There is no such thing as retirement in martial arts. If you decide to pursue martial arts, you wear your gi until you die!Shunsuke Takahashi
A graduate of the JKA instructors course, Shunsuke Takahashi, has had a big influence on Shotokan Karate in Australia and New Zealand. A tough instructor, he dedicated many years in making Shotokan become a strong style of Karate in the region.
Shunsuke Takahashi was born on 14 October 1944 in Japan, growing up in postwar Japan.
In 1962 Takahashi enrolled at Komazawa University in Tokyo. Komazawa was a Buddhist university, primarily known as a training ground for those wanting to become monks.
Not having previously done any Karate, a friend invited Takahashi to join the university’s Karate club with him. He soon fell in love with Karate and was soon training every opportunity he got. His instructors at the club included Hidetaka Nishiyama, Hiroshi Shirai, and Takeshi Oishi. By his third year at university, he had decided to dedicate himself to Karate.
In 1965 Takahashi graduated from Komazawa University. He enrolled on the JKA Instructors Course. He was also asked to teach Karate at Komazawa University for the Physical Education department, although the JKA Instructor Course took priority.
Teaching at the JKA Hombu, Takahashi waited patiently for his chance to be sent abroad to teach.
The chance came in 1972 when the ASKA (Australian Shotokan Karate Association) had asked for membership to the JKA and for an instructor to be sent to teach in Australia. They were accepted as members of the JKA and would later become the Japan Karate Association of Australia.
JKA Chief Instructor, Masatoshi Nakayama asked Takahashi to go to Australia. At the time Takahashi was a 4th Dan.
In August 1973 Takahashi arrived in Brisbane, Australia with his young family. By this time he was married with children. Speaking no English, they stayed at the home of Michael Connolly, the Vice President of the ASKA. The Takahashi family stayed with Connolly for around a year until Takahashi was granted Australian Citizenship. He had been sponsored by Connolly.
For the next two years, Takahashi taught at Connolly’s dojo. He worked to build the reputation of JKA Karate in Australia.
During his early days in Australia, Takahashi would give Karate demonstrations to attract new students. He would also enter competitions alongside his students, to showcase his Karate.
Approaching his early thirties, Takahashi was approaching his prime. Wanting to build a strong Karate association he was very tough on his students. His main focus was on building strong basic techniques and kumite.
Takahashi was a perfectionist and would have his students repeat the techniques he taught until they got it right.
Takahashi students were expected to attend every training session to show their commitment. Each session was around two hours long, six days a week. It was not uncommon for him to expel students who didn’t show enough commitment to their training.
In 1976 Takahashi and his family moved back to Japan due to personal reasons. He returned to work at Komazawa University. On his vacations he would return to Australia twice a year for eight weeks at a time, to continue the work he has started. He did this for the next 40 years, attempting to visit all the clubs in the association.
Takahashi was appointed as an instructor at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. He also founded and became the chief instructor of JKA New Zealand. As Chief Instructor, he visited the country every six months. He taught mainly at the Turangi Dojo.
In 1979 Masatoshi Nakayama‘s 11-book series, “Best Karate” was published. The books covered the syllabus of the JKA. Takahashi appeared in “Book 3 – Kumite 1“, where he is seen sparring against Takeshi Oishi.
The 2nd Shoto Cup was held in Brisbane, Australia. It was the JKA’s World Championships. Takahashi was heavily involved in the organisation of the tournament.
On 31 December 2001, it was announced that Takahashi had been awarded an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Karate, in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. He was presented with the award in 2002.
In 2003 the Australian Government recognised Takahashi for his commitment to Australian Karate. He was awarded an OAM (Order of Australian Medal) for Services to Sport and Culture. The award was presented to him by the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard. The award also represented the strong Australian-Japanese relationship.
The 10th Funakoshi Gichin Cup World Karate-Do Championships was held at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre in 2006. Takahashi was heavily involved in the organisation of the tournament.
In 2006 Takahashi was awarded his 8th Dan by the JKA.
In 2009 Takahashi broke away from the JKA. He had been a longtime member of the JKA’s Instructors Committee (Shihankai). The Japan Karate Association of Australia became the TSKF (Traditional Shotokan Karate-Do Federation). Breaking away from the JKA gave him the freedom to decide on the direction TSKF Australia should take. He also established TSKF New Zealand.
Takahashi was invited to be a guest instructor at the 44th ISKF Master Camp and Goodwill Tournament. Held at Camp Green Lane, just outside of Philadelphia, this was his first ISKF Master Camp. He joined Teruyuki Okazaki, Yutaka Yaguchi, and Masaru Miura as the main instructors. They were assisted by high-ranking members of the ISKF Technical Committee, including Hiroyoshi Okazaki, James Field, Frank Woon-A-Tai, Maynard Miner, Robin Rielly, and Cathy Cline. There were 400 students from 34 countries in attendance.
In 2011 Takahashi joined Teruyuki Okazaki’s ISKF(International Shotokan Karate-do Federation) group. That year he was invited to be a guest instructor at the 45th Anniversary ISKF Master Camp and International Goodwill Tournament, alongside Teruyuki Okazaki, Yutaka Yaguchi, and Hideo Ochi.
The 2nd ISKF World Soto Cup was held in Cebu, the Philippines in November 2012. Takahashi’s TSKF Australian National team was very successful. Four years later at the 3rd ISKF World Shoto Cup held in Cape Town, South Africa, his Australian team had another successful tournament.
Between 10-17 June 2016, the 50th Annual Master Camp and International Goodwill Tournament was held. There were 450 students from 40 countries. During the week Takahashi was awarded his 9th Dan by Teruyuki Okazaki.
In 2018 Takahashi appointed Takechiyo Nemoto and Ryozo Hirata as assistant instructors of TSKF Australia. They were now responsible for the twice-yearly visits to Australia, taking over from Takahashi.
Shunsuke Takahashi has done much to grow Shotokan Karate in Australia and New Zealand. For over 40 years he has worked on establishing a strong Shotokan organisation in Australia.