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.