This week in history (27 January – 2 February)

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 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.

Born in Algeria, in June 1931, of Turkish origin, Alcheik grew up in Tunisia, where his martial arts journey began. His first art was Judo and achieved his 3rd Dan at a young age.

After military service for France, Alcheik was invited by Minoru Mochizuki to train with him in Yoseikan, Shizuoka, Japan. Mochizuki was a very eclectic martial artist having been a student of Jigoro Kano (Judo), Morihei Ueshiba (Aikido) and Gichin Funakoshi (Karate). In the early 1930s, Mochizuki established the Yoseikan dojo where all the arts he had learnt, were taught. Alcheik spent 1955 to 1958 studying at the Yoseikan dojo.

On his return to France, Alcheik became the Technical Director of the French Aikido and Kendo. Alcheik also wanted to spread the teachings and philosophy of Mochizuki. He organised meetings, gala, and seminars and eventually established the organisation, European Yoseikan.

During the early 1960s, there was growing political unrest in Algeria. Some in the country wanted independence from France, whereas others wanted to remain a colony of France. The Secret Army Organisation (OAS) was founded in 1961 by a group determined to prevent Algerian Independence and willing to use acts o terrorism. It is believed that Alcheik may have been recruited to be part of a force fighting against the OAS.

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 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.


1 February

On 1 February 1960, Michael Manning became the first British Karate Federation (BKF) student to grade to 1st kyu.

Manning was one of Vernon Bell‘s original Karate students. He was nineteen when he started training with Bell in Jiujitsu in 1956. Manning was described as having a withered right arm.

By the time he graded, Manning had been training for four years. He was an active member of the BKF, often teaching the beginners classes.

Unfortunately, Manning had his leg broken by Tetsuji Murakami during a hard training session. After this incident, Manning gave up Karate.


On 1 February 1981 American Shotokan legend, Osamu Ozawa, opened his new dojo in Las Vegas. Earlier that year he had organised the 1st Traditional Karate Tournament to publicise the opening of the new dojo. The event held at the Maxim Hotel and Casino would go on to become one of the biggest and prestigious traditional martial arts tournaments in the world.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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