Fumio Demura Sensei – The Evolution of Karate Flooring

Sensei to the Stars Discovers Perfect Karate Flooring

By Brett Hart

After nearly 50 years of training some of the biggest names in martial arts and serving as a movie stunt man, Fumio Demura remains modest about his National and International influence in the martial arts community.

”I’m not famous,” Demura Sensei says. ”I’m just doing my best. That’s all.”

A 1961 All Japan Champion, Demura Sensei moved to the United States in 1965 where he introduced Shito-Ryo Karate Do and Okinawa Kobudo to the nation as well as creating and introducing Kobudo Kumite to the World at the age of 68.

His prowess and innovation in the martial arts world led Demura Sensei to train many of the top martial arts icons, including Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal.

Movies and Television
What Demura Sensei is possible most well known for, however, is his stunt work in the Karate Kid movies and his mentor-ship of Pat Morita’s character, Mr. Miyagi in the movie franchise.

Demura Sensei says many aspects of the Karate Kid movie reflected his own personal life, such as the fishing and ”Wax on. Wax off” – a phrase in which he coined.

”I was doing (Wax on. Wax off.) for years before they made the movie,” he said, noting that after seeing the movie, many of his students called him and said, ”That’s me and you!”

Over the years, Demura Sensei has worked in 14 feature films and nearly 40 different television programs. He’s also written eight books and produced numerous videos, demonstrations and competitions around the globe.

Movies and competition bring out very different sides of the martial arts. In movies, he said, ”You have to sell what you’re doing,” Demura Sensei said.

He pointed to the 1971 cult classic movie ”Billy Jack” when Billy says, ”I’m going to take this right foot, and I’m going to wop you on that side of your face. And you want to know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re going to be able to do about it.”

He also pointed to the ”Wax on. Wax off” scene in the original (1984) Karate Kid movie.

”That type of thing,” Demura Sensei said. ”In the movie business, you have to have some selling point.”

In contrast, he noted that in competition there are rules, such as no hitting or kicking the groin or neck.

The Birth of a New Career
As a young man, Demura Sensei wanted to be an actor, but his father was against it. So he went to Nippon University where he majored in economics.

However, after wining the All Japan Championship, it changed his career direction towards the martial arts. Even with all he’s accomplished Demura Sensei says that moment is still his favorite.

”We had 48 provinces and each province has two people,” he said. ”We had 80-90 people competing. … Me and the other guy were the only two left. No other people there. … Not that much nervous, but kind of friend, but enemy. We don’t talk to each other, just waiting for the time to come up. That is a moment I’ll never forget.”

After his victory, Demura Sensei was introduced by his friend, Wisconsin native and internationally-known martial artist Donn Draeger, to Ohio-born martial arts promoter Dan Ivan, who brought him to the United States to teach karate.

Genbu-Kai Karate
Now, at the age of 78, Demura Sensei has Genbu-Kai Karate schools in 30 countries and 13 states within the United States. When asked how many students he’s trained over his career, he responded, ”Not too many. About 30-40… thousand.”

While several of those students are well-recognized action stars, that part of the job isn’t always glamorous.

”Some people, they just listen to me and do it,” Demura Sensei said. ”Chuck (Norris) and Bruce (Lee)… just listen. ‘Ok. Just do it that way?’ That’s it. Some people say ‘OK. Do it this way? But I do it that way.’ … Sometimes it’s very difficult.”

Evolution of Karate: From Fighting to Flooring
A lot has changed in Karate for Demura Sensei over the years.

”It used to be a different way,” he said. ”For example: Fighting. Everybody had a different way of fighting, but today everybody looks the same because they go to the world champion and everybody copies from that. … And the Kata – same way. … They do same kata from DVD or something. You watch and you copy. It used to be, you never do that kind of stuff.”

Even the flooring has evolved over time.

”I started karate with wood floor,” he said. ”In the beginning it was a little harder. We come to here, we had wrestling mat, but I hit my toes all the time. Then later, we got tatami mats.”

The tatami mats, Demura Sensei is referring to are the Elite Striking Art Pro Mat Tatami Mats from Greatmats. They are 1.5 inch thick 1×2 meter mats with a 1.5 inch thick polyurethane foam core and tatami-textured vinyl surface.

”The mat is best for me – tatami mats – not to soft, not too hard. And I can throw the kids without hurting them,” Demura Sensei said. ”On the legs, it’s not too bad. So perfect for me.”

He first learned about the tatami mats while visiting one of his schools that were using Greatmats martial arts mats and liked the feel and function of the mats. So when it came time to order mats for his relocated studio in Santa Ana, California, he turned to Greatmats.

”I recommend people if they have money, buy the tatami mat. … In the beginning… people said ‘too soft.’ But now, they love it!”

Fumio Demura
Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Genbu-Kai International
Santa Ana CA 92701
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.
Ryoshin-Kan Karate School Shihan Tim Thompson Greatmats Martial Arts Mats

Sensei Tim Thompson – Ryoshin-Kan Karate

The Champion Spirit is inside all of us

Ryoshin-Kan Karate School and the Dragon Force National Karate Demo Team were established in 1980 by Sensei Tim Thompson. Ryoshin-Kan Karate School offers the Best Martial Arts Instruction to both Adults and Youth Seven Days a Week. Students are taught Martial Arts classes, both Sport and Traditional, in Karate-Do (empty hand defense), Kobudo (weapons), Kenjitsu (sword), Goshinjitsu (self-defense) and Tameshiwari (Breaking). Ryoshin-Kan also offers youth Karate Camps in the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.
Ryoshin-Kan Karate School Tim Thompson Greatmats Martial Arts Mats
Dragon Force National Karate Demo Team from the Ryoshin-Kan Karate School is A World Class Karate Show Team that is Rated Number One and they performed Karate Shows at Professional & College Halftimes, Festivals, Tournaments and Special Events. Team Dragon Force has won 16 World & National Martial Arts Championships as well as being awarded ”Best National Karate Team of the Year” and they starred in the children’s action/adventure movie ”The Adventures of Dragon Force.” Team Dragon Force Rocked the America’s got Talent TV Show Audition and the Hampton Roads TV Show on WAVY 10 with Awesome Karate Performances. Ryoshin-Kan Karate School Shihan Tim Thompson Greatmats Martial Arts Mats

All Students are encouraged to develop a strong Champion Spirit that is inside all of us. It just needs to be exercised. To be a champion is not a simple matter of just wishing to become one. It is an endless commitment, sometimes lasting a lifetime. Nobody is born a champion, in exactly the same way that nobody is born an average person. It is up to you to make yourself into one or the other. It starts with courage.


Aristotle said that ”Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.”

Following closely behind Courage is Perseverance, and it is the Key element that simply means to never quit. Remember that anyone can quit.

Commitment + Hard Work + Positive Spirit = Success.
Optimi Optimorum = Best of the Best.
These are the trademarks of True Champions and the Goals of every Ryoshin-Kan Karate School Student.

CDR Tim Thompson USNR Retirement Ceremony Karate Sensei GreatmatsBoth the Ryoshin-Kan Karate School and Dragon Force Demo Team were established in 1980 by their Founder and Chief Instructor, Sensei Tim Thompson. He is an 8th Degree Black Belt Grand Master, 5 Times Hall of Famer, Retired Decorated Navy Commander, World and National Karate Champion.

(Ryoshin-Kan Karate School and the Dragon Force National Karate Demo Team use Greatmats Pro Martial Arts Mats Sport 20mm.)

Greatmats Pro Martial Arts Mats installed in Ryoshin-Kan Karate School
Tim Thompson
Ryoshin-Kan Karate
Virgina Beach VA 23452
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.

Shihan Eric Swick – Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts

Hall-Of-Fame Martial Arts Instructor Changing Lives on Greatmats

By Brett Hart

A friend’s invitation to attend a martial arts class at the age of 12 changed Eric Swick’s life. Now 41, Swick is a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan Karate-Do, 3rd degree black belt in Renzoku Jiu-Jitsu, 3rd degree black belt in Dragon Kenpo, 1st degree black belt in Judo and the owner of Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts academy in Grafton, West Virginia where he also trains in Kobudo and Arnis.

Dragons Den MMA Eric Swick Greatmats

Shihan Swick began his martial arts journey in 1988 under Sensei Dave Burner in Shotokan Karate, Aikido and Arnis and now includes Jiu-Jitsu and Kobudo into his primarily lineup of disciplines.

Real Life Experience

While martial artists train to be prepared for the unthinkable, most never need it. Unfortunately, he has, and it saved his life.

Ten years ago while working as a correctional officer in a United States Penitentiary, Swick was sucker punched by an inmate with a 7-inch shank and ended up being stabbed 13 times while trying to control the attack.

”If it wasn’t for God and my training, I do believe I would not be here today,” Swick said. ”The most horrific thing that I have ever seen is looking into another man’s eyes that was just a few inches away from me that really wanted to kill me. … There is no kind of training that can prepare you for that reality.”

Pushing Forward

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats

The life-changing experience, inspired the Swick to focus more of his time and energy to helping others.

”You win, or you learn. You never lose,” he said. ”If you have the right attitude, there is no such thing as truly losing. Defeat, or losing, is only possible when you give up and quit. Defeat is a state of mind, not a reality. You, and only you, determine whether you lose or whether you had a temporary setback from which you learned more and became stronger. You do not play karate; you study it.”

In 2010, he was named to the Martial Arts Legend Hall of Fame and named the Sensei of the Year by the United States Black Belt Hall of Fame. He is also a two-time Hall of Fame instructor both Jiu-Jitsu and Karate and a Hall of Fame MMA instructor.

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats

With all he’s accomplished, Swick says his biggest accomplishment is seeing his students become teachers of the arts, putting their martial arts training to work in the dojo and their everyday lives, overcoming their fears and becoming adults with success stories.

”I want my students to have the ‘I can, and I will’ attitude,” Swick said. That includes his wife and two kids, who train with him.

While Swick did not compete much early on, his academy has a successful competition team that competes at local tournaments as well as the USA-National Karate-do Federation and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).

Discovering Greatmats
Swick was impressed by the Greatmats martial arts flooring used at one tournament attended and looked up Greatmats on the web.

He soon ordered Greatmats’ Wood Grain/Black reversible Martial Arts Premium 1 Inch Karate Mats and loves the way they look and perform while enduring classes five days per week.

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats Karate Mats

In 2015, Swick co-founded the Warriors United Tournament Circuit, a growing tournament point circuit open to all styles that includes competitors from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio.

”Tell you the truth, it’s just a great bunch of martial artists having a good time,” Swick said of Warriors United.

So happy with his Greatmats martial arts flooring, Swick and his Warriors United co-founders opted to equip each of their tournament rings with Greatmats flooring as well.

”They’re very tough, and the feel is great,” Swick said.

Warriors United Greatmats sponsored logo

Shihan Eric Swick
Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts
Grafton WV 26354

For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.

Customer Profile: USA Karate & Platinum Yoga

1 inch Martial Arts Mats for Karate and Yoga

By Brett Hart

There’s no doubt about it, 32-year martial arts veteran David Younglove knows the importance of a proper foundation.

Beginning his training as a martial artist in 1983, Mr. Younglove earned his first blackbelt and began teaching Karate by the age of 17. A Minnesota state champion, Mr. Younglove joined the U.S. Marine Corp in the early 1990s where he trained Thailand Marines in hand-to-hand combat.

USA Karate David Younglove teaching karate Greatmats Karate Mats

”We taught on just carpet over cement in those days and if you fell, it was just terrible,” Mr. Younglove said. ”The first generation of mats… we put in martial arts schools were just terrible. They were very hard. They were very grippy on the feet.”

Despite these less-than-ideal training surfaces, Mr. Younglove continued to pursue his passion for martial arts and, from 2012 to 2014, he was the top-ranked North Central Karate Association (NCKA) competitor in traditional form for 40-49 year olds.

USA Karate & Yoga Studio David Younglove kids karate class Greatmats Karate Mats

In July of last year, this sixth-degree blackbelt finally found the perfect martial arts flooring on Greatmats.com – 1 inch thick foam karate mats. These 1×1 meter interlocking foam tiles, designed to look like wood floors, have a leather-like, waterproof surface that provides both proper stability and cushion.

”I’ve tried many of the others in all of our different schools – and (talked to) other owners,” Mr. Younglove said. ”These are by far and large the best that I’ve found.”

”I went to different martial arts owners and worked out on their floors. I looked at the Swains; I looked at the Zebra mats and all the different ones, and I got some samples.”

After inspecting a free sample of the Greatmats Karate Mats, Mr. Younglove purchased three tiles and snapped them together for a test.

”(I) just did a few moves on them and decided by far and large, it had the most support, but also had the most cushion at the same time,” Mr. Younglove said. ”It works out great.”

USA Karate David Younglove teaching karate Greatmats Karate Mats

In fact, he liked them so much that he not only purchased them as his dojo flooring at USA Karate in Rosemount, Minn., but also for his yoga studio in the same building.

”I have a dual studio,” Mr. Younglove said. ”We incorporate a full yoga program with our full martial arts program. At this facility we have two classrooms. Kids can be taking karate class and mom can be taking yoga class simultaneously. I put it in the yoga side and, to my knowledge, we’re the only yoga studio that has a padded floor. We’re constantly on our knees and on our elbows and a lot of our population is 40 and over. We have some 70 year olds taking class. It is very gentle on the joints. It also really challenges your balance.”

USA Karate and Platinum Yoga Studio David Younglove yoga class Greatmats Karate Mats

Mr. Younglove noted that it took about six months of regular use to fully break in the flooring, which was a bit slippery to start, but it was well worth the patience, knowing that he offers yet another tool in helping his students build the best foundation in self-esteem with a positive and safe learning environment.

David Younglove
USA Karate & Platinum Yoga
Rosemount, MN 55068
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.

Infinity National Championships Rock the Kalahari Convention Center

Brown, Viviano, Thomason earn multiple National Grand Championships

May 18, 2017 – With 300 competitors from across the U.S. and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains, the Infinity National Championships put on two days of high caliber martial arts competition at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, WI on May 12-13, 2017.

The second annual tournament was highlighted by the performances of 20 different Grand Champions, three of which took home to Grand Champion Trophies.

Zoe Brown of United Family Martial Arts in Hamilton, Ontario, was one competitor who won multiple grand championships, taking home the top prize in both Junior Japanese Forms and Junior Korean Forms.

Sacha Viviano of Wisconsin was the Women’s Sparring and Women’s Semi-Final Grand Champion.

Brett Thomason of St. Peters, Missouri also claimed a pair of Grand Championships – in Men’s Sparring and Men’s Final.

Other grand champions included:
Noell Jellison (WI) – Junior Musical Forms
Tim Wegert (VA) – Adult Contemporary Forms
Mason Bumba (IL) – Junior Point/Contact Sparring
Hope Chase (PA) – Adult Hard Traditional Forms
Connor Chasteen (WI) – Junior Weapons Forms
Joseph Bein (WI) – Adult Contemporary Weapons
Aric Barnard (WI) – Senior Sparring
Hubert Monroe (W) – Grands Kyu 18 Novice
Andy Chen (WI) – Grands Kyu 7 Novice
Abby Frank (WI) – Grands Kyu 8-11 Novice
Sofia Rodrigues-Florez (FL) – Grands Kyu 11 Advanced
Taylor Lawson (VA) – Grand Kyu 11 Intermediate
Riley Heffelfinger (OH) – Grand Kyu 12-17 Advanced
Elizabeth Folsom (WI) – Grand Kyu 12-17 Intermediate
Ryan White (WI) – Grand Kyu 18 Intermediate/Advanced
Patte Lelle (WI) – Grand Kyu 35+ Novice/Intermediate
Hannah Nehls (WI) – Grand Kyu 12-17

Greatmats is the official sponsor of the Infinity National Championships, which uses Greatmats martial arts mats in all of its competition rings.

Infinity National Championships
Infinity Martial Arts
Wisconsin Dells WI
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.

165 Compete at 2017 Connellsville Classic Karate Championships

Culver Karate Club Claims 24 Firsts at Home Tourney

On March 11, 2017, Sensei Perry Culver and the Culver Karate Club of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, hosted the 3rd Annual Connellsville Classic Karate Championships at the Connellsville Area High School.

The Tournament handed out more than 300 trophies to more than 165 competitors from four states and from as far away as Columbus, Ohio, Charleston, West Virginia, and Reading and Altoona, PA. There were also more 600 spectators and 50 Black Belt Instructors in attendance.

The Connellsville Classic is the 2017 kickoff event for the Warriors United Circuit, a 5 tournament competition circuit founded by Master Culver, Master Steve Morrissey of Altoona, PA, and Master Eric Swick of Grafton, WV, and in October 2014. The Warriors United Tournament Circuit includes, The Connellsville Classic, The Fall Brawl in Altoona, The Rumble on the River in Grafton, WV, The Monster Mash in Toronto, OH, and The Dragon Challenge in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Warriors United is sponsored by Greatmats and its tournament features Greatmats martial arts flooring.

Eighteen Culver Karate Club students competed and won 24 first-place finishes, 16 seconds and 13 third.

Warriors United 2017 Connellsville Karate Greatmats Culver Karate Club
Pictured are, front row, from left: Evan Siegel: 1st in Breaking, 2nd in Kata and 3rd in Kumite, Jake Weaver: 1st in Weapons, 2nd in Breaking and 1point fighting and 4th in Kata, Sammy Trincia: 3rd in Breaking, Kata, 1pt fighting and Kumite, Michael Borris: 1st in Weapons, 2nd in Kumite and 3rd in Breaking, Kata and 1 Point Fighting, Aaron Michaels: 3rd in 1 point Fighting, 4th in Kata, Nicky Farrell: 1st place in Kumite, 1 point and Kata and 2nd in Breaking and Weapons, Rohwen Firestone: 2nd in Kata and 3rd in Kumite, David Piasecki: 2nd place in 1 pt Fighting, Natalie Willard: 4th place in Kata & Fighting, Noah Zawislan: 1st in Kumite, 2nd in 1pt Fighting and 3rd in Breaking.

Back Row L to R: Sensei Lorrie Culver, Chase Weaver: 1st in Kata, 2nd in Weapons, Jaden Golden: 1st in Breaking, Kata and Fighting and 2nd in 1 point Fighting, Aaron Trincia: 1st in Breaking, 2nd in Kata and 1 point Fighting and 3rd in Kumite, Cody Vance: 1st in Breaking, Kata, Weapons, 1 point Fighting & Kumite, Keaton Detwiler: 1st in Breaking and Weapons, 2nd in Kata and 1 point Fighting and 4th in Kumite,

Not Pictured: Gabby Kelly: 1st in Breaking, Weapons, 1 point Fighting and Kumite and 2nd in Kata, Zach Zavatchan: 1st in Breaking, Seth Keslar: 1st in Kumite and 2nd in Fighting.

Learn more about the Warriors United Tournament Circuit

3rd Annual Connellsville Classic Karate Championships
Warriors United Tournament Circuit
Connellsville PA
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.

AKF First-Of-Its-Kind Grappling and Throwing Tournament

Kyuki-Do National Grappling and Throwing Championship

The American Kyuki-Do Federation wrapped up its Greatmats-sponsored 2016 tournament season on October 1 with a first-of-its-kind Grappling and Throwing tournament held in Edgerton, WI. Previous AKF tournaments have had a heavy focus in tae kwon do; this tournament showcased the jiu jitsu and judo portions of the mixed martial art.

grappling and throwing at AKF Edgerton Wisconsin tournament GreatmatsThe tournament, which was held in the same building as the Kyuki-Do Martial Arts Academy of Edgerton, headed by black belt Aaron Stinski, found 23 of it nearly 90 competitors coming from a local crowd.

”It’s really nice when you’re the home team essentially,” Stinski said. ”There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be coming and competing at some type of level.”

The tournament also drew competitors from as far away as Lexington, Kentucky. AKF Lexington Martial Arts Academy head instructor and black belt Joe Moniot said his students were fired up after attending the Grappling and Throwing Tournament.

grappling action at AKF Grappling and throwing tournament Greatmats”I competed as well, for the first time in years,” Moniot said. ”Twelve of us competed and brought home 18 medals.”

”This tournament in particular has them really excited about competing again,” Moniot added. ”So much so, we have already started the participant list for the Spring 2017 Tournament of Champions. By listening to them recruiting their classmates, it seems as though we are likely to set a new record in number of participants from Lexington for this next tournament.”

Unlike previous AKF tournaments where participants can compete in numerous divisions such as open hand and weapons forms, sparring and board breaking where size has little to do with the competition, there was no such thing as a grand championship at the latest tournament.

Master Rick Steinmaier of the Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin Academy said in this tournament, ”Size really does make a difference.”

AKF kyuki-do youth winners 2016 GreatmatsFor that reason, both the judo (throwing) and jiu jitsu (grappling) portions of the tournament were broken down into weight class divisions. For those less comfortable with throws or submissions, there was also a novice division which followed the hybrid style of the traditional AKF tournaments.

Although judo and jiu jitsu are tertiary aspects of the Kyuki-Do curriculum, the federation does have a contingent of high level martial artists who hold rank or have experience in each of those disciplines. And with both arts growing in popularity, the federation decided to closely follow the international set of rules for both judo and jiu jitsu for the more advanced students competing in the inaugural National Grappling and Throwing Championship tournament.

”There was a division for anybody who wanted to compete and an age level for anyone who wanted to compete as well,” Stinski said. ”It was really nice to see all of those kids very proud of their accomplishments, regardless of where they placed – wearing the medals around and holding medals up for pictures. And a ton of pride in those eyes and those faces, and smiles that went from ear to ear. That was probably one of the more rewarding things.”

youth grappling at AKF grappling and throwing tournament Greatmats”It is about camaraderie,” Moniot added. ”My favorite part is being with so many people with similar interests and helping them grow even as I grow. The camaraderie is what keeps it all going strong for us.”

”We held special prep classes for the month leading up to the tournament,” Moniot added. ”A young man named Thomas was the only one who decided to compete in throwing and had not practiced this prior to the tournament. His success or failure was not what was amazing. Rather his fortitude in competing in many matches and never showing frustration. He just kept pushing forward with a smile on his face. Very impressive!”

Moniot, a martial arts veteran of more than 20 years who has competed both in and out of the AKF in many formats, is so impressed by the values of the AKF that he said despite the distance to AKF tournaments, ”We will compete only with the AKF until or unless a competition arises which I feel is safe and represents the same values as the AKF.”

youth competing at AKF kyuki-do tournament GreatmatsThe camaraderie and support system of the AKF spreads beyond the confines of its academy walls as well.

”At 1 a.m. Sunday morning, we pulled into the parking lot of our school to find the windows and trees were decorated by students who had not been able to attend,” Moniot said. ”Several of them, and even a couple people from a neighbor business, were here waiting to cheer us as we arrived. THAT’S COOL!”



Related Product: Grappling MMA Mats 1-5/8 Inch