Shiro Asano

Technique comes to some students quickly and to others slowly. But, with more training, everything grows. Students must ‘nichi nichi no keko’ – train harder, over and over again.

Shiro Asano

A no-nonsense karateka and a man of few words, hard training has been a way of life for Shiro Asano. He has always been known for his strong fighting spirit. Over the years, he has taught many great students, including the likes of Aidan Trimble, Paul Mead, and Dave Kershaw.

Shiro Asano was born on 29 October 1939 in Tokyo, Japan. He was one of 10 children, and the youngest of the boys.

Asano’s father was a judoka, and one of his older brothers was captain of his Wado-Ryu Karate team at Nichi University.

In 1953, Asano began practising Shotokan Karate at a dojo next to his school. He was aged 14 at the time.

After graduating from high school, Asano enrolled at Takushoku University to study Economics.

He joined the university’s Karate club. His instructor was Masatoshi Nakayama, assisted by Teruyuki Okazaki, who was a big influence on him.

The training was very tough. There were two classes in the morning; Two classes in the afternoon; And two in the evening, for a total of six hours

Asano eventually became the captain of the Karate team. The team consisted of Satoshi Miyazaki, Hideo Ochi, Kazumi Tabata, and Katsuya Kisaki. They competed against other university teams in inter-university tournaments.

On 28 October 1957, the 1st All Japan, University Karate Tournament was held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. He led Takushoku to championship success. He and his team repeated the feat the following year.

After graduating from university Asano enrolled on the JKA Instructors course.

On 1 April 1963, Asano was appointed a JKA instructor. He was a 4th Dan at the time.

Hirokazu Kanazawa, who was teaching in Europe, invited Asano to Europe. Initially, Asano taught in Germany, before moving to England.

In 1967 Asano moved to Liverpool to be an assistant to Keinoduke Enoeda. He held this position until 1974. He taught at the Liverpool Red Triangle, dojo, which was a member of the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain).

The 1st Crystal Palace course was held in 1967. The annual event would eventually become one of the highlights of the year for many karateka. Students had the opportunity to train with many of the top JKA instructors. The first instructors on the course were Kanazawa, Enoeda, Asano, and Katsutaro Takahashi. The week-long course was followed by the 1st KUGB National Championships.

In the summer of 1968, Asano moved to Nottingham, England. He became the head of the Midlands Karate Group.

The 2nd KUGB National Championship was held at Alexandra Palace. JKA Chief Instructor, Masatoshi, Nakayama, alongside Asano and Satoshi Miyazaki, performed a series of demos.

In 1974 Asano left the KUGB and established the SKI (GB) (Shotokan Karate International (Great Britain)). He was appointed Chairman and Chief Instructor. The following year the 1st SKI (GB) Annual Championships were held in Nottingham.

Together with Masaru Miura and Akio Nagai, Asano helped to establish the Shotokan Karate–do International European Federation (SKIEF) in 1976.

1976 also saw Asano visit Japan, where he attended the 19th JKA All Japan Karate Championships. He saw his friend Hideo Ochi win the Kata title, and Yoshiharu Osaka win the Kumite title.

In 1977 Hirokazu Kanazawa, Shiro, Asano, Akio, Nagai, Masaru Miura, and Rikuta Koga, established the Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF).

Asano was promoted to 7th Dan in 1978. The following year he was appointed Chief Instructor in Europe.

In 1983 the 1st SKIF World Championships was held in Tokyo, Japan. 25 countries took part in the tournament. The Individual Kata title was one by Hitoshi Kasuya. Asano’s student, Aidan Trimble, won the Individual Kumite title. Japan won the Team Kumite title.

Asano opened a new dojo in 1985. The dojo, based in Nottingham, became the Hombu of the SKI (GB).

The 2nd SKIF World Karate Championships were held in Düsseldorf, Germany, in November 1985. Asano sang at the welcoming party held at Hotel Nikko.

In 1987 Asano was promoted to 8thl Dan by the SKIF.

The 1st SKI European Karate Course was held in 1987. The instructors on the course included Asano, Masaru Miura, Manabu Murakami, and Yasuyuki Aragane.

Between 10–12 August 1988, the 14th SKI (GB) Summer School was held at the University of Nottingham’s Sports Centre. Asano invited Hideo Ochi, Norio Kawasoe, and Yasuhiko Aragane to be the guest instructors.

The SKIEF European Championships was held in Sheffield, England in 1988. The event also commemorated Asano’s 20th year in the UK. One of his top students, Dave Kershaw came out of competitive retirement to compete in the tournament.

Between 5–8 October 1998, SKI (GB) hosted a four-day European Course for the SKIEF. The event marked 30 years of Asano teaching Karate in Britain. The guest instructors on the course were Hirokazu Kanazawa, Akio Nagai, Hideo Ochi, Rikuta Koga, Norio Kawasoe, and Yasuhiko Aragane.

Between 9–10 October 1998, the 8th SKI European Championships was held in the English city of Sheffield.

Asano was promoted to 9th Dan in October 2001. He was awarded the title of Hanshi.

In 2002 the Punjab Shotokan Karate Championships were renamed the Asano–Kershaw All India Championships. The previous year, Dave Kershaw had attended the 1st Punjab Shotokan Karate Championships held in Amritsar, India, as a guest of honour, on behalf of Asano.

A special training session was held at the Nottingham Hombu to celebrate Asano’s 75th birthday in 2014. Students travelled from far afield to take part in the training session.

Between 27–29 March 2015, the 1st Shotokan Takudai Seminar was held in Dresden, Germany. The instructors on the course were from the SKIF and the JKA. They were graduates of Takushoku(Takudai) University. The seminar was organised by Akio Nagai. The instructors on the course included Asano, Hideo Ochi, Nagai, Tatsuya Naka, and Manabu Murakami.

The 3rd International Seminar SKIF was held in Tokyo, Japan, between 25–27 March 2016. 29 classes and gradings were held over the three days. The training was conducted by the Hombu instructors, Manabu Murakami, Nobuaki Kanazawa, Daizo Kanazawa, Fumitoshi Kanazawa, Shinji Tanaka, and Ryushi Suzuki.

The guest instructors on the three-day course, included, Masaru Miura, Asano, Hiroshi Ishikawa, and Rikuta Koga. Hirokazu Kanazawa who had retired as the head of the SKIF two years earlier, was present at the open ceremony. He watched many of the classes and helped conduct the black belt gradings.

Asano visited Dublin, Ireland in November 2016, for the Kanazawa International Cup. A special kumite match was held between SKIF Ireland and SKIF Great Britain.

The SKIF 40th Anniversary Celebrations were held in Tokyo in May 2018. The anniversary coincided with Hirokazu Kanazawa’s 88th birthday celebrations. It was a chance for Asano to catch up with fellow instructors and good friends, Masaru Miura and Akio Nagai. Kanazawa also presented him with a special achievement certificate.

Between 15–17 August 2018, the SKI (GB) Summer Gassuhuku was held at the Nottingham Wildcats Arena. Asano and Manabu Murakami were the instructors on the course.

Following the success of the previous two seminars, the 3rd Shotokan Takudai Seminar was held in Munich, Germany, between 2-4 November 2018. Asano was again invited by Akio Nagai to be a guest instructor, alongside Masaru Miura, Tatsuya Naka, Shinji Akita, and Manabu Murakami.

On 8 December 2019, Asano’s good friend, Hirokazu Kanazawa, died peacefully in Japan, aged 88.

Shiro Asano has been known for his strong spirit and exceptional fighting prowess. Not known for courting publicity, this traditional master has remained largely unknown outside of Shotokan circles.

Although he has produced many top competitors, Asano has never been a fan of Sport Karate. He believes that it has diluted the Budo aspects of Karate that he has dedicated his life to.

Asano, Like many of the masters of his generation, believes that it is important for a karateka to be proficient in all aspects of Karate.

Nottingham has been Asano’s home for many years. He is married with three daughters who practice Karate. He is also a proud grandfather.

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