This week in history…(20 November- 26 November)

On 20 November 2004, William Oliver died in his dojo.

One of the most dynamic Kyokushin Karate practitioners of his generation, Oliver was known for his lightning-fast Kicks. At 5ft 4in, he always had to fight much larger opponents, but always held his own.

Between 21-25 November 1982, the 6th World Championships commenced in Taipei, Taiwan, finishing on 25 November.

Japan continued their dominance of world Karate by topping the medal table with six golds, two silvers and four bronzes.

Mie Nakayama began her dominance of the women’s individual kata event by winning the first of her three individual titles. At the previous World Championships, she had won silver.

Seiji Nishimura, a student of Wado-Ryu founder, Hironori Ohtsuka, won the men’s 70-kg kumite event. He defeated Mika Manninen in the final. From the time he started training, Nishimura had dreamt of becoming a World Champion. This was his first world championship.

The championships also saw the beginning of Britain’s dominance in men’s kumite at the world level. Pat McKay and Geoff Thompson won individual honours, taking gold medals in the 80-kg and the +80-kg kumite events respectively. Alfie Borg won a silver in the 75-kg kumite event. Stewart McKinnon and Jerome Atkinson won bronze medals in the 60-kg and open kumite events. Britain took the team kumite event, beating Italy in the final. Britain finished second in the medal table with three golds, two silvers and four bronzes.

Thomas LaPuppet was a part of the coaching staff of the United States Team.

Between 21-25 November 1986, the 8th Karate World Championships was held in Sydney, Australia. Dario Marchini finished in third place, behind Tsuguo Sakumoto and Tomoyuki Aihara of Japan in the Men’s Individual Kata event.

Thomas LaPuppet Head Coach of the United States Team.

Between 21-25 November 1984, Jim Collins followed his success at the European Championships with success at the 7th World Championships, held in Maastricht, the Netherlands. He had been picked to represent the All-Styles Great Britain Squad in the Individual-70 kg Kumite event. He defeated Gonzalo Rodriguez in the final to win the title. Teammate Cecil Hackett won bronze in the same event.

On 21 November 1984, a group of senior American instructors including Ray Dalke and Leslie Safar, formed the American JKA Karate Association (AJKA). They had resigned from the ISKF. They were unhappy that instructors who had over twenty years of experience were not allowed to have a say in the direction of American Karate. It was ironic that this was the reason why the ISKF had split from the AAKF several years earlier.

On 22 November 1984, the second day of the 1992 World Championships took place in Maastricht, Netherlands.

For the first time in the championship’s history, Britain topped the medal table, winning a total of eight medals (four golds, one silver and three bronzes) ahead of Japan.

Britain’s main successes came in the kumite events. Pat McKay retained his 80-kg world title. Jim Collins won the 75-kg event with Cecil Hackett winning the bronze. Jerome Atkinson won the +80-kg title. Vic Charles won bronze in the open kumite event. Beverly Morris won bronze in the women’s 60-kg event. Yvette Bryan won a silver medal in the +60-kg kumite event.

Britain continued their dominance of the Team Kumite event, winning their second World Team title in a row.

Japan dominated the kata event, winning four out of six available medals. In the Men’s Individual Kata event, Japan won gold and silver with Tsuguo Sakumoto and Masashi Koyama. This was the first of Sakumoto’s three individual world titles.

In the Woman’s Kata event, Mie Nakayama won gold, with Setsuko Takagi winning silver. This was Nakayama’s second consecutive world title.

On 22 November 1992, the final day of the 11th World Championships took place in Granada, Spain.

Spain topped the medal table at their home championships, winning a total of eleven medals (four golds, two silvers and five bronzes).

Spaniard, Luis Maria Sanz De La Hoz, competing in his second World Championships, beat Japan’s Ryoke Abe to become the first Shotokan karateka and first non-Japanese man to win the Men’s Individual Kata title.

Great Britain Karate team won 4 golds, and 1 Silver at the 11th in the kumite events. Willie Thomas (70-kg), Wayne Otto (75-kg) and Molly Samuel (60-kg) won gold with Jillian Toney (53-kg) winning silver. The men’s team won the team title.

Between 22-24 November 1996, Dario Marchini repeated his successes at the 6th ITKF World Championships. At the 8th ITKF World Championships held in São Paulo Brazil, he won the Men’s Individual Kata title. He was also part of an Italian Team including Allesandro Gardinali and Pasquell Acri, that defeated Brazil to become Men’s Team Kata World Champions.

On 22 November 2019, Joy Cujic was promoted to 5th Dan by Shokei Matsui. By this time she had been training in Kyokushin Karate for 45 years.

On 23 November 1962, David Pickthall was born in Crawley, England.

A long-time student and assistant of Steve Arneil, Pickthall was a top competitor who competed nationally and internationally in both kata and kumite. He made the successful transition to being a top coach.

On 23 November 1963, Shotokai master, Mitsusuke Harada gave a Karate demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall, during the National Judo Championships. Judo great, Kenshiro Abbe’s organisation, the British Budo Council, had invited Harada.

On 23 November 1986, the third day of the 8th WUKO World Karate Championships took place in Sydney, Australia.

Japan topped the medal table, winning a total of fourteen medals (five golds, seven silvers and two bronzes). Britain was second and France third.

Tsuguo Sakumoto and Mie Nakayama of Japan retained their world titles, winning the Men’s and Women’s Kata events.

Four of Britain’s kumite stars won medals, Vic Charles (+80-kg gold), Geoff Thompson (+80-kg silver), Pat McKay (80 kg silver) and Molly Samuel (60 kg). The British men’s team also won the kumite title.

Dutch starlight, Guusje van Mourik, won her third straight world title in the +60-kg kumite event. Van Mourik is one of the most successful kumite competitors, having won numerous titles at the World and European levels.

On 23 November 2020, Peter Spanton died following a small illness. He was aged 77 years.

Spanton was at the forefront of British Karate, alongside notable names, such as Steve Arneil, Andy Sherry, Ticky Donovan, and Terry O’Neill. A phenomenal fighter known for his great kicking ability, he was one of the first professional Karate instructors in the UK. As a successful judge, he officiated at several WUKO World Championships.  His computer programs helped revolutionise the tournament scene. He will always be remembered as one of Tatsuo Suzuki’s original black belts in Britain.

On 24 November 1940 Wado-Ryu master, Masafumi Shiomitsu was born in Kagoshima, Japan.

A powerfully built man, known for his kicking ability, Shiomitsu began his Karate training in 1955, aged 15, studying Shorin-Ryu. On entering Nihon University in 1959, he became a member of the  Wado-Ryu Karate Club. The chief instructor of the club was Hironori Ohtsuka, the founder of the style, assisted by instructors Fumihiro Tanabe and Toru Arakawa.

As a brown belt, Shiomitsu suffered a serious injury, when during training he dislocated a vertebra. He was hospitalised for a year. However, not being one to give up, Shiomitsu eventually returned to training and achieved his Shodan in 1961.

On 24 November 1945, Gichin Funakoshi’s third son Yoshitaka (Gigo) died from tuberculosis, in Tokyo, Japan. He was 39 years. He was first diagnosed with tuberculosis at age 7 and had been told that he wouldn’t live past the age of 21. He started practising Karate at age 11.

Much of modern Shotokan Karate can be attributed to Yoshitaka Funakoshi. He introduced longer stances into the Shotokan style and was also responsible for a more dynamic style of Karate which emphasized more power and speed compared to the Karate of his father.

On 24 November 2002, the final day of the 16th World Karate Championships was held in Madrid, Spain.

France topped the medal table with 11 medals (3 golds, 3 silvers and 5 bronzes), with hosts Spain second (3 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes), and Japan third (3 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze). Participants from 26 nations won medals.

France prevented Japan from making a clean sweep of the kata events, by winning the Women’s Team Kata event. Atsuko Wakai retained the Women’s individual Kata title, winning her third world title in a row. Takashi Katada won the men’s title. The male team won the team title against Spain.

Elisa Au became the first American woman to win a world title when she won the +60-kg kumite event. Her compatriot, George Kotaka won the 65-kg kumite event, thus winning America’s only other medal.

Damien Dovey made history by winning Benin’s first gold medal in the 60-kg kumite event. Dovey had previously represented France winning numerous titles, including the World title in 1994 in the same event.

Another medallist who had previously won medals at previous World Championships for another country was Junior Lefevre. He had previously won World Championship bronzes in the 70-kg kumite event for Belgium at the 1996 and 1998 championships. At the 2000 World Championships, he became World Champion representing Croatia. In the 2002 championship, he lost out to Italy’s Giuseppe di Domenico in the final.

Snezana Pantic won the women’s open kumite event for Yugoslavia. She would later go on to represent Serbia and Montenegro, and eventually Serbia.

On 24 November 2004 Shotokan Karate master, Taiji Kase died in Paris, France.

Kase was one of the first Shotokan instructors to travel overseas to spread Karate around the world. In 1964 he spent three months teaching in South Africa. 1965 to 1966 saw him travelling to the United States, West Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. In 1967 he spent several months living and teaching in Italy. That same year he travelled to France, having been invited by Henri Plee. He and his family eventually settled in Paris.

Kase had fallen into a coma from which he did not wake. He eventually passed away in the company of his family and some close friends. He was cremated at the Pere Lachaise crematorium in Paris on November 30 2004. The ceremony was attended by around 350 people.

On 25 November 1948 the founder of the Okinawan Karate style Uechi-Ryu, Kanbun Uechi, died aged 71.

Born into a family of farmers, in 1897 Uechi fled his native Okinawa to avoid conscription into the Japanese army. He travelled to Fuzhou (Fuchou) in the Fukien Province of China.

Looking to learn martial arts, Uechi first tried training at the Kojo-Ryu school in Fuzhou, under the instruction of master Makabe. However, Makabe mocked Uechi for his speech impediment.

Uechi left Makabe’s dojo and started training under the tutelage of a medicine hawker named Shu Shi Wa. Wa taught him the Kung-Fu style of Pangai-noon, a style based on hard attacks and soft blocks. During his time with Wa, it is thought he was taught the katas Sanchin, Seisan and Sanseryu.

Uechi supported himself by helping Wa gather herbs to make herbal remedies. Over time Uechi learnt to make these Chinese medicines, enabling him to support himself during his stay in China.

Uechi eventually opened his own dojo in 1904 in Nansoye, after gaining his master’s grade from Shu Shi Wa. He would continue to make annual visits to Wa in Fuzhou for ten days at a time, to continue training with his master.

In 1909 Uechi returned to Okinawa to farm his family’s lands. Interestingly at this time, he refused to take on any students.

Facing financial difficulties due to mass unemployment in Okinawa, Uechi took his family to Wakayama, Japan in 1924, where he found factory work.

In 1925 two of Uechi’s Okinawan workmates persuaded him to teach them martial arts. In 1932 he finally opened the Pangai-noon-ryu Karate Jutsu Club. In 1940, the style was renamed to Uechi-Ryu Karate.

Uechi returned to Okinawa in 1946, where he remained until his death in 1948.

Kanbun Uechi’s son, Kanyei, took on his father’s role eventually systemizing the style of Uechi-Rye and spreading it around the world.

On 25 November 2012, the final day of the 21st World Karate Championships took place at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy.

Hosts France topped the medal table winning 13 medals (7 golds, 2 silvers and 4 bronzes). They did not surpass their 2000 World Championship medal haul of 16 medals (6 golds, 6 silvers and 4 bronzes). The majority of France’s golds were won by the women’s team who almost managed a clean sweep of the kumite events. Alexandra Recchia (50-kg), Lucie Ignace (55-kg), Lolita Dona (61-kg) and Nadege Ait-Ibrahim (+68-kg) all won individual titles. Tiffany Fanjat and Emilie Thouy joined Recchia and Dona to win the team event, beating Croatia in the final.

The Frenchmen only managed to win two golds, both in the kumite events. Kenji Grillon won the 84-kg kumite title. He was joined by Mathieu Cossou, Nadir Benaissa, Ibrahim Gary, Azdin Rghioui, Salim Bendiab and Logan Da Costa, to win the Men’s Team Kumite event, beating Turkey in the final.

History was made when Rika Usami from Japan and Antonio Diaz from Venezuela, both trained by the late Yoshimi Inoue, won the Women’s and Men’s Individual Kata titles. This was the first time a coach had trained both of the Individual Kata winners from different countries at a World Championship. Inoue had previously coached arguably two of the greatest female kata champions, Mie Nakayama and Atsuko Wakai.

Italy’s Luigi Busa and Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev resumed their rivalry in the 75-kg kumite event. Busa won the title, having lost to Aghayev in the previous World Championship final in 2010.

On 25 November 2017, Kazuyuki Hasegawa marked 50 years of his training in Kyokushin Karate. An event was held at the Nagoya Kanko Hotel. The event also saw his student, 3-time World Champion, Takuma Kouketsu, attempt the 100-Man Kumite Challenge.

On 26 November 1988, the 3rd Shotokan Karate International (SKI) World Championships began at the Utsunomiya Grand Hotel, in Japan. Hirokazu Kanazawa gave the opening speech to the Championships.

In the men’s kata final K Kato defeated M Murakami. Both men performed the kata Unsu. The woman’s individual kata title was won by S Mukai of Japan, performing Unsu, defeating compatriot S. Yoshimura who performed the kata Empi.

The individual kumite title was won by S Sugimoto who defeated K Kobayashi in the final. In 1983 Sugimoto had been runner-up to Aidan Trimble and third in 1985. The woman’s title was won by Kerry Flynn of Australia who defeated S. Yoshimura of Japan.

Ireland made it to the team kumite final, losing to a strong Japanese team. Japan also won the team kata title performing Unsu in the final. They defeated Australia who performed Gojushiho Dai. The ladies’ team kata title was won by Japan who defeated Ireland. Both teams performed Nijushiho in the final.

On 26 November 2002, Kyokushin Karate legend, Kenji Midori was promoted to 6th Dan.

On 26 November 2004, a wake was held for William Oliver. The following day a funeral service was held at the Memorial Baptist Church, in New York. Oliver had died six days earlier in his dojo

On November 26 2017 David Coulter was awarded his 8th Dan by the SKGB, at the Scottish National Kumite Championships held at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell.

On 26 November 2016, three-time World Champion, Takuma Kouketsu of Japan, completed the 100-Man Kumite Challenge in Nagoya, Japan on 26 November 2017.

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