Avi Rokah

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Avi Rokah

Carrying on the Legacy of Karate as taught to him by Hidetaka Nishiyama, Avi Rokah has been practising Karate for over 40 years. He has managed to combine Nishiyama’s teachings with the latest in psychology and kinesiology.

Rokah was born on 3 July 1960, in Tel Aviv, Israel. He grew up in Ramat Gan.

Rokah began learning Karate in 1974, aged 14.

In 1981, three days after completing his compulsory National Service in the IDF (Israeli Defence Force), Rokah arrived in Los Angeles. He was aged 21. He had come to the United States with the intention of training with Hidetaka Nishiyama.

Rokah had initially planned to stay in the United States for six months. However, he soon realised this would not be enough time to learn all that Nishiyama had to teach.

Rokah found his first few months in Los Angeles tough. He had very little money and food. However, he was happy to have the chance to train with Nishiyama. He would travel by bus for three hours to Nishiyama’s LA dojo. He frequently trained five hours a day at the dojo.

Training at the LA dojo was very tough. Nishiyama was a strict instructor. He emphasised the teaching of precise techniques, that required a lot of repetition. Rokah described the training as going to war. The first week he was there he had received a punch that required him to have 24 stitches. This did not deter him from becoming a dedicated student of Nishiyama.

Rokah supplemented his income by teaching Karate at YULA Boys High School. He opened his first dojo in 1982 in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles.

As a competitor, Rokah was very successful. From 1990 to 2000. He was the AAKF National Champion in Individual Kumite, five times (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2000). He also represented the United States at the 7th ITKF World Championships held in Treviso, Italy. He became a World Champion in Team Kumite.

In 1993, Rokah met his future wife, Ruth, who was a gymnast from Sweden. Injury had curtailed her career. When they met, she was working as a coach at Santa Monica’s Gymnastics Centre. She became a student and was eventually promoted to 3rd Dan. She has also represented the United States as a kumite competitor.

Rokah relocated his dojo from Fairfax to Pico in 1998.

In 2002 Rokah appeared in the documentary “Modern Warriors: The Martial Way “. It featured over 80 of the world’s greatest martial artists, demonstrating technique and discussing their philosophies.

On 7 November 2008, Rokah’s, teacher and mentor, Hidetaka Nishiyama, died in Los Angeles.

By 2010 Rokah had been promoted to 7th Dan. For the next few years, he focused on carrying on the legacy of Nishiyama.

In 2017 Rokah founded the WBKA (World Budo Karate Association).

Between 9–10 November 2019, the 2nd WBKA Children’s Traditional Karate Championships was held in the Czech Republic. 1200 children competed in the championships. At the championships, Rokah was awarded his 8th Dan by the WBKA governing body.

In 2020 the global COVID-19 pandemic led to a lockdown in the United States, as in many countries around the world. Because of this lockdown, Rokah’s dojo lost 100 of 150 students. Like many instructors around the world, he conducted classes on Zoom. He also taught open-air classes at the park and the beach, as an alternative to Zoom.

Rokah has continued Hidetaka Nishiyama’s teachings. He has incorporated many modern advances in psychology and kinesiology into his training and teaching. He teaches seminars and courses around the world.

Rokah has also served as a President of the WTKF (World Traditional Karate-Do Federation) and the World Budo Karate Association.

Apart from Rokah, his wife and four children also practice Karate. His younger brother, Moshe, is also a Karate practitioner.

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