Soke Farhad Varasteh (Founder Kan-Zen-Ryu)

They call him Shinan, meaning, "Supreme Instructor, the one who shows the way." Shinan is the designation given to the instructor at the highest level in Japanese-style Karate.

Photographs, letters of recommendations, diplomas, trophies and gold medals of Farhad Varasteh, 9th Dan, and his students, adorn the walls and display cases in his office at the World Union of Kan-Zen-Kai Karate-Do Organizations headquarters. Looking 10 years younger than his 66 years, he is in better physical shape than most 20-year olds.


  1. 1st Dan (1st Degree) Black Belt achieved in 1952
  2. 10th Dan in 2004.
  3. For 15 years, he participated in various national and international championship competitions and won 1st place in all matches; awarded more than 50 gold medals and many trophies.
  4. Founded Karate in Iran in 1966.
  5. Chief Instructor for Karate, National Police College, Iran (1966-68) .
  6. Founder of the first official Karate club in Iran and founder of Kan-Zen-Kai Karate-Do Organization in 1968.
  7. Chief Instructor for Karate and Combat Karate: Special forces, Iranian Arm Forces (1967-78).
  8. Elected Vice-president of the World Union of Karate-Do Organizations (W.U.K.O.) at World Congress, 1972 World Championships in Paris, France.
  9. First President of Iranian Karate-Do Federation, 1972.
  10. Kan-Zen-Kai represented Iran in 1974 competing with Sweden and Norway. Coached and trained by him, the team won all competitions in Goteburg, Malmo, and Stockholm, Sweden.
  11. 8th Dan achieved in 1975 with the title HANSHI (Exemplary Instructor). Passed exams for World Judge and refereed at the 1975 World Karate Championships in Los Angeles, California.
  12. Chief organizer, European Karate Championships, Tehran, Iran, 1976, involving 13 European Countries. Kan-Zen-Kai participants won 1st place in the competition in one division and two second-place standings in two other divisions. (Despite Iran not being a European country, the level of his international involvement and skill in the sport of Karate earned Iran the privilege to host the competition. This is the only time in history that a non-European country hosted the European karate championships.)
  13. Soke Farhad Varasteh holds a Ph.d (1966) in Political Science from the University of Michigan, U.S.A., and a Bachelor of Science (1959) with majors in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology from the University of Geneva, Switzerland


A short history and an autobiography by Shinan Farhad Varasteh 10th Dan Soke, Kanzen-ryu Karatedo

The founding of Karate in Iran was not an enviable task, for I went from the depths of despair to the very heights of glory only to be disillusioned once again. After finishing my studies in the U.S.A I returned to Iran in 1965 and while serving as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I started teaching Karate with one person as my student. As the number of my students rapidly grew, so did the opposition to the teaching of Karate by all authorities who misunderstood the art of Karate as an "art for killing". The sport Organization of Iran took every measure to see that any teaching facilities were made unavailable, as a consequence I had no choice but to teach my students in basements, Tennis courts and un-heated military compounds. As time passed the number of students continued to rise, inevitably so did that of the opposition.

Despite the odds, I believed and still continue to believe that a fighter must fight, and I fought for with undying passion for the cause of Karate-Do. In the process I continued to decline missions to go abroad concerning my position as a diplomat, as an alternative I stayed in Iran and continued to teach my beloved students whose passion and dedication for Karate gave me a deep sense of responsibility to not let them down.

Karate in Iran grew by leaps and bounds but still there were no signs of support, or a dojo to call my own however, I believed that I had a mission and I often found myself swimming against the currents of the river of life to achieve my goals.

In 1972 I received a letter from W.U.K.O stating that I could bring my team to compete at the World Championships in Paris, France provided I obtained a letter from the Iranian Olympic Committee stating that my team would officially be representing Iran. By what can only be described as a miracle I obtained the letter. My leading students and I were off to represent Iran at the world championships in Paris without the full support of our own country.

Relatively young and still unknown in the world of Karate I managed to catch the attention of the world congress in a heated discussion where utilized my linguistic skills and fluently spoke French, Spanish and English about the technical aspects of Karate-Do as well as suggestions on how the newly founded World Karate Federation should proceed in order to be successful. Delegates from various countries were so impressed with the man from Iran who spoke with passion and elegance that they voted me as the Vice-President of the World Karate Federation (W.U.K.O).

Upon my return to Iran having done the impossible, the first Iranian Karate Federation was formed with me as the president. Now that the title had been clinched time had come for proof. And prove we did, our first competitions were with the "Vikings" where in six competitions against Sweden and Norway we defeated them six times. At the 1975 World championships in Los Angles I was among a handful of individuals who qualified and licensed as World Judge and Referee. Our next competition was against the West German National Karate Team held in Tehran in 1976 where the Germans were defeated five times and equalled once.

That same year we went to Jakarta, Indonesian for Asian Pacific Union of Karate-Do championships where Iran took third place after Japan and Indonesia, and prior to the championships I was elected as the director of A.P.U.K.O.

1976 proved to be an eventful year, where against all precedent because of my unique relations with the European Karate leaders in the congress, I convinced them to accept Iran as an official member of the E.K.U (European Karate Union), and not only that in the same year the European Karate Championships were held in Tehran, Iran. Thirteen European countries undertook the journey to Tehran, which President Delcourt called the capital of Europe.

In the fourth world Karate Championships in Tokyo, Japan Iran took third place in the world with France. So impressed was the world of Karate with me as the president, trainer and coach of my country's team that I was unanimously voted to become the vice-president of the World Karate Federation for a second four year term, I also re-qualified as a world judge and referee.

One week after my return from Japan with so many achievements as a coach as well as on a personal level, I returned to Iran mistakanly optimistic. I was against all logic removed as the president of the Iran Karate Federation, while still the president of the World Karate Federation. So many victories out of one basement club were thought to have come easily, so why not give it to the more privileged?

Feeling disappointed and let down by my country I retuned to my Dojo (the Karate Academy) and still in the eyes of the press I continued to teach my students as the world looked on in. But this was not to be the end, but the beginning of even more heartache.

In 1979 I was expelled from the Ministry of Foreign affairs, with no explanation given. And one year later all doors were closed on the love of my life as my Dojo was closed down, the authorities claimed that it was illegal, this was a contradicting due to the fact that I was the first person to have a permit for a Karate club. I was then forbidden to leave Iran and after the Iranian National Karate Championships in 1981 (ironically titled the Farhad Varasteh Cup), I was forbidden to leave Tehran.

So after so many years of hard work, accomplishments, and contribution to the sport and to the youth of my country I was deprived of everything that I had worked so hard for. In 1982 with all doors closed on me, I fled my beloved Iran for Paris, France only to start again from scratch, only this time with a wife and four children. I started teaching Karate in Paris and in 1984 with my son and a few students from Italy and France I was invited to participate in the European All Star Karate Championships in Rome. My team won gold in team Kumite and my son Pirooz also a member of the team won a gold medal in individual Kata. In 1986 I immigrated to Canada and with no funds and no connections I was to start again for the third time. I started teaching Karate three times a week out of a squash court. At times I still get tears in my eyes when I speak of the past, but I insist these are not tears of weakness, but of emotion.

Now in 2002 after my Dojo has been ranked number one for the past eight years in a row, with my students winning more medals than any club or style. One would think so much pain suffering and injustice would weaken a man's resolve.

About one year ago while accepting two more awards as the club of the year in Ontario I insisted that excellence is a habit, not an act. My final judgement as the founder of Kan-Zen-Ryu Karate-Do must be left to history.

And last but not least I want to remind every individual everywhere that if they choose to practice Kan-Zen-Ryu Karate-Do or use this name in any way they must teach and maintain my standards evaluations I have set forth. They must be graded according my standards set forth in the syllabus in Kumite, Kata and Kihon. Let there be no misunderstandings by anyone anywhere. This style of which I am the founder, over the years the price has been paid in sweat, blood and tears. And although a few people around the world have shared in the sweat and tears I assure you the blood has been all mine. It is my expectation and wish that if they do not or cannot maintain these standards they should change their name to any other style and refrain from using the word Kan-Zen-Ryu or Kan-Zen-Kai.