This week in history (24 Aug – 30 Aug)

24 August

On 24 August 2000 Andy Hug died from breathing difficulties and multiple organ failure. He was only 35 years old. His death was reported on all the major news channels in Japan. He was survived by his wife Ilona and their son Seya.

25 August

On 26 August 1941 Karate instructor and humanitarian, John Van Weenen, was born in Enfield, just outside London. He was the second of six children.

In 1964 Van Weenen, along with his brothers, Jeff and Garry emigrated to Australia settling in Adelaide. He and his brother Jeff began Karate training under Moss Hollis, who originally hailed from Birmingham, England. In 1966, Van Weenen was awarded his 1st Dan, just before returning back to the UK.

In 1967 Van Weenen travelled to Japan with friends Eddie Whitcher and Mick Peachey. They hoped to train with their legendary instructor Hirokazu Kanazawa in the country of his birth, at the JKA headquarters.

During the 1990s Van Weenen led humanitarian efforts to help the starving people of Albania and Kosovo.

27 August

On 27 August 2000, Andy Hug‘s funeral was held. His body was cremated and his ashes placed in the cemetery of the Hoshuin Temple, Kyoto, Japan. His pallbearers included Kyokushin fighters Francisco Filho, Nobuaki Kakuda, and Nicholas Pettas.

29 August

On 29 August 1934, Steve Arneil, a pioneer of British Kyokushin Karate, was born in the mining city of Krugersdorp, South Africa.

Arneil began training with the founder of Kyokushin Karate, Mas Oyama, around 1961.

In 1965 Oyama asked Arneil to attempt the One Hundred Man Kumite Challenge. The challenge devised by Oyama, was designed to test if a karateka had the necessary endurance and character to fight one hundred men in succession without a break.

Arneil began the gruelling training required for taking the Challenge. The training lasted over five months. He stopped his day job as an English teacher and dedicated himself to training hard every day. Oyama monitored and guided his training, but did not give a date when the challenge would occur.

Arneil turned up for his normal training session one day and was told he would be doing the 100 Man challenge. His first fight was around fifteen seconds, with him knocking out his opponent. He would go on to knockout 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.

Steve Arneil became the first non-Japanese and only the second man after Masutatsu Oyama to complete the One Hundred Man Kumite Challenge. Shortly after the challenge he graded for and was awarded his 3rd Dan.

30 August

On 30 August 1931 Shotokan Karate master Hiroshi Shōji, was born in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. Appearing in volume 4 of Masatoshi Nakayama‘s Best Karate series, he was known for his sharp quick movements and exceptional tai-sabaki.

At the first JKA All-Japan Karate Championships in 1957, Shoji became the first All-Japan Kata Champion. He was the only man ever to achieve a perfect score of 10 in the Championships history.

On 30 August 2012, James Field, a senior member of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF), travelled to the Caribbean island of Barbados to give a Karate clinic. The 3-day clinic, which completed on 1 September, was covered by the Barbados press.

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