This week in history (6 December – 12 December)

7 December

On 7 December 1912Shigeru Egami, an early student of Gichin Funakoshi, was born in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. He is considered the one student who followed Funakoshi’s teachings most closely. 

Egami began his Karate training in 1932 as a student at Waseda University. He was instructed by Funakoshi and his son Yoshitaka. He helped found the university’s Karate club. 

Shigeru Egami, together with Yoshitaka Funakoshi and Takeshi Shimoda, travelled around Japan with Gichin Funakoshi, promoting and demonstrating Karate. 

As he became more experienced, Egami began teaching Karate at several universities. In 1936 he co-founded the Shotokai with Yoshitaka Funakoshi. 

On 7 December 1941, Japan declared war on the United States, by bombing the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, located in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time, Richard Kim was working as a merchant seaman on the USS President Harrison.

8 December

On 8 December 1941, the USS Harrison was attacked by a Japanese destroyer. The ship was captured and the crew, including Richard Kim, and the ship’s passengers were taken as prisoners of war to the occupied city of Shanghai for the duration of the war.

On 8 December 1994 the 12th World Karate Championships held at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia began. The championship finished on 11 December. 

Japan topped the medal table, winning 11 medals (7 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes). France was second with 11 medals (4 golds, 3 silvers and 4 bronzes) and Italy was third with 4 medals (1 gold and 3 silvers). 

Sari Laine of Finland won the Women’s 53-kg kumite event. She appears in the Guinness Book of Records, holding the record for winning the most Karate medals. The defeated finalist was Jillian Toney from Britain. Toney’s twin sister Julliet would win the World title eight years later in the 60-kg event. 

The Men’s Individual kata was arguably one of the greatest in history. All three men were past, current and future world champions from 1992 to 2000. Michael Milon (1994, 1996, 2000) won his first world title. Ryoke Abe (1998) won the silver and Luis Maria Sanz (1992) won the bronze. 

Damien Dovy won his first world title in the 60-kg kumite event for France. He would go on to repeat the feat in 2002, winning the title for Benin. 

France defeated Britain in the final of the Men’s Team Kumite event. Britain had won five of the last six World Championships. 

9 December

On 14 November 2007 Dan Ivan lost his battle with cancer. He died at the VA Medical Centre in Loma Linda, California. Although his body eventually succumbed to cancer, he remained mentally strong to the end.

Between 8 and 9 December 2012, at the 40th All Japan Karate-do Championships, Rika Usami won her final All Japan Kata title. This was the culmination of a fabulous year for her. Earlier that year she had become Women’s Individual Kata Champion at the World Championships held in Paris.

On 9 December 2019, Shotokan Karate legend, Hirokazu Kanazawa, died In the early hours of the morning.

10 December

On 10 December 1933 Shotokan master Takayuki Mikami was born in Nigata Prefecture Japan. He was the first professional karate instructor to be sent by the JKA to teach Karate full-time in another country.

Mikami arrived in Tokyo in 1952  to study Japanese Literature at Hosei University. Being a farm boy in a big city, he began learning Karate as a way of building his confidence. His first instructor was Kimio Itoh, a direct student of Gichin Funakoshi.

After graduating, Mikami was invited to enrol on the newly formed JKA Instructor Training Course. The aim of the course was to train high calibre instructors who could teach and expand the growth of Karate. The course was the brainchild of Masatoshi Nakayama and Teruyuki Okazaki.

Alongside Hirokazu Kanazawa, Mikami was one of the first students of the Instructor Training Course. It was a one-year intensive course. They would have to spar against senior grades, including Teruyuki Okazaki, Hidetaka Nishiyama and Taiji Kase. They would also cross-train in other styles.

11 December

On 11 December 1985, former World Champion, Douglas Santos Brose, was born in the Brazilian town of Cruz Alta.

On 11 December 2011, the Leeds Shotokan Karate Club presented Bob Rhodes with an award to commemorate fifty years in Karate.

12 December

On 12 December 1965 Hirokazu Kanazawa held his first grading at the British Karate Federation’s Nottingham dojo.

The British Karate Federation had arranged with the Japan Karate Association (JKA) for Kanazawa to reside in the United Kingdom for a year, teaching Shotokan karate.

On 12 December 2008, Henri Plee was honoured for his services to French martial arts. Jacques Delcourt presented him with the Knights Insignia of the National Order of Merit. At an event held at the offices of the European Magazine in Paris. Delcourt gave a speech detailing Plee’s life and his close links to the history of French Karate. He also read two congratulatory letters from Jacques Rogge of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Antonio Espinos of the World Karate Federation (WKF).

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