Kakeru Nishiyama: Grand Winner, Kata hero and Firefighter Extraordinaire

Kakeru Nishiyama of Japan has solidified his status as one of the top Male Kata athletes, winning his second consecutive Grand Winner award at the Karate 1 Premier League in Casablanca this week.

This season, Nishiyama has demonstrated unparalleled skill and consistency, clinching gold at all three events and qualifying for the final of #Karate1Casablanca on Sunday.

Nishiyama, the current continental champion and a bronze medallist at the World Championships, has steadily climbed to the number one position in the world rankings in kata. His journey to the pinnacle of the sport began in the Okayama prefecture, where he was born and started practising karate at the age of five, inspired by his father, also a karateka.


“I was attracted to karate for its silent and steady toughening-up exercises,” he has commented.

From a young age, Nishiyama collected numerous accolades, showcasing his potential in various local and national competitions. However, his career truly took off when he began training under Grandmaster Shigenori Sato, a pivotal mentor who honed his skills and discipline.

 “[Grandmaster Sato] taught me how to use body parts you would not otherwise pay attention to, such as the back and the shoulder blade. He trained me from the ground up. This greatly changed my consciousness and helped me achieve results,” he has said.

The up-and-coming kata hero debuted in international competitions in his home country, at the 2017 Karate 1-Series A in Okinawa, where he finished in fifth place. Two years later, he climbed to the top of the podium of international events when he took gold at the 2019 Karate 1-Series A in Istanbul.

Up to this point, Nishiyama has claimed eight gold medals in Karate 1-Premier League, two continental titles, and a World Championships bronze medal, confirming his status as the main candidate to rule the Male Kata division.

Beyond his karate achievements, Nishiyama leads a double life as a dedicated firefighter. He has often spoken about how the discipline and physical conditioning from karate have been invaluable in his demanding profession.

Nishiyama’s story is a testament to his extraordinary dedication and work ethic. Balancing the rigorous demands of his sport with his commitment to public service, he serves as an inspiration to many, showing that excellence in one field can complement and enhance another.

As Nishiyama prepares for the final on Sunday, he continues to embody the rich tradition of Japanese kata while setting new standards for the sport.

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