Trevor Tockar

Only when you recognise your own weaknesses can you improve and develop.

Trevor Tockar

One of the most respected names in South African and Australian Kyokushin Karate, Trevor Tockar, was one of the youngest men graded to 5th Dan by Kyokushin founder Mas Oyama. He was one of the men at the forefront of Kyokushin Karate in South Africa.

Trevor Tockar was born on 28 March 1951 in Cape Town, South Africa. Growing up he attended both Kimberley Boys High and Rondebosch Boys High.

A fan of boxing, Tockar started a boxing club at his school.

Tockar began practicing Kyokushin Karate in March 1969, under Len Barnes. Barnes was a 3rd Dan at the time. Originally from Scotland, Barnes is sometimes described as the ‘Father of South African Karate‘. A former professional boxer, he had practiced both Shotokan and Goju-Ryu Karate. He believed in very hard training, which he instilled in his students.

By 1973 Tockar has been practicing Kyokushinfor a number of years and had become one of the top Kyokushin competitors in South Africa. That year he captained a South African Goodwill Team that was the first Karate team from South Africa to compete in the Maccabi Games. At the time Karate was not an official sport at the games. However, it did become an official sport four years later.

Tockar graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Law degree in 1975. By this time he had been teaching Karate on a part-time basis. He decided to teach on a full-time basis.

The 1st World Open Tournament was held in Tokyo in 1975. Tockar was a member of the South African Team. In the tournament, he was knocked out in his bout, which was refereed by Kyokushin great, Tadashi Nakamura.

The tournament was a learning curve for Tockar and the South African Team. This was the first time they had competed against the Japanese. At the time the Japanese Team was considered practically unbeatable. The experience led to massive improvements in South Africa Kyokushin Karate.

To gain more experience, Tockar traveled to England to compete at the British National Tournament, held at Crystal Palace. He stayed on in the UK to train with Steve Arneil, who had been the first man after Mas Oyama to complete the 100-Man Kumite Challenge.

The 2nd World Open Karate Tournament was held in Tokyo in 1979. The South African Team was looking to show the improvements they had made from the previous World Championships. The team traveled to Japan but was unable to compete in the tournament. The United Nations had imposed a boycott of South African teams competing internationally, due to apartheid.

The South African Team was very disappointed as they had spent the four years between World Tournaments preparing very hard.

In 1979 Tockar was appointed coach of the South African National side, even though he was still competing. He would hold the position for the next 20 years.

Tockar and the South African Karate Team returned to Israel to compete in the Maccabi Games in 1981.

In 1981 Mas Oyama visited South Africa. He was the guest of honor at the South African National Tournament. This was Tockar’s last tournament. He retired from competitive Karate shortly after.

Tockar’s retirement was due to a serious medical complication that resulted in 16 feet of his small intestine having to be removed. Six months later doctors had to cut away part of his large intestine. The prognosis was that he would be crippled for life. Remarkably, he was back training within six months. The doctors were so impressed by his recovery that some of them started training at the dojo.

It was during Tockar’s recuperation that he decided to focus on his law career.

In 1982 Oyama awarded Tockar his 5th Dan. Aged 31, Tockar was one of the youngest people to achieve the rank.

By 1985 Tockar was married. That year saw the birth of his eldest son, Anthony. His second son David was born in 1992.

On 26 April 1994, Mas Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate, died in Tokyo. He was succeeded as head of the International Karate Organisation (IKO) by Shokei Matsui. Tockar decided to follow the new head. He was eventually named Branch Chief of the IKO South Africa and was named by the Vice-Chairman of the South African organization. He taught from his purpose-built dojo in Cape Town, which had opened in 1990.

In February 1996 Tockar was graded to 6th Dan by a grading panel. The panel consisted of Shokei Matsui, Keiji Sanpei, Kenji Midori, Katsuhito Gorai, and Len Barnes.

A practicing lawyer in post-apartheid South Africa, Tockar was promoted to Senior Counsel as an Advocate at the Bar in Cape Town, in 1997. The following year he was appointed an Acting Judge of the South African High Court. Katsuhito Gorai of the IKO nicknamed him the ‘Fighting Judge‘.

Tockar’s sons practiced Kyokushin. His son Anthony achieved his 1st Dan in 2000, aged 15.

In 2001 Tockar and his wife made the decision to leave South Africa. The family emigrated to Sydney, Australia. They felt moving to Australia would provide the family with more opportunities.

In his new home of Australia, Tockar began practicing as a barrister at the Bar in Sydney, specializing in Family Law.

In Australia, Tockar continued his Karate training. He eventually opened the North Bondi Kyokushin Club. He was eventually named an Australian Branch Chief by Shokei Matsui.

In 2005 Tockar was the coach of the Australian Youth Team that competed at the 17th Maccabi Games.

By 2011 Tockar’s son Anthony was competing internationally for his adopted country of Australia. In 2011 he competed at the 10th World Open Tournament for Australia.

As a senior member of the IKO, Tockar frequently conducts training courses and Camps. Between 18-20 May 2012 he hosted the 1st Friendship Gasshuku in Australia. Guest instructors included Kenny Uytenbogaardt, Stuart Corrigal, Garry O’Neill, Nikola Cujic, Con Kakatsos, Stephen Takiwa, Chris Gower, and Dominic Hopkins.

Tockar’s North Bondi Kyokushin Club was one of the top Kyokushin clubs in Australia. In 2015 three of his students, sons Anthony and David, and Reece Henderson, were selected to represent the 6-man Australian team at the 11th World Open Tournament.

On 16 April 2017, the 6th World Weight Tournament was held at the Tokyo Sports Palace Gymnasium. In a ceremony held during the tournament Tockar and Nikola Cujic were awarded their 7th Dans by Shokei Matsui. Family members plus a large contingent traveled from Australia to attend the ceremony.

Over the years Tockar has built good relationships with martial artists from other Karate styles and other arts. As a competitor, he represented both the South African Kyokushin and South African All-Styles teams. Having an open mind, he has cross-trained with the likes of Stan Schmidt, Bakkies Laubscher of Goju-Ryu, and Chris Thompson of Kimura Shukokai. Rick Spain, a renowned Wing Chun practitioner, and his students, frequently train with Tockar.

One of the men at the forefront of Kyokushin Karate in South Africa and in Australia, Trevor Tockar is a traditionalist who believes in the benefits hard Kyokushin training has to offer. He is passed on his love of Karate to both of his sons, who have gone on to become Australian champions.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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