Recently, I came across a very short video of Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi on YouTube. As you know, our old sensei had moved to the mainland back in 1986. This brief interview, interspersed with glimpses of his jyu-kumite combinations, was filmed at the JCCH in Honolulu on a visit he made 2001. At the time, he would have been 63 – a few years younger than your sensei’s are today – but still exhibited the power and speed that we always associated with him. Sensei Peter, Wayne and I spent many years training under his direct tutelage. Probably the most unique skills we inherited from him were the jyu-kumite combos he demonstrates, which look very much like stutter-sprinting across the dojo, firing well-timed punches. We have heard that these particular movements were created by Shihan and we have never come across these in other Shotokan dojos unless they were affiliated with him. The leg movements for these are very fast and dynamic, versus what we share with color belts; but if we can still execute these in our late sixties, you younger members should be able to learn them when you get to the brown/black belt level.
The last time I saw him was at a seminar in Hawaii a couple of years ago, By then, Shihan was closing in on 80 and, understandably, wasn’t as youthful or as spry as we remember, when he was a young man in his 30’s. However, his voice (as you’ll note in the video) was as strong, sharp, and confident as always, and his words were direct and full of wisdom.