Japanese Karate Champion to Visit Des Moines Schools

Master Shinichi Hasegawa, a six-time karate world champion, will visit Merrill Middle School on Monday, May 3 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Iowa and Yamanashi, Japan.

Hasegawa, along with his 15-year-old daughter, will teach karate to Merrill Middle School students during PE classes throughout the day. Hasegawa holds a 7th degree black belt in Shitou-ryu style karate, and – along with his two brothers – has won six consecutive world championships in “group kata,” a competition of synchronized karate moves.

In addition to his visit to Merrill School, Hasegawa will give a special karate exhibit and instruction on Sunday, May 2 at Central Campus. Martial arts students from Des Moines, Iowa City, and Minnesota will participate.

Hasegawa’s visit to Des Moines is a part of the continuing celebrations that will go on until 2011 to recognize the Des Moines-Kofu/Iowa-Yamanashi Sister City/Sister States 50th anniversary.

“Our planning committee has held 15 public events in 2008 through 2010 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of these sister cities,” said Sachiko Murphy, Japanese teacher at Central Campus. “These incredible events have included a successful Sushi Festival with a local sushi chef and a visiting sushi chef from Kofu, and the Hoover High School band’s visit to Kofu last month.”