Toshio Yamada

Considered one of the best Shotokan practitioners of his generation, Toshio Yamada was largely influenced by Taiji Kase and Hirokazu Kanazawa. A quiet man, he was not one to give interviews. He let his teaching and Karate, do his talking.

Toshio Yamada was born on 18 April 1950, in Osaka, Japan.

Yamada enrolled at Takushoku University, a hotbed of Shotokan Karate, in 1969. By the time he graduated, he had been promoted to 1st Dan.

When Hirokazu Kanazawa left the JKA in the 1970s, Yamada followed him.

In 1979, Yamada arrived in Europe. Kanazawa had sent him to assist Masaru Miura, who was the resident SKIF (Shotokan Karate International Federation) instructor in Italy. Yamada settled in Rome.

By the mid-1980s, Yamada had become an established instructor in Italy. He was also invited to be a guest instructor in courses held around Europe.

In 1987 Yamada was invited to be a guest instructor on a course in Innsbruck, Austria, alongside Norio Kawasoe.

Yamada was sent to Greece in 1988. He established SKIF Greece. He became the Chief Instructor of the association for several years, developing some very good karateka.

In 1992 Yamada was appointed the Technical Director of JKA–Italy. However, he eventually returned to the SKIF.

Yamada established the KSKA (Kenyu Shoto Karate Association) International in 2010. Remaining true to Kanazawa’s teaching, his association was affiliated with the SKIF.

On 8 December 2019, Hirokazu Kanazawa, died peacefully in Japan, aged 88.

Between 18–23 July 2022, the 45th International Summer Course was organised by the Lucarno Karate Club. Fausto Fornera, the Deputy Mayor of the municipality of Losone, opened the event. The course was attended by around 200 participants, from Switzerland, Poland, Austria, and Denmark. The instructors on the course were Rikuta Koga, Antonio Racca, Fumitoshi Kanazawa, and Yamada.

On 30 January 2023, Toshio Yamada died from an aneurysm, at the San Camilo Hospital in Rome. He was aged 72. He had been admitted to the hospital a week earlier. His death was reported by several newspapers.

On 4 February 2023, a funeral ceremony was held in the Walderisian Church in Piazza Cavour in Rome, even though he was a follower of Shintoism. More than 150 people attended the funeral. His brother and several other relatives made the journey from Japan to attend the funeral.

Due to his immense Karate knowledge, Toshio Yamada was frequently invited as a guest instructor to courses held worldwide, particularly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, and Italy.

Many of the students who trained with Yamada only have good things to say about him, in and out of the dojo.

At the time of Yamada’s death, he was ranked an 8th Dan.

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