Yuko Hirayama

Budo, for me, is to face and confront yourself.

Yuko Hirayama

One of the few female JKA instructors, Yuko Hirayama is one of the only women to complete the JKA Instructors Course. She is the highest-ranked woman teaching at the JKA Hombu.

Yuko Hirayama was born on 18 June 1969 in Yokohama, Japan. She was one of three children, having a brother and sister.

Growing up Hirayama was a painfully shy child. She rarely spoke to people outside of the family home. In an effort to improve her confidence, her parents took her and her siblings to a Karate dojo located close to their home.

In 1977 Hirayama and his siblings began learning Shinto Jinen Ryu Ryobukai Karate under Yoshio Yamada. Her brother and sister eventually gave up training.

While attending Kanagawa Prefecture Kishine High School, Hirayama was taught Kendo. She practised this martial art for six years.

Around 1988 Hirayama enrolled at Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education. By this time she had attained her 2nd Dan under Yoshio Yamada.

Hirayama decided not to join the Univerity’s Karate club. She had visited the JKA’s Hombu, which was also located in Tokyo. She was very impressed by the training she saw there. She began training at the Hombu, starting as a white belt.

Hirayama loved her training. She visited the dojo every day, training with various instructors teaching at the Hombu. At the time Yoko Nakamura, a 9-time JKA All Japan Kata Champion, was the only female instructor at the Hombu.

After graduating from university, Hirayama was encouraged to enrol on the JKA Instructors Course. She graduated from the course in 1998, alongside Koichiro Okuma, and Mayumi Iwasawa. Following in the footsteps of Yoko Nakamura, she became an instructor at the JKA Hombu.

In 2001, at the 44th JKA All Japan Karate Championships, Hirayama finished in second place in the Individual Women’s Kata, behind Terumi Nakata. The following year she again finished in second place behind Nakata. However, she did become the Individual Women’s Kumite Champion, defeating Aiko Ito in the final. A top competitor, she consistently finished in the top four positions in the Kata event from 2002 to 2009.

Yuko Hirayama has worked hard to overcome her extreme shyness and become a well-respected instructor at the JKA Hombu. Currently ranked as a 7th Dan, she travels around the world giving seminars and courses on behalf of the JKA.

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  1. Hmmm… I’m not sure all of this information is accurate…and am sure some of it is not. Good try. But I would advise checking over some of the details.

    I thought I recalled young Yuko Hirayama joining the JKA Honbu in 1987. But it may have been early 1988. I recall her being very talented as a white belt (I was nidan at the time). I am quite certain I recall her reaching at least green belt by the time I moved back to the US (the first time) in the summer of 1988. And then I thought she was a brown belt in 1990, when I was there for the summer. I believe that she had passed her shodan exam by the time I moved back to Tokyo in 1992. I recall having quite a few short discussions with her over the years and we were often exchanging Hellos (or at least “osses” đŸ˜‰ ) when we were at the dojo together.

    Regardless, when she started in 1987 or 1988, Yoko Nakamura Sensei was NOT the only female instructor at the JKA Honbu. In fact, although she was in the Instructor Training Program, she was not teaching there at the time and I actually only recall seeing her teach ONCE ever (and I trained for several thousand hours at the JKA Honbu in the 1980s & 1990s). The only female instructor at the JKA Honbu during this time was Miwako Abe Sensei; someone I consider to have been very underutilized and unappreciated. Her form was not so impressive. But she was very intelligent and compassionate and did great as an instructor. Unfortunately, she was only teaching the women’s class at the JKA Honbu. She also taught her own club and I knew quite a few people in it. Very nice group of people and much of that was owed to her great attitude/leadership. Really nice person, too.

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