This week in history (2 March – 8 March)

2 March

On 2 March 1955, Henri Plee was a founding member of the Federation Francais de Karate et Boxe Libre. He became the Federation’s first General Secretary.

On 2 March 1960, Gichin Funakoshi’s eldest son, Yoshihide, died aged 71.

Yoshihide Funakoshi is not as well known as his more talented younger brother Yoshitaka (Gigo). Little is known about his Karate ability. In his youth, Yoshihide had trained under Yasutsune Itosu alongside his father.

Funakoshi and his eldest son had a complex relationship. Yoshihide had moved to Tokyo several years before his father. However, he fell in with a bad crowd and accrued gambling debts. He would borrow money from his father’s students, not paying them back.

Following the deaths of son Yoshitaka in 1945 and his wife in 1947, Master Funakoshi was facing a difficult time. He gave up teaching Karate and moved to Oita, Japan, during the war. It was his son Yoshihide who persuaded him to return back to Tokyo to resume teaching, with his help. Funakoshi lived with Yoshihide and his family for the last ten years of his life.

Yoshihide strove to keep his father’s views about following a traditional approach to Karate alive. He was not happy about the sporting direction of Karate. He would eventually follow his father and become President of Shotokai.

3 March

On 3 March 1946, British Shotokan instructor, Bob Rhodes, was born in Leeds, England.

Rhodes began training with the KUGB aged 20, at the Leeds Shotokan Karate Club (Leeds SKC), under the instruction of Ronnie Wade.

He was selected onto the Great Britain All-Karate Styles squad coached by Steve Arneil and featuring many greats of British Karate, including Terry O’Neill, Billy Higgins and David ‘Ticky‘ Donovan.

4 March

On 4 March 1952, David Frederick Hazard, a well-respected Shotokan Karate practitioner, was born in Bow, London.

Dave Hazard began his Karate training aged sixteen at the KUGB affiliated Blackfriars Karate Club, under the instruction of Keinosuke Enoeda. Like most martial artists who had started training at the time, Hazard had begun his training in judo.

As a 2nd Dan, Hazard travelled to Japan to train at the JKA Hombu at Ebisu, Tokyo, taking the infamous JKA Instructors course. Before returning to England he received his 3rd Dan from Masatoshi Nakayama.

On 4 March 1962, Charles Mack was graded to 1st Dan by Masatoshi Nakayama at the JKA Hombu in Tokyo, Japan. This earned Mack the dual distinction of being the first British subject to be awarded a Shotokan Dan grade in Japan and also the first British subject to be awarded a JKA black belt.

While in Japan Mack also earned black belts in Jujitsu and Aikido.

6 March

On 6 March 1921, Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate, led a Karate demonstration in front of Crown Prince Hirohito. The demonstration was performed at the Great Hall of Shuri Castle, in Okinawa.

Crown Prince Hirohito had visited Okinawa while en-route to a visit to Europe. The ship’s captain, Captain Norikazu Kanna, was an Okinawan by birth. He suggested that the Crown Prince observe a Karate demonstration.

The demonstration was organised and Funakoshi was granted the honour of taking charge. Students from the Naha First High School took part in the performance. After the performance Kanna, the ship’s captain suggested that Funakoshi introduce Karate to the Japanese mainland.

7 March

On 7 March 1956, the earliest known letter was written from Henri Plee to Vernon Bell. This letter was in response to an earlier letter written by Bell to the Fédération Française de Karaté on 21st February 1956.

It is thought that Bell had inquired about being graded by the Fédération Française de Karaté. In his letter, Plee suggests that Bell send a film of him executing all the movements in a teaching plan mentioned in the earlier letter. Plee further states that once Bell has been suitably graded he would be sent some film showing Japanese instructors and also a film of how the Fédération Française de Karaté practised Karate.

8 March

On 8 March 1945, Roger Hall a founding member of the English Shotokan Karate Association (ESKA), was born.

Hall had originally started learning Wado-ryu but switched to Shotokan Karate in 1966, He received his 1st Dan in from Hirokazu Kanazawa in 1972. In 1974 he received his 2nd Dan from Shiro Asano and his 3rd Dan in 1978.

In 1979 Hall alongside Eddie Whitcher, Mick Randall, John Van Weenen, Michael Nursey and Harry Jones formed the English Shotokan Karate Association.

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