Modern Shotokan Masters.

Without them where would we be?

There are a small number of Shotokan Karate teachers in the world today who are unique enough in their own right to be referred to as, Modern Masters. Some of the individuals listed below were direct students of either Gichin Funakoshi, or of his son Yoshitaka Funakoshi. Others were not however, that in no way diminished their right to be considered in the same company.

Most if not all of the Masters listed here, were at one time or another affiliated with, or were members of, the original Japan Karate Association (JKA), that first came into being in 1949. Today some of these Masters have long since branched out, and joined other organizations, or formed their own.

This is by no means a definitive list. This is still a work in progress, and no slight is intended to anyone who deserves to be listed here. It is my hope that on your own you will seek out additional details regarding the merits of these rare few, these "Modern Masters".   

Shihan Masatoshi Nakayama, 10th Dan, JKA. 

April 6, 1913 - April 15, 1987.

A Founding member of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Shihan Nakayama, was born into a samurai family in Kanazawa, Japan, in 1913. Today he is known today as the most famous student to have trained directly under Master Gichin Funakoshi. Involved in the founding of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) in 1949 he was placed in charge of karate standards for the new organization. He is best known in later years for his introduction of more scientific ways of training. In the early 1960's it was his decision to send graduates of the JKA instructor program overseas in order to spread the art of Shotokan Karate beyond the shores of Japan that was the driving force that let to the world-wide popularity of Shotokan Karate-do.

The author of a great many books on the subject of Shotokan Karate these publications are today still considered as essential reading on the subject for any serious student, especially his book, Master Text, Dynamic Karate. While his series of books entitled, Best Karate, are one of the premier visual sources used by karate-ka the world over when it comes to reminding themselves of the many important details found in each of the Shotokan katas. The only two katas exceptions not referenced in this series are, Wankan and Jiin. There have been many theories as to why that is, but it simply may be that he passed before these last two kata could be published.

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, 9th Dan, (ITKF)

November 21, 1928 - November 7, 2008

A co-founder, and member of the Board of Directors of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Sensei Nishiyama is also the author of one of the more popular karate books called, "Karate, The art of Empty Hand Fighting". In 1985 Sensei Nishiyama formed his own karate organization, International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF). As a true Master of Shotokan Karate, Sensei Nishiyama's life long goal remained pioneering the art of traditional Japanese karate which he did by conducting seminars throughout the world. Sensei Nishiyama's passing is a great loss to our world-wide Shotokan family. For additional information on Sensei Nishiyama please visit the ITKF web site at .

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 the Master Funakoshi's death on April 26, 1957. After Master Funakoshi's passing Sensei Okazaki came under the guidance of Sensei Masatoshi Nakayama whom he assisted for many years. He was instrumental in the establishment of tournament rules. He was also the student selected to be the prototype for the fledgling two year training program that was to become known as the JKA Instructors Program. The first three graduates of that program were Sensei Mikami, Sensei Kanazawa and Sensei Takaura. In 1961 as the second instructor to be sent overseas after Sensei Kanazawa. Sensei Okazaki settled in Philadelphia and in spite of not knowing any English when he arrived he has prospered, and has been a major contributor to the growth of Shotokan Karate-do in the United States of America.

Sensei Okazaki was the Chief Instructor of his own organization the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) which he formed in 1977. For additional information on Sensei Okazaki please visit the ISKF web site at .

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 becoming a direct student of Sensei Masatoshi Nakayama and he became the second graduates of the Japan Karate Association's legendary, 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, ultimately led the JKA to send Shihan Kanazawa overseas to Hawaii in 1961. While there he was to be come the one of the three Shotokan senseis to instruct Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi, 10th Dan, Founder of the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association (FSKA).

It was in 1966 that Shihan Kanazawa's technical skill became well known to karate-ka world wide, after he was prominently featured in Shihan Masatoshi Nakayama's book, Dynamic Karate. After several years in Hawaii Shihan Kanazawa would move 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 the Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF). Shihan Kanazawa was ranked 10th Dan, and is one of the very few Shotokan Master to hold this rank. For additional information on Shihan Kanazawa please visit the SKIF web site at .

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 can lay claim to having 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, and joined the fledgling Japan Karate Association (JKA) in 1950. He went on to become a Director, and he was responsible for teaching the first post war generation of international instructors such, Senseis Kanazawa, Enoeda, and Shirai. Sensei Kase remained a member of the JKA until 1989 then he co-founded with Sensei Shirai the World Shotokan Karate-Do Academy (WKSA) which focused on returning to the teachings of his primary teacher, Sensei Yoshitaka Funakoshi.

The WSKA currently restricts the membership in its organization to karate-ka who hold the rank of San Dan and above. The passing of Sensei Kase was another great loss to the Shotokan Karate family. For additional information on Sensei Kase please visit the WSKA web site at .

Sensei Hideo Ochi, 9th Dan, (JKA)

February 28, 1940 -

Born in 1940 Sensei Hideo Ochi started karate during his days at Takushoku University in Tokyo. A graduate of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Instructor Program in 1964, and he began teaching at the JKA Honbu dojo on a regular basis. An active competitor Sensei Ochi is also 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). As a branch of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) he helped to 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 additional information on Sensei Ochi, and his career, please visit the following German language web site at . 

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 additional information on Sensei Shirai please visit the ITKF web site at .

Sensei Yutaka Yaguchi, 9th Dan, (ISKF)

1932 -

Born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1932, Sensei Yaguchi is another of the very few to have trained under Master Gichin Funakoshi. In addition to grading for his Sho Dan, and Ni Dan, 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 first JKA instructor to be sent to the United States by Sensei Nakayama in 1964, today Sensei Yaguchi is the Chief Instructor, Mountain States Region, of ISKF in Colorado, USA. This is an organization founded by Sensei Teruyuki Okazaki, 10th Dan, in 1977. For additional information on Sensei Yaguchi please visit the ISKF web site at . 

Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi, 10th Dan, (FSKA)

September 4, 1937 -

Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi, Founder and Chief Instructor of the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association, started judo training 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 training under Adriano Emperado from 1956 to 1959.

In 1960 he began 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. Other instructors included Sensei Masataka Mori, and Sensei Tetsuhiko Asai.

In 1969 Shihan Funakoshi was appointed, Chief Instructor, Japan Karate Association of Hawaii. In 1987 he founded the non-political Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association (FSKA) with its world headquarters in Milpitas, California. The FSKA now has affiliates throughout the United States, England, Ireland, Europe, Russia, Mexico, and many other countries around the world. For additional information on Shihan Funakoshi please visit the FSKA web site at

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 as such was drawn to martial arts from an early age. He attained his Ni Dan in Judo by the age of seventeen. Fate however, 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. After enrolling he joined the karate club, and 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 was to spend years under the watchful eye of Sensei Masatoshi 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. Sensei Enoeda's passing is another great loss for the world-wide Shotokan family. Visit 

Shihan Keigo Abe, 9th Dan, JSKA


October 28, 1938 - December 21, 2019

Shihan Keigo was born in 1938 and started his karate training when he was just a teenager. A graduate of the JKA Instructors Program he also trained directly under Shihan Masatoshi Nakayama, and in time he went on to become the Technical Director of the JKA. He would go on to form his own organization, the Japan Shotokan Karate Association in 1999, during a time when the JKA was splitting into factions. Shihan Abe remained the Chief Instructor of the JSKA until his passing, his loss was felt world wide. For more information on Shihan Abe please visit the JSKA website at .

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