This week in history… (15 August – 21 August)

15 August

On 15 August 2006, Shotokan master, Tetsuhiko Asai, died from heart failure aged 71 years.

Asai was one of the most unique masters to come out of the JKA (Japan Karate Association). Nicknamed “Kaminari-Arashi” meaning “Thunderous Storm”, he was a Shotokan Karate practitioner that infused other martial arts such as White Crane Kung Fu into his personal style. He was described by Kenneth Funakoshi, a former student, as an “Instructors Instructor”

On 15 August 2013, Tomiko Mitsuoka was awarded her 8th Dan. This made her one of the highest-graded women in the Shotokan Karate world.

Mitsuoka has been the foremost woman in Shotokan Karate for many years. She is one of the highest-ranking female instructors in the world. She is one of only the only women to sit on the Technical Committee of a large organisation. She sits on the WSKF Technical Committee as an advisor. She also frequently travels the world giving seminars and courses, and refereeing at WSKF tournaments.

16 August

On 16 August 1940, Kiyoshi Yamazaki was born in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. His father was a Kendo master, who taught his Kiyoshi Yamasaki and his brother, martial arts from an early age.

A student of one of the greatest Karate Masters of the 20th century Yasuhiro Konishi, Kiyoshi Yamazaki has endeavoured to pass on many of his master’s lessons.

17 August

On 17 August 2000, Andy Hug was diagnosed with acute leukaemia, a type of cancer affecting blood and bone marrow. He had been feeling weak for some time. He was admitted to a hospital in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. Six days later he fell into a coma from which he did not wake.

Known as the “Blue-Eyed Samurai“, Swiss karateka Hug was one of the most successful European Kyokushin fighters of his generation. Fighting at heavyweight, he was much smaller than many of the opponents he faced. His fighting style made him a fan favourite.

18 August

Between 18-19 August 2001, Karin Prinsloo had her biggest international success, at the 6th World Games held in Akita, Japan. She won gold in the -60 kg Kumite event. She defeated Kellie Anne Shimmings of Australia, in the final. She was South Africa’s only Karate representative at the Games.

19 August

On 19 August 1992, the Japan Karatedo Rengokai awarded Ryusho Sakagami the rank of 10th Dan.

Sakagami was known as a walking encyclopedia on various martial arts by his contemporaries and dedicated his life to the pursuit of Budo. Apart from Karate he also held ranks in Kubodo (8th Dan); Aikido (5th Dan); Iaido (8th Dan); Jodo(7th Dan); Judo (5th Dan); and Kendo (7th Dan).

On 19 August 2014, Henri Plee, the “Father of European Karate“, died aged 91 years.

It was through Plee’s inquisitiveness that many of us have had the opportunity to practice the art we love. His encouragement of the likes of Vernon Bell and others has seen Karate spread across Europe and become a martial art practised by many.

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