Six decades ago, beginning shortly after Hawaii became a state, three exceptional karateka were dispatched in succession to our islands to establish and nurture the growth of Shotokan Karate-Do in Hawaii. Each was a stellar member of the Japan Karate Association which, for many years, was considered the premier karate organization in Japan and throughout the world. Each was a graduate of Takushoku University, famous for producing some of the finest karrateka. The first chief instructor of the KAH, Hirokazu Kanazawa, had won the inaugural All-JKA championship in kumite. The man who became the second chief instructor of the KAH had been captain of the Takushoku University karate team. The third KAH chief instructor, Tetsuhiko Asai, was a former All-JKA champion in both kata and kumite. Each young karateka would go on to devote the rest of his life to practicing and sharing the art of Karate-Do with others. Each would reach the very highest of dan rankings, lead large karate organizations of their own, and achieve great notoriety throughout the karate world. This, despite the fact that none could even speak much English upon landing on our beautiful – though very foreign shores.
Sadly, on Dec 8, Master Hirokazu Kanazawa passed away – he was the last of these pioneers to leave us. In Sept of 2018, Master Masataka Mori passed away. In Aug 2006, Master Tetsuhiko Asai also passed on. Sensei Peter, Sensei Wayne, and I all trained directly under and received our black belts from the fourth and final chief instructor of the KAH, Kenneth Funakoshi. His development in the art was the result of being a direct student of all three masters throughout the 1960’s. In turn, the karate that we share with you is closely influenced by what we learned from Sensei Funakoshi, much of which, flowed downstream from these fine teachers. Each of us owes a debt to these gentlemen who devoted their lives to refining and spreading the art worldwide.
If you’re interested in reading a little bit more on the lives of these pioneering KAH instructors, here are several links:
Like taking a DNA test with Ancestry.com, it’s kind of nice to know whom some of your karate “great-grandfathers” were. They, and others upstream, are part of a continuous chain of instructors and students stretching over centuries who are very much responsible for faithfully transmitting the karate knowledge that all of us receive and sometimes take for granted.