Munawar Ali Karim | YMAA
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Munawar Ali Karim

Quick Facts

Studied traditional martial arts in Japan

MovNat® Combatives Instructor

Author of Liberty’s Jihad: African Muslim Slaves and the Meaning of America

Undergraduate degrees in Law and Japanese

Postgraduate degree in Modern History

Founded a not-for-profit Montessori Primary and Liberal Arts Secondary School (2009)

Founded Deenway Dojo (2019)

Pen and Sword in Accord
Munawar Ali Karim

Munawar Ali Karim is a combatives instructor, natural movement coach, Montessori educator and martial artist with an interest in history and sacred tradition. He is the author of Liberty’s Jihad: African Muslim Slaves and the Meaning of America, a ‘compelling and illuminating’ [...] ‘work of historical criticism’ (Kirkus). He holds undergraduate degrees in Law and Japanese and a postgraduate degree in Modern History. He began studying martial arts at the age of 12 with a Shotokan Karate master who also taught a hybrid style derived from Hung-Gar Kung-fu and Southern Praying Mantis (Chow-Gar). In his early twenties Munawar was invited to work for the Japanese government as an International Relations Specialist. Living in a small town in the Kiso Mountains along the nakasendo—the old road between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto—Munawar studied Shorinji Kempo whilst deepening his understanding of ninjutsu, samurai and sufi teachings. On returning from Japan, Munawar continued to pursue the martial arts including Shaolin Kung Fu (under 33rd generation Shaolin Monk Shifu Zheng Ke Wang), Wing Chun (under Sifu Loukas Kastrounis) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Gracie lineage).

In 2008 Munawar made the decision to leave his position as a corporate lawyer to pursue his interests in the development of mind, body and spirit through teaching, writing and personal practice. In 2009 he founded a not-for-profit Montessori Primary and Liberal Arts Secondary School to help young people of all backgrounds access an elite education rooted in traditional values. Aside from his formal practice of martial arts, Munawar enjoys epee fencing, poetry and traditional archery. In 2019 he founded Deenway Dojo to share his interpretation of the martial way (budo) with others. Munawar describes his budo as following the maxim of the great 'sword saint' Musashi Miyamoto: bun bu ichi ryu "Pen and Sword in Accord", and the spiritual teachings of the sufi masters.