This week in history (16 April – 22 April)

On 20 April 1966 Edward Whitcher becomes the first British student to be graded to black belt by Hirokazu Kanazawa under the JKA. He has been described as the finest Shotokan karate-ka produced by Britain. He started his Karate training with the British Karate Federation in 1963.

Whitcher was a founding member of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) when they split from BKF. He was also the first British subject to earn the grade of 3rd Dan from the JKA at their Tokyo headquarters, in 1971.


On 21 April 1960 Gary Harford was born in Salford, England.

Harford began his Shotokan Karate training under Andy Sherry in 1972. On 14 March 1976 graded to 1st Dan, under Keinosuke Enoeda. He eventually received his 8th Dan from Sherry at the KUGB National Championships in May 2015.

A top competitor, the highlight of his career was being part of the team (including Frank Brennan and Elwyn Hall) that won 1990 World Shotokan Championships held in Sunderland.

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On 21 April 1965  the first of three authorized public demonstrations in London by the JKA in Britain took place at the Kensington Town Hall.

Vernon Bell had organised the event which featured Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda and Hiroshi Shirai. They gave demonstrations of kata, freestyle sparring, showed basic techniques and wood breaking. The audience were awed by Kase’s ability to generate strength; by Kanazawa’s techique; by Enoeda’s power; and Shirai’s technique and power.

The event also featured Tomio Otani of the British Kendo Council giving a Kendo display. A movie from the JKA was also shown.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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