Kousaku Yokota

To me, winning has very little meaning. Tournament Karate is quite different from real fighting. It is good to have that experience to get motivated to face some nervous situations. But we must know and understand the real purpose and objectives that you should get from the tournament.

Kousaku Yokota

Having trained in the martial arts for over 60 years, Kousaku Yokota holds the firm belief that Karate instructors, regardless of rank and age, should remain in peak physical condition.

Kousaku Yokota was born in Kobe, Japan, on 23 July 1947.

Yokota’s father was a Judo black belt, who encouraged him to learn Judo. He began learning Judo in 1960 aged 13. He trained at a local police station as his high school did not have a Judo club. His instructor was one of the policemen.

Several years into his Judo practice, Yokota believed that Judo was the most lethal martial art. He met a fellow student who joined the Judo club to improve his Karate. One day the student showed Yokota the effectiveness of Karate. He was so impressed by what he saw, that he decided he wanted to learn Karate.

Yokota wanted to prove to his father that he was still serious about Judo. So he waited to attain his black belt before switching to Karate. He won a high school Judo championship.

Yokota was eventually promoted to 1st Dan in Judo.

Around 1963 Yokota joined the JKA’s Kobe YMCA Karate Club, aged 16. He trained under Hashimoto sensei who was a student of Jun Sugano, the Vice-Chairman of the JKA. Sugano would sometimes visit the dojo and oversee the training.

Yokota found he loved Karate. Wanting to practice six days a week, he also joined another Karate club at the YMCA in Osaka. This club taught Goju-Ryu Karate under Gogen Yamaguchi.

After training at both clubs for about a year, Yokota decided to focus on Shotokan instead of Goju-Ryu.

Having failed his first grading exam, Yokota was eventually promoted to 1st Dan in 1965. He was aged 18.

Around 1966 Yokota enrolled at Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe. During this period he continued his Shotokan Karate training.

By 1973 Yokota had graduated from university. That year he relocated to Philadelphia, where he became an assistant to Teruyuki Okazaki. At the time he was Okazaki’s only Japanese assistant, with other assistants including Gerald Evans and Ron Johnson.

Yokota was a full-time teacher at the Philadelphia dojo. The dojo was located in a tough neighbourhood of Philadelphia and was known for its bloody kumite.

Hidetaka Nishiyama headed the JKA presence in the United States. He had the AAKF (American Amateur Karate Federation). However, by 1977 there were tensions between him and the other Japanese instructors in the organisation. After a heated meeting, five of the Japanese instructors, Teruyuki Okazaki, Takayuki Mikami, Yutaka Yaguchi, Shojiro Koyama, and Shigeru Takashina left to form their own organisation, the ISKF (International Shotokan Karate Federation). Masataka Mori was the only Japanese instructor to remain with Nishiyama.

In the late 1970s Yokota enrolled on the ISKF Instructors Training Course, training under Teruyuki Okazaki. The course was modelled on the JKA’s Instructors Training Course.

In 1981 Yokota returned to Kobe, To complete his instructor’s training. He continued his training under Jun Sugano.

While in Japan Yokota traveled to Tokyo to pay his respects to JKA Chief Instructor, Masatoshi Nakayama. He had the opportunity to train at Nakayama’s Hoitsugan dojo.

During his return to Japan, Yokota competed at the Kobe Prefecture tournament, becoming champion. He also represented Kobe at the 1981 JKA All-Japan Championships. He also represented his prefecture at the Japan Athletic Fair. This was like a mini Olympics, with Karate being one of the events.

In 1982 Yokota completed the JKA Instructor Course. That year he represented Kobe at the JKA All Japan Championships. This was his last competition.

Yokota returned to the United States in 1983. He began teaching Karate in Mountain View, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

By 1997 Yokota had been promoted to 5th Dan. That year he returned to Japan, settling in Tokyo. However, during his stay, he did not attend any formal Karate classes.

In 1998 Yokota joined the Nishino Style Ki School of Kozo Nishino, based in Tokyo. The school taught conscious breathing techniques, and the ability to relax. He trained at the school for two years.

After his two-year stay in Japan, Yokota returned to the United States in 2000. He became the Chief Instructor of the Byakkokan Dojo, located in San Jose, California.

Yokota was at a crossroads in his training. He had begun to find that the ISKF was restrictive and he was searching for something new.

In 2001 Yokota attended a seminar conducted by Tetsuhiko Asai in California. After seeing the way Asai moved, he knew he wanted to train with him. He has credited Asai with saving his Karate life.

In January 2000, Yokota’s teacher in Japan, Jun Sugano, died aged 74.

After over forty years of membership, Yokota left the ISKF and hence the JKA in 2002. The following year he joined the JKS (Japan Karate Shoto), the association founded by Tetsuhiko Asai.

Yokota had joined the JKS because of Asai and his unique style of Karate. He was eventually promoted to 6th Dan by Asai. He also eventually became the Chairman of the Americas for the JKS.

In June 2006, Yokota and JKS Americas invited Asai to the United States. However, Asai was taken seriously ill. There were talks of cancelling the trip. However, Asai still made a trip, as he did not want to disappoint his students. He spent ten days and the United States and Mexico. He returned to Japan in July. This would be his last overseas tour.

On 15 August 2006, Tetsuhiko Asai died in Japan aged 71.

Masao Kagawa eventually replaced Asai as a Technical Director of the JKS. Yokota remained with the JKS.

On 18 November 2008, a memorial training session was held at the Byakkokan Dojo in honour of one of Yokota’s students, Joe Scaglione, who died aged only 47.

Yokota left the JKS in January 2009. His reason for leaving was that he felt much of Asai’s teachings were being forgotten. That year he was invited to be a guest instructor on the WJKA (World JKA Karate Association) Gasshuku hosted by Jan Knowles. It was held in the Netherlands.

In January 2010, Yokota was appointed the Technical Director of the WJKA.

In May 2010 Yokota travelled to Miami, Florida, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Yasuyoshi Saito, teaching in the United States.

Yokota’s first book, Shotokan Myths, was published on 6 December 2010.

In 2011 Yokota established the Online Shotokan Dojo. He aimed to run courses that taught Asai Karate.

December 2012 saw Yokota become a part of the Karate Coaching website team.

On 11 December 2012, Yokota was invited to give a Karate seminar at the UFRGS Porto Alegro, Brazil. At the end of the seminar, he received a certificate of thanks from the university.

Yokota’s second book, Shotokan Mysteries, was published on 25 April 2013.

On 25 April 2013, Yokota resigned from the WJ KA. Around this time he also retired from the day-to-day running of the Byakkokan Dojo. He handed the dojo to one of his assistant instructors.

In May 2013 Yokota established his own association, ASAI (Asai Association International) a non-political and non-profit organisation, the aim of ASAI was to honour and promote the teachings of his late teacher. He became the Chief Instructor of the organisation, which now has members in over thirty countries.

Between 12-14 December 2014, the first ASAI seminar was held in Mumbai, India. It was hosted by the AISKF (All India Shotokan Karate Federation).

Kousaku Yokota has written for many publications, including Shotokan Karate Magazine, Masters Magazine, and Classical Fighting Arts. He has also authored several books on Karate. His latest book Karatedo Esoteric Wisdom: Prohibited Knowledge Now Disclosed for the First Time was published in October 2022.

Yokota’s books seek to provide the real truths and debunk the misinformation that has prevailed in Karate for many years. His books have been published in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Currently ranked a 9th Dan, Yokota travels around the world as the Chief Instructor of ASAI, conducting courses and seminars.

Apart from Karate, Yokota has studied Kobudo and has a preference for the nunchaku.

Permanent link to this article: http://findingkarate.com/wordpress/kousaku-yokota/


    • Per-Åke Kjellberg on April 17, 2024 at 11:57 am
    • Reply

    I think he is the best now living sensei His knowlege is outstanding
    Performance and dedication also

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