This Week in history (6 November – 12 November)

6 November

On 6 November 1964, Pathe Pictorial released a color 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.

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 Master Yasutsune Itosu alongside his father.

Master Funikoshi 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 the deaths of son Yoshitaka in 1945 and his wife in 1947, Master Funakoshi was facing a difficult time, having given up teaching karate and moving 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 of karate. He would would eventually follow his father and become president of Shotokai.

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 honors at World and European level.

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

Britain tops the medal table with 5 golds, with Japan second on 4 golds. France finish the tournament on 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 associations 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 leukemia, Colin Williams died at the age of 67. More than 250 mourners attended his funeral service.

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 honors. The Italian men’s team prevent 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 won their first title in 1990.

12 November

On 12 November 1964, Julie Nicholson was born in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear.

Nicholson started Shotokan karate under the guidance of John Holdsworth and Jeff Barwick, at the age of nine. She eventually came under the instruction of Keinosuke Enoeda.

She began her competitive career in 1976, eventually becoming a member of the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain) squad from 1983 until she retired in 2000.

At the World Shotokan Karate Association championship in 1999, Nicholson won the kata event and came third in the kumite event. At the KUGB National Championships in 2001, she became the first woman to win both the kata and kumite events, thus becoming Grand Champion.

Nicholson is now a senior instructor for the KUGB. She also runs the successful Ronin Karate Club, alongside her husband John Holdsworth.

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