A pioneer of Shotokan Karate in Spain, Tatsuhiko Hattori has lived and taught in Spain for over 50 years.
Tatsuhiko Hattori was born on 10 April 1944, in Jimokuji, Japan. He was the youngest of several children. His father was the Mayor of Jimokuji.
Growing up, Hattori developed an interest in Spanish culture. When he was 15, he began learning to play the Spanish guitar.
In 1961 Hattori enrolled at Nanzan University to study Spanish Philosophy.
Hattori joined the university’s Karate club. He trained under Norio Kachi, who was a graduate of Senshu University, and a direct student of both Gichin and Yoshitaka Funakoshi.
Classes at the Karate club were supervised by Head Instructor, Genshin Hironishi, who would visit the dojo from time to time. Hattori described the training as very tough, consisting of blood, sweat, pain, and being a test of endurance. There were times when he wanted to give up.
In 1966 Nanzan University, organised an end-of-year trip to Santander, Spain, for 45 students. The purpose of the trip was for the students to immerse themselves in Spanish culture and improve their linguistic skills.
The Spanish trip was organised with the International University Menendez Pelayo (UIMP). The visiting Japanese students took an intensive Spanish course at UIMP.
UIMP organised a party for the visiting students. During the party, Hattori met Manuel Palacios, a student of Tetsuji Murakami and a pioneer of Karate in Spain. They found they had Karate in common.
Palacios informed the university principles about Hattori’s Karate skills. Hattori was asked to perform a demo of his Karate. Very little was known about Karate at the time. People were impressed with his demo.
Palacios invited Hattori to teach at his Karatekan Judo dojo. Initially, Hattori declined the offer, thinking they were better-qualified masters in Japan.
Back in Japan, Hattori was graded to 4th Dan by Genshin Hironishi and Yoshio Someya in 1967.
On 12th April 1967, Hattori returned to Santander. He had obtained Hironishi’s permission to teach Karate in Spain. He became the second Japanese instructor to teach Karate in Spain, after Atsuo Hiruma, who had arrived in Madrid a year earlier.
Hattori received his National Karate Referee card on 21 February 1970. This was the first card granted in Spain.
In 1970. The 1st Provincial Karate Championships were held in Cantabria.
Emperor Akihito of Japan, and his wife, Michiko, visited Cantabria in 1973. Hattori acted as their interpreter during the visit. This was one of the greatest memories of his life.
By 1977 Hattori had become an international referee. That year he was invited to attend an International Referee Seminar, held in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Through the next couple of years, Hattori worked tirelessly to establish the Shotokai’s version of Shotokan Karate in Spain.
On 31 May 2014, the 1st Recognition Gala for the Master of Karate and Associated Sports was held in Madrid. The event was organised by the Royal Spanish Federation of Karate and PA (RFEK). It was hosted by the President of the Federation, Antonio Moreno.
Presidents and Karate instructors from all the Federations in Spain were in attendance. Hattori, alongside Osamu Aoki, Choyu Hentona, and Osamu Nomura were recognised for their contributions in introducing and developing Japanese martial arts in Spain. They received their honorary diplomas from Antonio Moreno.
By 2018 Hattori had seven students who had been training with him for over 55 years.
Tatsuhiko Hattori has lived in Spain for over 50 years. As a Spanish citizen, he had to give up his Japanese citizenship as Japan does not allow dual citizenship.
Away from Karate Hattori has worked for many years at a rehabilitation centre in Santander.