This week in history (8 October – 14 October)

8 October

On 8 October 1953 Gōju-ryu founder Chōjun Miyagi died, aged only sixty-five.

Born on the island of Okinawa, Miyagi had begun his training in 1902 under Master Kanryo Higaonna. By 1915 Miyagi had become one of Higaonna’s top students.

Miyagi’s Karate style of Gōju-ryu was introduced to Japan in 1928 via the Kyōto Imperial University Club. In 1934 the name of Gōju-ryu Karate was registered with the Dai Nippon Butokukai, the authority responsible for governing Japanese martial arts.

Chōjun Miyagi died following a heart attack.

9 October

On 9th October 1922 Vernon Frederick Bell, the Father of British Karate was born in Ilford, Essex.

Initially Bell started learning Karate from Henri Plee who was responsible for introducing Karate into Europe. Bell was responsible for bringing Tetsuji Murakami and Hiroo Mochizuki to teach for the the British Karate Federation (BKF). He was also responsible for inviting the JKA into the UK, to teach their version of Shotokan Karate.

10 October

On 10 October 1928 Shotokan Karate master Hidetaka Nishiyama was born.

Nishiyama attended famed university, Takushoku, studying economics. In 1949 he was named the captain of the Karate team.

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 becoming 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.


On 10 October 1957 a photograph was taken of Vernon Bell performing tameshiwari (the art of breaking objects), and was published in an unknown newspaper. The article, under the heading ‘Secret “Sportsmen” Train to Kill’ was written by journalist Dez Marwood. In the article a photograph shows Bell breaking a thin piece of wood balanced between two chairs. The technique he used was a downward shuto (knife-hand strike).

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