This week in history (25 January – 31 January)

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.


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 members of the JKA. The BKF would become affiliated to the JKA and severe 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 Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB), 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 organisations 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 1946, Yoshizo Machida was born in Ibaraki, Japan.

One of the most respected Karate Masters in Brazil, Yoshizo Machida has helped develop Shotokan Karate in the country. He has passed on his love of Karate to his sons.

Machida trained under Masahiko Tanaka. He later trained under Tetsuhiko Asai, Hidetaka Nishiyama, and Chief Instructor of the JKA, Masatoshi Nakayama.


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.

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 1979, Tomohiro Arashiho arrived in Los Angeles with his kohai, Kuniyoshi Tsutomu. Kenko Nakaima selected him to bring Ryuei-ryu Karate to the United States. They travelled around for a while before settling in San Diego. They were assisted by former students who had trained with them in Okinawa. They gathered informally with others to train at a local park.


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.


31 January

On 31 January 1999 Keigo Abe resigned from the Matsuno faction of the JKA.

Masatoshi Nakayama, the Chief Instructor of the JKA, died in 1987. Tokyo businessman, Nobuyuki Nakahara became the Chairman of the JKA. A number of instructors, led by Tetsuhiko Asai, disagreed with the decision. This led to a split in the JKA. What followed was a 10-year legal battle between the Nakahara faction, that included Masaaki Ueki, Yoshiharu Osaka and Masahiko Tanaka and the rival Matsuno faction. Led by Asai, the Matsuno faction included Abe, Akihito Isaka, Mikio Yahara, and Masao Kagawa. Abe was named the Technical Director of the Matsuno faction of the JKA.

In 1999 the Japanese High Court ruled in favour of the Nakahara faction of the JKA. The decision lead to a split in the Matsuno faction. Abe resigned from the faction.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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