To say Elvis Presley is an overachiever would be a gross understatement. He wore many proverbial hats; a dedicated solider, a sensational singer, and a bankable movie star. One peculiar talent that stuck with him throughout his life was his strong affinity for Shotokan Karate.
Shotokan is a style in Karate that originated in Japan, it allows students to work on their maneuverability, anticipation, and control to surmount any obstacles. Elvis’ hard work paid off monumentally; he acquired the black belt in a relatively short amount of time.
However, his possession of the seventh level is still shrouded in mystery to this day. Becoming a Karate Master not only requires an acute understanding of the philosophy behind the martial art, but it also necessitates a certain level of maturity that can only be attained after decades of life experiences and consistent training.
How, When, and Where?
Elvis was a US soldier stationed in Germany back in 1958 when he met Juergen Seydel, a German Shotokan expert. His excessive free time allowed him to train with the German instructor vigorously.
The rock star then decided to fly to Paris on a paid leave where he continued his training under the tutelage of Tetsuji Murakami (who later became the Shotokan master of Europe). Undoubtedly, Elvis Presley had a deep-rooted understanding of Shotokan Karate; his teachers were all acclaimed masters of the trade and helped the young artist reach the highest-ranking belt in about two years which is quite staggering.
Singing on stages across the world, acting in major Hollywood productions, and practicing martial arts are no easy feats to pull off. In 1974, Elvis “earned” his seventh level of black belt, officially becoming a master in Shotokan Karate.
In traditional Karate, when a student crosses the fifth “dan” (level), their focus changes from the physical to the philosophical aspect of the martial art. Shotokan’s philosophy like many other variations of Karate and different martial arts is all about humility, respect, discipline, and patience. Those four essential pillars of Karate are taught at the incipiency of any student’s journey towards mastery (which should take at least three decades of training and research).
In Elvis’ case, he almost had them all locked down, but his only downfall was a lack of discipline. His untimely demise was a result of a violent heart attack that was brought on by his abuse of prescription drugs. Being a victim of drugs does not sound like a Karate master’s M.O.
His Caddie Was A Gift To His Master
The king of rock and roll was a skilled martial artist and a respected teacher. His training lasted shy of two decades to reach a master’s level in the Japanese martial art at 38! Rank in Karate does not translate to age, it’s true, but the level of maturity a person is supposed to have as a 7th dan master is supposed to be that of at least a 50-year-old. On the other hand, Master Kang Rhee received a brand new Cadillac after he bestowed upon Elvis the 7th dan which is undoubtedly sketchy. Master Rhee achieved his 8th dan a couple of weeks before Elvis’ ascension, and Karate rules dictate that a student cannot reach the same level as the master awarding it.
We’re not saying Elvis is a fraud! He is the KING and that is a fact, but his superstitious beliefs led him to seek the 7th dan since seven was his lucky number. On the plus side, there is no way any human being can work on so many projects at the same time and give 100% on every single one. Elvis must have been an alien since he reached a very high rank in Karate in an astoundingly short period. Additionally, there were no documented records of him climbing through the black belt ranks! We knew he got his black belt in 1960, then achieved a rank of master a decade or so later but no record is found of what happened during those fourteen years.