Hiroo Mochizuki

It is not my role to give advice, but if I had to do it I would say that is good to try to broaden your vision on a technical and mental level. Break the shell, do not remain partitioned. Watching only is useless.

Hiroo Mochizuki

Hiroo Mochizuki was the first Japanese instructor to teach Karate in Europe. He was from the Yoseikan school established by his father Minoru. It could be argued that the Yoseikan school was practising mixed martial arts (MMA) before people knew what MMA was. Hiroo Mochizuki was proficient in Karate, Aikido, Jujitsu, and Judo.

Hiroo Mochizuki was born on 21 March 1936 in Shizuoka, Japan. He was descended from a samurai family. His great-grandfather was a swordsmanship instructor. His father Minoru was a direct student of Jigaro Kano, Morihei Ueshiba, and Gichin Funakoshi.

Minoru Mochizuki had founded the Yoseikan dojo in 1931. He gathered various instructors from other martial arts to teach at the dojo. To achieve a blackbelt at the Yoseikan dojo, one had to be proficient in three martial arts and have a working knowledge of many other arts.

During the 1930s Japan began expanding into China. They set up the puppet state of Manchukuo in Mongolia. In 1938 the Mochizuki family moved to Mongolia, where Mochizuki became the director of the school for Mongols in Paou-to.

While in Mongolia Hiroo Mochizuki began learning Kendo from his father, in 1943. After the end of World War II, the family returned to Japan in 1946.

In 1950 Hiroo Mochizuki began learning Judo and Aikido from his father. It was around this time that Minoru Mochizuki reorganised his Yoseikan dojo.

Through his father’s teachings, Hiroo Mochizuki progressed through his training. In 1954 he became the captain of his High School Judo team. He had also been captain of his Middle School team.

In 1955 Mochizuki enrolled at Nihon University to study for veterinary medicine. He had dreams of moving to Brazil to start a ranch. Many Japanese had emigrated to Brazil, following the end of the war.

Judo was still an important part of Mochizuki’s training. While at university he was eventually promoted to 3rd Dan. He also joined a JKA Shotokan Karate club run by Minoru Hyogo.

In 1956 Mochizuki took a break from his studies to travel to Europe. He had been asked by his father to teach Karate in France.

On 12 July 1956 Mochizuki arrived in France to teach the Yoseikan version of Shotokan Karate. Between 15-30 July he taught courses in Toulon and Coullioure. Jim Alcheik, an early pioneer of Aikido and Karate in France introduced him to another French pioneer, Henri Plee.

Mochizuki started teaching Shotokan Karate at Plee’s Parisian dojo, in 1957. Later that year, on 26 October, the Federation International de Karate was established in Paris.

On 3 November 1957 Tetsuji Murakami, another early pioneer of European Karate, arrived in France. He replaced Mochizuki at Plee’s dojo.

In 1958, Mochizuki with Alcheik, who had studied at the Yoesikan in the early 1950s, established the French Federation of Aikido, Tai Jutsu and Kendo. They taught classes in France and also held several exhibitions in Switzerland. The following year Mochizuki taught a Karate course in Beja, Portugal, before returning to Japan.

Back in Japan Mochizuki resumed his veterinary studies at Nihon University in 1960. That year he began training in Wado-ryu Karate with Shinji Michihara.

As part of Michihara’s club, Mochizuki participated in both Judo and Karate competitions. Michihara had wanted him to give up Judo and just concentrate on Karate. Mochizuki did not. He eventually became captain of the Judo team and vice-captain of the Karate team.

Mochizuki graduated from Nihon University in 1962 with a diploma in veterinary medicine.

On 29 January 1962, Jim Alcheik was killed by a parcel bomb in Algeria. He had been recruited by the French government as an agent to fight against the terrorist group, Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS).

With Alcheik’s death, his assistant in France, Alaine Floquet, requested teaching assistance from the Yoseikan headquarters in Japan. Minoru Mochizuki sent his son Hiroo to France in 1963, where he taught Aikido and also started teaching Wado-ryu Karate. He set up home in Paris.

In 1964, together with Jacques Delcourt, Mochizuki established the French Karate Federation and Associated Disciplines (FFKDA). He became the first Technical Advisor of the Aikido and Karate sections. 1964 also saw him help establish the French Karate Federation and Affinity Martial Arts.

1965 saw Mochizuki help establish the European Karate Union (EKU). He became the union’s first Technical Advisor. It was around this time that he started developing a new martial art called Yoken.

Hiroo Mochizuki became a French citizen in 1968.

By 1970 Mochizuki had fully developed his new style with his father’s blessing. He renamed it Yoseikan Budo in homage to his father, Minoru. This led to some controversy, with some of his oldest and closest students refusing to accept the new style. They preferred the traditional style of Karate they had been practising for several years.

In 1975 Mochizuki established the French Federation of Yoseikan Budo. Three years later he established the International Center of Yoseikan Budo.

In 1977 Mochizuki had built a life for himself in France. He had married and had a daughter called Mitchiko. His son Mitchi was born in 1977 and his second son Kyoshi she was born in 1980. The Mochizuki family moved to the French city of Aix-en-Provence in 1983.

With Yoseikan Budo becoming established around the world, Mochizuki was named the successor to the Yoseikan dojo, by his father in 1992. In 1997 he established the Yoseikan World Federation (YWF).

In 2000 Minoru Mochizuki was officially named Soke of the Yoseikan School. By 2003 he moved to France to be closer to his family. On 30 May 2003, The founder of the white school died in Aix-en-Provence, aged 96.

By 2007 Yoseikan Budo was being practised in over 39 countries. A year earlier Hiroo Mochizuki had been presented with his 9th Dan by the French Karate Federation and Associated Disciplines (FFKDA).

On 31 March 2016, the FFKDA presented Mochizuki with his 10th Dan for his commitment to the Federation. The FFKDA president, Francis Didier, presented him with the award.

Hiroo Mochizuki holds an important role in the development of European Karate. He was one of the first Japanese instructors to teach in Europe. Apart from holding the rank of 10th Dan in Karate he also holds the following ranks:

  • 8th Dan in Aikido
  • 8th Dan in Jujitsu
  • 7th Dan in Iaido
  • 3rd Dan in judo

Mochizuki’s aim is to spread the practice of Yoseikan Budo around the world. He still gives seminars around the world. With his sons Mitchi and Kyoshi also practising Yoseikan Budo, the name Mochizuki will continue to be an important name in the martial arts.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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