This week in history…(24 October – 30 October)

24 October

On 24 October 1996, the High Court of Tokyo upheld an earlier decision regarding Mas Oyama’s last will.

On 31 March 1995 Judge Atsushi Watanabe of the Tokyo Court of Family Affairs ruled that Oyama’s verbal will was invalid as it had not been signed by him, only by the witnesses. His family had contested the validity of the will.

25 October

On 25 October 1936 several Karate masters gathered for a special meeting in Naha, Okinawa. While not attended by Gichin Funakoshi, this meeting was attended by Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Choki Motobu, Chojun Miyagi, Choshin Chibana, Juhatsu Kyoda, Shinpan Gusukuma, Genwa Nakasone, and others. Funakoshi would attend subsequent meetings.

Chomo Hanashiro had first broken with tradition in 1905, deciding to change the component “to” (pronounced “toe” or “toh”) in the word “to te”, to “kara” to get “kara te”. This changed the meaning from “Chinese Hand” to “Empty Hand”.

The result of the Tokyo meeting was to formally affirm Hanashiro’s interpretation. The word “empty” signifies much more than being without weapons to encompass a long tradition of considering the importance of the notion of “emptiness” and openness in martial arts, particularly those notions to do with the mental and spiritual aspect of these arts.

Karate enthusiasts have designated October 25th as World Karate Day in recognition of this landmark meeting. However not all organizations agree – the World Karate Federation identifies this day as June 17th, to commemorate the date in 2017 when karate was selected for trial inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.

On 25 October 2008, Karin Prinsloo was graded to 6th Dan. Her grading panel included Masahiko Tanaka and Stan Schmidt.

On 25 October 2013 David Coulter took part in the annual 100 Kata Challenge a worldwide event to commemorate Okinawa Karate Day.

Participants in the event have to perform 100 repetitions of a Karate kata of their choice.

26 October

On 26 October 1957, the Federation Internationale De Karate (FIK) was formed at the headquarters of the French Karate Federation, located at 34 rue de la Montagne Sainte Genevieve, Paris.

Present at the creation of the FIK were Vladimiro Malatesti (representing Italy), Vernon Bell (representing Great Britain), Jurgen Seydel (representing Germany), Henri Plee (representing France) and Hiroo Mochizuki (representing Japan and Yoseikan Karate).

The Federation Internationale De Karate had the following aims:

• To foster closer ties between karateka from around the world.

• To coordinate the activity of Karate in all nations

• To establish technical and organisational rules

• to organise and supervise international events

• To represent Karate on the international sports scene

27 October

On 27 October 1948 Life Magazine featured an article on Karate. The article had a picture showing black belts Hiroshi Kamata and Gojuro Harada, both from Waseda University, engaged in a sparring session. It is thought that Henri Plee, the Father of European Karate, saw this article which led to his interest in Karate.

On 27 October 1964, the 3rd All-American Karate Tournament was held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Chief Judge of the tournament was Hidetaka Nishiyama, the President of the All-American Karate Federation (AAKF). Masataka Mori, the Chief Instructor of the Karate Association of Hawaii, was the Chairman of the tournament. Yasu Uyehara won the kumite event, with Thomas Morikawa winning the kata event.

28 October

On 28 October 1939 Keigo Abe was born in Iyoshi, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

A direct student of Masatoshi Nakayama, Abe graduated from the JKA Instructors Program in 1965. He was a long-serving instructor at the Japan Karate Association’s Hombu. After the JKA split in 1990 he became the Technical Director of the JKA (Matsuno faction).

In 1999 Abe resigned from the JKA and formed his own association, Japan Shotokan Karate Association (JSKA).

Noted for his phenomenal back fist, Abe is featured in three volumes of Masatoshi Nakayama’s Best Karate Series (volumes 3, 4, 9).

On 28 October 1957, the 1st All Japan Karate Association Championships were held at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium and was organised by the JKA. The tournament was formulated by Masatoshi Nakayama, to add a more competitive approach to training. It was the first tournament to have match rules.

The tournament was limited to individual men’s kata and kumite; and team kata and kumite. The first kata champion was Hiroshi Shoji who performed Unsu. Hirokazu Kanazawa was the first kumite champion.

Kanazawa had trained intensively for the championships. However, five days before the championships were due to start, he broke his wrist in two places.

Yutaka Yaguchi had the unwanted distinction of becoming the first person to ever foul out of the competition.

On 28 October 1957 the 1st All Japan University Karate Tournament is held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Shiro Asano becomes the first All-Japan University Champion.

29 October

On 29 October 1939, Shiro Asano was born in Tokyo.

A student of Masatoshi Nakayama, Asano attended Takushoku University, becoming a prominent member of the university’s famed Karate club. In 1957 he won the inaugural All Japan Universities Championship. This was followed by another win in 1958.

After graduating from university Asano enrolled on the Japan Karate Association’s Instructor program. After graduating from the program, becoming a full-time instructor for the JKA in 1963.

As part of the JKA’s expansion, Asano was sent to teach in Germany. He was then invited to the United Kingdom, first going to Liverpool, before finally taking up permanent residence in Nottingham around 1968.

In 1974 Asano was appointed Chairman and Chief Instructor to the Shotokan Karate International (Great Britain) SKI(GB), the British branch of Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF), headed by Hirokazu Kanazawa. Eventually, Asano also become the Chief Instructor for the Shotokan Karate International European Federation (SKIEF).

Shiro Asano is famed for his superb timing in kumite.

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