Greer Golden

One of the first non-Japanese Shotokan instructors in the United States, Greer Golden was a great communicator. He was well respected by his students and peers alike.

Greer Golden was born on 12 March 1937, in Washington, DC. He and his family moved to southwestern Florida, where he grew up playing in the great outdoors.

In 1956 Golden enlisted in the US Air Force. He was deployed to Okinawa.

While stationed in Okinawa Golden began learning Shotokan Karate from Noboru Kobayashi. Initially, he had been looking to learn Judo. However, he had seen Kobayashi teaching classes on the Air Force Base.

In 1957 Golden began competing at various JKA tournaments. At the JKA All Japan Karate Championships. He was awarded a trophy for the “Best Fighting Spirit“.

Golden extended his tour of duty in 1960. He wanted to continue his Karate training.

In 1961 Golden was promoted to 1st Dan. He was one of the first Americans promoted by the JKA.

Golden returned to the United States in 1961 after his tour of duty ended. On his return, he was invited by Hidetaka Nishiyama to join his Los Angeles dojo.

The 1st AAKF National Karate Championships was organised by Nishiyama in December 1961. In the Individual Kata final James Yabe defeated Golden to become champion.

In 1964 Nishiyama sent Golden to Arizona to teach and establish Karate. However, the JKA decided to send Shojiro Koyama to Phoenix, Arizona, where he established the Arizona Karate Association.

With Koyama’s arrival, Golden returned to California.

On 5 June 1965, Yutaka Yaguchi arrived in Los Angeles. A 5th Dan Masatoshi Nakayama sent him to assist Nishiyama. Yaguchi had a big influence on Golden’s Karate.

Alongside Ray Dalke and Lester Ingber, Golden enrolled on the Instructor Trainee Program. The three men were the first students in the program, which had been modelled on the JKA Instructions Course. They trained on the course full-time, six hours a day, under Nishiyama and Yaguchi.

Golden, Dalke, and Ingber became the first graduates of the Instructors Trainee Program in 1969. They received their licenses to teach Karate.

In 1970 Nishiyama recommended Golden for a position at establishing a Karate club at the University of Ohio. Golden accepted the position and relocated to Athens, Ohio. He establish a Karate club at Ohio University, and eventually another club at Ohio State University.

Golden developed a relationship with Teruyuki Okazaki, who was based in Philadelphia. Golden would travel from his home in Athens to Philadelphia to train with Okazaki on a regular basis.

Following differences between Nishiyama, and some of the other Japanese JKA instructors based in the United States, Okazaki established the ISKF (International Shotokan Karate Federation) in 1977.

Golden joined the ISKF. He was appointed to lead the Mid-American Region of the organisation.

In 1984 Golden was invited to Anchorage, Alaska, to teach some Karate classes. He became a technical advisor to the region and helped them to eventually join the ISKF.

By 1998 Golden had been promoted to 6th Dan. That year alongside Maynard Miner, James Field, Frank Woon-A-Tai, Cathy Cline, and Robin Rielly, Golden was appointed to the ISKF Technical Committee by Okazaki and Yaguchi. Okazaki had decided that the ISKF needed a Technical Committee.

In 2013, the ISKF National Karate Tournament began presenting the award for the “Best Fighting Spirit“, to worthy recipients. This was in honour of the award Golden had received at the JKA All Japan Karate Championships.

On 18 February 2019, Greer Golden died in Columbus, Ohio, aged 81. He was survived by his wife and brother. He was buried at the Riverside Cemetery.

A popular instructor, a Memorial Scholarship was set up in Greer Golden’s honour.

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