This week in history (5 March – 11 March)

On 6 March 1921 Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate, led a Karate demonstration in front of Crown Prince Hirohito. The demonstration was performed at the Great Hall of Shuri Castle, in Okinawa.

Crown Prince Hirohito had visited Okinawa while en-route to a visit to Europe. The ship’s captain Norikazu Kanna, was an Okinawan by birth. He suggested that the Crown Prince observe a Karate demonstration.

The demonstration was arranged, and Funakoshi was granted the honor of taking charge. Students from the Naha First High School took part in the performance.

After the performance Kanna, the ship’s captain, suggested that Funakoshi introduce karate to the Japanese.


On 7 March 1956 the earliest known letter was written from Henri Plee to Vernon Bell. This letter was a response to an earlier letter written by Bell to the Fédération Française de Karaté on 21st February 1956.

It is thought that Bell had inquired about being graded by the Fédération Française de Karaté. In his letter Plee suggests that Bell send a film of him executing all the movements in a teaching plan mentioned in the earlier letter. Plee further states that once Bell had been suitably graded he would be sent some film showing Japanese instructors and also a film of how the Fédération Française de Karaté practiced Karate.


On 8 March 1945 Roger Hall a founding member of the English Shotokan Karate Association (ESKA), was born.

Hall had orignially sterated learning Wado-ryu but switched to Shotokan karate in 1966, He received his 1st Dan in from Hirokazu Kanazawa in 1972. In 1974 he recieved his 2nd Dan from Shiro Asano and his 3rd Dan in 1978.

In 1979 Hall alongside Eddie Whitcher, Mick Randall,John Van Weenen, Michael Nursey and Harry Jones formed the English Shotokan Karate Association.


On March 10, 1853 Te master, Kanryō Higaonna was born in Okinawa.

Higaonna traveled to China on sveral occassions, where studied Chinese boxing under master Rū-rū Kō. He would set up a school in Naha and his style would become known as Naha-te. One of his main students, Chojun Miyagi, would go on to found Goju-ryu Karate.

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On 10 March 1945 the Shotokan dojo was destroyed during the bombing raid of Tokyo by American B29 bombers, during World War II.

The Shotokan dojo had been built in the Zoshigaya neighbourhood of Toshima Ward, Tokyo, in 1936, after funds had been raised by karate supporters for a dojo. Gichin Funakoshi recalls, in his autobiography, the great sense of pride he felt on entering the dojo for the first time.

On the evening of 9th March 1945, as part of their Pacific Campaign, The American began the bombing raid of Tokyo which lasted into the following day. An estimated 1665 tons of bombs were dropped on Tokyo. Much of Tokyo was destroyed, with an estimate 100000 people losing their life.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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