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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Kazunori Yasuzato, a Commander, Naval Forces Japan firefighter stationed at Hario Housing Village Fire Station, placed 32nd in the All-Japan Karate Tournament held Oct. 25-30 in Hamamatsu City.

Yasuzato’s specialty is the individual kata, the classic style of the Japan karate masters. It’s an art form characterized by smooth, fluid movements and sharp, abrupt thrusts.

He began training at the age of 3 in his parents’ Ryukyu Dojo — a martial-arts training school — learning the Okinawa style of karate. He won numerous championships while in high school and continued that success after graduation.

In 1993, he captured the All-Japan Momotaro Cup, which featured the team kata. Two years later, he finished first, second and third in three All-Japan tournaments, including the Hinokuni Cup, displaying the team kumite and team kata. He placed fifth in 1998, demonstrating the team kumite style once again.

Most of his opponents last month represented major industries throughout Japan.

“Yasuzato was hired as a firefighter in March 2002 and has been an asset to his assigned engine crew and the department ever since,” Sasebo Fire Chief Scott Rhode said.

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