.jp/yahara640_480_e.html) to some video on his website.

2nd November 2006, 10:50
I have nothing but contempt for Yahara and his 'fighting style'

He was a terrible instructor who bullied beginners and often seriously hurt lower ranks in the name of 'toughing them up' except that they weren't allowed to hit back! If he hit you, your blocks were too slow but if you hit him then you had no control. Catch 22.

His specialty was hitting you after the ref or instructor called yame and you weren't looking. It was always full force either in the face or in the ribs.

He literally (and I do mean literally) blinded a loyal JKA student who had always trained with deep sincerity and humility for no reason except that he could. After he had kicked him down he punched him so hard in the face both eyes swelled up and damaged the ocular nerves. The guy, a Canadian, was in Ochanomizu hospital for four months and was never able to train or work again. Yahara was a low life (read that as chimpira) with a reputation for hanging with gangsters and acting as their enforcer. Any pretense he now makes to being from 'samurai' blood is pure BS.

Happily he got his come uppance a couple of times. Once from Norman Robinson of SA and the other from some Brit who did Goju. Both of them splattered Yahara's body parts around the dojo. Norman (who does Judo) said afterwards 'funny I thought he was tougher than that'

Ironically the Brit was later expelled for 'excessive violence'

Many JKA instructors still lift a glass to them both.

Yahara was and still remains one guy you should avoid.

3rd November 2006, 13:08

In part of this video he stomps of the head of another karateka. He is really thrashy this is all I have to say. Nex time I go to Japan I might just drop by and tell him how much of a disgrace to budo he is ;). Will have to make sure I carry my heavy shakujo just in case hahaha!!

5th November 2006, 21:39
I liked the bit where he tripped over his own feet. Tai sabaki and all that.


6th November 2006, 16:00
I have nothing but contempt for Yahara and his 'fighting style' ....Yeah. Always my impression, too. A punk. A bully.

Glad I'm not alone in this estimation.