This week in history (8 March – 16 March)

8 March

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

Hall had originally started learning Wado-ryu but switched to Shotokan Karate in 1966. He received his 1st Dan in 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 of 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 American 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 estimate 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.


13 March

On 13 March 1957, Vernon Bell was awarded his black belt in Yoseikan Karate from the Fédération Française de Karaté, under Hiroo Mochizuki and Henri Plee.

Bell had started training with Plee towards the end of 1955. He had made frequent visits to Plee’s Paris dojo. After around eighteen months he graded for his 1st Dan. Bell recalled grading with Jurgen Seydal, Vladimiro Malatesti, and Bernard Cherix, the founders of Karate in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland respectively.

The grading consisted of performing Pinan(Heian) katas in slow motion then at a fast speed. This was followed by ippon kumite and sanbon kumite.

Bell’s license shows he was awarded his grade on 13 March 1957 and his certificate was dated 1st April 1957.

One final thing to note. Bell had to make the following payments:

  • 3000Fr Fédération Française de Karaté for affiliation fees.
  • 3000Fr to the Japanese Karate Federation Yoseikan for affiliation fees.
  • 2500Fr for his Shodan karate diploma.

On 13 March 1999, Hajime Kazumi was the next fighter to attempt the 100-Man Kumite Challenge. Kazumi is considered by many to be one of the greatest Kyokushin fighters. He completed the challenge in 3 hours 20 minutes. He won 74 fights (16 by Ippon, 58 by decision); drew 42 fights; and lost 0 fights.


14 March

On 14th March 1946, Michael Billman, a high ranking Karate administrator, was born in the East End of London.

At school, Billman had been a keen rugby player having trials with the Saracens Rugby Club. On leaving school he took up amateur boxing. In 1969 he began his Karate training at a club run by John Van Weenan in Tottenham, London.

Billman has trained with many top senseis. In 1973 he earned his 1st Dan from Hirokazu Kanazawa. In 1976 he earned his 2nd Dan from Masao Kawasoe. In 1979 he became one of the first karatekas to be graded to 3rd Dan by Sadashige Kato. In 2008 he received his 8th Dan from the World Karate Federation.

Billman has held major positions in English, British, European and World Karate. These include:

  • President of the English Karate Federation(EKF)
  • Vice President of the British Karate Federation (BKF)
  • Chairman of the European Karate Federation Technical Commission
  • Member of the World Technical Commission
  • Member World Karate Federation Disciplinary and Legal Commission
  • At the request of WKF Technical Commission Chairman, Tsuguo Sakumoto, served on the World Sports Commission.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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