This week in history (25 Feb – 3 Mar)

27 February

On 27 February 1948 Terence (Terry) O’Neill, one of the best karate-ka ever produced in Britain, was born in Liverpool, England.

O’Neill began his Karate training in 1963 when as a sixteen year old he lied about his age, on his application to join the British Karate Federation (BKF). Under Keinosuke Enoeda and the JKA, he earned his 1st Dan in 1966.

O’Neill had a very successful competitive career, competing for over twenty years until retiring through injury. As a member of the famed Liverpool Red Triangle team he was KUGB individual kumite champion four times and individual kata champion seven times. He was KUGB grand champion on three occasions. He was a member of the Red Triangle team that won the team kumite on numerous occasions.

O’Neill also had a successful international career, representing Britain numerous times. He was part of the British Karate team that won the World Championship in 1975. He was also joint third at the 1974 World Champions.

O’Neill was the founder and publisher of the well respected Fighting Arts International magazine, first published in 1972. He has also carved out a successful acting career.

1 March

On 1 March 1962 the British Karate Federation (BKF) issued a club affiliation certificate to the Liverpool Karate Club. The club, formed in 1959 under Fred Giles, would eventually come to be known as the Red Triangle Shotokan Karate Club.

Initially club members received instruction from Vernon Bell, Terry Wingrove and Tetsuji Murakami. However, when the the BKF became affiliated with the JKA, Hirokazu Kanazawa travel to the dojo to instruct the students.

When the KUGB split from the BKF, the Red Triangle Club joined them. The full-time instructor of the club was Keinosuke Enoeda of the JKA.

Many top karate-ka got their start under Enoeda at the Red Triangle Dojo. This included Andy Sherry and Terry O’Neill.

The club also produced many top national and international competitors including Andy Sherry, Terry O’Neill, Bob Poynton, Billy Higgins and Frank Brennan.

2 March

On 2 March 1960 Gichin Funkoshi’s eldest son, Yoshihide, died aged 71.

Yoshihide Funakoshi is not as well-known as his more talented younger brother Yoshitaka (Gigo). Little is known about his Karate ability. In his youth Yoshihide had trained under Master Yasutsune Itosu alongside his father.

Funikoshi and his eldest son had a complex relationship. Yoshihide had moved to Tokyo several years before his father. However, he fell in with a bad crowd and accrued gambling debts. He would borrow money from his father’s students, not paying them back.

Following the the deaths of son Yoshitaka in 1945 and his wife in 1947, Funakoshi was facing a difficult time having given up teaching Karate and moving to Oita, Kyusho, during the war years. It was his son Yoshihide who persuaded him to return back to Tokyo to resume teaching, with his help. Funakoshi lived with Yoshihide and his family for the last ten years of his live.

Yoshihide strove to keep his father’s views about following a traditional approach to Karate alive. He was not happy about the sporting direction of Karate. He would would eventually follow his father and become President of Shotokai.

3 March

On 3 March 1946, British Shotokan instructor, Robert Rhodes, was born in Leeds, England.

Rhodes began his training aged twenty at the Leeds Shotokan Karate Club (Leeds SKC), under the instruction of Ronnie Wade.

As a green belt Rhodes started competing at the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) National Championships where he was part of a successful Leeds SKC team that came second in the team kumite event.

Rhodes went on to become a top competitor, winning events in both kata and kumite. His success eventually earned him a position on the England Karate squad. For eight years Rhodes was a member of of the KUGB National squad and the Great Britain All-Karate Styles squad.

The KUGB National squad was coached by Keinosuke Enoeda. As a member of this team Rhodes participated in many international kumite events.

Rhodes represented the KUGB several times at the All-Styles Championships in individual kumite. He was selected onto the Great Britain All-Karate Styles squad coached by Steve Arneil and featuring many greats of British Karate, including Terry O’Neill, Billy Higgins and David ‘Ticky’ Donovan. In 1975 the squad won the World Championship kumite title, defeating the previously undefeated Japanese in the final.

At the time of writing Bob Rhodes is an 8th Dan and continues to teach and give seminars. He is also a member of the KUGB’s Technical Committee.

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