This week in history…(6 March – 12 March)

6 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, 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 honour 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.

7 March

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 suggested that Bell send a film of him executing all the movements in a teaching plan mentioned earlier. Plee further stated 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 practised Karate.

8 March

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

Hall had initially started learning Wado-Ryu but switched to Shotokan Karate in 1966. He received his 1st Dan from Hirokazu Kanazawa in 1972. In 1974 he received 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.

10 March

On 10 March 1945, the Shotokan dojo was destroyed during the bombing raid on 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 Americans 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 estimated 100000 people losing their life.

On 10 March 2018, Spaniard Daniel Sanchez became the first person from the World Kyokushin Budokai (WKB) to take and pass the 100-Man Kumite Challenge. The challenge was taken in Lorca, Spain.

11 March

On 11 March 2011, the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake hit the northeast coast of Japan’s Honshu Island. It measured 9.0 on the Richter scale and triggered a tsunami that flooded over 200 square miles of land.

At the time of the earthquake, Shokei Matsui was on a teaching trip to Russia. He made arrangements to return to Japan. On 14 March 2011, he issued a message on behalf of the IKO-1. He pledged the support of the IKO-1 to help the people affected by the tragedy.

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