Profile: Yukiyoshi Marutani

Karate should allow individuals to develop their own ethics, spirits, values, and integrity. Karate is an individual accomplishment rather than a public recognition of improvement.

Yukiyoshi Marutani

Described as a master of kumite, Yukiyoshi Marutani is known for his kumite and his exceptional teaching. He is unique in that he stresses learning kumite before learning kata.

Yukiyoshi Marutani was born in Japan in 1947. Around the age of 20, he began learning Karate at his College Karate club.

Training under Kunihiko Tosa, Marutani studied Geisei-ryu Karate. Meaning “To control the universe“, this style was founded after World War II. The training was very hard. Initially, he trained 3 to 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. He failed his first grading. He persevered with his training, eventually getting his black belt. He would train 7 days a week.

By 1972 Marutani has become one of the top competitors in Japan. That year he received his first call-up for the National Team selection.

In 1972 Marutani was asked to take part in the selection for the Japanese National Team. All the top competitors in the country apart from JKA competitors were in attendance. Starting with 150 competitors, they were whittled down to around 8.

1974 saw Marutani qualify for the Japanese National Team. The team met 7 to 8 times a year for 3-day-long training sessions. Other members of the squad included Toshiaki Maeda, Hisao Murase, and Seiji Nishimura. They would all eventually become coaches for the National Team.

Through the 1970s Marutani was a mainstay in the National Team. In 1975 he was part of the Japanese team that lost to Britain at the 3rd World Karate Championships, held in Long Beach, California.

At the 4th World Karate World Championships held at the famed Budokan in Japan in 1977, Marutani was a member of the kumite team. The following year at the 3rd Asia-Pacific Championships he was part of a kumite team that won the title.

In 1980 Marutani was selected to be part of a team that competed at the 5th World Karate Championships held in Madrid, Spain. Taking part in his third World Championships, he was part of a kumite team that finished in fourth place. He also finished in the top eight of the individual kumite -70 kg event. The event was won by Spaniard, Jose Damian Gonzales.

At the 1st World Games held in Santa Clara, California the Karate event took place at the Santa Clara University between 25 and 27 July 1981. Marutani defeated teammate, Seiji Nishimura, to win the bronze medal in the Individual Kumite 65-70 kg event. Cecil Hackett of Britain defeated Bernard Bilicki of France to win the title.

In 1981 Marutani retired from competition. He travelled to Anaheim, California, where he taught at a dojo for around four months. The following year he started teaching Karate at a dojo in Huntington Beach, alongside former teammates Suzuko Okamura-Hamasaki. It was around this time that he became a US national team coach.

Marutani became a founding member of the Hokubei Karate-do Shihankai, Japanese Karate Masters Association of North America. The Association comprised of Japanese Karate Masters living in North America. They were dedicated to promoting and maintaining the principles and philosophies of Japanese martial arts. Marutani was one of 36 founding members, that included Tomohiro Arashiro, Fumio Demura, Morio Higaonna, and Hirokazu Kanazawa.

Over the years Marutani has become a much sought after instructor for seminars and courses. Apart from his exceptional teaching, he is an acknowledged expert in tactics and strategy. He stresses the importance of strong basic techniques and the importance of using them in kumite. He also believes that kumite should be learnt before kata. He believes that by having a solid understanding of basic techniques and kumite, a practitioner is then able to bring their kata to life.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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