It’s fundamental to study and practise bunkai, it’s the only way of expressing the meaning of the techniques in a kata, otherwise, they are just movements without a meaning.Luis Maria Sanz De La Hoz
Described as “the last link between traditional and competitive Karate” Luis Maria Sanz holds a notable place in karate, being the first non-Japanese man and the first Shotokan Karateka to become WKF World champion in 1992.
Luis Maria Sanz was born in Valladolid, Spain on 20th April 1960. He started training in Shotokan, aged 14 after seeing his neighbour and first sensei, Luis Mendez, training in his garden. He later trained under Masatoshi Nakayama and Yoshiharu Osaka, whenever they visited Spain. He also had the opportunity to train with Osaka privately.
Sanz had a very long tournament career, competing for eighteen years. For him, competing was more about proving his technical ability rather than winning trophies. In his early tournaments, Sanz competed in both kata and kumite. He did not set out to be a tournament competitor. Rather Sanz saw competition training as another part of his Karate and not a replacement for his normal training habits. He took part in his first regional tournament aged 16. Two years later he became Spanish champion.
In his first European Karate Championship, aged 20, he placed second in kata, beating Dario Marchini who was to become a major tournament rival. In 1992, competing in his second WKF World Championships in Granada, Spain, he beat Ryoke Abe to become the first Shotokan karateka, and the first non-Japanese man to become kata world champion.
Being a consistent tournament competitor, Sanz’s major honours include:
- Spanish Championships (12-time champion)
- European Championships – Individual (1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)
- European Championships – Team (1987, 1988)
- World Championships – Individual (1990, 1992, 1994)
- World Cup – Individual (1984, 1987, 1995)
- World Cup – Team (1987)
Away from competitive Karate, Sanz still continues to train, being very technical in his approach and placing an equal emphasis on kihon, kata and kumite. These are the aspects of karate emphasized in the seminars he conducts around the world.
Luis Maria Sanz, because of his vast technical knowledge, is a much sought after coach. He has coached the US, Austrian, Spanish, and Ecuadorian national teams.