This week in history (5 November – 11 November)

5 November

On 5 November 1961 a Karate exhibition was held at the Honolulu Civic Auditorium, sponsored by the Hawaii Karate Congress. Several top Japanese martial artists, including  Goju-Ryu’s Kanki Izumikawa and Shotokan’s Hidetaka Nishiyama and Hirokazu Kanazawa, displayed their skills to an attentive crowd.

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On 5 November 1963 Masters Masatoshi Nakayama, Hiroshi Shoji, Keinosuke Enoeda, Toru Iwaizumi and Katsuya Kisaka arrived to teach Shotokan Karate in Indonesia. They stayed until 27 December. The trip was a part of the Japan Karate Association’s hopes of developing Karate outside of Japan.


6 November

On 6 November 1964, Pathe Pictorial released a colour film showing Vernon Bell’s British Karate Federation (BKF) students training at the Kentish Town dojo. The film lasting three minutes, was shown in cinemas across Britain. 

Eddie Whitcher can be seen in the film. At the time he was a blue belt.

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On 6 November 2004 Shotokan master, Taiji Kase, became very ill and was admitted to hospital. He was allowed to go to home as he seemed to have recovered. However, he would eventually fall into a coma from which he would not wake.


7 November

On 7 November 2008 Hidetaka Nishiyama a pioneer of American Shotokan Karate died. 

Born 10 October 1928, Master Nishiyama attended the famed Takushoku University, studying economics. In 1949 he was named the captain of the Karate team, after joining earlier that year. 

In the early 1950s, Nishiyama was part of a group, including Masatoshi Nakayama and Isao Obata, selected to teach military personnel from the Strategic Air Command (SAC). By 1960 he had been promoted to 5th Dan and was became an important member of the Japan Karate Association (JKA). 

In the 1960s Nishiyama moved to the United States. He went on to form the All-American Karate Federation (AAKF). He was also a founding member of the Pan American Karate Union and the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF). 

He died in 2008 following a long battle with cancer.


10 November

On 10 November 1968, the daughter-in-law of Master Gichin Funakoshi died. She was the wife of Funakoshi’s oldest son Yoshihide (Giei). 

Yoshihide Funakoshi is not as well-known as his more talented younger brother Yoshitaka (Gigo). Little is known about his Karate ability. In his youth Yoshihide had trained under Yasutsune Itosu alongside his father. 

Master Funakoshi and his eldest son had a complex relationship. Yoshihide had moved to Tokyo several years before his father. However, he fell in with a bad crowd and accrued gambling debts. He would borrow money from his father’s students, not paying them back. 

Following the deaths of his son Yoshitaka in 1945 and his wife in 1947, Gichin Funakoshi was facing a difficult time. He had given up teaching Karate and moved to Oita, Kyusho, during the war years. It was his son Yoshihide who persuaded him to return back to Tokyo to resume teaching, with his help. Funakoshi lived with Yoshihide and his family for the last ten years of his live. 

Yoshihide strove to keep his father’s views about following a traditional approach to Karate alive. He was not happy about the sporting direction Karate was taking. He would eventually follow his father and become President of the Shotokai.

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On 10 November 1996, the 13th World Karate Championships were held at Sun City, South Africa (7-11 November). 

At these championships Wayne Otto of Britain won his third World Gold medal in the Kumite(-75-Kg). He had previously won at the 1990 and 1992 World Championships. Otto is one of the most successful tournament fighters, having won major honours at World and European level. 

Michael Milon of France won the second of his four individual World titles. This win prevented the Japanese from having a clean sweep of kata titles in the men’s and women’s individual and team events. Milon also won silver in the team kata. 

Britain topped the medal table with 5 golds, with Japan second on 4 golds. France finished the tournament with 3 golds.


11 November

On 11 November 1934 Colin Williams was born. Williams a Shotokan practitioner, started his training during the early days of Karate in the United Kingdom, in the 1950s. 

In the 1980s he founded the Bukonkai Karate International (BKI) association. He was the association’s Chief Instructor. In 1998 he founded the Malta Bukonkai Karate Karate Association. Many of the island’s leading Shotokan instructors got their start under Williams. He is considered to be the Father of Maltese Karate. 

After a long battle against leukaemia, Colin Williams died at the age of 67. More than 250 mourners attended his funeral service.

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On 11 November 1990, the 10th World Karate Championships was held in Mexico City, Mexico (8 – 11 November). 

Japan continued their dominance in the men’s and women’s individual kata, with Tomoyuki Aihara and Yuki Mimura walking away with the honours. The Italian men’s team prevented Japan having a clean sweep of kata titles, beating the Japanese team into second place. 

The British kumite team continued their dominance of the team event winning their fifth consecutive title. They had won their first title in 1990.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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