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Martial arts community loses mentor

He passed away after a battle with cancer.

The father of Tenshinkan South Africa, Hanshi Hans Haupt, has passed away.

Hanshi Hans, who holds the honour of being the first Westerner to be initiated in the Tenshinkan Style in 1976, died aged 77 on March 6 after a battle with cancer.

Born Johannes Zacharias Haupt, he leaves behind his son, Hans. His wife, Marie-Christiane, passed away in December 2022.

He was honoured by close friends and family on April 6 and Tenshinkan South Africa at the Honbu dojo in Rynfield on April 7.

A legend in Benoni, he was described as a remarkable man, a loving husband and a successful businessman.

“In his passing, we mourn the loss of a beacon of strength, generosity and passion. His love for his wife was a testament to commitment and devotion, a love that blossomed and endured through the trials of life. His bond with his child was one of unwavering support, guidance and endless pride.”


Hanshi Hans started his martial arts journey with judo in 1958, obtaining his black belt at the Kawaishi Judo Institute in Johannesburg in 1963.

However, he shifted his focus to karate and started Shotokan karate training in 1964. After grading to his first black belt, he took a break to complete his B-Com degree and resumed training in 1970 under senseis Tony van der Laan, Ampie Pretorius and Stan Macaskill.

He later continued his training with the Scottish Bruce Lee, Robert Kane, before travelling to the UK with Marie-Christiane for their honeymoon. While there, he trained in London under the famous sensei Keinosuke Enoeda, where he graded to third dan.

After his achievements in the UK, he extended his honeymoon to Japan to fulfil a lifelong dream of studying martial arts in the land of the rising sun.


He lived in Japan for two years, training under various teachers doing kobudo, jiu-jitsu and karate. But his outlook on karate changed when he heard about sensei Kancho Mamoru Miwa, who lived in a remote mountainous village and practised a unique form of martial arts.

Under Kancho, Hanshi Hans learnt the golden rule that there are three ways to become good in Tenshinkan Karate – practice and study, practice and study more and practice even more until perfection.

Return to SA

Hanshi Hans graded to third dan under sensei Kancho. He returned to SA in 1977 and introduced Tenshinkan Karate that same year.

He helped expand Tenshinkan into a global style, introducing it in countries like the USA, Denmark and Australia.
He was the world liaison officer, chief branch officer and Western world chief instructor for Tenshinkan Karate.

“My father taught countless students at his own karate schools and other schools across Benoni and SA. He has positively touched the lives of many people over the years,” said his son, Hans.

Hanshi Hans was a ninth dan in Tenshinkan, third dan in Ryu Kyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkakui and third dan in Shotokan Karate.

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