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About the death of Master Tetsuhiko Asai

Tetsuhiko Asai passed away on August 15, 2006 at 2.50 pm. He had suffered liver damage and underwent surgery on February 10, 2006, and was repeatedly hospitalized for the next six months before his death. I greatly appreciate that over 2500 people from all over the world came to his funeral, and many others sent messages of condolence. Many people have expressed their sympathy and asked to know more about his life and his involvement in karate. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about his life. I intend to write a book about my husband in the future, but here I will add some details to my address at his funeral.


Today, I would like to thank everyone for attending the funeral of Tetsuhiko Asai, and the directors and administrators of the J.K.S. and persons in charge for making his farewell such a memorable occasion.
As you know, my husband devoted his life to mastering the art of karate and to inspiring his students. Karate filled every moment of his life, and he thought of nothing but karate. He always said that he wanted to stay alone in the mountains and to try to push himself to the limit, to train the mind and body. He never actually stayed alone in the mountains, but continued training in karate for 45 years, even if injured or had a fever, even of 40 degrees Celsius. I think he trained his mind and body in the house. Although he was very busy educating his students all over the world by spreading his spirit and ideas, he had time to develop wheelchair karate to introduce the wonders of karate to the disabled as well as to healthy people, and worked to promote this new form outside Japan. He seemed to be very serious about karate, but outside karate he was very amusing and funny, always joking and indulging in comical fortune telling, which made his company enjoyable.
He recently told me that his only pleasure for the rest of his life was to pass on his techniques of karate to future generations, and devoted every spare moment at his desk to carefully describing the technique. After he realized that his illness showed no signs of improving, he changed his mind and, like an enlightened mystic, told me that he stood aloof from the idea of death and living, had no fear of death, and wished only to die gracefully as a martial artist. He never expressed negative thoughts or showed any suffering, so I never thought he would die. I cannot forget his bright eyes, enduring patiently and calmly.
He had a strong sense of responsibility. He kept all of his teaching schedules overseas for the last year, sending another instructor if he could not attend. On the day of the national competitions, he insisted on going to the venue and walked a long distance without support, even in his critical condition. I heard a story from people close to him, that after he reached the judges room and took a seat, suddenly his back became very straight and he returned to his previous energetic condition, astonishing those present. None of the about 100 judges who came from all over the country realized that he was in a critical condition, so they conferred with or referred to him throughout the judges meeting for about one hour, and he responded politely.

Afterwards he joined the reception, and enjoyed talking and laughing with people for about an hour. At the end of the competition, he met the competitors, and so achieved a sense of fulfilment and completion. Soon afterwards he fell into a coma and died.
He really loved like-minded people joining in karate, and his happiest moments were spent training with them. He always told me, with a satisfied look, that he was very happy since J.K.S. was well organized, thanks to the support of the directors and administrators of J.K.S., and the excellent instructors teaching karate.
I think that his spirit will continue to train with all of you in the future, and I hope that everyone will be inspired by his presence to follow the path of karate in his footsteps.
Thank you very much.

September 1, 2006
Keiko Asai