Master Paolo Bolaffio

Master Paolo Bolaffio is not Japanese or Chinese, but Italian. Who would have thought that one of the most prominent martial arts masters in our era would come from the land of pizza? But everything is not always as it seems in the martial arts. In fact, it is often just the opposite. Possibly the youngest 9th Dan Karate Sensei in the world, and at the same time a Sifu of Chinese martial arts, Paolo Bolaffio is the founder of Makotokai Karate and president of Makotokai International.

Master Paolo Bolaffio has dedicated his life to the research of the deepest meanings of martial arts.

His motto is: “If it can be proven, it works.” He teaches all of his students “to be strong in order to be useful.”

Paolo began to study karate at the age of eight when karate was almost unknown in Italy. He also studied Olympic fencing and admits that this was very useful for his concept of timing and action/reaction. Paolo travelled the world in quest in quest for different martial arts knowledge. Internal Chinese and Taoist styles had enormous influence on Paolo’s perception of the martial arts. After encountering the efficiency and power of the internal styles, nothing was ever the same for him. So it is of no surprise that he completed his master training to became a Sifu of Chinese martial arts.

Through his deep research, studies and endless testing of the internal and external martial arts, his karate evolved and he began the quest for the true essence of martial arts – how to become more efficient with less. It made him go deeper, removing all that was redundant, focusing on the core, molding his knowledge into something that would later become Makotokai Karate.

In the 1980s, Paolo became the Vice President of ISI (Institute Shotokan Italia) under one of the best karate masters in the world, the renowned Shihan Hiroshi Shirai. He assumed important roles in the karate world in ITKF and then WKC. He became the Italian National technical director of FESIK where he served until 2000 when he resigned from all his duties in order to fully concentrate on the creation of Makotokai Karate. At first, Makotokai Karate was a system. In 2012, WUKO recognized it as an official karate discipline.

Today Paolo is based in Trieste and frequently travels the world to teach. When he is not away, you will find him in his gym teaching or in the corridors of his school talking to his students. Paolo’s mother almost never misses the Chinese morning classes, and, at the age of 90, is feeling better than ever. When not at the gym, Paolo can often be found out having his favorite meal – pizza. After all, leaving aside all the international fame, titles, and recognition, Master Paolo Bolaffio is still an Italian.