From Japan to the World
The following is a brief summary explaining how Shotokan became the worldwide phenomenon it is today.
The founder of Shotokan, Master Gichin Funakoshi established the Japan Karate Association (JKA) in 1955 and, one year later in 1956 the legendary JKA Instructors course was founded.
Gichin Funakoshi passed away in 1957 and, his chosen successor, Matatoshi Nakayama became Chief Instructor of the JKA.
Masatoshi Nakayama was born in Yamagushi, Japan. He began martial arts with kendo training and, started karate at 19 when he went to Takushoku University to study history and languages.He traveled to China studying Chinese history and language. There he met masters of Ch'uan Fa and, invited one master of Tai Chi ch'uan to demonstrate at the JKA. After 11 years in China he returned to study with Master Funakoshi. Nakayama Shihan was a pioneer introducing systematic and scientific training to Shotokan karate and, in 1966 his book "Dynamic Karate" was published. This book was followed in 1977 by "Best Karate", a series of eleven books, explaining karate-do in language made as simple as possible, revising his earlier writings.
These publications remain to this day, valuable training manuals for every Shotokan karateka wishing to understand the ‘mechanics' of karate. Nakayama has also been credited for the development of new techniques - the "Ushiro-geri" (back kick) and the circular kick "Gyaku-Mawashi-geri".
Nakayama took the decision to send graduates of the legendary JKA instructor's course overseas as JKA ambassadors to spread Shotokan worldwide in the late 1950's until the 1960's.
Out of all these graduates, we have chosen to profile the legendary Kanazawa Shihan who played a major role in the introduction of Shotokan throughout Europe.
Kato Shihan and the late Asai Shihan are profiled elsewhere on the Chief Instructor page.
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Hirokazu Kanazawa was born in 1931. As a youth he enjoyed judo like many of his contemporaries. However, whilst at Hosei university he started his study of karate under Nakayama Shihan. Within a year and a half he was awarded Shodan (1st Dan) followed three years later by Nidan (2nd Dan), and Sandan (3rd Dan) in 1956. In 1957 Kanazawa gained famous reputation within Japanese karate when he entered an All Japan Karate championship tournament, winning with a broken wrist, reportedly because his mother, who was present, told him he was capable of fighting using both sides of his body and, he did not want to disappoint her. Having successfully completed the very first JKA instructor's course, he was sent to Hawaii, where he became the Chief Instructor of the country.
In 1965 he was sent to England and, in 1967 was placed as Chief instructor of JKA Europe. 1977 saw Kanazawa 7th Dan leave the JKA to establish Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF). Kanazawa Shihan 10th Dan, continues to teach karate at SKIF dojo's located worldwide throughout 107 countries.
See also History of Karate