This week in history (30 March – 5 April)

31 March

On 31 March 1921, Tetsuji Murakami was born in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.

Described as a Karate missionary, Murakami began teaching Karate across Europe and North Africa during the infancy of the art outside of Japan. He was one of the first Japanese instructors to settle in Europe.

Growing up Murakami was not interested in martial arts. He was more interested in swimming and running. Like all Japanese boys of the time, he had to learn either Kendo or Judo. So he chose Kendo. In time he would eventually reach the grade of 2nd Dan.


On 31 March 1947, Malcolm Dorfman was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He started practising Karate in 1966 under South African Karate pioneer Stan Schmidt.

Dorfman was a longtime member of the JKA. Following the various splits within the JKA, he joined Mikio Yahara‘s Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF) in 1999. In 2017 he was awarded his 9th Dan by Yahara.


On 31 March 1995 Judge Atsushi Watanabe of the Tokyo Court of Family Affairs ruled that Mas Oyama’s verbal will was invalid as it had not been signed by him, only by the witnesses.

Shokei Matsui’s appointment as the leader of the IKO had led to a backlash by some. Oyama’s family disputed the veracity of the will. They felt the verbal will was not binding. They brought a lawsuit disputing the will. It should be noted that the family’s dispute was not with Matsui, but rather with the legitimacy of the will.

On 24 October 1996, the High Court of Tokyo upheld the decision. Matsui issued an open letter to IKO members on 12 November 1996. In the letter, he tried to put members’ minds at rest. He stated that it was everyone’s duty to keep Oyama’s dream alive.


1 April

On 1 April 1922, Gichin Funakoshi gives a Karate demonstration at the Women’s Higher Normal School, in Tokyo, Japan.


On 1 April 1934, Hironori Ōtsuka opened his own Karate school the Dai Nippon Karate Shinko Kai at 63 Banchi Suehiro-Cho, Kanda, Tokyo. He blended Shotokan Karate with his knowledge of Shindō Yōshin-ryū Jujutsu to form Wadō-ryū Karate,


On 1 April 1957, Vernon Bell formed the British Karate Federation (BKF). This became the first official Karate association in the United Kingdom.


4 April

On April 4, 1947 Mikio Yahara, one of the most dynamic fighters to come out of the JKA, was born in Ehime Prefecture.

Yahara has always been a firm believer in the Budo approach to Karate. In 2000 he broke away from the JKA to form his own organisation, Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF). The organisation is built on the principle of “one strike, one kill” where all techniques are practised with a martial mindset.


5 April

On 5 April 1870, the founder of Motobu Ryu, Chōki Motobu, was born in Okinawa.

Motobu was the third son of a noble family. As a third son, he was not allowed to learn the family martial art of Motobu Udundi. This meant he trained under various Okinawan masters such as Anko Itosu, and Sokon Matsumura. A street fighter, he would get into fights using the techniques he had learnt.


On 5 April 1970, multiple World Champion, Yuki Mimura was born in Ashimura, a small village in the mountains near Matsumoto city on the Japanese island of Honshu.

Following on from greats Suzuko Okamura and Mie Nakayama, Shotokan practitioner, Yuki Mimura, was the next great female Japanese kata champion. Like her predecessor, Nakayama she was the winner of three consecutive World titles, not to mention World Games and World Cup titles.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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