This week in history (28 August – 3 September)

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 first 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..

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 in length, and was written as an introduction of 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.

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