Sadashige Kato

I like part Budo and part sport. Karate creates friendships between countries.

Sadashige Kato

As an assistant to Keinosuke Enoeda, Sadashige Kato was among the first JKA instructors to reside and teach in the UK. He was a great technician, known for his teaching and his approach to bunkai.

Sadashige Kato was born on 22 July 1943 in Kochi, Japan. His introduction to the martial arts came in 1956 when as a 13-year-old he began practising Judo. Two years later he began practising Karate as a hobby.

In 1963 Kato enrolled at Takushoku University to study economics. He initially joined the university’s rugby club. In an effort to get fitter it was suggested he start practising Karate.

Kato joined the Takushoku Karate club. His main instructors were Masatoshi Nakayama and Katsunori Tsuyama. He soon gave up rugby, concentrating on Karate. He would train for six hours a day. He also trained at the JKA Hombu. His main instructors were Hirokazu Kanazawa and Keinosuke Enoeda. The training was very hard, with students being pushed to the limits.

By the time Kato left Takushoku University, he had been promoted to 3rd Dan. He had graded under Nakayama, who after grading took off his belt and presented it to Kato. This was one of Kato’s most prized possessions.

After graduating from Takushoku University in 1966, Kato worked for an export company. They sent him to work in Germany. During this period, he insisted Kanazawa in teaching Karate at Gottingen University.

In 1966 another of Kato’s former instructors, Enoeda invited him to become his assistant in England. He travelled to Liverpool, where he assisted Enoeda at the Red Triangle Club. He helped teach future KUGB legends, Andy Sherry, Terry O’Neill, and Bob Poynton.

For the next couple of years, Kato assisted Enoeda in teaching and also in various demonstrations. In 1972 Enoeda’s first book was co-authored with John Chisholm. In “Karate Defence and Attack” Kato can be seen as Enoeda’s training partner.

In 1973, after seven years of assisting Enoeda, Kato left to form his own Association. He was replaced by his good friend Shiro Asano. Kato’s Kodokai Association was eventually affiliated to Kanazawa’s Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF). For the next couple of years, he continued teaching at his clubs and on training courses.

By 1984 Kato’s Kodokai Association had 47 dojos in England plus dojos in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

In 1987 Masatoshi Nakayama, the Chief Instructor of the JKA died. His death led to a 10-year political battle between the Nakahara and Matsuno JKA factions over who had the right to use the JKA name.

Tetsuhiko Asai was the leader of the Matsuno affection that eventually lost the legal battle. The members of that faction left the JKA to form their own associations.

Kato started training with Asai in the 1990s. He eventually became a member of Asai’s International Japan Karate Association (IJKA) was eventually graded to 8th Dan by Asai.

On 15 August 2006 Tetsuhiko Asai died from heart failure. The leadership of the IJKA passed to his wife. Following a year of respect after his death, an IJKA Congress was held in Budapest, Hungary. At the meeting, Kato was asked to lead the association. He held this role until his death.

On 16 April 2020, it was announced that Sadashige Kato had died. He was survived by his wife Keiko and children Sakura, Ryota, and Milena.

Sadashige Kato was one of the most technically gifted karatekas. He was regarded as a superb teacher, known for his analysis of kata. As an assistant to Kinosuke Enoeda during the early days of JKA Karate in the UK, he helped inspire a new generation.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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