Chief International Instructor, Japan Karate Do Ryobu-Kai
9th Dan, Shindo Jinen Ryu
8th Dan, Japan Karate Federation
Kiyoshi Yamazaki, the son of a kendo teacher, was born in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on August 16, 1940. His martial arts training began during his childhood, under his father. During high school, he displayed athletic prowess and broke records in both the 1,500 sprint and in the 5,000 meter race.
In 1956, Yamazaki Sensei began karate training at the Ryobu-Kan, under Yasuhiro Konishi, the founder of Shindo Jinen Ryu. Konish Sensei awarded him a teaching license for karate in 1962. In the same year, Konishi Sensei arranged for Yamazaki Sensei to travel to Okinawa for extensive kobudo training with Shugoro Nakazato, a world-renowned kobudo instructor.
Yamazaki Sensei attended Senshu University and joined the Shotokai organization there, under the instruction of Hironishi Motonobu, a student of Funakoshi Sensei, the founder of Shotokan Karate. Yamazaki Sensei made rapid progress, and soon established himself as a member of the Senshu University Karate Team, along with the club senior, Taki Kase, who would later become one of the top instructors in the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Whenever possible, Yamazaki Sensei traveled to the Ryobu-Kan to train with Konishi Sensei. After graduating in 1964 with a degree in Economics, he continued training at the Ryobu-Kan, and eventually, he was asked to assist Konishi Sensei in demonstrations and seminars worldwide.
Yamazaki Sensei moved to the United States in 1969, after receiving an invitation from Dan Ivan. He began instructing at Citrus College in Azusa, California and later opened a dojo in Anaheim, California. He frequently participated in karate demonstrations at the Japanese Village and Deer Park in Buena Park, California, and also performed in Samurai sword shows.
In 1970, Yamazaki Sensei was chosen to serve on the committee to select the US Karate Team that would participate in the first World Karate Tournament in Japan. Other members of the committee included Fumio Demura, Gogen Yamaguchi, and Hidetaka Nishiyama. This tournament marked the beginning the World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO), which eventually became the World Karate Federation (WKF).
Today, in addition to teaching at his dojo in Anaheim, Yamazaki Sensei maintains a busy schedule promoting the philosophy of Shindo Jinen Ryu and supervising and developing all the schools of Japan Karate Do Ryobu-Kai outside of Japan. His travels to conduct seminars take him to many countries, including Venezuela, the Bahamas, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France, Israel, Mexico, Canada, as well as many more. He is a sought-after instructor, not only because of the depth of his knowledge, but for his open, in-depth teaching style.
Yamazaki Sensei is also an accomplished exponent of Iaido in the traditions of Omori-Ryu and Kashima Shin-Ryu, and he developed his own Iaido organization, the Iai-Tate-Do Federation. As the federation has grown and become successful, he has passed organizational leadership to his senior sword students so that he can concentrate on developing karate.
Yamazaki Sensei’s expertise in the martial arts has also attracted the attention of Hollywood. He has served as a technical advisor, instructor – and even a performer – in several movies, while teaching and displaying swordplay that entertains while maintaining technical integrity. Under Yamazaki Sensei’s instruction, Arnold Schwarzenegger became a true student of the sword, as evident in Conan the Barbarian (1982), Conan the Destroyer (1984) and Red Sonya (1985). Other films for which he provided technical consultations were Dune (1984) and Dragonheart (1996). His other celebrity students include Sting, Brad Dourif, Richard Hatch, Sandal Bergman, Wilt Chamberlain, Brigitte Nielsen, Grace Jones, Sean Connery and Dennis Quaid. In 1997-1998, he acted in, and was a technical consultant for, the TV series “Conan: The Adventurer,” starring Ralf Möller.
Because of Yamazaki Sensei’s extensive knowledge and experience, professors at the University of Kansas invited him to lead a presentation on the philosophy of Budo, Japan’s martial tradition. In 1993, the University of Kansas hosted a panel for this purpose. Other panel members included Dr. G. Cameron Hurst, Dr. Andrew Tsubaki and Dr. John Teramoto, who translated into English Sensei Gichin Funakoshi’s seminal master introductory text, Karate-Do Nyumon.