This week in history…(28 August – 3 September)

28 August

On 28 August 1948, Kazuyuki Hasegawa was born, in Itano, Japan. Known as the “Little Giant“, he was an exceptionally powerful fighter. Standing 5 ft 6 in, he was known for his footsweeps, body kicks, and follow-up punches.

29 August

On 29 August 1934 Steve Arneil, a pioneer of British Kyokushin Karate, was born in the mining city of Krugersdorp, South Africa.

Arneil became the first non-Japanese and only the second man after Mas Oyama to complete the 100-Man Kumite Challenge. Shortly after the challenge he graded for and was awarded his 3rd Dan.

On 29 August 1967, Kazuyuki Hasegawa began practising Karate at the Oyama Karate Hombu. He was 19 at the time. Mas Oyama’s dojo was located in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, which was close to where he lived. This was considered a golden age at the dojo. The likes of Hideyuki Ashihara, Terutomo Yamazaki, and Hatsuo Royama were training at the dojo.

30 August

On 30 August 1931 Shotokan Karate master, Hiroshi Shōji was born in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. Appearing in Volume 4 of Masatoshi Nakayama‘s Best Karate series, he was known for his sharp quick movements and exceptional tai-sabaki.

At the 1st JKA All-Japan Karate Championships in 1957, Shoji became the first All-Japan Kata Champion. He was the only man ever to achieve a perfect score of 10 in the Championships history.

Between 30 August and 1 September 2012, James Field, a senior member of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF), gave a Karate clinic on the Caribbean island of Barbados. The clinic was covered by the Barbados press.

31 August

On 31 August 1998, Seikichi Toguchi died in Tokyo aged 81. He was survived by his wife of many years, Haruko. She became the head of the Shorei–kan, backed by a committee of Toguchi’s senior black belts.

Toguchi was the first of Goju–Ryu founder, Chojun Miyagi’s students to open a dojo in Japan. He was also responsible for making advances in Okinawan Goju–Ryu.

On 31 August 2004, Haruko Toguchi retired as head of the Shorei–kan. She had taken over the role after her husband, Seikichi Toguchi, died. She returned to her home in Okinawa. She was replaced as head by Norihiro Yamamoto.

1 September

On 1 September 1923 the plates to Gichin Funakoshi’s book ‘Ryukyu Kempo: Tode‘ were destroyed in the Great Kanto earthquake.

The earthquake that hit the Japanese island of Honshu in 1923 was one of the most destructive ever recorded and resulted in a tsunami. The cities of Tokyo and Yokohama and the prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Shizuoka were devastated. There were widespread fires that caused considerable property damage and the death of many. The death toll was an estimated 140,000 people.

The plates for Funakoshi’s book are thought to have been destroyed in the fires that raged in Tokyo. This was his first book, around 300 pages, and was written as an introduction to Karate for the Japanese people. The book was one of the first to contain a written history of Karate. It was divided into the following sections:

  • What Karate Is
  • The Value of Karate
  • Karate Training and Teaching
  • The Organisations of Karate
  • Fundamentals and Kata

The Okinawan art of Karate was still not well known in Japan. However, Funakoshi had some influential supporters of his Karate. Some of them, including the former governor of Okinawa, Marquis Hiaamasa, Admiral Yashiro and Vice-Admiral Ogasawara had written the forwards for his book.

On 1 September 2006 a public funeral for Shotokan Karate legend, Tetsuhiko Asai, was held at the Gokokuji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. More than 2000 people attended.

3 September

On 3 September 2013, Shigeru Takeshina died from cancer just shy of his 70th birthday. This followed a deterioration in his health.

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