Yoshinobu Ohta

Once you start using age as an excuse then you never stop using this excuse. There is no excuse, you should just keep going. Of course, as we get older our body strength becomes weaker and so we automatically become slower with less power but most important is don’t make this an excuse, try to keep up and don’t develop a lazy attitude. Keep going.

Yoshinobu Ohta

One of the most technically skilled masters of the JKA, Yoshinobu Ohta is known for his exceptional footwork. Like all JKA instructors, he is equally comfortable fighting or performing kata. He is a likeable instructor, with an easy-going personality, but still pushes his students to do their best. He is the Chief Instructor of JKA England.

Yoshinobu Ohta was born on 3 November 1959, in Chiba, japan.

Ohta began practising Judo at high school in 1974. The Bruce Lee craze was as was also at its height at this time. On the back of this, he and a friend joined their school’s Shotokan Karate club. They trained under Yuji Shinomiya.

By 1976 Ohta had been graded to 1st Dan by Shinomiya. That year he won the local area championships. This enabled him to compete at the All-Japan High School Championships.

After high school Ohta enrolled at Takushoku University to study Business Management.

Ohta had decided not to continue with Karate at university. He did not join the University’s Karate club. However, a coach at the club, Ishikawa, managed to persuade him to resume his training. At the club, he trained on the Katsunori Tsuyama.

Training at the club was hard. Ohta trained up to five hours a day, six days a week. Some weekends there would be inter-university competitions. He also visited the JKA Hombu for additional training. He did this while also studying and maintaining his grades.

On graduating from University, Ohta was at a loss on what to do next. His family ran a business and it was expected that he would help run it. He was still training hard and Tsuyama encouraged him to train on the JKA Instructors Course.

Although Ohta was not officially enrolled on the Instructors Course, he trained in the classes under Masatoshi Nakayama. He trained alongside the likes of Hiroshi Shoji, Tetsuhiko Asai, Keigo Abe, Masahiko Tanaka, Yoshiharu Osaka, Masao Kagawa, and Mikio Yahara.

Keinosuke Enoeda had been teaching in the UK since 1965, he had a number of his assistants, including Sadashige Kato, Shiro Asano, and Masao Kawasoe. His latest assistant was Hideo Tomita, who was returning to Japan.

In 1982 Ohta replace Tomita as Enoeda’s new assistant. He had been recommended by Tsuyama. He would be Enoeda’s assistant for the next 20 years.

On 11 September 1982 Ohta arrived at Heathrow Airport, in London, with Matsuo Kon. They were met by Enoeda.

Ohta mainly assisted Enoeda at his Marshall Street dojo, in London. He also assisted in various courses, seminars and teaching duties.

In 1986 Ohta returned to Japan. He competed at the 29th JKA All Japan Karate Championships. He competed in the Men’s Individual Kata. He finished in third place behind Minoru Kawawada and Takenori Imura.

Ohta had quickly become a very popular instructor. Apart from assisting Enoeda with teaching, he was a frequent guest instructor on courses in the UK and around the world.

In 2003 Ohta was graded to 6th Dan in front of a grading panel in Japan.

On 29 March 2003, Ohta’s friend and mentor, Keinosuke Enoeda died in Japan from stomach cancer. This was a big loss to the JKA, the KUGB, and the wider Shotokan world.

On 1 June 2003, a memorial service was held for Enoeda at Crystal Palace, in London. A memorial course was also held in August, to honour him. The course was led by Ohta, with guest instructors, Masaaki Ueki, Tomio Imamura, Hideo Tomita, and Keisuke Nemoto in attendance.

Enoeda had been a long time head of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB). Inevitably his death led to some turmoil. The JKA wanted a Japanese instructor heading their interests in the UK. This was not agreeable to the senior leadership of the KUGB. This eventually led to the KUGB leaving the JKA.

Andy Sherry became the Chief Instructor of the KUGB, which still remains one of the biggest Shotokan groups in the UK. Ohta was appointed the Chief Instructor of the new JKA England. Some clubs decided to remain with the new Shotokan group. JKA England became affiliated with the English Karate Governing Board (EKGB).

August 2004 saw JKA England hold its first international course. The guest instructors on the course were Masaaki Ueki and Tomio Imamura.

JKA England has at least two training courses a year, inviting some of the best JKA instructors as guests. Guest instructors have included Masaaki Ueki; Yoshihara Osaka; Masahiko Tanaka; Fujikiyo Omura; Tatsuya Naka; Yuko Hirayama; Mai Shiina, to name a few.

April 2010 saw Ohta graded to 7th Dan in front of a grading panel at the JKA Hombu in Tokyo.

Yoshinobu Ohta has continued the legacy of JKA instruction in the UK, established by Hirokazu Kanazawa and Keinosuke Enoeda. As the head of JKA England, he teaches at his London dojos in Covent Garden and Chelsea. He also continues to teach courses, nationally and internationally.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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