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“The Last Samurai” Shihan Akira Masuda

An exceptional fighter known for his strong kicks; Akira Masuda is one of a select few individuals to have completed the gruelling 100-man Kumite Challenge of Kyokushin Karate. He was the last man to complete the challenge in front of Kyokushin Karate founder, Mas Oyama.

Shihan Akira Masuda was born on 22 May 1962 in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Like most Japanese boys, he was taught Judo at school. By the time he was in high school, he had become Captain of the school’s Judo team.

Shihan Masuda developed an interest in Karate. By 1978 he joined the Kyokushin Kaikan Ishikawa dojo. As expected, training was tough. However, he progressed steadily through the ranks.

In 1982 Shihan Masuda took part in his first All-Japan Tournament. He finished in eighth place. The following year at the 15th All-Japan Tournament he finished in fifth place.

Shihan Masuda competed in his first World tournament in 1984. In the third running of the event, he finished in ninth place. He lost to Yasuto Onishi of Japan. 192 competitors from 60 countries took part in the three-day tournament. Three years later, at the 4th World Tournament, he lost to Andy Hug, lost to Shokei Matsui in the final. Shihan Masuda defeated Michael Thompson to claim third place.

At the 18th All-Japan Tournament, Shihan Masuda finished in second place. This was followed by a fourth-place finish in the 21st All-Japan Tournament in 1989. The following year 1990 he defeated Kenji Midori in the final of the 22nd All-Japan Tournament.

On 19 May 1991, Akira Masuda became the 12th man to complete the 100-man Kumite Challenge. He was the last man to complete the challenge while Mas Oyama was alive. The challenge, devised by Oyama, is famous for being one of the most difficult challenges in Karate. By the time Shihan Masuda faced his 60th opponent in the trial, he was extremely exhausted. He showed tremendous spirit in his last forty fights, fighting on pure instinct.

Between 2-4 November 1991, the 5th World Tournament took place with 250 competitors from 105 countries competing. Shihan Masuda made it to the final, where he lost to Kenji Midori.

Known for his exceptional technical skill, Shihan Masuda has transmitted some of his knowledge into 3 books: “Freestyle Karate”, “I live as a Martial Artist”, and “Walking steps to the winning”.

Shihan Masuda is the Chief Director of the International Budo-Man Association (IBMA). At his dojo, Kyokushin Kaikan Masuda Dojo he has spent the last couple of years using his expertise to transmit his wealth of knowledge to a new generation of Kyokushin karateka, especially in the area of freestyle fighting.


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