Akihito Isaka

You must always think about how you build up the level of your kihon and how to achieve a higher level of kihon.

Akihito Isaka

Like many graduates of the JKA Instructors Course, Akihito Isaka is known for his exceptional technique. He is also known for stressing the importance of slow-motion training as a way to correctly understand the use of the body in Karate. This is a unique approach to training, as many instructors stress the need for speed training.

Akihito Isaka was born on 1 September 1942, in Japan. Growing up, he did not practice any form of Karate.

In 1960 Isaka enrolled at Asia University. He joined the University’s Karate club, where he began learning Karate for the first time, under the JKA’s Motokuni Sugiura.

After graduating from University in 1964, Isaka enrolled in the JKA instructors Course in 1965. He began training under Masatoshi Nakayama, the Chief Instructor of the JKA. The training was very tough.

Isaka graduated from the JKA Instructors Course in 1968. He became an instructor at the JKA Hombu.

Isaka was a frequent competitor at the JKA All Japan Karate Championships. He used the championships as a way of gauging his skills.

Through the late 1960s and 1970s, Isaka competed in both kata and kumite, against the likes of Hideo Ochi, Yoshimasa Takahashi, Toru Yamaguchi, Yoshiharu Osaka, Masahiko Tanaka, and Mikio Yahara. He frequently placed in the top three positions.

In 1974 Isaka was asked to go to the United States to assist Masataka Mori. He helped Mori at his New York dojo, returning to Japan in 1976.

Through the majority of the 1980s, Isaka continued teaching at the JKA Hombu. He was known for his unique way of teaching kata.

On 15 April 1987, Masatoshi Nakayama, the Chief Instructor of the JKA died. Nobuyuki Nakahara, a Tokyo-based businessman became the Chairman of the JKA. Some instructors like Tetsuhiko Asai disagreed with the appointment. This led to a split in the JKA, into two opposing factions, and a 10-year legal battle as to which faction had the right to use the JKA name.

The Nakahara faction consisted of the likes of Masaaki Ueki, Yashuhiro Osaka, and Masahiko Tanaka.

The Matsuno faction was led by Tetsuhiko Asai consisted of the likes of Keigo Abe, Mikio Yahara, Masao Kagawa, and Akihito Isaka.

Isaka was one of the main Matsuno instructors teaching at the JKA Hombu. He also taught on the Matsuno faction’s version of the JKA Instructors Course.

In 1991 Isaka competed at the Matsuno JKA All Japan Karate Championships. Still keen to gauge his skills, he competed in the Individual Kumite event. At the age of 49 years, he finished in third place. He continued competing into his 50s.

In 1999 the Nakahara faction of JKA was awarded the rights to the JKA name by a Japanese High Court ruling.

With the loss, the Matsuno faction split into several new associations:

  • Japan Karate Shotokai (JKS) – led by Tetsuhiko Asai
  • Japan Shotokan Karate Association (JSKA) – led by Keigo Abe
  • Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF) – led by Mikio Yahara. It was this group that Isaka decided to join.

Mikio Yauara established the KWF in April 2000. Isaka was appointed to the Saiko-Shihankai, a three-man supreme master board of the KWF, alongside Yahara, and Malcolm Dorfman. Yahara was the Chief Instructor of the KWF, with Isaka and Dorfman the Vice-Chief Instructors.

On 31 August 2016, at the age of 75 years, Isaka decided to retire from his post as Vice-Chief Instructor of the KWF. he had been in the post for 16 years.

On 2 September 2016, Isaka established Isaka Karate Seminar, based in Tokyo. Now being unaffiliated to any organisation, he wanted to follow his own individual path in Karate, without being part of a large organisation.

Akihito Isaka has always stressed the importance of slow-motion training, as a way for practitioners to correctly understand the use of the body in Karate. His unique approach to teaching has always been popular. His seminars have challenged students to think deeply about their techniques.

Karate has been a very important part of Isaka’s life, through his time with the JKA and the KWF.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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