Shizuya Sato
Shizuyo Sato

The world of the martial arts is fraught with mystery, of heroes performing magical feats, famously depicted in movies from Hong Kong to Hollywood. Aside from the glamour of the big screen, there is another, much quieter, side: Individuals and organizations devoted to maintaining and promoting traditional martial arts.

Enter Shizuya Sato, a man who has spent his life working to promote traditional Japanese culture via the martial arts, both in Japan and throughout the world. He began by studying judo and kendo during middle school, and later became an instructor of physical education at Meiji Gakuin University and an instructor of the foreign section at the Kodokan. During the Occupation, Sato was a judo instructor for US military personnel, and in 1957 was invited to establish the Embassy Judo Club at the US Embassy.

Forty-three years later, Professor Sato, eighth dan judo and ninth Nihon jujutsu, continues to serve as chief instructor of the club. Over the years, three generations of embassy personnel and numerous other members of the foreign community have learned judo under his tutelage.

Professor Sato believes judo and the other martial arts are as much a matter of spiritual and personal discipline as they are an athletic activity. There are many benefits to be found in practice, he says, ranging from improved physical conditioning to increased success in the business world, as well as in one' personal and family life. Through judo, says Sato, we learn to maintain both physical and emotional balance, as well as gain insight into when, in the matter of interpersonal affairs, it may be better to hold one's position or give way. His example of grace and gentlemanly conduct suggests the truth of his words.

In 1968 the International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF) sponsored its first international event with a world tour to promote better understanding of traditional Japanese martial arts. Since then, Sato has travelled widely with other renowned Japanese instructors, holding clinics and sponsoring seminars for practitioners of the martial arts worldwide.

Traditional Japanese martial arts are based on the best use of one's energy for the maximum benefit of all. The true test of one's technique or understanding is not proven during competition; rather, it is demonstrated through one's daily actions, and ultimately, by the contributions one makes to society in general. In that sense, Shizuya Sato is a true master. John B. Gage

The annual IMAF all-Japan martial arts exhibition will be held on April 2 at Ota-Kumin Plaza (one minute from Shimomaruko stn on the Mekama line). Opening ceremonies begin at 10:30am, with demonstrations of iaido (sword drawing and cutting), karatedo, kendo, kobudo (ancient styles featuring armed and unarmed techniques), aikido, Nihon jujutsu, and judo throughout the day. The public is welcome free of charge.

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