This week in history (12 April – 18 April)

12 April

On 12 April 1998, Osamu Ozawa host the 18th Annual Traditional Karate Tournament International for the last time. Since its inception in 1981, the tournament had become a showcase for traditional Karate styles. Many of the world’s top masters would give demonstrations and seminars at the event. The 18th running of the event saw demonstrations given by Jun Sugano, Stan Schmidt of the JKA and Shito-Ryu’s Kenzo Mabuni.


13 April

On 13 April 1973, Miyuki Mimura was the next man to successfully complete the 100-Man Kumite Challenge. However, there would be a 13-year wait until the next successful completion of the challenge. Miura had been promoted to 4th Dan, earlier that year by Mas Oyama. He completed the challenge in just over three hours. He became the first Japanese man to complete the challenge in its new format of a single day. He was the seventh person to complete the challenge.

Miura’s 100-Man Challenge was a brutal affair. Oyama had told some of the younger students that they would be promoted instantly promoted if they beat Miura. This made Miura’s opponents very eager. He faced twenty opponents. He faced each opponent five times. While they had the opportunity to rest he had to continue fighting. He knocked out several of his opponents. After his 50th fight, his legs were bruised and he was breathing heavily. After his 70th fight, tiredness began to affect his timing and reflexes. However, he found the willpower to complete the challenge. After the challenge, his body was completely swollen. He needed assistance going to the toilet.


14 April

On 14 April 1956, French martial arts pioneer, Henri Plee was graded to 3rd Dan by the great Judo master Ichiro Abe.


On 14 April 1965, a touring party from the JKA arrived at Brussels Airport, Belgium, for the next leg of their European tour. The party consisted of Taiji KaseHirokazu KanazawaKeinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai. As guests of Leo Aarts, and the Belgische Nationale Karate Federation they visited the cities of Brussels and Antwerp. In Brussels, they gave a demonstration at the dojo of a Mr Goetz. In Antwerp, they gave another demonstration at the dojo of Aarts. There was also a training session attended by sixty-five students. Over two hundred people watched the training session. In a separate training session, also in Antwerp, Kanazawa and Enoeda taught thirty-five students.


15 April

On 15 April 1922, martial arts historian, Donald Frederick “Donn” Draeger was born to parents Frank and Irma Draeger in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during the Great Depression of 1920s America.


On 15 April 1967, Mas Oyama promoted Terutomo Yamazaki to 1st Dan.

Nicknamed the ‘Dragon of Kyokushin‘, Yamazaki was an exceptional fighter, also known for his expertise in tameshiwara (board breaking). A highly respected teacher, he has taught the likes of Katsuaki Sato, Miyuki Miura, Seiji IsobeHoward Collins, and Shokei Matsui.


On 15 April 1987, JKA Chief Instructor, Masatoshi Nakayama died. He was a direct student of Gichin Funakoshi, and also taught many of the current Shotokan masters.


16 April

On 16 April 2017, Branch Chiefs, Nikola Cujic and Trevor Tokar were presented with their 7th Dans at the IKO 6th World Weight Tournament, held at the Tokyo Sports Palace Gymnasium, in Tokyo, Japan. Shokei Matsui presented them with their grades in front of family members and a large contingent who had travelled from Australia to attend the ceremony.


17 April

On 17 April 2010, Hidetaka Abe was a part of the United States team selection panel for the Wado Kai Karatedo World Cup. The panel included Yoshiaki Ajari and Sadaharu Kurobane. The panel selected a team to compete in Nagoya, Japan on 14-15 August 2010.


18 April

On 18 April 1962, Kyokushin Karate legend, Kenji Midori was born n Amami Oshima, Japan, to a wealthy family.

Standing at around 5’4″ (1.6 m) in height, Kenji Midori is known as the “Little Giant“. He became the first lightweight competitor to win Kyokushin Karate’s World Tournament, where all his opponents were considerably heavier and taller than him. A phenomenal competitor, he always placed in all the competitions he entered.


On 18 April 1986, Akiyoshi (Shokei) Matsui became the ninth man to successfully complete the 100-Man Kumite Challenge. He later said it was one of the hardest things he had ever done.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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