This week in history (1 November – 7 November)

1 November

On 1 November 1947, Tsuyoshi Hiroshige was born in Kokura, now known as Kita Kyushu City, Japan.

A phenomenal instructor, Tsuyoshi Hiroshige was known as a master trainer. He has trained multiple World Champions and All Japan Champions, including Kenji Midori, Kenji Yamaki, Hajime Kazumi, and Norichika Tsukamoto.

Between 1-3 November 1975, 128 competitors from 32 countries were invited to compete in the 1st World Open Tournament held in Tokyo. The tournament was unique in that there were no weight classes. The tournament was won by Katsuaki Sato of Japan, with compatriots Hatsuo Royama and Joko Ninomiya finishing second and third respectively.

During the tournament, Royama won national acclaim for his bout against the American giant, Charles Martin. Martin was a foot taller than him. However, Royama defeated Martin by throwing devastating low kicks, which led to the American succumbing to leg injuries. In the final, Royama lost to Katsuaki Sato by split decision.

Welshman Howard Collins took part in the tournament. However, he lost to Toshikazu Sato, after several extensions and a rematch, by judge’s decision.

Many of the fighters who competed in the tournament spent the next day in the hospital.

On 1 November 2003, Hiroshi Shoji died. By the time of his death, he had received the rank of 8th Dan. A well-respected instructor and known for his exceptional timing, he will be forever remembered as the first JKA All Japan Kata Champion.

2 November

Between 2-4 November 1991, the 5th World Open Kyokushin Karate Tournament was held in Tokyo, Japan. Kenji Midori became World Champion, with teammate Kenji Yamaki finishing in fifth place. They were both from Tsuyoshi Hiroshige’s Jonan Branch dojo. Joshai Branch rivals, Akira Masuda and Hiroki Kurosawa finished in second and third place respectively

Earlier in the tournament, Francisco Filho was involved in a controversial bout against Andy Hug of Switzerland. In their bout, he knocked out Hug with a fearsome roundhouse kick that landed after the bell, to end the round. However, the result was upheld, even though the Swiss team lodged an official protest. He eventually lost to Kenji Yamaki in the final 16 of the tournament.

3 November

On 3 November 1954, Mitsusuke Harada was awarded the rank of 5th Dan, presented to him by Gichin Funakoshi.

Harada started his Karate training in November 1943, under Genshin Hironishi, a student of Funakoshi. Harada received his 1st Dan in 1951. He started teaching Karate for the Physical Education department at Waseda University as an assistant to Hiroshi Noguchi.

In the early 1950s, Harada trained regularly with instructors Shigeru Egami and Tadao Okuyama. Both men have been credited with influencing Harada’s style of Karate.

At the young age of twenty-eight, Harada was awarded his 5th Dan by Funakoshi. Like Masters Egami, Hironishi and Tsutomu Ohshima, Harada never graded beyond 5th Dan, in honour of the final grade attained by their teacher, Gichin Funakoshi.

On 3 November 1957, Tetsuji Murakami arrived in France, following an invitation from Henri Plee, the “Father of European Karate“.

Murakami was one of the first representatives to demonstrate and promote Karate in Europe. At the time of his arrival, he was a 3rd Dan in Karate and a 2nd Dan in Kendo.

Murakami began his Karate training at the age of 19, under Masaji Yamaguchi, an early student of Gichin Funakoshi.

On 3 November 1959 JKA instructor, Yoshinobu Ohta was born in Chiba, Japan.

Ohta began his Karate training, aged fifteen, at his high school. Two years later he had earned his black belt. Upon entering Takushoku University he continued pursuing his Karate, sometimes training up to five hours a day.

After leaving university, Ohta continued his training at the Japan Karate Association (JKA), taking the famed Instructors Course. He had the opportunity to be taught by Masatoshi Nakayama.

Between 3-5 November 1995, the first World Tournament following the death of Oyama took place. In the final of the 6th World Open Karate Tournament, Kenji Yamaki defeated Hajime Kazumi in the final. He was 30 years old at the time.

On 3 November 2018, Caylor Adkins died, aged 84 years.

Described as “the true embodiment of a karateka“, Adkins was an early practitioner and pioneer of Shotokan Karate in the United States. He was one of the first men graded to black belt by Tsutomu Ohshima. He was one of the first Americans to be graded to 5th Dan.

4 November

On 4 November 1973, Terutomo Yamazaki took part in his last active competition at the 5th All Japan Open Karate Tournament. 128 competitors were invited to participate in the tournament.

Terutomo did not have enough time to prepare for the tournament. However, he won five matches and made it to the final. In what was considered one of the greatest finals, he lost to Hatsuo Royama by decision. He set another record in the tameshiwara section, by breaking 24 boards. This record would last until 1979 when Willie Williams broke 26 boards.

On 4 November 1991, Kenji Midori became World Champion at the 5th Kyokushin Karate World Tournament. He defeated Akira Masuda in the final. After becoming World Champion, Midori retired from active competition.

5 November

On 5 November 1961, a Karate exhibition was held at the Honolulu Civic Auditorium, sponsored by the Hawaii Karate Congress. Several top Japanese martial artists, including  Goju-Ryu’s Kanki Izumikawa and Shotokan’s Hidetaka Nishiyama and Hirokazu Kanazawa, displayed their skills to an attentive crowd.

On 5 November 1963, Masatoshi Nakayama, Hiroshi Shoji, Keinosuke Enoeda, Toru Iwaizumi and Katsuya Kisaka arrived to teach Shotokan Karate in Indonesia. They stayed until 27 December. The trip was a part of the Japan Karate Association’s hopes of developing Karate outside of Japan. The delegation taught the bodyguards of Indonesian President, Achmad Sukarno. They also taught members of the Indonesian Police Force.

Between 5-7 November 1999, the 7th World Open Tournament (IKO-1) took place in Japan. Prior to the tournament, Francisco Filho had injured his ankle. However, this had not stopped him from training.

Filho made it all the way to the final where he faced his nemesis from the previous World Tournament, Hajime Kazumi. This time his body and mind were are in sync. In a close fight, the bout went into three overtime extensions, with no clear winner. In the tameshiwara section, Filho broke 21 boards and Hajime broke 19 boards.

Filho made history by becoming the first non-Japanese to become World Champion. He had achieved his dream. Many had thought that Andy Hug would be the first non-Japanese to win the title. He was coached by Seiji Isobe.

6 November

On 6 November 1964, Pathe Pictorial released a colour film showing Vernon Bell’s British Karate Federation (BKF) students training at the Kentish Town dojo. The film lasting three minutes was shown in cinemas across Britain.

Eddie Whitcher can be seen in the film. At the time he was a blue belt.

Between 6-8 November 1987, at the 4th World International Tournament held in Tokyo , Akiyoshi(Shokei) Matsui became the youngest man, at 21 years old, to become world champion. He faced Andy Hug of Switzerland in the final.

On 6 November 2004, Shotokan master, Taiji Kase, became very ill and was admitted to hospital. He was allowed to go to home as he seemed to have recovered. However, he would eventually fall into a coma from which he would not wake.

On 6 November 2011, Bobby Lowe was posthumously awarded the rank of 10th Dan by the IKO–1. This was at a memorial service held at the 10th World Tournament. He had died peacefully in his sleep on 14 September 2011, at Queens Hospital Honolulu, Hawaii.

7 November

On 7 November 2008, Hidetaka Nishiyama a pioneer of American Shotokan Karate died, following a long battle with cancer.

In the early 1950s, Nishiyama was part of a group, including Masatoshi Nakayama and Isao Obata, selected to teach military personnel from the Strategic Air Command (SAC). By 1960 he had been promoted to 5th Dan and was became an important member of the Japan Karate Association (JKA).

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