This week in history…(23 January – 29 January)

23 January

On 23 January 1949, Henri Plee was graded to his Judo 1st Dan under Mikinosuke Kawaishi.

Plee became the 16th Judoka to attain this rank in France.

On 23 January 1973, Nicholas Pettas was born on the island of Mykonos, Greece.

Sometimes known as the ‘Blue-eyed Samurai‘, Nicholas Pettas was one of Mas Oyama’s last live-in students and as a competitor, was known for his powerful low kicks.

On 23 January 2003, Daigo Oishi was awarded the Social and Cultural Achievement Award from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Culture

A lifelong karateka, Oishi was known for his footwork and his powerfully destructive kicks. Mas Oyama called his kick “Muramasa” after a famous Japanese blade.

24 January

On 24 January 1948, Dirk Heene was born in Aalst, East Flanders Province of Belgium. His father was a mining engineer.

A long-time student of Shotokan’s, Taiji Kase, Heene has done a lot to promote the teachings of Kase.

On 24 January 1987, Tetsuji Murakami, an early pioneer of Karate in Europe, died from an incurable disease after a long illness, in his adopted city of Paris. He was only 59 years old.

25 January

On 25 January 2000, Kyokushin Karate legend, Hiroki Kurosawa made his kickboxing debut in the K-1 Kickboxing promotion.

K-1 was the brainchild of Kazuyoshi Ishii and was designed to promote the best stand-up martial artists. In his debut, Kurosawa faced American Maecus Ruiz, who he knocked out in just 56 seconds.

On 25 January 2020, Eddie Daniels died peacefully in his sleep. It happened during a family visit to Turkey. This came as a shock to many people, as he was still in very good shape. His funeral took place on 5 March, in Sedgley, West Midlands, at the All Saints Church.

26 January

On 26 January 1964, Tetsuji Murakami performed his last official grading for the British Karate Federation (BKF) at their Blackpool dojo.

Murakami’s association with the BKF had begun in July 1959, when he arrived in England from France. He conducted his first lesson and grading at 12 Maybush Road, Hornchurch.

Murakami has been described as an exceptional exponent of Karate. He taught Yoseikan, a form of Shotokan Karate. Vernon Bell described him as a good and popular teacher. He had been awarded his 1st Dan by the Japan Karate Association (JKA).

When Murakami arrived in Europe, it was assumed that he was the JKA’s European representative. However, following correspondence between Vernon Bell, Jurgen Seydel (Bell’s counterpart in Germany) and Masatomo Takagi of the JKA, it transpired that Murakami did not represent the JKA.

Bell and members of the BKF felt betrayed. Correspondence continued between Bell and the JKA. The JKA indicated they that would not recognize any grades bestowed by Murakami.

On 16 November 1963 Bell applied for the BKF to become a member of the JKA. The BKF would become affiliated with the JKA and sever ties with the Yoseikan association.

Murakami eventually moved back to Japan in 1968. He became a student of Shigeru Egami learning Shotokai Karate. He was awarded his 5th Dan from Egami. He eventually returned to Europe teaching and promoting Shotokai.

27 January

On 27 January 1934, Raymond Fuller, one of the students present at the founding of the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain), was born.

Fuller started his Karate training in January of 1964 at Vernon Bell‘s Horseshoe pub dojo, located in London. At the time the British Karate Federation (BKF) were affiliated with Yoseikan Karate. Fuller, a painter and decorator, was aged 29 years. He had served in the British army. He first became interested in Karate after watching a British television programme called “Whicker’s World“, hosted by journalist Alan Whicker. In the documentary karateka in a Tokyo dojo were practising various techniques.

When the BKF became affiliated with the JKA, Fuller like many of his fellow students revelled in the new training under Hirokazu Kanazawa. When Kanazawa’s yearlong contract ended in 1965, Fuller was one of the students who joined the KUGB, breaking away from the BKF. Eventually, he helped to run the organisation’s main dojo in Blackfriars, London.

After several years with the KUGB Fuller left to form his own association, Thames Karate, a founding member of the English Karate Governing Body.

29 January

On 29 January 1962, one of the founders of the French Karate movement, Jim Alcheik, was assassinated, aged only 31.

Alcheik is widely regarded as one of the greatest martial artists to come out of Europe. He held the ranks of 4th Dan in Aikido, 2nd Dan in Karate, 2nd Dan in Kendo and 3rd Dan in Judo.

Born in Algeria, in June 1931, of Turkish origin, Alcheik grew up in Tunisia, where his martial arts journey began. His first art was Judo and achieved his 3rd Dan at a young age.

After military service in France, Alcheik was invited by Minoru Mochizuki to train with him in Yoseikan, Shizuoka, Japan. Mochizuki was a very eclectic martial artist having been a student of Jigoro Kano (Judo), Morihei Ueshiba (Aikido) and Gichin Funakoshi (Karate). In the early 1930s, Mochizuki established the Yoseikan dojo where all the arts he had learnt, were taught. Alcheik spent 1955 to 1958 studying at the Yoseikan dojo.

On his return to France, Alcheik became the Technical Director of the French Aikido and Kendo. Alcheik also wanted to spread the teachings and philosophy of Mochizuki. He organised meetings, gala, and seminars and eventually established the organisation, European Yoseikan.

During the early 1960s, there was growing political unrest in Algeria. Some in the country wanted independence from France, whereas others wanted to remain a colony of France. The Secret Army Organisation (OAS) was founded in 1961 by a group determined to prevent Algerian Independence and willing to use acts o terrorism. It is believed that Alcheik may have been recruited to be part of a force fighting against the OAS.

It is believed that Alcheik and seventeen of his men were in a villa in Algiers when they received a parcel bomb that killed them. The villa had been a base for interrogating alleged OAS members.

On 29 January 1982 Hironori Ōhtsuka, the founder of Wado-Ryu Karate, died aged 89 years. He began learning Jiujutsu at the age of 5, first under his uncle and later under his father.

In 1922 Ōhtsuka became one of the first students of Gichin Funakoshi, who had arrived in Japan from Okinawa to introduce the new art of Karate. By the late 1920s, he had become Funakoshi’s assistant instructor. However, due to philosophical differences, he parted from him in the early 1930s.

By 1934 Ōhtsuka had opened his first dojo in Tokyo, where he taught his Wado-Ryu Karate, which was an amalgamation of Jiujitsu and Shotokan Karate.

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    • John on January 23, 2023 at 8:23 am
    • Reply

    I trained under Ray Fuller ( and his then wife Pauline , who later became Pauline Bindra)
    Enoeda mostly came to Dartford and took us for gradings .I trained 1972 to 80.
    Ray took us for mostly kumite while Pauline took us for Basics and Kata.I swear when we had to line up and attack him his arms were pure steel .He was a hard man .All are long gone now.Ray, Enoeda , Pauline .R.I.P

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