Articles

Modern Shotokan Masters.

Without them where would we be?

There are a number of Shotokan Karate teachers who are unique enough in their own right to be referred to as, Modern Masters. All of the of the teahers listed below were at one time affiliated with, or were members of, the Japan Karate Association (JKA) .

This is by no means a definitive list as it is still a work in progress.   

Masatoshi Nakayama, 10th Dan, JKA. 

April 6, 1913 - April 15, 1987.

Shihan Nakayama, was born into a samurai family in Kanazawa, Japan, in 1913. Today he is known as the most famous student to have trained directly under Master Gichin Funakoshi. Involved in the founding of the (JKA) Japan Karate Association he was in charge of karate standards for the new organization. He is best known in later years for the introduction of more scientific ways of training. In the early 1960's he send graduates of the JKA instructor program overseas to spread the art of Shotokan Karate beyond the shores of Japan. This was the driving force that would led to the spred, and world-wide popularity of Shotokan Karate-do.

The only two katas not referenced in his popular series of books entitled, Best Karate are,Wankan, and Jiin. There have been many theories as to why that is, but it simply may be that he passed away before these two katas could be published. His seminal work the book, Master Text, Dynamic Karate. These publications are often considered as essential reading for any serious student. 

Master Nakayama was the Chief Instructor of the JKA from 1955 until his death on April 15, 1987. With his passing the world of Shotokan karate lost one of its greatest influences, and one of the few remaining direct links to the Founder of Shotokan Karate-do, Master Gichin Funakoshi.

Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama, 10th Dan, ITKF

November 21, 1928 - November 7, 2008

Shihan  Nishiyama was the co-founder, and member of the Board of Directors, of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) He is also the author of the popular karate book entitled, Karate, The art of Empty Hand Fighting. In 1985 Sensei Nishiyama formed his own karate organization, International Traditional Karate Federation, (ITKF). His life long goal remained the pioneering of the art of traditional Japanese karate, which he did by conducting seminars throughout the world. Sensei Nishiyama's passing was a great loss to our world-wide Shotokan family. For more information please visit the ITKF web site at http://www.itkf.org/ .

Sensei Teruyuki Okazaki, 10th Dan, ISKF

June 22, 1931 - April 21, 2020

Sensei Teruyuki Okazaki was born in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan and he began his karate training at the age of sixteen when he entered Takushoku University in 1948. For the next ten years he would remain a direct student of Master Gichin Funakoshi until Master Funakoshi's death on April 26, 1957.

Afterwards he came under the guidance of Sensei Nakayama whom he assisted for many years. He was instrumental in the establishment of the new rules used to govern tournament. He was also the student selected to be the prototype for the fledgling two year training program that become known as the JKA Instructors Program.

The first three graduates to follow from that program were Sensei Mikami, Sensei Kanazawa, and Sensei Takaura. In 1961 Sensei Okazaki was the second instructor to be sent overseas. He settled in Philadelphia, and in spite of not knowing any English when he arrived, he prospered, becoming a major contributor to the growth of Shotokan Karate-do in the United States of America.

Sensei Okazaki formed his own organization the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) in 1977. For more information please visit the ISKF web site at http://www.iskf.com .

Shihan Hirokazu Kanazawa, 10th Dan, SKIF

May 3, 1931 - December 8, 2019

Born in Iwate Prefecture in Japan in 1931, Shihan Hirokazu Kanazawa is one of the best known, and most widely respected Shotokan Karate Masters in the world. Shihan Kanazawa's karate was honed during his time at Takushoku University. After graduating he joined the JKA in 1956 and became a student of Sensei Nakayama. He was the second graduate of the Japan Karate Association's Instructors Training Program.

His victory in the 1957 All Japan Karate Championships, and his subsequent victory in both kata, and kumite, in the 1958 All Japan Karate Championship; led the JKA to send Shihan Kanazawa overseas to Hawaii in 1961. In 1961 he was prominently featured in Shihan Nakayama's book, Dynamic Karate. After several years in Hawaii Shihan Kanazawa woulded to England to become the Chief Instructor for the Karate Union of Great Britain.

In 1977 he left the JKA and formed his own organization, Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF). For more information please visit the SKIF web site at http://www.skifworld.com/ .

Sensei Taiji Kase, 9th Dan, WKSA

February 9, 1929 - November 24, 2004

Born in Tokyo Japan in 1929, Sensei Kase was one of the very few who to have been taught at the original Shotokan dojo by both, Master Gichin Funakoshi, and Yoshitaka Funakoshi.

The depth of Sensei Kase knowledge, and skill, was said to be unrivaled. After the end of the World War II Sensei Kase continued to train at university joining the fledgling Japan Karate Association (JKA) in 1950. He went on to become a Director responsible for teaching the first post war generation of international instructors. Including Senseis Kanazawa, Enoeda, and Shirai. Sensei Kase remained a member of the JKA until 1989 when he co-founded with Sensei Shirai, World Shotokan Karate-Do Academy (WKSA) which focused on returning to the teachings of his primary teacher, Sensei Yoshitaka Funakoshi.

The WSKA currently restricts membership in its organization to karate-ka who hold the rank of Sandan, and above. For more information please visit the WSKA web site at http://www.ksk-academy.org/en/home/ .

Sensei Hideo Ochi, 9th Dan, JKA

February 28, 1940 -

Born in 1940 Sensei Hideo Ochi started karate at Takushoku University in Tokyo. A graduate of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Instructor Program in 1964 he began teaching at the JKA Honbu dojo on a regular basis. An active competitor Sensei Ochi is a former All Japan Grand Champion, placing first in both kumite, and kata. In 1970 Sensei Ochi was sent overseas to Germany to join Sensei Kanazawa. In 1993 he formed his own organization the Deutche Japan Karate Bund (DJKB) to help return German karate to more traditional Shotokan roots, and away from sport karate which was becoming ever more prevalent in that country.

In 1997 Sensei Ochi was awarded the German Medal of Honor for his contributions to the development of German Karate. For more information please visit the following German language web site at  https://www.djkb.com/home/ . 

Sensei Hiroshi Shirai, 10th Dan, ITKF

July 31, 1937 -

Born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1937 Sensei Hiroshi Shirai began his journey down the karate road in 1956. He is a graduate of Komozawa University in Tokyo where he studied karate under Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama. Sensei Shirai is also another of the early graduates of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Instructor Program where he came under the influence of Sensei Taiji Kase.

A former instructor with the JKA, and a former JKA champion, he has lived in Italy since 1965. His is currently the head of the Technical Committee of the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF). For more information please visit the ITKF web site at http://www.fikta.it/m/hs .

Sensei Yutaka Yaguchi, 9th Dan, ISKF

1932 -

Born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1932, Sensei Yaguchi is another of the very few to have trained directly under Master Gichin Funakoshi. In addition to grading Shodan, and Nidan under Master Funakoshi, he was also another graduate of Japan Karate Association (JKA) Instructor Program. As strong competitor Sensei Yaguchi placed third in kumite at the 1963 JKA All Japan Championship.

One of the early JKA instructors to be sent to the United States by Sensei Nakayama in 1964. Today Sensei Yaguchi is the Chief Instructor of the Mountain States Region, of ISKF in Colorado, an organization that he founded in 1977. For more information please visit the ISKF web site at http://iskfmountainstates.com/ . 

Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi, 10th Dan, FSKA

September 4, 1937 -

Shihan Kenneth Funakosh started judo in 1948 under Arakaki Sensei at the Fort Gakuen Japanese Language School in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended Farrington High School in the Kalihi District, and was on the football team, and captain of  the Territory of Hawaii Championship swim team. (Hawaii was not yet a state). While attending the University of Hawaii on a swimming scholarship he started Kempo under Adrano Adriano Emperado from 1956 to 1959.

In 1960 he started his Shotokan training when the Japan Karate Association (JKA) assigned their first Grand Champion, Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa, to Hawaii. He remained a student of Sensei Kanazawa for the next three years. His other instructors included Sensei Masataka Mori, and Sensei Tetsuhiko Asai. In 1969 Shihan Funakoshi was appointed the Chief Instructor, Japan Karate Association of Hawaii. 

In 1987 he founded his own organization the non-political, Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association (FSKA). Today its world headquarters is in Milpitas, California, with affiliates in the United States, England, Ireland, Europe, Russia, Mexico, and other countries around the world. For more information please visit the FSKA web site at http://www.fska.com/.

Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda, 9th Dan, KUGB

July 4,1935 - March 29, 2003

Born in Nogata, Japan in 1935 Sensei Enoeda was descended from samurai lineage, and was drawn to martial arts from an early age. He attained his Nidan in Judo by the age of seventeen, but life was to see him walk a different road. His first introduction to karate came when he witnessed a demonstration of karate at Takushoku University. He was so impressed that he enrolled in the university as a business major, in order to be able to study karate. Within two years he had earned the rank of Shodan, and he ultimately went on to become the club Captain.

After graduating from university he entered the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Instructor Program where he under the watchful eye of Sensei Nakayama. As a top competitor, and JKA Champion, he become known as the "Tiger of Shotokan" a name that would one day be known world-wide. Sent overseas to the United Kingdom in 1965 he settled in Liverpool. Here he was to set the tone for English Shotokan karate that was to last for the next forty years. Today the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) continues his legacy. For more information please visit https://www.kugb.org/index.php .

Shihan Keigo Abe, 9th Dan, JSKA

October 28, 1938 - December 21, 2019

Shihan Keigo was born in 1938, he started his karate training when he was just a teenager. A graduate of the JKA Instructors Program he also trained directly under Shihan Nakayama, and in time he went on to become the Technical Director of the JKA. He formed his own organization, the Japan Shotokan Karate Association in 1999 during a time when the JKA was splitting into different factions. Shihan Abe remained the Chief Instructor of the JSKA until his passing. For more information please visit the JSKA website at http://www.jska.it/en/keigo-abe.php .

Remember: "Greatness was never their ultimate goal. We thrust it upon them to honour their dedication."