This week in history (7 December – 13 December)

7 December

On 7 December 1912 Shigeru 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 the 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. 

8 December

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 were second with 11 medals (4 golds, 3 silvers and 4 bronzes) and Italy 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. 

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 enroll on the newly formed JKA Instructor Training Course. The aim of the course was to train high caliber instructor who could teach and expand the growth of Karate. The course was the brain child 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.

In 1957 Mikami was sent by the JKA to the Philippines to teach.

11 December

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

Brose has also won numerous Pan-American and South American titles.

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 awarded the rank of Knight. Later that year Jacque 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).

13 December

On 13 December 1943, David ‘Ticky’ Donovan was born in Loughton, just outside London. As a boy, he was into many sports. However, boxing was his main passion. He would eventually discover Karate and in time would make Britain one of the most successful Karate nations in the world.

On 13 December 1947 Tsuguo Sakumoto was born in the Okinawan village of Onna.

Sakumoto is a practitioner of Ryuei-ryu, an Okinawan style of Karate created by the Nakaima family. He is also a three-time Karate World Champion, winning in 1984 (Maastrict), 1986 (Sydney) and 1988 (Cairo). He is also a two-time winner of the World Games (1985 and 1989) and a two-time winner of the World Cup (1987 and 1989).

On 13 December 1958 Vernon Bell mentioned the Japan Karate Association (JKA) for the first time, in a letter to Henri Plee. It seems he had only recently become aware of their existence. Bell and his association, the British Karate Federation (BKF), were affiliated to Yoseikan Karate, headed by Minoru Mochizuki.

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