Sonny Chiba, martial arts legend and “Kill Bill” actor, dies at 82 of COVID complications

Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba, the Japanese actor and martial arts legend who had roles in American films like Kill Bill and The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, died on Thursday of COVID complications, his agent and manager confirmed, according to Variety

He was 82.

Chiba appeared in countless Japanese titles, in addition to some popular American films and had a career in film and television that spanned from the 1960s through the 2010s, and he. In many of his projects, he showcased his expert martial arts skills, and he went on to choreograph fight scenes later in his career.

Born Sadaho Maeda in Fukuoka, Japan, on January 22, 1939, he began learning martial arts while at the Nippon Sports Science University in 1957. He studied under karate master Masutatsu “Mas” Oyama and earned a first-degree black belt in 1965. He later played Oyama in a trilogy of films, “Champion of Death,” “Karate Bearfighter” and “Karate for Life,” in the late 1970s. In 1984, he received a fourth-degree black belt. He also held black belts in ninjutsu, shorinji kempo, judo, kendo and goju-ryu karate.

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