Akio Minakami

I use natural body movement, breath control, and correct posture so that ki comes out smoothly. So, even with less effort, more power goes out to the target. I relax and use my body.

Akio Minakami

Carrying on the legacy of Shito-Ryu master, Teruo Hayashi, Akio Minakami, is one of the world’s most respected masters. For many years he was a top competitor. He was also the first man to receive unanimous approval from the FAJKO grading panel.

Akio Minakami was born in Tokyo, Japan, on 27 March 1948. His father was a martial artist. Growing up he would play fight with him.

On 12 August 1956 Minakami began learning Judo at the Kodokan, the home of Japanese Judo. He trained under the renowned master, Kiyokazu Takagi, a 9th Dan.

In 1963 Minakami emigrated to the United States with his parents. They settled in Honolulu, Hawaii, where Minakami attended Kaimuki High School.

Minakami searched for a new place to train. He found a local Judo club, but it was not to his liking. He managed to find a Kempo dojo, where he trained for a few months.

In 1965 Minakami eventually started learning Karate at the Shito-Ryu dojo of Chuzo Kotoka. Kotoka was a former All Japan Kumite Champion.

After graduating from high school, Minakami moved to the United States mainland, where he studied at Yakima Valley, in Washington State.

In 1969 Minakami competed at the All Hawaii Championships. He competed in both the Men’s Individual Kata and Men’s Individual Kumite events. He became the first man to win both titles. He repeated the feat the following year at the All-Hawaii Open Karate Championships.

By 1978 Minakami was married. In February of that year, his daughter, Takayo, was born.

Minakami had become a top competitor. At the 1974 Hayashi-Ha All Japan Karate Championships, he won an unprecedented five medals – 4 gold and 1 silver.

By 1974 Minakami had been training with Kotoka for a while. Kotoka introduced him to his teacher, Teruo Hayashi, who had established his version of Shito-Ryu Karate. Hayashi had started teaching his style of Hayashi-Ha Shito-Ryu Karate in the United States.

Minakami started training with Hayashi in 1974. He also started practising Kendo with Nobuto Omoto in 1976.

In 1983 Minakami competed at the AAU National Championships. He was 35 years old. He won five gold medals. He was the first man to do so.

Minakami graded for his 6th Dan in front of a grading panel of the Federation of All Japan Karatedo Organisation (FAJKO). He became the first person to receive unanimous approval from the 11 members of the examination board. The members of the examination board represented the four major styles of Karate. He was awarded his Shihan (Master Instructor) Certificate from FAJKO. Minakami was extremely pleased with his student, and took him out to celebrate.

In 1985 Minakami founded the Minakami Karate Dojo in the city of Seattle, Washington. His dojo now has branches in Hawaii, Mexico, and parts of Europe.

Minakami was a founding member of the Hokunei Karate-do Shihankai (Japanese karate master’s Association of North America) in 1994. The organization is dedicated to promoting and maintaining the principles of Japanese martial arts. He was one of 36 founding members, including Tomohiro Arashiro, Fumio Demura, Morio Higaonna, Hirokazu Kanazawa, to name a few.

Akio Minakami is currently the President of the United States Hayashi-Ha Shitoryu-kai. He is currently ranked as an 8th Dan. He holds black belts in Judo and Kendo.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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