This week in history…(22 May – 28 May)

22 May

On 22 May 1962, Akira Masuda was born in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Like most Japanese boys, he was taught Judo at school. By the time he was in high school, he had become Captain of the school’s Judo team.

An exceptional fighter known for his strong kicks, Akira 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 regular training session and was told he would be attempting the 100-Man Kumite Challenge. His first fight lasting around fifteen seconds ended with him knocking out his opponent. He would go on to knock out thirty-four of his opponents. He did lose some fights, but importantly he survived. The challenge lasted around two hours and forty-five minutes. At the end of the challenge, his body was covered in bruises.

On 22 May 1994, around one hundred Caltech alumni gathered in the university’s gymnasium, to honour Tsutomu Ohshima on 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 at the age of 63. His eldest son, Kenei, succeeded him as the 2nd Chief Instructor of Shito-Ryu Karate-do. Many of his other top students founded their own versions of Shito-Ryu.

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

24 May

On 24 May 1923, Henri Plee was born in the French city of Arras.

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.

25 May

On 25 May 1931, Takehiro Konishi was born. He is the son of Yasuhiro Konishi, one of the most outstanding, Japanese Karate Masters of the 20th century

On 25 May 1991, Gerard Gordeau was crowned the World Heavyweight Savate champion in Paris, France. He has competed in Kickboxing, Savate, Seidokan, Mixed Martial Arts, and Professional Wrestling as a martial artist.

On 25 May 2015, Gursharan Sahota was awarded the rank of 8th Dan. Training in Shotokan Karate for over 50 years, Sahota leads one of the largest Shotokan groups in the United Kingdom.

27 May

On 27 May 1949, Isao Obata, alongside Shigeru Egami, Masatoshi Nakayama, and others, helped establish the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Obata became the JKA’s first Chairman. Gichin Funakoshi was made Honorary Chief instructor, with Nakayama becoming Chief Instructor. Other appointments included:

  • Kichinosuke Saigo, becoming President
  • Masatomi Takagi, becoming Administrator
  • Kimio Itoh becoming Director of Administration
  • Hidetaka Nishiyama becoming Chief of the Instruction Committee

On 27 May 1998, Mas Tsuroka was awarded the Order of Ontario. The award was for his significant contributions to martial arts in Canada. It was presented to him by Hilary Weston, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Between 27-28 May 2017, the 5th IFK World Championships were held in Sibiu, Romania. There were 400 competitors from 40 countries. On the last day of the championships, David Pickthall was awarded his 7th Dan by Steve Arneil and IFK Committee.

28 May

On 28 May 1952, Clive Layton was born in Hertfordshire, England. A Shotokan practitioner, he received his black belt in 1977 from Hirokazu Kanazawa.

It is as a writer that Layton is best known. He has written numerous books on the history of Karate.

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