Shihan Osamu Ozawa
November 1925 - April 1998
Shihan Osamu Ozawa was born
of a samurai family on November 25, 1925 in Kobe, Japan. His
family is believed to have descended from Takeda Shingen,
one of Japan's most famous and brilliant warriors and it was
into this great and
famous samurai lineage that Haruo Ozawa, Master Ozawa's father, was
born. The Ozawa family crest (mon) is indeed the famous Takeda bishi,
or Takeda family symbol.
Master Ozawa was introduced to the art of
karate in 1937 by his cousin Daiichiro Aizawa. He started his
formal karate training at the age of thirteen in
December 1938 when he sought out Kenwa Mabuni, founder of the
Shito-ryu style of karate and trained under him for two years.
In March 1942, at the age of
17, Master Ozawa entered Hosei University and was introduced to
Shotokan karate when he joined the university karate team. The
chief instructor was
Grand Master Gichin Funakoshi,
founder of Shotokan Karate
and the man who first formally introduced karate from Okinawa to
Japan. In September 1944, Gichin Funakoshi promoted Master
Ozawa to Shodan or 1st degree black belt.
In October 1944, the
Japanese Navy drafted Master Ozawa where he enlisted as a
Kamikaze. The kamikaze, which means
“divine wind”, was an
extremely elite force that was subjected to many intensive physical, psychological
and emotional tests. The kamikaze trainees were sent to a secret air
base and separated for very special training which began with
repeated exercises of taking their planes and diving them very
steeply toward the ground and pulling up at the last second. The
kamikaze was assigned to a special dormitory, which was separate
from the regular barracks on the base.
At 4:00 o'clock in the
morning on July 29, 1945, Master Ozawa along with four others
solemnly drank their sake to the emperor one last time and climbed
into their planes to meet their final destiny. His old airplane
crashed shortly after take off and found himself twelve days later
in a hospital with a punctured lung, broken eardrums and partial
loss of vision. He was released from the hospital on October 15 and
went directly to find his family in Kobe.
In November 1946 after the
war, Master Ozawa decided to go back to Hosei University where he
started karate training again. In April 1949, the first organized
collegiate karate demonstration was held in Tokyo where he was
invited to discuss the future of collegiate karate.
In November of 1954, Master
Ozawa sponsored the biggest budo demonstration of its time in Japan. Over 10,000 spectators came to watch the demonstration by such
prominent instructors such as
Masatoshi Nakayama who became the
technical director of the Japan Karate Association (JKA),
Okazaki who is today the head of ISKF (International Shotokan Karate
Federation), and many others. Ten years later on December 22, 1964
Master Ozawa came to the US to sell his film on the Nippon Budo Emaki, the largest-scale martial arts demonstration in the history
of Japan, a fact that Master Ozawa was very proud of.
In 1967 he opened a dojo in
San Gabriel, California and in 1974 he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. He opened the first pachinko parlor in Las Vegas at the Circus
Circus Hotel and Casino but due to certain circumstances he had
to close down his pachinko business . He then became
employed as a Poker dealer in a few of the major Las Vegas hotels
for several years before deciding to go back to karate to teach full
On February 1, 1981, Master
Ozawa officially opened his karate dojo in Las Vegas. One
month prior to the opening of the new dojo, Master Ozawa staged the
at the Maxim Hotel and Casino. It was to help publicize and promote
the new dojo. On this first tournament, only Shotokan karate
instructors and competitors were invited. About a half dozen
instructors, 30 competitors and about 150 spectators came to attend
the one-day event.
The second tournament was held at the
Aladdin Hotel in November of 1982. The third tournament was staged
back at the Maxim Hotel in November of 1983. This time it was fully
opened to all traditional Japanese and Okinawan styles of karate. In
this third event, about 40 instructors and 200 competitors attended. Also about 400 spectators watched the final competition, which
consisted of very high quality matches.
As Master Ozawa’s reputation
for fairness and open-mindedness grew, so did the scale of the
tournament. The fourth annual traditional tournament was held at the
Sahara Hotel in October 1984 and it was a spectacular success. In
this tournament, Master Ozawa was reunited with his great and long
time friend, the legendary karate master,
from Japan. The founder of Hayashi-ha Shito ryu,
also attended it. In this tournament, about 12 countries
attended along with more than 60 instructors and 500 hundred
The fifth annual tournament
was held on January 1985 and it was officially dubbed "Traditional
Karate Tournament International".
This particular event clearly showed Master Ozawa’s determination to
support all of traditional karate and not only Shotokan karate.
The "5th Annual Traditional Karate Tournament International" drew
100 instructors, 1,000 competitors and 3,000 spectators. It
was a phenomenal international event with contestants and
instructors coming from the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, South
America, Central America and Europe. People from all over the
world with such diverse background were very happy to make new
friends, freely exchanged techniques, training methods and ideas
together. For traditional karate, it was truly an unprecedented
success not only in competition but also in style interaction.
The "Traditional Karate
Tournament International" went on as a success year after year.
The 1989 tournament was one of the largest and most successful
tournaments that the traditional world of karate has ever witnessed.
Strongly supported by Kirin beer, Master Ozawa negotiated a deal
with Bally’s Hotel, one of Las Vegas' largest hotels at that time,
guaranteeing the hotel the rental of 400 rooms and also provided 50
rooms for distinguished guests and instructors at his own expense.
Today, the annual
“Traditional Karate Tournament International" is called the
Cup International Karate Tournament
to honor Master Ozawa. It is one on the largest and most
popular tournaments of its kind in the world. Competitors and
instructors from the US and abroad target their sight on this event
each year. Its success is due to the fair and open-minded
atmosphere, high quality of competitors and officials, good strong
bonds that are made between competitors and teammates, and the
ideals that Master Ozawa promoted:
Peace, Unity and Harmony
amongst all the people training in any style of traditional karate.
Left to Right:
Wada, Marlon Moore , Kenneth Rosson, Bernie
Garcia, Tilly Garcia, Ray Hughes,
Kohn, Paul Godshaw,
Stanford McNeil, ???
Bottom Row from Left to Right:
Kenneth Funakoshi, ???,
Frank Smith, Fumio Demura, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Teruo Hayashi, Osamu Ozawa, Takayuki Mikami, Yoshiaki Ajari, Minobu Miki,
Toshihiro Oshiro, Toyotaro Miyazaki