This week in history (26 April – 2 May)

26 April

On 26 April 1957, Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate, died in a Tokyo hospital, aged 88. His family and close student Shigeru Egami were at his bedside.


On 26 April 1965, a touring party from the JKA gave their third authorized demonstration in Britain. The party consisted of Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda, and Hiroshi Shirai. The demonstration took place at Poplar Town Hall, London.


On 21 April 1973 Ken Funakoshi’s second son Kyle Yoshinobu Funakoshi was born. A technically gifted martial artist, he has passed his love for Karate to his sons Kevin and Kyle. His sons have become successful martial artists in their own right.


On 26 April 1994, Kyokushin Karate founder, Mas Oyama, died of cancer, in Tokyo, Japan. He was succeeded as of the head of the International Karate Organisation (IKO), Shokei Matsui.


On 26 April 2014, the 20th anniversary of Mas Oyama’s death occurred. Russian, Tariel Nikoleishvili attempted the 100-Man Kumite Challenge in front of IKO–1 head, Shokei Matsui, and also Francisco Filho and Artur Hovhannisyan. He completed the challenge in 3 hours 21 minutes. He won 64 fights; drew 27 flights; and lost 9 fights.


28 April

On 28 April 2020, Yoshinao Nanbu died. This was following a long illness. He was survived by his wife Sonia and daughter Sume.

Nanbu was one of the most talented martial artists of his generation. As a pioneer of Shito-Ryu Karate in Europe, his desire to test the authenticity of his Karate, won him many admirers and influenced the likes of Dominique Valera.

A lifelong martial artist, Nanbu was never afraid to walk his own path. His self-reflection led to the development of Sankukai and Nanbudo, both of which have developed a following worldwide.

30 April

On 30 April 1957, the British Karate Federation (BKF) held its very first grading. Two students were graded.


On 30 April 2009, Hideki Okamoto died from stomach cancer. By the time of his death, he had been promoted to 8th Dan.

A graduate of the JKA Instructors Course, he was responsible for developing Shotokan Karate in Africa and the Middle East. Considered a phenomenal teacher, he was known for teaching self-defense techniques.


1 May

On 1 May 1949, the Japan Karate Association(Nippon Karate Kyokai) was formed. Kichinosuke Saigo was the first President of the association, with Isao Obata the first Chairman.


On 1 May 1953, Fujikiyo Omura was born Shizuoka, Japan. He began learning Karate at high school in 1970.

Known for the speed and dynamism of his Karate, Omura is a former JKA All Japan and World Champion. He is a much respected and in-demand instructor and is a frequent guest instructor on gasshuku held around the world. He has also helped to build a healthy Shotokan Karate following in Thailand, where Thai Boxing, Taekwondo, and badminton are the dominant activities in the country.


On 1 May 1997, Yoshizo Machida established JKA Brazil. He helped put Shotokan Karate on the Brazilian martial arts map. He did this mainly through conducting seminars and training courses and running classes at his dojo.


On 1 May 2015, Yoshimi Inoue died from cancer. For many, his name will be associated with the many great kata champions he coached, that included Mie Nakayama, Atsuko Wakai, and Ryoko Abe. However, Inoue was more than a great coach. He was a martial artist first and foremost. What made him a unique and successful coach was that he saw competition as being just one part of Karate. He still stressed the martial aspects of Karate in his day-to-day training.


On 1 May 2019, JKAWF India Kolkata invited Fujikiyo Omura to teach at the 2019 JKA Kolkata Goodwill Karate Camp and Championships. On the first day of the event, it was his 66th birthday. He was presented with a three-tier cake, with over 500 people singing Happy Birthday to him. For the first three days of the event, he conducted the training camp. The last two days saw the Goodwill Championships take place. The event completed on 5 May


2 May

On 2 May 1967, the 2nd European Championships were held at the Crystal Palace, London. Brian Fitkin was selected to be a member of the British team, even though he was a green belt. Britain defeated a powerful French team in the Team Kumite event. During the tournament, the 20-year-old Fitkin defeated a number of celebrated European black belts. Teammate Peter Spanton won a bronze medal in the Ippon event. The championships were completed on 4 May.


On 2 May 1975. the 10th European Karate Championships were held in Ostend, Belgium. Both Brian Fitkin and Dominique Valera won a bronze medal in the -80 kg Kumite event. The event was won by Fitkin’s teammate Eugene Codrington. Roger Paschy, Billy Higgins, and Patrice Belrhiti were the other gold medalists. The championships were completed on 4 May.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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