Kato sensei has been practicing kendo and iaido for almost four decades each. He served as head coach for the U.S. national kendo team for the 10th World Kendo Championships in Kyoto in 1997 and again for the 11th world championships in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2000. In 2006, he served as one of the judges for the 13th world championships in Taipei. In 2012 he served as team manager for the U.S. national kendo team for the 15th World Kendo Championships in Novara, Italy. As one of the highest-ranking iaido practitioners in the U.S., he has also served as head instructor for numerous regional iaido seminars.
New York City now has its own hometown virtuoso in the swordsmanship of the samurai.
Shozo Kato, 54, recently became the third person from outside of Japan to pass the notoriously difficult exam for eighth dan in kendo - the highest rank in the martial art of Japanese fencing.
The pass rate is about 1%, earning it the reputation of being the toughest test in Japan.
"I feel the real training for eighth dan is just now beginning," said Kato, a fine-art photographer by day who has been teaching kendo at the Shidogakuin dojo in Manhattan for some 25 years.