This week in history (31 Aug – 6 Sep)

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.


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, Shotokan master, Shigeru Takashina, died from cancer just shy of his 70th birthday. His health had begun to deteriorate and he ultimately died from the disease.


4 September

On 4 September 1931, Kenneth Funakoshi, a distant relative of Shotokan Karate founder, Gichin Funakoshi, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Hirokazu Kanazawa, a former Grand Champion in Japan, had arrived in Hawaii in 1960 to represent the Japan Karate Association (JKA) as Chief Instructor at the behest of Masatoshi Nakayama.

Funakoshi who was in his early twenties began training with Kanazawa three times a week. Prior to Kanazawa’s arrival, he had studied Judo from the age of ten. He later studied Kempo.

Kanazawa departed Hawaii after an eighteen-month stay. He was replaced by Masataka Mori. Mori was eventually replaced by Tetsuhiko Asai. In 1969 Funakoshi was appointed Chief Instructor after Asai‘s departure.


6 August

On 6 September 2016, Walter Seaton, one of the first Wado-ryu black belts in the UK, died aged 80 years.

Seaton was born in Middlesbrough and was one of the first instructors to teach Karate to women at his dojo.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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