This week in history (31 July – 6 August)

July 31

On July 31, 1937, former JKA Grand Champion, Hiroshi Shirai, was born in Nagasaki, Japan. Currently holding the rank of 9th Dan, he began his Karate training at Komazawa University in 1955. A graduate of the Kenshusei (Instructors Training Course) he became the JKA Grand Champion in 1962 winning  the individual kumite title against Keinosuke Enoeda and won the individual kata title against Takayuki Mikami.

August 4

On August 4, 1947, Gichin Funakoshi’s wife died of asthma in Oita, Kyushu, Japan, aged 71. This was the culmination of a difficult two years for him. Following the bombing of Tokyo in 1945 by American forces, the Shoto Kan dojo was destroyed. His third son, Yoshitaka, died from leukemia. The island of Okinawa was also heavily bombed with many deaths and many left homeless. His wife had manged to survive the destruction of Okinawa and made her way to Oita, where the couple were reunited. Because of the war, food was scarce and like many people they lived in dire poverty.

August 6

On August 6, 1930, Karate master, Tsutomu Ohshima was born. He was a direct student of Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi. He was also influenced by Shigeru Egami at Waseda University. As an exchange student from Waseda University, he began teaching Shotokan Karate in Los Angeles in 1955. The following year he founded Shotokan Karate of America (SKA).

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