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The Real Miyagi’s Dojo Threatened: Santa Ana Favors Foliage over Small Businesses

Karate legend Fumio Demura has shaped much of the karate culture we are familiar with today. He’s trained iconic martial arts stars like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Pat Morita, and has also acted in popular martial arts films.

Demura’s credits include working as Mr. Miyagi’s stunt double in The Karate Kid franchise, Mortal Combat, Rising Sun, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. The Real Miyagi is a soon-to-be-released feature documenting Demura’s life. Demura credits his “dojo,” or studio, in Santa Ana, California for much of his success.

“A dojo is not just a studio, not just for fighting. It’s the development of better human beings,” says Demura.

Yet Demura’s dojo may not be around for much longer. The City of Santa Ana is planning to acquire his property as well as eight other small businesses as part of the Bristol Street Widening Project. The project has been around since the early 90’s, and is just now reaching the phase that threatens these businesses.

“It’s just a very slow process,” says Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido. “You have to deal with every single homeowner, every single business owner.”

Mayor Pulido says that this section of Bristol Street is especially important because it’s a major gateway into Santa Ana, and thus requires more lanes in order to ease traffic congestion. However, the businesses believe that the city can indeed widen the streets without acquiring their properties.

The city’s current plan allots 30 ft. for landscaping, and those 30 ft. are crucial for the businesses to be able to remain untouched. Christina Rush represents the Bristol Street businesses, and says they can take care of the landscaping themselves.

“We can give you that in our plan, through our landscaping, through architectural elements, outdoor seating,” says Rush. “We can achieve what the city wants, that park-like look, while still allowing the businesses to retain their properties.”

Rush has met multiple times with city representatives, and expects a resolution or at least more debate at the city council meeting on Jan. 6. She says the businesses have no intention of giving up their properties without a fight.

“I’d like to stay as much as I can, because this is an old house. We fixed it. So hard we were working,” says Demura.

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