This week in history (25 November – 1 December)

25 November

On 25 November 1948 the founder of the Okinawan Karate style Uechi-ryu, Kanbun Uechi, died aged 71.

Born into a family of farmers, in 1897 Uechi fled his native Okinawa to avoid conscription into the Japanese army. He travelled to Fuzhou (Fuchou) in the Fukien Province of China.

Looking to learn martial arts, Uechi first tried training at the Kojo-ryu school in Fuzhou, under the instruction of master Makabe. However, Makabe mocked Uechi on his speech impediment.

Uechi left Makabe’s dojo and started training under the tutelage of a medicine hawker called Shu Shi Wa. Wa taught him the Kung-Fu style of Pangai-noon, a style based on hard attacks and soft blocks. During his time with Wa it is thought he was taught the kata Sanchin, Sesan and Sanseryu.

Uechi supported himself by helping Wa gather herbs to make herbal remedies. Over time Uechi learnt to make these Chinese medicines, enabling him to support himself during his stay in China.

Uechi eventually opened his own dojo in 1904 in Nansoye, after gaining his master’s grade from Shu Shi Wa. He would continue to make annual visits to Wa in Fuzhou for ten days at a time, to continue training with his master.

In 1909 Uechi returned to Okinawa to farm his family’s lands. Interestingly at this time he refused to take on any students.

Facing financial difficulties due to mass unemployment in Okinawa, Uechi took his family to Wakayama, Japan in 1924, where he found factory work.

In 1925 two of Uechi’s Okinawan workmates persuaded him to teach them martial arts. In 1932 he finally opened the Pangai-noon-ryu Karate Jutsu Club. In 1940, the style was renamed to Uechi-Ryu Karate.

Uechi returned to Okinawa in 1946, where he remained until his death in 1948.

Kanbun Uechi’s son, Kanyei, took on his father’s role eventually organising the style of Uechi-Rye and spreading it around the world.


On 25 November 2012 the final day of the 21st World Karate Championships took place at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy.

Hosts France topped the medal table winning 13 medals (7 golds, 2 silvers and 4 bronzes). They did not surpass their 2000 World Championship medal haul of 16 medals (6 golds, 6 silvers and 4 bronzes). The majority of France’s golds were won by the women’s team who almost managed a clean sweep of the kumite events. Alexandra Recchia (50 kg), Lucie Ignace (55 kg), Lolita Dona (61 kg) and Nadege Ait-Ibrahim (+68 kg) all won individual titles. Tiffany Fanjat and Emilie Thouy joined Recchia and Dona to win the team event, beating Croatia in the final.

The French men only managed to win two golds, both in the kumite events. Kenji Grillon won the 84 kg kumite title. He was joined by Mathieu Cossou, Nadir Benaissa, Ibrahim Gary, Azdin Rghioui, Salim Bendiab and Logan Da Costa, to win the team kumite event, beating Turkey in the final.

History was made when Rika Usami from Japan and Antonio Diaz from Venezuela, both trained by the late Yoshimi Inoue, won the women’s and men’s individual kata titles. This was the first time a coach had trained both of the individual kata winners from different countries at a World Championships. Inoue had previously coached arguably two of the greatest female kata champions, Mie Nakayama and Atsuko Wakai.

Italy’s Luigi Busa and Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev resumed their rivalry in the 75 kg kumite event. Busa won the title, having lost to Aghayev in the previous World Championship final in 2010.

26 November

On 26 November 1988 the 3rd Shotokan Karate International (SKI) World Championships began at the Utsunomiya Grand Hotel, in Japan. Hirokazu Kanazawa gave the opening speech to the Championships.

In the men’s kata final K Kato defeated M Murakami. Both men performed the kata Unsu. The woman’s individual kata title was won by S Mukai of Japan, performing Unsu, defeating compatriot S. Yoshimura who performed the kata Empi.

The individual kumite title was won by S Sugimoto who defeated K Kobayashi in the final. In 1983 Sugimoto had been runner-up to Aidan Trimble and third in 1985. The woman’s title was won by Kerry Flynn of Australia who defeated S. Yoshimura of Japan.

Ireland made it to the team kumite final, losing to a strong Japanese team. Japan also won the team kata title performing Unsu in the final. They defeated Australia who performed Gojushiho Dai. The ladies team kata title was won Japan who defeated Ireland. Both teams performed Nijushiho in the final. 


On 26 November 2017 David Coulter was awarded his 8th Dan by the SKGB, at the Scottish National Kumite Championships held at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell.

27 November

On 27 November 1980 the 5th World Championships began at the Palacio de Deportes, Madrid, Spain and finished on 30 November. 

Japan topped the medal table, winning 11 medals (4 golds, 5 silvers and 2 bronzes) ahead of  hosts Spain (3 golds, 1 silver and 7 bronzes) and France (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronzes). 

This was the first World Championships in which women were allowed to compete. However, they only competed in the individual kata event. Japan won the gold and silver through Suzuko Okamura and Mie Nakayama, who would go on to win three individual world titles. Bronze medals went to Maria Victoria Moreno of Spain and Marina Sasso of Italy. 

Tokey Hill of the United States became the first American to win an individual world title, winning the 80 kg kumite event. His compatriot Billy Blanks, of Tae Bo fame, won a silver in the open kumite event and a bronze in the +80 kg kumite event. 

Spain won the team kumite event ahead of the Netherlands, France and Great Britain. Britain would become the dominate force in this event over the coming years. 

There was no team kata during this championships. The team kata event was introduced at the 1986 World Championships. 


On 27 November 2012 Tadahiko Ohtsuka, an expert in Goju-ryu master and a Karate scholar, died aged 72. 

Born in 1940, he began his Karate training under Sosui Ichikawa, who could trace hie Karate lineage back to Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-ryu Karate. 

In 1970 Ohtsuka founded his own association, Goju Kensha, with the blessing of Ichikawa. He had a progressive approach to Karate, incorporating soft styles like Tai Chi into his training.

28 November

On 28 November 1934 Frank Cope, a pioneer of British Shotokan Karate, was born in Liverpool. A long time member of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB he would become one of the first Karate black belts in Britain.

29 November

On  29 November 1964 Clive William Nicol took his black belt examination and earned the rank of Shodan. 

Born on 17 July 1940 in Neath, C. W. Nicol is best known for his book Moving Zen – Karate As A Way To Gentleness, a must read for all martial artists. The book provides a fascinating insight into the early days of the Japan Karate Association (JKA). 

In Moving Zen Nicol describes his Karate training at the JKA’s original headquarters at Yotsuya, Japan, under Masatomo Takagi, Masatoshi Nakayama and Hirokazu Kanazawa. He also describes his relationship with martial arts historian Donn Draegar. 

30 November

On 30 November 1990 the World Shotokan Karate Association (WSKA) was formed.  As a non-political association made up of various organisations it aims to promote traditional Shotokan competition. In 2001 Malcolm Dorfman was appointed the Africa Continent Director for the WSKA. In 2005 he was appointed to the WSKA Referee Qualifications panel for the World Championships. In 2013 he was appointed to the five man WSKA Referees Commission. Two years later he was appointed Asia Continent Director. He currently sits on the WSKA’s Technical Committee alongside Andy Sherry and Ted Hedlund. 


On 30 November 2004 Shotokan master, Taiji Kase, was cremated at the Pere Lachaise crematorium in Paris. Around 350 people attended his funeral.

1 December

On 1 December 1952 Goju-ryu master, Masaji Taira, was born on Kume Island, Okinawa, Japan. He was a student of Eiichi Miyazato, a direct student of Goju-ryu Karate founder Chojun Miyagi. 


On 1 December 1967 the JKA’s Satoshi Miyazaki arrived in Belgium, joining Taiji Kase in France, Keinosuke Enoeda in England and Hiroshi Shirai in Italy as the four JKA instructors teaching in Europe. 


On 1 December 1968 a memorial was erected to mark the centenary of GIchin Funakoshi’s birth. 

The memorial was built by the Shotokai organisation at the Engaku-ji temple in Kamakura, a small coastal town South of Tokyo. Engaku-ji is one of the leading zen temples in Eastern Japan and is the second of Kamakura’s great zen temples. The temple was built into the slopes of Kamakura’s forested hills. 

The memorial was designed by Kenji Ogata and features calligraphy from Funakoshi and the former chief priest of the temple, Sogen Asahina. The calligraphy quotes the second of Funakoshi’s Guiding Principleskarate ni sente nashi (There is no first strike in karate). There is a second stone to the memorial which features an inscription by Nobuhide Ohama, dedicated to the life of Gichin Funakoshi. 

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