This week in history (31 December – 6 Jan)

1 January

On 1 January 1913 Motonobu Hironishi, an early student of Gichin Funakoshi, was born in Kyoto, Japan. 

Hironishi began his Karate training in 1931 at Waseda University under both Gichin and Yoshitaka Funakoshi’s direction. He was a contemporary and good friend of Shigeru Egami at Waseda. Both men would go on to teach at the original Shotokan dojo located in Zoshigaya, Toshima Ward, Tokyo.

Following Gichin Funakoshi’s death in 1957 there was a split within Shotokan between the JKA and the Shotokai. Egami and Hironishi led the Shotokai faction. Following the death of Shigeru Egami in 1981 Motonobu Hironishi became the Chief Instructor of Shotokai. He was also the President of the Japan Shotokai Karate-Do until his death in 1999.

On 6 January 1967 Michael Randall gained his 1st Dan from Hirokazu Kanazawa. He was one of the first men in Britain to gain the rank of 1st Dan from the Japan Karate Association (JKA).  

At the time of writing Randall is one of a handful of people currently training to have trained under the British Karate Federation (BKF) during the early days of Karate in the United Kingdom.  

Randall began his training in 1964 under BKF instructors Jimmy Neal and Terry Wingrove. He also trained with Tetsuji Murakami and Hiroo Mochizuki.  

Hirokazu Kanazawa had been contracted to teach for a year in the UK by the BKF. Kanazawa would hold three classes a week at the Lyndhurst Hall dojo located in London. He also held an extra class at the Kentish Town Baths, also located in London. All four classes would last an hour and thirty minutes. Randall attended all four classes, later adding a fifth class as his training progressed.  

When the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) was formed in 1966 Randall was among the students who left the BKF to join this new association.  

Randall took his 1st Dan grading examination at the KUGB’s Blackfriars dojo located in London. It was a private grading where no one was allowed to watch. The grading consisted of Randall and his examiners. For the grading he had to freestyle spar (kumite) against three separate people. He also had to perform basic techniques (kihon). His chosen kata for the grading was Empi.  

What was interesting was Randall was not informed of the result of his grading for a couple of months. This was Kanazwa’s way of testing the resolve and determination of his students. This was a way of seeing whether a student’s training deteriorated after grading for 1st Dan.

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