This week in history (28 Jan – 3 Feb)

29 January

On 29 January 1962, one of the founders of the French Karate movement, Jim Alcheik, was assassinated, aged only 31.

Alchiek is  widely regarded as one of the greatest martial artists to come out of Europe. He held a 4th Dan in Aikido, a 2nd Dan in Karate, a 2nd Dan in Kendo and a 3rd Dan in Judo. 

Born in Algeria, in June 1931, of Turkish origin, Alchiek 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, Alchiek 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 and (Judo) and, Morohei Uesiba (Aikido). In the early 1930s Mochizuki established the Yoseikan dojo where Aikido, Judo and Karate was taught. Alchiek spent 1955 to 1958 studying at the Yoseikan dojo. 

On his return to France, Alchiek became the Technical Director of the French Aikido and Kendo. Alchiek 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 Alchiek may have been recruited to be part of a force fighting against the OAS. 

It is believed that Alchiek 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.

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On 29 January 1982 Hironori Ōtsuka, the founder of Wado_ryu Karate, died aged 89 years. He began learning Jijutsu at the age of 5, first under his uncle and later under his father.

In 1922 Ōtsuka 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 Funakoshi in the early 1930s.

By 1934 Ōtsuka had opened his first dojo in Tokyo, where he taught his Wado-ryu Karate which was an amalgamation of Jujitsu and Shotokan Karate.


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 19 years when he started training with Bell in Jujitsu in 1956. He 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.

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

Author: Patrick Donkor

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