This Week in history (27 November – 3 December)

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. 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 later 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.

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 masters Masatomo Takagi, Masatoshi Nakayama and Hirokazu Kanazawa. He also describes his relationship with martial arts historian Donn Draegar.

1 December

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.

3 December

On 3 December 1941 Shoshin Nagamine gave a public Karate demonstration to members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force and an assortment of dignitaries, including the Police Chief Cabinet secretary and his deputy, plus members of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (Martial Arts section).

Born 15 July 1907 in Naha, Okinawa, Nagamine is the founder of Matsubayashi-ryu. Like many of the Okinawan masters of that period he had several teachers, including Kyan Chotoku and Choki Motubu, who both taught him while he was in the Okinawan police force. He was also a skilled practitioner of Judo and Kendo.

As a police officer Nagamine eventually rose to the rank of Police Superintendent, being in charge of Motobu, a town located in Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture. He would often train his men in the effective use of Karate.

In 1941 as a 35 year old Police Lieutenant, Nagamine traveled to Tokyo to demonstrate the efficiency of Karate, to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force. At the time he was the only master level practitioner of Karate in the police force. His aim of giving the demonstration was to spread the correct use of Karate. During the showcase he demonstrated kata and tameshiwari, breaking three pine boards, each two centimeters thick.

An except from a newspaper article covering Nagamine’s public demonstration can be found here.

Shoshin Nagamine eventually retired from the police force in 1952. He opened his own dojo, Matsubayashi-Ryu Kodokan Karate and Ancient Martial Arts Studies, teaching his own style of Karate, until his death on 2 November 1997.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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