Movie Review The Real Miyagi (2016)

March 5, 2016


MOVIE REVIEW-The Real Miyagi

By Marc Zirogiannis


The Real Miyagi is the true story of the life, struggles, and accomplishments of Fumio Demura. Demura is a 9th Dan in Karate, best known to the world through the iconic Demura-like portrayal of Pat Morita in the Karate Kid films.

As a student of Tae Kwon Do and, primarily, Korean martial arts history I knew very little about this living legend before screening this great film. Fumio Demura was a pioneer in the introduction of the eastern arts to the west. He came to America as a young man, facing the challenges of many immigrants, plus the racism and anti-Japanese sentiment of many Americans during the post World War II era.

Demura quickly made a name for himself as a Karate practitioner with his warm and endearing personality. Demura’s Karate demonstrations, often to the dismay of his Eastern mentors, captured the interest of Westerners, with his use of weapons, dramatic timing, and comedic flare in well choreographed Karate theatrics.

The film does a great job capturing the essence of an aging Master whose personal style transcended race, language, ethnic boundaries, and, even, martial arts styles. Demura has worked, over the last 50 years, with the martial arts’ elite from all styles of practice, from Jeet Kune Do’s, Bruce Lee, to Tae Kwon Do’s, Jhoon Rhee.

As a film The Real Miyagi is a well-crafted documentary that engages the viewer with its archived footage from Demura’s distinguished career, interviews with his students, both past and present, and the personal reflections of such stars as Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Michael Jai White, and Dolph Lundgren.

Demura’s relationship and influence with Pat Morita, a Japanese-American, as the two men embarked on the journey of The Karate Kid is the basis for the film’s title and much of its content. Interviews, footage, and reflections of the two men that shared a common heritage, but very different lives, are fascinating to watch.

During the making of the film Demura had a severe medical crisis which has the unwitting impact of making the drama and affection surrounding Fumio Demura very tangible for the participants and the viewers. He is, obviously, a beloved figure to many. As he pointed out, while he has no children of his own, there are hundreds if not thousands, of children that have been influenced by his life and teachings.

The Real Miyagi is masterful storytelling that has something for everyone. I strongly recommend this film for Tae Kwon Do practitioners of all ages, and beyond.

To purchase the film, visit

Real Miyagi


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