This week in history…(27 February – 5 March)

27 February

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

O’Neill began his Karate training in 1963 when as a 16-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.

On 27 February 2004, Vernon Bell, the Father of British Karate, died.

Bell held the first-ever Karate class at 12 Maybush Road, Hornchurch, Essex in 1956.

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 BKF became affiliated with the JKA, Hirokazu Kanazawa travelled 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 karatekas 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 1955, Henri Plee became a founding member of the Federation Francais de Karate et Boxe Libre. He became the Federation’s, General Secretary.

Plee founded his dojo at 34 rue de la Montaigne-Saint Genevieve, Paris. The Karate Club de France (KCF) which would eventually become Academie Francais des Arts Martiaux (AFAM), taught the four pillars of Japanese martial arts, Karate, Judo, Aikido, and Kendo.

On 2 March 1960, Gichin Funakoshi’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 Yasutsune Itosu alongside his father.

Gichin Funakoshi 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 deaths of his 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 life.

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 eventually follow his father and become president of Shotokai.

3 March

On this day, 3 March 1946, British Shotokan instructor, Bob Rhodes, was born in Leeds, England.

Rhodes began his training with the KUGB aged 20, at the Leeds Shotokan Karate Club (Leeds SKC), under the instruction of Ronnie Wade.

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.

4 March

On 4 March 1952, David Frederick Hazard, a well-respected Shotokan karate practitioner, was born in Bow, London.

In 1972 Hazard was awarded his 1st Dan by Keinosuke Enoeda and was awarded his 2nd Dan in 1974. Upon the recommendation of Enoeda, Hazard travelled to Japan to train at the JKA headquarters at Ebisu, Tokyo, taking the infamous JKA Instructors Course. In 1977 he received his 3rd Dan from Masatoshi Nakayama.

In 2007 an autobiography, Born Fighter, about Dave Hazard’s life was published.

On 4 March 1962, Charles Mack was graded to 1st Dan by Masatoshi Nakayama at the JKA headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. This earned Mack the dual distinction of being the first British subject to be awarded a Shotokan Dan grade in Japan and also the first British subject to be awarded a JKA black belt.

Mack was also an accomplished Judo practitioner who was awarded his 1st Dan in 1953. He moved to Japan in 1958 to further his Judo. He started Karate training at the JKA headquarters in Tokyo, where four years later he was awarded his 1st Dan.

While in Japan Mack also earned black belts in Jujitsu and Aikido.

Mack returned to Britain in 1965 and started teaching Karate in Holborn, London. With the blessing of Nakayama, he set up the International Shotokan Karate Association.

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