This week in history (1 June – 7 June)

1 June

On 1 June 1892, the founder of Wado-ryu Karate, Hironori Ōhtsuka, was born.

Although Ōhtsuka was an early student of Gichin Funakoshi, he had previously studied Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu for many years.

After training in Shotokan Karate for around ten years, Ōhtsuka left to form his own style of Wado-ryu in 1939. Wado-ryu is considered one of the major styles of Karate. It contains elements of both Shotokan Karate and Jujutsu.

On 1 June 1986, the English Karate Board (EKB) held its 2nd National Championships at the Crystal Palace, London. The EKB consisted of members from all the major styles of Karate in England. Shotokan’s Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) won the majority of trophies on offer. The KUGB’s ‘A’ Team, consisting of Frank Brennan, Gary Harford, Ronnie Christopher, Randy Williams, Ian Roberts and George Best defeated the AKA ‘A’ team in the final of the team kumite event.

Brennan, Roberts, and Christopher went on to win individual titles in the heavy, middle and lightweight classes respectively. Brennan also won the individual kata event, making him Grand Champion.

If that was not enough, Brennan, alongside Harford and Miles Drapper won the team kata title.

2 June

On 2 June 1922, Gichin Funakoshi gave a Karate demonstration in front of the Poplar Club in Tabata, Tokyo.

Funakoshi had arrived in Japan earlier in 1922 at the request of the Japanese Ministry of Education to give a demonstration of Okinawan Karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition, held a the Kishi Gymnasium, Ochanomizu, Tokyo.

The demonstration of Karate at the Poplar Club was one of several demonstrations given by Funakoshi to introduce the Okinawan martial art to the Japanese people. The Poplar Club was an artists guild. The famous Japanese painter Hoan Kosugi was a member of the guild. He became a friend to Funakoshi and eventually was one of his first students. It was Kosugi who came up with the design for the Shotokan Tiger emblem.

3 June

On 3 June 1922 the earliest known Japanese newspaper article on Karate was published in the Tokyo  Nichinichi  Shinbun.

The title of the article was “The Mystical Martial Art – Karate: (Chinese Fist) from Ryukyu (Okinawa Prefecture). Wonderful Technique to Defend from an Opponent with Bare Hands. Kodokan to Study“.

On 3 June 1959, the final known letter between Vernon Bell and Henri Plee was written by Bell. Plee had been instrumental in introducing Karate to Europe. Bell had studied Karate under Plee and was responsible for introducing the martial art to Britain through Plee’s encouragement. However, the two men had fallen out over various issues and the letter was the last correspondence between the two of them.

5 June

On 5 June 1965, Yutaka Yaguchi started training at Hidetaka Nishiyama‘s Los Angeles dojo.

Yaguchi was a product of the JKA Instructors Course and had just arrived from Japan. James Field, a student at the dojo, recalled seeing Yaguchi training at the dojo for the first time. He was very impressed by the way he moved.

7 June

On 7 June 1935 Shotokan master and former technical director of the Japan Karate Association (JKA), Tetsuhiko Asai was born in Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

As a boy, Asai had trained in Sumo, Judo and Kendo. He became interested in Karate after seeing a karate-ka defeat a boxer in a fight.  Upon entering Takushoku University he trained in Karate under Masatoshi Nakayama and Teruyuki Okazaki. After graduating in 1958 and following a recommendation from Nakayama, Asai enrolled on the JKA’s Instructors program.

After graduating from the Instructor Program Asai spent five years teaching Karate in Hawaii. On returning to Japan he was sent to Taiwan, becoming the first instructor to introduce Karate to that country. He eventually returned to Japan, teaching at the JKA’s Hombu dojo.

Asai was a former winner of the JKA All Japan Karate Championship in kumite in 1961, going on to become only the third man to be name named Grand Champion after also coming 2nd in the kata competition. Hirokazu Kanazawa and Takayuki Mikami were the other men to be named Grand Champion. Asai was also a winner of the kata title in 1963.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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