Each era must accept tradition to grow, but not remain as it was 30 or 40 years ago. As I said “traditional” means “to continue” but accepting changes and improvements. Over time, everything undergoes an evolution, we always try to improve, to keep the positive and remove the negative: then it is a question of adding new elements to the basic knowledge, not changing but modifying.Takeshi Naito
Known for his cat-like movements, Takeshi Naito has been described as a ‘Fantastic Technician‘. A master of both kata and kumite, he alongside Hiroshi Shirai has done a lot to help put Italian Shotokan Karate on the world map.
Takeshi Naito was born on 17 October 1948 in Shizuoka, Japan. Like most boys, he practised Judo at school. He eventually achieved the rank of 2nd Dan.
In 1964, aged 15, Naito began practising Shito-ryu Karate under Inoue Itoso. By 1968 he was promoted to 1st Dan.
By 1970 Naito was enrolled at Komazawa University, studying Economics. Komazawa was a Buddhist university located in Tokyo. It was primarily a training ground for those wanting to become monks. Naito had the opportunity to learn Zen Buddhism, which had a profound effect on his Karate training. It was around this time that he met Hiroshi Shirai, who was a former student at the University.
Naito joined the University’s Karate club. He switched from Shito-ryu Karate to Shotokan. His instructor was Takeshi Oishi. In time he became the Captain of the Karate team.
In 1970 Naito became the All Japan University Champion. He was selected to the Universities Japanese team that toured Europe.
Known for his powerful kata performances, Naito competed in several JKA All Japan Championships. In 1976 at the 19th JKA All Japan Championships, he finished in third place behind Hideo Ochi and Hitoshi Kasuya. Two years later, he again finished in third place behind Yoshiharu Osaka and Mikio Yahara.
In 1975 Naito became a qualified instructor and international referee.
Hiroshi Shirai, who was now teaching for the JKA in Italy, requested for Naito to come to be his assistant.
Naito arrived in Italy in 1977. He started teaching at the Fujiyama dojo in Milan. In time he became a member of the National FIKTA Technical Committee, responsible for teaching kumite.
On 1 August 1979, Masatoshi Nakayama, the Chief Instructor of the JKA, promoted Naito to 5th Dan. This was followed on 1 August 1985 by a promotion to 6th Dan by Nakayama.
By 1990 Naito had been teaching in Italy for over 10 years. A member of Hidetaka Nishiyama’s ITKF, he was promoted to 7th Dan on 21 August 1990.
On 14 April 2005, Naito was promoted to 7th Dan by Masaaki Ueki of the JKA. He was appointed to the International JKA Shihankai. He became a qualified Class A Instructor, Class A Examiner, and Class A Judge. He was also appointed the President of JKA Italy.
In 2010, Naito was forced to resign from his post as a member of the National FIKTA Technical Committee. This was primarily due to disagreements with other leaders on the Committee. The disagreements were on Karate techniques and the future of Karate development.
On 28 October 2017 Naito was promoted to 9th Dan by JKA Italy.
Takeshi Naito has been a very popular instructor, since his arrival in Italy. He has conducted numerous seminars and demonstrations across Europe. , Alongside Hiroshi Shirai, Taiji Kase, Masao Kawasoe, Hideo Ochi, and Yoshiharu Osaka.
Naito’s close association with Hiroshi Shirai has made Italy into a strong Shotokan nation. He has helped train a number of European and World Champions.
Away from Karate, Naito has a big love of football. He is also a student of history and antiques.