Shihan Akira Masuda ラスト サムライ is the President of the KWU SENSHI. He is known as The Last Samurai; he was All Japan Champion in 1990. He completed 100-man kumite in 1991, 2nd place at the 5th World Championships in 1991, and 3rd place at the 4th World Open Championship in 1987. He participated in 4 World Championships, always finishing on the podium.
In November 2023, Shihan Masuda visited Argentina for the first time and shared his experience and thoughts with us.
[First visit to Argentina]
While Japan was about to enter full-fledged winter, I visited Argentina for the first time, which was about to reach midsummer. It was to participate in the first American’s Cup, which was planned by Shihan Francisco Filho, one of the leaders of KWU SENSHI (Warrior). Actually, when I was asked to participate in this tournament, I had some hesitation. The reason is that it takes nearly two days to change planes to visit Argentina. Also, the climate is the opposite. Also, I am 61 years old and have menopausal symptoms. Furthermore, parts of my body were broken due to intense training when I was young.
In other words, lacked the confidence in my physical strength to meet expectations. However, I had a hunch that this first tournament was a tournament that predicted the future of the organization KWU SENSHI (Warriors). Therefore, as a member of KWU SENSHI, this was an important job, and I had no choice but to participate. I also made various preparations for this trip, including strengthening my physical strength, learning the language, and writing a proposal.
[I got great hope]
Well, even though I wasn’t feeling well, I think the first American’s Cup was a success. And I gained a lot from visiting Argentina. I was able to become close friends with many people, including Shihan Filho, Shihan Feitosa, and Shihan Emanuel from Argentina.
Another reason was that Master Filho showed his understanding of the project I was planning. To be honest, up until now, my ideas have not been received very favorably by the Japanese people. Maybe it was because my presentation was poor. However, after reading a few papers, Master Filho understood the general idea and accepted me very favorably. Of course, a paper alone is not enough. This time, we made up for that deficiency. Furthermore, we believe that we urgently need a model to help more people understand and realize our ideas.
I think it is of great significance that Shihan Filho intuitively understood and accepted me, even though I didn’t have a model yet; that is, I hadn’t seen it yet.
I am very encouraged by having someone on my team who is positive about the possibilities of karate. And I gained great hope from the presence of Shihan Filho.
[The country called Argentina]
I’ll digress a bit here, but for me Argentina was one of the countries I wanted to visit at least once. The reason is that I have long admired the Argentine tango. I’m embarrassed, but I want to be able to dance Argentine tango. Also, due to a connection, I belong to a fan club of a Japanese guitarist of Argentine folklore.
When I was treated to dinner at the home of a person involved, I told them that I was a fan of “Argentine tango” and “Messi.” He also proudly talked about the philosophy of Argentine tango.
I said that the philosophy of tango is, “You can dance the way you like without fear of failure,” “There is no failure in tango,” “You can just dance without fear,” and “Life is just like dancing.” “That’s it.” Furthermore, in my poor English, I thought that the philosophy behind Argentine tango was the same as that of Argentines, but I asked, “Is this correct?” Then, the doctor who was present nodded, saying, “That’s correct.” He didn’t say anything more, but I imagined that Argentines are people who inherently value self-expression and love freedom.
[Take the first step]
Getting back to the tournament, this tournament was still small. However, I think the content is promising for the future. And I think it’s important to take the first step. However, it is a matter of having a clear direction. Our KWU SENSHI team is still lacking in that area.
Meanwhile, Shihan Filho has a clear direction. I also believe that this tournament strengthened the bond between Shihan Filho, Shihan Emanuel of Argentina, and the leaders of South American countries.
I also think that the seminar held after the tournament was important. There aren’t many opportunities for everyone to get together. For such a precious opportunity, Master Filho devised various ideas. Personally, I felt that the instructions given by Shihan Feitosa, an ally of Shihan Filho, were good. If I held a seminar in Japan, I think many people would be interested.
Also, I think of him as a gem created by Kyokushin. That’s why his kicking skills are so artistic. This time, I exchanged various opinions with Shihan Feitosa. He agreed with the idea that I told him, “We should constantly create.” I think he is an intelligent and wonderful person. I also had a lot of fun interacting with Shihan Morimoto, Shihan Nakahara, and Sensei Teixeira from Brazil.
I think all of the above is the result of Shihan Filho’s leadership. I realized once again the greatness of his humanity. I also admired his production ability. It’s pathetic, but I’m already old and have no confidence in my physical strength.
On the other hand, Shihan Filho has a variety of experience. He also has physical strength. I now have great hopes that new leaders have appeared in full contact, a sport I had almost given up on. At the same time, I pray for his physical strength and longevity.
[Sincerely, Determined and Bravely]
On a side note, I would like to create a university with a faculty that will train people who can convey Japanese martial arts and Japanese culture to Japan and countries around the world. Or, I would like to establish such a department at an existing university. I’m thinking something delusional like that right now.
As a supplement, I believe that the martial arts and bushido spirits that were used during the era of rising militarism are not real. The true spirit of martial arts, or Bushido, is a word that should not be used by ordinary people, but it is centered around the mindset of “kill or be killed.” That is why a true warrior would not view war as a positive thing. Of course, I also think that the true feelings of a warrior may lie in his work during war. However, a true samurai is someone who holds his aspirations close to his heart and wants to be the foundation for the peace of mind of the citizens. And what I think of as true evil is someone who takes human life lightly. Who is the real evil? A politician, a merchant, or…
The spirit of martial arts, as I see it, is to always be prepared for emergencies and to live “honestly” and “seriously.” And when the nation is in trouble, it is the spirit of confronting difficulties “resolutely” and “bravely.” This is also the philosophy of the organization KWU SENSHI.
I cannot say that there have been some policies that I consider to be failures, but I am proud of our country’s history. I also want Japan to survive better.
To that end, I would like politicians to once again reconsider the nature of national education. At the same time, I want to create martial arts and new sports that contribute to national education.
(The flight time was nearly 30 hours, and it took more than 40 hours, including transfers. I didn’t want to wait for the flight, so I wrote down everything I could think of.)