This week in history (27 May – 2 June)

27 May

On 27 May 1949 Isao Obata, Masatoshi Nakayama, Shigeru Egami and other senior students helped establish the Japan Karate Association (JKA) under Gichin Funakoshi.

A major meeting had taken place to discuss and plan for the future of Shotokan Karate. Almost every ranking Shotokan practitioner, from the oldest to the youngest was present. This included representatives from the top universities, including Keio, Takushoku, Hosei, Senshu and Waseda.

28 May

On 28 May 1952 prolific writer, Clive Layton, was born.

Layton began learning Judo in 1960 under Terry Wingrove. By 1973 he had started learning Shotokan Karate, first under Michael Randall and then Nick and Chris Adamou. In 1977 he was graded to black belt by Hirokazu Kanazawa.

Layton has written over eighteen books on Karate, which include biographies on noted masters Steve Arneil, Keinosuke Enoeda, Morio Higaonna and Mitsusuke Harada.

29 May

On 29 May 1964 JKA instructor Tatsuya Naka, was born.

Naka started Wado-ryu Karate under the guidance of at the age of thirteen school and attended the famous Takushoku University where he began learning Shotokan Karate. After graduating from university he entered the JKA Instructors Course, graduating in 1989. Known for his in depth knowledge of kata, he is an All Japan Karate Championship title in 1992.

Naka is a full-time instructor at the JKA’s headquarters based in Tokyo and represents the new generation of younger instructors. In addition to his teaching duties he is also the general manager of the JKA Public Relations Division. If that was not enough, he has appeared in at least three films.

31 May

On 31 May 1993 the former Chief Instructor for the JKA in Belgium, Satoshi Miyazaki died.

In 1956 Miyazaki enrolled at Takushoku University to study economics, having been persuaded by Masatoshi Nakayama to do so. He joined the university’s famed Shotokan Karate school as a white belt, studying under Nakayama. Nakayama would be his instructor for the next eleven years. As expected, training was tough and intensive.

Miyazaki eventually became a member of the Takushoku Karate team that included Shiro Asano, Hideo Ochi, Kazumi Tabata and Katsuya Kisaka. The team were very successful, winning the All-Japan University Championships.

Following an operation for a stomach condition in 1992, Miyazaki resumed his teaching and training, in Brussels where he resided. He only let a select number of confidants know just how serious his condition was.

On 31 May 1993 Miyazaki died from stomach cancer aged only fifty-five, in Brussels. He was cremated in a Buddhist ceremony attended by many of the top Japanese Instructors. Half of his ashes were flown back to Japan with the other half remaining at his dojo in Brussels.

1 June

On 1 June 1892 the founder of Wado-ryu Karate, Hironori Ōtsuka, was born.

Although Ōtsuka was an early student of Gichin Funakoshi, he had previously studied Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu for many years.

After training in Shotokan Karate for around ten years, Ōtsuka left to form his own style of Wado-ryu in 1939. Wado-ryu is considered one of the major styles of Karate. It contains elements of both Shotokan Karate and Jujutsu.


On 1 June 1986 the English Karate Board (EKB) held its 2nd National Championships at the Crystal Palace, London. The EKB consisted of members from all the major styles of Karate in England. Shotokan’s Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) won the majority of trophies on offer. The KUGB’s ‘A’ Team, consisting of Frank Brennan, Gary Harford, Ronnie Christopher, Randy Williams, Ian Roberts and George Best defeated the AKA ‘A’ Team in the final of the team kumite event.

Brennan, Roberts, and Christopher went on to win individual titles in the heavy, middle and light weight classes respectively. Brennan also won the individual kata event, making him Grand Champion.

If that was not enough, Brennan, alongside Harford and Miles Drapper won the team kata title.

2 June

On 2 June 1922 Gichin Funakoshi gave a Karate demonstration in front of the Poplar Club in Tabata, Tokyo.

Funakoshi had arrived in Japan earlier in 1922 at the request of the Japanese Ministry of Education to give a demonstration of Okinawan Karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition, held a the Kishi Gymnasium, Ochanomizu, Tokyo.

The demonstration of Karate at the Poplar Club was one of several demonstrations given by Funakoshi to introduce the Okinawan martial art to the Japanese people. The Poplar Club was an artists guild. The famous Japanese painter Hoan Kosugi was a member of the guild. He became a friend to Funakoshi and eventually was one of his first students. It was Kosugi who came up with the design of the Shotokan Tiger.

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