Kawazoe Sensei - My Karate Legend
by Adam Lucas
My Picture of Kawazoe Sensei
This photo of Kawazoe Sensei is a bit out of focus because I was so nervous at the time..
I have met many Karate Legends but none more impressive than Masao Kawazoe Sensei.
I no longer do karate but my memories of him are very clear. I first saw Kawazoe Sensei in some shotokan videos in the late 1970's and I couldn't believe his kicking ability and overall power.
As students we were always told "Back Straight" or "Hips More Down" or "More Snap" and of course "More Speedo". These commands became the mantras of just about every shotokan karate instructor, but seldom did I ever see them personified so completely in one man's technique.
The first time I was in a class of his was in North London in about 1979. I remember how calm and friendly he looked as he spoke to a few seniors before training, so as a keen photographer I asked if I could take his picture. He smiled and agreed, and then his expression became a little more serious as he took his place at the front for seiza.
The class started and as I was the only a green belt I thought I wouldn't get to see much of him, but he seemed more interested in the line I was in with some white and purple belts than the 10 or so advanced black belts!
Just looking at him snapping back his legs after mae-geri I felt instantly able to do it - at least able to try it! This taught me a lot about the power of the mind, there was no way I could kick like that but having seen a master at work it kind of rubbed off on me. I GOT it and I wanted to do it better. I think this was the one big thing I took from my 5 years of karate training - to 'feel' the instruction and internalise it rather than just try to do my best at every session.
I was graded through to shodan by Sensei Kawazoe and lucky to be in many of his classes. For me he stands out among the many Karate Legends in the world. With only a few years training and a first dan certificate to my name, you could say I'm not qualified to judge. But even a beginner with an appreciation of karate can spot quality a mile off.
Singapore August 2010