Katsuya Kisaka

Known for his aggressive fighting style, and exceptional kicking ability, Katsuya Kisaka was the Chief Instructor of the JKA New Jersey dojo for over 40 years.

Katsuya Kisaka was born in Hiroshima, Japan, on 21 July 1937

On 6 August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Kisaka’s home city of Hiroshima, during World War II. He and his family survived. However, life in postwar Japan was tough.

Around 1958 Kisaka enrolled at Takushoku University. He joined the university’s Karate club, training under Masatoshi Nakayama.

Training at the Takushoku Karate Club was tough and intense. He trained three times a day, Monday to Friday, and once on Saturday. This was all done while attending his normal lectures.

Kisaka was a member of the Takushoku Karate Team, alongside team captain, Shiro Asano, and team members Hideo Ochi, Kazumi Tabata, and Satoshi Miyazaki. The team won the 1st All–Japan University Championships in 1958.

After graduating from Takushoku University, Kisaka enrolled on the JKA Instructors Course. He graduated from the course in 1961, alongside Ken Nakaya, Eiko Ogawa, Masaaki Ueki, Keinosuke Enoeda, Satoshi Miyazaki, Osamu Mori, Yoshimasa Takahashi, and Tetsuhiko Asai.

On 5 November 1963, Kisaka, alongside Masatoshi Nakayama, Hiroshi Shoji, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Toru Iwaizumi, arrived in Indonesia to teach Karate. The trip was part of the JKA’s aim of developing Shotokan Karate outside of Japan. They taught the bodyguards of Indonesian President Achmad Sukarno. They taught members of the Indonesian police force. They remained in the country until 27th December.

Kisaka was sent to the United States in 1965 to assist Teruyuki Okazaki at his Philadelphia dojo.

Kisaka returned to Japan during the year to compete in the 8th All Japan Karate Championships. He became the Kumite Champion by defeating Masaaki Ueki in the final. Hideo Ochi and Tetsu Miyazaki were joint third.

Back in the United States, Kisaka helped with the teaching at Okazaki’s dojo. However, by 1967 membership at the Philadelphia dojo began to fall. This was partly due to his tough training methods.

Okazaki made the decision to send Kisaka to take over a small dojo in Trenton, New Jersey.

In time, Kisaka’s New Jersey dojo, eventually became an independent dojo, only answerable to the JKA in Japan.

On 24 October 1970, Kisaka organised the Jersey Karate Tournament.

By 1976 there were eight Japanese JKA instructors teaching in the United States. They were Hidetaka Nishiyama, Teruyuki Okazaki, Takayuki Mikami, Masataka Mori, Yutaka Yaguchi, Shojiro Koyama, Shigeru Takashina, and Kisaka. Nishiyama and his AAKF (All American Karate Federation) oversaw the JKA’s interests in the United States, with all the other Japanese instructors answering to him.

However, by September 1977 there were growing tensions between Nishiyama and the other Japanese instructors. After a heated meeting, five of the instructors, Okazaki, Mikami, Yaguchi, Koyama, and Takashina, left to form their own organisation. Mori and Kisaka were the only Japanese instructors to remain with Nishiyama.

Until his death, Kisaka focused on developing his students at his New Jersey dojo.

On 10 February 2023, Katsuya Kisaka died aged 85.

Over the years Kisaka has helped develop many good karateka, including the likes of Robin Rielly and Najib Amin.

Permanent link to this article: http://findingkarate.com/wordpress/katsuya-kisaka/


    • Anonymous on February 5, 2024 at 7:16 pm
    • Reply

    “By 1976 there were eight Japanese JKA instructors teaching in the United States.”

    I would also like to mention Shojiro Sugiyama Sensei, JKA Chicago.

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