Hajime Kazumi

…. I started to think about the significance of Karate. I wanted to know what is Karate really. I began to question what I was doing; the way I was approaching this martial art. I now think that Karate is all about kata.

 Hajime Kazumi

Known for his devastating low kicks, Hajime Kazumi, was one of the most successful full-contact Karate fighters and at one time was considered by some to be the best fighter in the world. For a decade he always featured in the top two positions in most tournaments he entered.

Hajime Kazumi was born in Kawasaki, Japan on 14 December 1971. He started practising Kyokushin Karate in 1986, under the instruction of Tsuyoshi Hiroshige.

In 1992 aged only 20, Kazumi lost to Yoshihiro Tamura in the final of the 24th All Japan Tournament. He defeated many experienced fighters to reach the final. He made the final the following year. This time he defeated Tamura to claim his first major title, at the 25th All Japan Tournament.

On 26 April 1994 Kyokushin Karate founder, Mas Oyama, died. At the 26th All Japan Tournament held that year Kazumi lost in the final to another Kyokushin legend, Kenji Yamaki.

Kazumi took part in his first World Open Tournament in 1995. The 6th World Open Tournament was organised by the IKO-1, led by Shokei Matsui. The IKO–1 was one of the organisations formed after the death of Mas Oyama.

In 1996 Kazumi reached his third successive All Japan Tournament. In the final, he defeated Garry O’Neill of Australia in the final. The following year both men met in the final of the 29th All Japan Tournament (IKO–1). Kazumi was victorious again.

In another big year for Kazumi, he was part of the Japanese Team that defeated Brazil to win the 1st World Team Cup (IKO–1) in 1998. He also reached his sixth All Japan Tournament, where he defeated Yoshihiro Tamure.

1999 saw Kazumi reach his second successive World Open Tournament. At the 7th World Open Tournament (IKO-1) he lost to Francisco Filho in the final. The combat section resulted in a draw between both men. Kasumi lost the tameshiwari section by three boards.

1999 also saw Kazumi take Kyokushin Karate’s unique test, the 100 – man Kumite Challenge, on 13 March. Taking place at the IKO-1 Hombu in Tokyo, Kazumi completed the challenge in 4 hrs 4 min. He won 58 flights; drew 42 fights; and lost 0 fights.

On 10th June 2001, the 2nd World Weight Tournament (IKO–1) took place in Osaka, Japan. Kazumi won his first world title.

At the 34th All Japan Tournament, Kazumi reached his seventh All Japan final. He won for an unprecedented fifth time, defeating Hitoshi Kiyama in the final.

On 24 November 2002 Kazumi resigned from the IK0–1. He felt that too much emphasis was placed on tournament Karate. He wanted to pursue a more modern Budo-orientated form of Karate. He also found that it took him longer to prepare for tournaments and also recover from injuries.

Kazumi eventually joined an IKO–6 splinter group led by Hatsuo Royama and Tsuyoshi Hiroshige. However, he left the group to lead an independent group of dojos in Tokyo.

Over the last few years, Kazumi has been reflecting on his Karate practice. He has incorporated the art of Taikken into his training. Taikken is a method of fighting developed by Kenichi Sawai. It focuses on developing natural movement and fighting ability, through an understanding of balance and force. He has also moved away from the characteristic high kicks found in Kyokushin, to focus on low kicks and punches.

Hajime Kazumi is a true legend of Kyokushin Karate. A World Champion and multiple All Japan Champion, he is one of a select few people to have completed the gruelling 100–Man Kumite Challenge. To his opponents, he was the standard of excellence that they all aimed for. With a wealth of knowledge, he is now teaching a new generation of karateka.

Below are some videos featuring the great Hajime Kazumi in action.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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