This week in history (3 June – 9 June)

3 June

On 3 June 1922 the earliest known Japanese newspaper article on Karate was published in the Tokyo  Nichinichi  Shinbun.

The title of the article was “The Mystical Martial Art – Karate: (Chinese Fist) from Ryukyu (Okinawa Prefecture). Wonderful Technique to Defend from an Opponent with Bare Hands. Kodokan to Study“.

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On 3 June 1959 the final known letter between Vernon Bell and Henri Plee was written by Bell. Plee had been instrumental in introducing Karate to Europe. Bell had studied Karate under Plee and was responsible for introducing the martial art to Britain through Plee’s encouragement.

However the two men had fallen out over various issues and the letter was the last correspondence between the two of them.


7 June

On 7 June 1935 Shotokan master and former technical director of the Japan Karate Association (JKA), Tetsuhiko Asai was born in Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

As a boy Asai had trained in Sumo, Judo and Kendo. He became interested in Karate after seeing a karateka defeat a boxer in a fight.  Upon entering Takushoku University he trained in Karate under Masatoshi Nakayama and Teruyuki Okazaki. After graduating in 1958 and following a recommendation from Nakayama, Asai enrolled on the JKA’s Instructors Course.

After graduating from the Instructor Course Asai spent five years teaching karate in Hawaii. On returning to Japan he was sent to Taiwan, becoming  the first instructor to introduce karate to that country. He eventually returned to Japan, teaching at the JKA’s hombu dojo.

Asai was a former winner of the JKA All Japan Karate Championship in kumite in 1961, going on to become only the third man to be name named Grand Champion after also coming 2nd in the kata competition. Hirokazu Kanazawa and Takayuki Mikami were the other men to be named Grand Champion. Asai was also a winner of the kata title in 1963.

Tetsuhiko Asai died 15 August 2006. Earlier that year he had undergone liver surgery.


8 June

On 8 June 1941 Goju-ryu master, Teruo Chinen, was born in Kobe, Japan.

Chinen trained as a teenager under Goju-ryu founder, Chojun Miyagi. He later trained extensively under one of Miyagi’s main students, Ei’ichi Miyazato. Chinen first travelled to the United States in 1969, initially for what was meant to be a three-month visit. However, he ended up settling in the city of Spokane, where he set up his dojo.

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On 8 June 1955 Masao Kagawa, one of the best technicians and competitors to come out of the JKA, was born in Osaka, Japan.

Equally comfortable doing kata or kumite, Kagawa has won numerous titles nationally and internationally. He is a former JKA Grand Champion and a former kumite World Champion. As a Japanese team coach, he has coached several World Champions.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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