When training became challenging in my youth, I devoted myself to tough training. I did each Kata and technique 100 times in order to clear my mind without any precise motivation. Karate taught me the limit of my physical and mental endurance.Hiromi Hishiki
A pioneer of women’s Karate, Hiromi Hishiki began practising Karate at a time when young women were expected to be married in Japanese society.
Hiromi Hishiki was born in Hokkaido, Japan in the 1950s.
Hishiki began practising Karate in 1957. While still at school she had come across an article entitled “Karate Girls in New York“. She was surprised to learn that American girls were learning Japanese Karate. Motivated by what she read she managed to find a JKA dojo in Hokkaido.
Like another pioneer, Tomiko Mitsuoka, Hishiki practised Karate during a time when it was not popular for women or girls to practice martial arts.
At the time Japanese society expected women to be married by the age of 24 and not be participating in male pursuits. This expectation did not prevent women like Hishiki from wanting to learn Karate and eventually carving a path to be a successful businesswoman.
By 1970 Hishiki has started training at the JKA Hombu in Tokyo. She mainly trained in the women-only classes run by Tetsuhiko Asai. She also had the opportunity to chain to train with the JKA Chief Instructor, Masatoshi Nakayama.
Between 3-8 August 1974 Asai organised the 1st All Japan Female Joint Training Camp. It was held at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Centre, In Tokyo. This was at a time when female Karate practitioners were still rare. 34 women attended the course. A great instructor, Asai gave women valuable opportunities to train at special women’s training camps in Tokyo, Chiba, Philippines, Taiwan, and Hawaii.
In 1980 King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain visited Japan on an official tour of the country. During their visit, they had the opportunity to watch a Karate demonstration. Masatoshi Nakayama led a nine-person Karate demonstration team at the State Guest House of Akasaka Palace. Hishiki was a member of the team and perform the kata Unsu. Other members of the team included Keigo Abe, Masahiko Tanaka, and Yoshiharu Osaka.
Hishiki took a break from Karate in 1981. By that time she was married and had a small child. She was balancing being a mother and also having a full-time job. Her husband worked overseas. Her break from Karate would end up lasting around 20 years.
In 2000 Hishiki was admitted to hospital due to overwork. She had established her own company six months earlier. It was around this time that her sempai invited her to return to training at the women’s classes held at the JKA Hombu.
After returning to full-time training, Hishiki eventually established her own dojo at the Yomiura Culture Centre in Yokohama. The aim of the dojo was to increase the number of people practising Shotokan Karate. At the dojo, she welcomes women and children from around the world to train with her.
After her return to Karate, Hishiki started competing in senior events. She was now in her 50s and was competing at a time when many practitioners her age would have stopped. In her younger days, she had not had the opportunity to compete in kumite, as the JKA did not allow women to compete in kumite bouts until 1985.
In 2005 Hishiki won first place in Women’s Kata (over 55 years) at the 5th All Japan Jukurensha Karatedo Championships. The following year she repeated the feat at the 6th All Japan Jukurensha Karatedo Championships. In 2007 she was a double champion, winning both the Women’s (over 55 years) Kata and Kumite events at the 7th Jukurensha Karatedo Championships.
Hishiki loved competing. Unfortunately, since resuming her Karate in her 50s, she has faced a number of injuries.
Hishiki is quite outspoken about the representation of women instructors in Karate and how they are treated by their male counterparts. Unfortunately, she has had to deal with a small number of male instructors who still require female instructors to always defer to them. As a member of the Japanese Academy of Budo, she was invited to give a talk at the 2013 International Budo Conference. Her talk was entitled “A study of the founding of dojo by female Karate instructors and their teaching activities“.
Between 13-14 February 2016, the International Federation of Physical Education (FIEP) organised the 2nd FIEP Asia Conference on Physical Education. The event was held at Kogakuin University, Tokyo, Japan. She gave a talk titled “Karate Globalisation – An Experiment with Children in Education“.
Currently a 6th Dan under the JKA, Hiromi Hishiki has taken her love for Karate and passed it to her students. She believes in the principles of Karate-do – proper manners and attitude; respect for others; and strong techniques. These are the principal she tries to impart to the children training at her dojo.
Away from Karate Hishiki is a successful businesswoman, and amateur radio operator. She has organised meetings for female radio operators from around the world.