This week in history (18 May – 24 May)

18 May

On 18 May 1966, Wayne Otto, a multiple World Champion, was born in Hackney, London.

Otto is one of the most successful fighters to come out of Britain. He has appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as having won the most Karate championship medals for a male competitor. Nicknamed the “Black Shark” and the “Black Pearl” by his rivals, he was the backbone of many successful British and English teams coached by Ticky Donovan.


19 May

On 19 May 1991, Akira Masuda became the 12th man to complete the 100-man Kumite Challenge. He was the last man to complete the challenge while Mas Oyama was alive. The challenge, devised by Oyama, is famous for being one of the most difficult challenges in Karate. By the time Masuda faced his 60th opponent in the trial, he was extremely exhausted. He showed tremendous spirit in his last forty fights, fighting on pure instinct.


20 May

On 20 May 1942, Robin Rielly was born to Robert and Rosalia Rielly. His father had served in the Navy during World War II.

Within American Shotokan Karate, Robin Rielly is a true pioneer. Practising Karate in the early 1960s in Okinawa, he went on to become one of the first Americans to be promoted to 6th Dan in Shotokan. He was also the first American appointed to the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) Technical Committee.


On 20 May 1964, the foreign affairs officer for the JKA, Kazuo Nagai, arrived in London as part of a feasibility tour of Europe. This was as a prelude for sending JKA instructors to teach in Europe.


22 May

On 22 May 1962, Akira Masuda, one of the best Kyokushin fighters of his generation, was born in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.

An exceptional fighter known for his strong kicks, Masuda is one of a select few individuals to have completed the gruelling 100-man Kumite Challenge of Kyokushin Karate. He was the last man to complete the challenge in front of Kyokushin Karate founder, Mas Oyama.


On 22 May 1965 Steve Arneil turned up for his normal training session and was told he would be doing the 100-Man Kumite Challenge.

Arneil’s first fight lasted around fifteen seconds, with him knocking out his opponent. He would go on to knock out around thirty-four of his opponents. He did lose some fights, but importantly he survived. The challenge lasted around two hours forty-five minutes. At the end of the challenge, his body was covered in bruises.

Arneil became the second man after Mas Oyama to complete the challenge.


On 22 May 1994 around one hundred Caltech alumni gathered in the Pasadena university’s gymnasium, to honour Tsutomu Ohshima on the occasion of his retirement. He had been a Caltech staff member for 37 years.


23 May

On 23 May 1952, Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-ryu Karate, died aged 63 years in Tokyo, Japan.

Mabuni was one of the first Okinawan masters to teach on mainland Japan.


On 23 May 1971, Edward Whitcher graded for 2nd Dan at the JKA headquarters in Tokyo, under Masatoshi Nakayama. He was the first British subject to do this.


24 May

On 24 May 1923, Henri Plee was born in the French city of Arras. He was the only son of Alcide Plee, a noted swordmaster.

Considered the “Father of European Karate”, Plee is a true pioneer. He studied many martial arts with some of the world’s top masters. He held a 10th Dan in Karate, a 5th Dan in Judo, a 3rd Dan in Aikido and a 1st Dan in Kendo. He made it his mission to promote martial arts in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He did this partly through the various books and magazines he published and by inviting many renowned masters to conduct courses and seminars.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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