Nobuaki Kanazawa

Karate is a life-long journey, you only stop when you die. In my mind, I feel that I’m just beginning – that I’m on still growing and developing.

Nobuaki Kanazawa

Known for his dynamic style of Karate, Nobuaki Kanazawa continues his father’s legacy. He is the son of one of the greatest Shotokan practitioners, Hirokazu Kanazawa. He is an accomplished master in his own right.

Nobuaki Kanazawa was born on 14 May 1972 in Tokyo, Japan, to Hirokazu and Harue Kanazawa. He was the oldest of three boys.

As a young child, Nobuaki Kanazawa watched his father practising Karate. However, growing up, he was not pressurised into practising Karate by his father. He was more interested in playing basketball.

Kanazawa’s brother Daizo was born in 1973. Two years later, his youngest brother Fumitoshi was born.

In 1975, Shiro Asano, Masaru Miura, Akio Nagai, and Rikuta Koga, founded the SKIEF (Shotokan Karate-Do International European Federation). Two years later, Hirokazu Kanazawa left the JKA due to political reasons. He helped establish the SKIF (Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation). He became the Chief Instructor.

When Nobuaki Kanazawa was 16 years, his mother Harue died from cancer, aged only 44. She had been married to his father for 15 years.

In 1989, Kanazawa began learning Karate. It had been his choice to start learning. He enrolled at Taisho University, where he joined the Karate club. He trained under Norihiko Iida of the JKA. His father had wanted him to attend Takushoku University. However, at the time the Karate club was closed.

The young Kanazawa also trained at the JKA Hombu under Yasunori Ogura, and Yasuo Hanzaki.

Kanazawa found training under his various instructors and sempai hard. However, it laid a solid foundation for his Karate training. The kumite training was tough and his spirit was seriously tested.

Being naturally athletic, Kanazawa was able to learn the techniques he was taught. However, he had to put in the work to improve. He trained for 2-3 hours every day to catch up with some of the students who had started learning Karate at high school. He had a training ratio of 5-3-2 in terms of his kihon-kata-kumite practice.

Growing up, Kanazawa had not realised just how famous his father was. However, now that he was training, he soon realised the standing of his father in the Karate world. He tried not to let the fact that he was Hirokazu Kanazawa’s son affect the development of his Karate. However, he did feel the pressure to live up to people’s expectations of him.

In November 1994, the 5th SKIF World Championships were held in Yokohama, Japan, with competitors from 55 countries competing. Kanazawa won a silver medal in the Individual Kumite event.

Kanazawa graduated from Taisho University in 1995. He became one of his father’s assistants. He travelled the world, assisting him in courses and seminars.

Initially, because of who his father was, Kanazawa felt a little pressure, especially when it came to teaching in front of him. He eventually became more confident and grew to enjoy working with his father.

In 1996, Kanazawa won the first of his five consecutive kumite titles at the SKIF Japan National Championships.

In March 1997, Kanazawa’s daughter, Hiyori, was born.

The 6th SKIF World Championships were held in Milan, Italy, in June 1997. Unfortunately for Kanazawa, he was disqualified from his kumite bout.

Three years later, Kanazawa was much more successful at the 7th SKIF World Championships held in Bali, Indonesia. He became the Grand Champion by winning kumite gold, and kata bronze.

Kanazawa’s competitive successes continued over the next couple of years. This culminated in 2004 with him becoming the Japan National Champion.

In January 2009 Hirokazu Kanazawa suffered a skiing accident. He fell badly, crushing three of his vertebrae. Nobuaki Kanazawa and Manabu Murakami increased the amount of teaching they were doing.

Nobuaki Kanazawa’s daughter, Hiyori, had begun practising Karate at an early age. At the 10th SKIF World Championships held in Athens, Greece, in April 2009, she became a Junior World Champion.

Since 1961 Hirokazu Kanazawa had been travelling around the world teaching Karate. During that time, he had only spent a few months in Japan each year. In 2012 he decided to spend more time at home in Japan. In November of that year, he retired from active teaching and travelling after the 11th SKIF World Championships, held in Sydney, Australia.

In 2013, the SKIEF European Board of Directors was established. It oversaw the unifying of the different SKIF organisations across Europe. Kanazawa attended the first meeting the following year, held in Slovenia.

Between 4-6 April 2014, Kanazawa attended the first SKIF International Seminar, held in Ota City, Tokyo. The main instructor of the three-day course was Hirokazu Kanazawa.

On 5 April 2014., Nobuaki Kanazawa officially took over the leadership of the SKI (Shotokan Karate International) from his father. At a special ceremony held in Tokyo, Japan, he was named Kancho (head) of the SKI. Manabu Murakami was named Shiseku Shihan (Chief Instructor) of the SKI.

In 2016 and 2018, the 2nd and 3rd SKIEF Technical Seminars were held in Portugal and Belgium. Nobuaki Kanazawa was the main instructor in both seminars.

On 8 December 2019, the legendary Hirokazu Kanazawa died peacefully, aged 88.

Due to the global Covid-19 Pandemic, the 7th SKIF International Seminar was cancelled.

On 13 March 2021, the SKIF Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa Memorial Seminar, which was due to be held at the Ota City Sports General Gymnasium in Tokyo, was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

On 14 March 2021, a Memorial Service was held for Hirokazu Kanazawa at the Aoyama. Memorial Hall in Gakuin University, Tokyo. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the event could only be attended by those in Japan. However, the event was streamed live on the SKIF Official YouTube channel. Nobuaki, Kanazawa, Manabu Murakami, Koichi Tanaka, Shigeru Sawada, and Satoru Iwai spoke at the Memorial.

Being the son of a legend is not easy. However, Nobuaki Kanazawa has embraced the legacy of bearing and living up to the Kanazawa name. While keeping true to his father’s legacy, he has also followed his own path. He has become a phenomenal master in his own right.

Kanazawa, and his brothers, Daizo, and Fumitoshi, have all followed in their father’s footsteps. They have all found competitive success and have gone on to become successful professional instructors. Also, his daughter, Hiyori, has followed her father in becoming a World Champion and professional instructor.

Like his father, NobuakinKanazawa is a humble man who is open to learning from other styles of Karate and other martial arts.

As the Kansho of SKI, Kanazawa frequently travels the world, teaching seminars and courses, and carrying on the legacy of his father.

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    • John on March 1, 2023 at 9:31 am
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    Did 2 separate week long courses at Crystal Palace in the 70s.Kanazawa was one of the instructors .Great tuition .Good memories.

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