I’m reprinting a report from Krav Maga Worldwide about the passing of a friend to many us – Kokushi Matsumoto.

I had the opportunity to meet and train with Koko, as some of us called him, most memorably during a weeklong force training session. He was an exceptional Krav Maga practitioner and an even better person. Please see the message below from the hearts of those that knew him at KMWHQ.

It’s with a heavy heart that we write to inform you of the unexpected passing of our dear friend, Kokushi Matsumoto, who suffered a heart attack on January 2.

It’s rare that we encounter someone as magnetic as Kokushi, and when we do, we want to be around that person all the time. Kokushi’s draw stemmed not just from his amazing Krav Maga skills (although he was one of the most amazing practitioners we’ve ever seen), not just from his teaching ability (although his passion guided numerous people to devote their lives to training and teaching), but from his unyielding positivity and kindness.

Often in these unfortunate letters, we write of a person’s accomplishments as a means to give some sense of who that person was. And while Kokushi had trained to play professional soccer in Brazil, became a world-class Krav Maga instructor, and popularized the self-defense system throughout Japan, all those accomplishments pale in comparison to who Kokushi actually was – one of the most humble and generous people we’ve had the privilege to meet, let alone call our friend.

We’ll miss you, Kokushi.

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  1. Dana Ben Kaplan

    I just heard about this, as I was preparing to send an Instructor to train with Kokushi. We’d always exchange emails before I would send a student to train with him who was traveling from San Diego to Japan, and he was always kind enough to remind me that I was his original Instructor and that he would never forget that he started with Krav Maga San Diego…. that was Kokushi, always very respectful and honest. In 2001, I took he and another Instructor on a training trip, first to Israel, and then the three of us went to Finland. We got to know each other better of course on that trip, then again in Poland in 2002. When he was a young, new Krav Maga student, and going to school in San Diego, he was very quiet, and asked to speak to me privately; I was kind of surprised when he told me that he wanted to become an Instructor. I found out then that Kokushi was dedicated to learning to be the best, and we would talk about his performance after he returned from traveling and training with other Krav Maga groups. When he’d come to Southern California from Japan, we would try to meet up, and through all these years he always remained consistent in his demeanor and attitude (and appearance). Everyone that I’ve known in the Krav Maga world who knew him had great respect for him. I’m very shocked, this doesn’t seem like it can be real.