Being a Japanese actor, Hiroyuki Sanada rose to popularity as an action starring role in Yagyû ichizoku no inbô (1978). From then, he was considered as one of the most talented actors in Japan. In 1999 and 2000, he performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in their production of King Lear, which earned him an honorary MBE (Member of the British Empire) in 2002.
With the aim to become an action star, he studied Shorinji Kempo and Kyokushin kaikan when he was very young. At age 11, he joined in actor and martial arts star Sonny Chiba's Japan Action Club to develop good all-round martial arts ability, and soon became Chiba's protégé.
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