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United World Karate Association President Daikaku Chodoin

by Judit Kawaguchi

Daikaku Chodoin, 68, is the founder and president of the United World Karate Association, which combines all five iemoto (the traditional branches of the martial art) with an estimated 50 million practitioners around the world. A kyuudan (9th degree black belt) of Goju-ryu, one of Okinawa’s “hard-soft” karate styles, Chodoin is a fearless fighter who thrives on going to battle both on and off the dojo floor. His winning streak began in his 20s: He first struck gold with shipbuilding and later made a killing with real estate and stocks. He has used his vast fortune to fight racial discrimination and supported revolutionary movements in Africa, South America and the Middle East. In 1985 Chodoin established the World Black Congress in order to unite Africans and that same year he created the Society of International Outer Space Law to draw up a legal framework that would give all nations equal right to space. Chodoin’s desire to heal and save the world struck a chord with Michael Jackson: Since their first meeting in 1997, The King of Pop and the King of karate got along royally. In 1998, Chodoin presented Michael with the Honorary Chairmanship of the United World Karate Association and a godan (fifth degree) black belt.

Once you learn how to keep secrets, you will hear many. I arranged everything for Michael’s visit. When his plane landed, we had a car drive up to it on the tarmac and rode straight into Tokyo. He stayed in a hotel but was usually at my office. We talked and did karate for three days. Nobody knew he was here, and he loved this fact.

A phone call should not be longer than 10 seconds. That is enough time to say hi, thinking of you, me too, great, bye, bye. Michael has been calling me for 13 years, a couple of times a year. I’m sorry he’s gone. We won’t be talking anymore, but we’re still connected.

If you work for world peace, you will make powerful enemies. My goal has always been to end the oppression of colored people. I backed the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and supported Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s current president. I was friends with Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, a great political leader in the Dominican Republic, and helped Castro in Cuba. I sponsored the South-West Africa People’s Organization and the independence movements in Namibia and South Africa. I supported the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the third Egyptian president, Anwar El Sadat. I was sabotaged from left and right, but I kept on going.

It is rich people’s duty to support artists. Michael was a genius in art and business. When he said he was in a jam, I felt like when you stand by a Shinto shrine, happy to throw money into the altar. For me, he was a messenger of the universe. I gave him about 20 million dollars in seven installments, and it never occurred to me that I would ever see that money again. My contribution was a fraction of what others gave him.

If you want to have children, you’d better pick a woman who watches the sun rise because she’s just woken up, not because she’s crawling into bed after a night of drunken partying. A man should never look for a woman at night in some club. What kind of mom is she going to be? What kind of kids will she raise?

Do the right thing, even if everyone thinks you are wrong or weird. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t smoke. I don’t go to hostess bars. When I was young, I decided to live a life that I could be proud of. I followed the principle of shitsujitsu gouken (simple and sturdy), which means living with fortitude and vigor and staying away from temptations that could alter the course of your life.

I will die fighting, not lying down sick, connected to tubes. I know I can manage hara-kiri because I trained in iaido, the martial art of the sword, and have done special mental and physical training. Several times I have held my katana (sword) in my right hand and pushed it through my left arm. Cutting through the muscle is hard. Our reflex is to stop at the skin, but I cut myself all the way. My staff tied my arm up to stop the loss of blood and poured hot candle wax on the cut. That’s the best antiseptic — it heals fast and beautifully.

My biggest nightmare is becoming an old guy who plays gateball in a sweat suit! I am saying that because last year I went to my high school reunion and some of my old friends talked about lame hobbies like gateball. A few even joked that they had met some “girlfriend” on the court. I can’t imagine anything worst than me in a high school jersey, playing gateball and falling for a lady my age.

All nations have the same rights to space. Sure, the United Nations enacted a few space laws, but they just create penalties if one country’s satellites fall on another’s cities. It’s pretty spaced-out stuff. Mine is serious: I created the Society of International Outer Space Law in 1985 with two main goals: to prevent all military use of space and to give equal rights to all nations for peaceful purposes.

Karate, like other sports, eliminates discrimination. Regardless of color, race or gender, all people who do karate respect each other’s strength and ability. Michael asked me to show him some karate moves. He could do them immediately, totally perfectly. He could have been a brilliant athlete. I asked Michael to help me put karate into the Olympics Games. He talked to International Olympic Committee chairman, Juan Antonio Samaranch and we were told that if we could unite all the sects of the martial art, karate had a chance to be an Olympic sport. Hopefully 2016 will be our year.

I can die anytime. Forty, 60 or 98 years old, who cares. It’s not a big difference when you think of the age of the universe.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK’s “Weekend Japanology.” Learn more at: http://juditfan.blog58.fc2.com/