This week in history (6 January – 12 January)

6 January

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.


On 6 January 1989 Fumio Demura suffered a heart attack during the filming of a fight scene on the TV show O’Hara. He had been pushing himself fairly hard. He was running his successful dojo, while at the same time building a successful career as an actor/stuntman.


8 January

On 8 January 1933, a pioneer of Goju-ryu Karate in America, Chuck Merriman was born in Waterford, Connecticut.

For many years Chuck Merriman has been one of the most recognisable faces in Karate. This American Karate pioneer has featured on the cover of many martial arts publications. He has been instrumental in popularising Goju-ryu Karate around the world.


On 8 January 1945 Pauline Bindra (nee Laville), who holds the distinction of being the first woman in Britain to earn a JKA (Japan Karate Association) black belt in Karate, was born in Middlesbrough, England.

A student of Keinosuke Enoeda, Pauline Bindra has had a great influence on British Karate. Apart from the personal accolades of being the first female black belt in Britain and one of the highest-ranked female Shotokan practitioners in the world; she also taught and influenced many of the top Shotokan instructors currently teaching in the UK. She was a founding member of several major Karate governing bodies in the UK. She helped found her own successful association and established a successful martial arts equipment company.

Pauline Laville-Bindra can be rightly thought of as a Karate pioneer.


On 8 January 1981, Shigeru Egami died from a brain tumor. He was 68 years old. An early student of Gichin and Yoshitaka Funakoshi, it is a pity that many karateka in the West know very little about this elite martial artist. He fully understood Gichin Funakoshi‘s believe that Karate was more than a physical pursuit. He understood that Karate had a very strong mental element to it.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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