Fumio Demura was stunt double for Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi, in the Karate Kid franchise. Outside of the Karate Kid Demura is one of the most revered and respected Karate masters in the entire world. Arriving in the United States in 1965, Demura became one of the true pioneers in American Karate, and has greatly helped to grow the sport internationally.
In addition to his work as a Karate sensei Demura enjoyed a successful Hollywood career as a stuntman and actor. He worked stunts in movies like The Karate Kid and Mortal Kombat. He also appeared in several small roles as an actor.
Here’s a little bit of what we know about Fumio Demura
Mr. Miyagi Is Based on Him
Demura is, in many ways, a real life version of Mr. Miyagi. The character is largely based on him. There is a 2015 documentary entitled The Real Miyagi that is focused on Demuras life. His teachings revolve around learning the fundamentals and basics behind Karate techniques, much like Mr. Miyagi’s techniques from the movie. Demura said in an interview with Karate writer Jesse Enkamp that “you don’t have any basics you can’t go up to a higher level.”
In an interview with Kung Fu Kingdom Demura explained the role that he had in shaping Mr. Miyagi. He said that “They based a lot of the Mr. Miyagi character on me, things like having Daniel-san washing my car and painting the fence.”
He was also tasked with choreographing many of the Mr. Miyagi fight scenes, like the one where he saves Daniel from Johnny and the Cobra Kai’s after the Halloween dance. By choreographing the fights Demura was able to shape the way Mr. Miyagi fought and allow some of his own techniques to shine.
According to The Daily Beast Demura was actually offered the role of Mr. Miyagi before Pat Morita. They say that “Demura claims he was approached to play the character but declined when he saw the size of the role, citing his poor English.”
He Is a Legend in the Karate Community
Demura was born in Japan in September, 1938. According to TamesideKarate.com, Demura first got into martial arts because “He had suffered a severe infection of his tonsils that made him very weak. His doctor suggested taking a martial art to help build up his strength.” He went on to train at Shito-ryu master Ryusho Sakagami’s dojo for several years, learning from some of the best Karate and Kobudo masters in the world.
In 1965 Demura moved to the United States as a Karate instructor, settling in Los Angeles. He became a high profile teacher and did demonstrations at various events. Demura was running his own dojo in Los Angeles when he made his acting debut in the 1977 movie The Island of Dr Moreau. He continued work in Hollywood for a number of years.
Demura’s highest profile work was on The Karate Kid franchise, where he worked as Pat Morita’s stunt double for the original movie, The Karate Kid Part III, and The Next Karate Kid. During his time with the franchise he became good friends with Pat Morita.
Demura spent time training many other legends of the Karate world in Hollywood, such as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Steven Seagal. Seagal had high praise for Demura in The Real Miyagi Documentary, saying the following.
“There are so many people in the martial arts and in the movie business who never really studied the martial arts, All they do is bulls*** people and talk about all the people they studied with and all the things they did, when they really did nothing,” he says. “Demura sensei’s the real thing.”
He has Fought his Health in Recent Years
According to an interview on ABC 7, Demura suffered a subdural hematoma in 2011, leaving him in a coma for five days. Demura said that “somehow I wake up. But then I tried to get up and I can’t move my leg and I come home and my arms and my legs, can’t move.”
Since then he has regained some strength and can move again. He still has some problems with his kidneys, however, and has to receive dialysis every day. He said that dialysis has given him time to work on origami, and has been folding thousands of paper cranes. “Nothing to do in 10 hours so, I cut the piece of paper and then I make origami,” Demura said.