This week in history…(17 April – 23 April)

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 in 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.

20 April

On 20th April 1960, Luis Maria Sanz was born in Valladolid, Spain. Described as “the last link between traditional and competitive Karate“, Luis Maria Sanz holds a notable place in Karate, being the first non-Japanese man and the first Shotokan karateka to become WKF World Champion, in 1992.

On 20 April 1965, a JKA touring party arrived at Heathrow Airport where they were met by Vernon Bell of the British Karate Federation (BKF). They stayed at Bell’s home in Ilford. The JKA party consisted of Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai.

The touring party’s itinerary in England began with their first official lesson at the BKF’s Lyndhurst dojo. The lesson was conducted by Kanazawa, and all in attendance were in awe of his technical knowledge. Students in attendance included Eddie Whitcher, Pauline Laville and Rod Butler.

On 20 April 1966, Edward Whitcher became the first British student to be graded to black belt by Hirokazu Kanazawa under the JKA.

21 April

On 21 April 1960, Gary Harford was born. He was part of the Great British team that defeated Japan in the final of the Men’s Team Kumite, at the 7th World Championships (3rd Shoto Cup), in 1990.

The Great Britain team was coached by Andy Sherry who had been practising Karate in England, since its infancy. The Japanese team was coached by Masahiko Tanaka, who had won the Kumite event at the 1st and 2nd IAKF World Championships.

The British team consisted of Elwyn HallFrank Brennan, Dean Hodgkin, Ronnie Canning and Gary Harford.

The Japanese had a very strong team. They had Tomio Inamura, a previous World Champion and Masao Kagawa the current World Champion. They also had Koike and Noda, both very capable fighters. To round things off, they also had the previous day’s Individual Kata Champion, Tomoyuki Aihara.

On 21 April 1965, the first authorised demonstration by the JKA in Britain took place at the Kensington Townhall, London. This was the first of three demonstrations given in London. The JKA touring party consisted of Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai.

On 21 April 1973, Kenneth Funakoshi’s second son Kyle Yoshinobu Funakoshi was born. A technically gifted martial artist, he has passed his love for Karate to his sons Kevin and Kyle. His sons have become successful martial artists in their own right.

23 April

On 23rd April 1965, A JKA party consisting of, Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai arrived in Liverpool to give a demonstration at St. Georges Hall.  All in attendance were in awe at the technical skill on display.

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