Karate masters

Gichin Funakoshi

Gichin Funakoshi, born in 1868 in Okinawa, is considered a founder and the spiritual father of karate. In 1921 he was entrusted by Okinawa Shobu Kai (society of martial arts) with the propagation of the art outside Okinawa. In 1922 he was invited to Japan by Japanese Ministry of Culture to teach karate-do. In Japan Funakoshi met the founder of judo, Master Jigoro Kano. Relationship between both Masters together with Kano´s innovative approach to propagation of judo resulted in the popularisation of karate and introduction of modern aspects to the organisation of karate. After the reorganisation, Gichin Funakoshi founded the first karate clubs at Japanese universities. Unfortunately, this blooming period brought also disappointment to Master Funakoshi, since some of his students departed extensively from traditional principles of karate. The discrepancy between traditional and modern approaches to practising resulted in disaffiliation of some of Master Funakoshi’s disciples and consequently in founding a number of new karate styles, different from the original idea of karate-do.
Hidetaka Nishiyama

Hidetaka Nishiyama belongs to the most distinguished disciples of Master Funakoshi, under whom he started studying karate in 1943. In post-war years the organisation of karate in Japan started to decline. This decline resulted in the official foundation of JKA (Japan Karate Association) in 1949. Master Hidetaka Nishiyama, one of JKA founders, was also an instructor and in the ‘50s he became the most important person in JKA. The chief instructor in JKA was then Master Nakayama. In 1961, Hidetaka left for the USA to teach karate there. Master Nishiyama completely revised karate and returned it back to its traditional principles.

Master Nishiyama was teaching traditional karate in NKI (National Karate Institute) in Los Angeles until his dead in year 2008. He is the president of ITKF (International Traditional Karate Federation). In 2000 he was honoured a Japanese Imperial Award for his life-work.


1928: Born on 21st November in Tokyo, Japan.
1933: Started practising kendo.
1938: Started practising judo.
1943: Awarded 1st Dan in kendo.
1945: Enrolled at Takushoku University.
1946: Awarded 1st Dan in karate.
1948: Awarded 2nd Dan in karate.
1949: Appointed the chief instructor of Takushoku University karate team.
1950: Awarded 3rd Dan, co-founded the university karate association, became its Chairman.
1951: Graduated from Takushoku University with the Master of Arts degree in economics.
1952: Chosen as an instructor of martial arts for the U.S. Strategic Air Command Combat (SAC).
The training programme was held in Japan with the participation of Masters Nakayama, Obata and others.
1953: Invited by General Curtis LeMay to teach karate in SAC bases in the U.S.A.
Became the Chairman of Japan Karate Association (JKA) technical commission.
1960: Published “The Art of Empty-Hand Fighting“ – the best-selling book about karate.
1961: Moved to the U.S.A. and founded All-American Karate Federation (AAKF).
Organised the first AAKF Championship in Los Angeles.
1965: Organised the first United States vs. Japan official karate tournament.
1973: Co-founded the Pan American Karate Union (PAKU) and was elected its Executive Chairman.
The first PAKU Championship hold in Rio de Janeiro.
1974: Elected the first Executive Chairman of the International Amateur Karate Federation (IAKF).
1975: The first IAKF World Championship hold in Los Angeles.
1985: Efforts to integrate karate into the Olympic games.
1986 onwards: Popularising karate all over the world. 2008: Sensei Nishiyama died on November 7.



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