Kata is like the seed and roots of the flower. By developing one’s understanding of kata, one can then express oneself through that kata. As a result, it is no longer just the root, but through understanding and ultimately one’s own creation, it spawns leaves and petals becoming the flower we see.Tatsuya Naka
One of the JKA’s most popular instructors, Tatsuya Naka has fast become one of the modern faces of JKA Shotokan. He leads a new generation of younger JKA instructors. Having a very open mind he is known for his technique and teaching style.
Tatsuya Naka was born on 29 May 1964 in Tokyo, Japan. Growing up he attended Meguro High School.
While at high school Naka began practicing Wado-Ryu Karate under a Sensei Takagi at the school’s Karate club. His younger brother had already been practicing Karate. Naka liked the look of Karate and decided to practice it as well.
In 1982 Naka enrolled at Takushoku University to study Economics and Political Sciences. By this time he had been practicing Wado-Ryu for several years. He joined the University’s Shotokan Karate club, training under Katsunori Tsuyama.
Training at the Takushoku Karate club was hard. There were two training sessions a day, that were mandatory. It took Naka around a year to fully convert from Wado-Ryu to Shotokan. He would sometimes return to his old Wado-Ryu dojo to train.
Naka graduated from Takushoku University in 1986. He was encouraged to enroll in the JKA Instructors Course.
Always looking at ways to improve himself and his Karate, Naka began practicing Aikido around 1987. Initially, he had wanted to practice Judo or Jujitsu to improve his kumite. However, he could not find a suitable dojo.
In 1989 Naka graduated from the JKA Instructors Course. He began teaching at the JKA Hombu.
As a competitor, Naka competed at the JKA All Japan Karate Championships and the Shoto World Cup. In 1992 at the 35th JKA All Japan Karate Championships, he defeated Takuya Taniyama in the final of the Men’s Individual Kumite event. That year he also represented Japan at the 4th Shoto World Karate Championships held in Tokyo. He finished in joint third place with Kunio Kobayashi in the Men’s Individual Kumite event. Tomio Imamura defeated Frank Brennan in the final.
In 2004 Naka retired from actively competing. Apart from teaching at the JKA Hombu, he was a coach of the Japanese National Team. It was also around this time that he started to refine his Karate through extensive research.
Naka starred in the Japanese movie ‘Kuro Obi‘ in 2007. The producer of the film, Fuyuhiko Nishi, had approached him three times to star in the film. He eventually agreed after Nishi had become his student. Nishi was the film’s martial arts choreographer. His success in the movie led to other roles.
In 2009 Nishi directed the film ‘High Kick Girl‘. Naka appeared in the film alongside actress Rina Takeda. They also appeared in the sequel, ‘K. G.‘, In 2011.
Naka was promoted to 7th Dan by the JKA in 2012. That year his video, ‘What is the essence of martial arts Karate‘ was produced.
In 2015 his video, ‘What is the essence of martial arts Karate 2‘, was produced. That year he also established the non-profit organization, Martial Arts Karate Taishi Juku.
The makers of the game, Tekken 7, approached Naka in 2021. They wanted to motion capture his techniques to use for Lidia Sobieska, a character in the game.
Currently a full-time instructor at the JKA Hombu, Naka is frequently invited to teach courses, seminars, and gasshukus around the world. He is also a member JKA Shihankai Committee. A very charismatic man, he is the General Manager of the JKA Public Relations Division and a JKA International Board of Directors member.
A qualified A Instructor, A Examiner, and A Referee, Tatsuya Naka is worried that Karate has an over-emphasis on sport. With an emphasis on competition Karate, he feels we may lose the individual characteristics different styles of Karate have to offer.
Through his documentary series, ‘Kuro-Obi World‘, Naka has had the opportunity to train with many, Japanese, Okinawan, and Chinese masters from various styles. During his research, he has managed to explore the roots of Karate.
Naka has continued his study of Aikido, which is he’s been practicing for over 25 years. He has found that it provides a complimentary art to his Karate practice.
Apart from teaching at the JKA Hombu, Naka teaches at the Taishi-juku dojo in Tokyo, which has become a favorite place to train for many foreign students.
Away from Karate, Naka lives in Tokyo with his wife and two daughters.