Hawaii Shotokan Karate-Do Foundation

HISKF began as the NHPC Shotokan Karate Ministry in June 2001, with three students who began meeting in a small church office.  In 2009, while the goals, training, and focus of the ministry remain unchanged, in recognition that the group had grown to include members from many different churches, the name was expanded into HIS Karate Foundation.  The ministry is led by Sensei Wes Nakamoto (godan), who has been teaching the art for over thirty five years.  The program is greatly enhanced by the presence of three other long-time senseis, Sensei Peter, Sensei Wayne, and Sensei Trish.

Since January 2002, the ministry has held its practices at the Momilani Rec Center in Pearl City. Members may vary greatly in age (from seven to the seventies) and abilities, but all enjoy the benefits of physical/mental/emotional/spiritual growth in good fellowship together.  There is little emphasis on the sports/sparring/tournament aspects of karate. Instead, we focus upon the Do and strengthening our walk with the Lord through the purposeful practice of Karate-Do kata and kihon aspects.  Our vision is to enable everyone of all ages and abilities to experience Christian karate.

Origin of Shotokan Karate-Do

What we now know as Shotokan Karate-Do is traced back to the former Ryukyu Kingdom (now Okinawa), which flourished from the early 1400's until the kingdom was conquered by Satsuma warrior forces from Kyushu, Japan in 1609.  The Ryukyu Kingdom had a long economic and cultural relationship with China. Associated with this relationship, a large Chinese community (Kume Village) was established in the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1392 where Wushu (martial arts or kung fu) was practiced for generations. During this period of time, interested men of the Ryukuan Pechin class (feudal warrior class that was charged with enforcing the law and providing military defense to the nation, similar to the Japanese samurai class)learned and incorporated Chinese Wushu techniques into their own native martial arts

The predecessor to Karate-Do was called Te or Ti or Di by generations of the Pechin class.  Although the Pechin warrior class had been subdued in 1609, the need continued for law enforcement, palace guards, sea protection against the Wako (Japanese pirates) and security for the large convoys associated with periodic Imperial Chinese missions to the islands.  So the Ryukyu martial arts continued to exist and evolve over the next several centuries with select members of the gentry (noble classes).  Many of the practitioners came from the lower-level Pechin class, as these were the front-line men who needed to develop fighting skills.

Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of what was to become Shotokan, was born in 1868 into a family that was a part of a lower-level Pechin class.  His two primary Te instructors were Master Anko Itosu and Master Anko Asato, both members of the Pechin class.  Funakoshi was well-educated and a teacher by trade.  Having devoted most of his life to the practice and sharing of Te, he became the chairman of the Okinawan Martial Arts Society.  In 1922, he organized a first-time display of the Ryukuan martial art for Japan proper, which was a tremendous success.  Upon seeing this, the founder of Judo, Master Jigoro Kano invited Master Funakoshi to remain in Tokyo and teach the art.  He was then 54 years old, and remained in Japan to transform Te into its modern form of Karate-Do (way of the empty hand), which some years later, was accepted as a form of Budo in Japan.

The art became very popular, especially in the universities and in the military.  The training was modified to enable large classes (hence, the use of kihon).  The Judo uniform (gi) and belt promotion system were incorporated into Karate-Do.  Much later, in the late 1950's, when kumite and tournament sparring were developed, aspects of Kendo were introduced into practice.  Examples include ikken hissatsu (single killing blow), "dueling distance", timing, and point scoring system.  Even the kendo and karate kumite ring dimensions are similar in size and set-up.

Meaning of Shotokan

Shotokan literally translates into "the hall where Shoto teaches".  "Shoto" was Master Funakoshi's pen name (Pines Waves) and "Kan" referred to training hall. Beyond karate, Master Funakoshi's major interests were calligraphy and composing poetry.  When he wrote poems, he would use the pen name Shoto.  While the world now refers to the art he founded as Shotokan, Master Funakoshi himself did not call his style as anything other than karate.  Initially, Shotokan specifically referred to the Master's first dojo, which was built in 1936.

Establishing the Japan Karate Association (JKA)

The toll of WWII included the loss of many young students of Master Funakoshi.  His dojo was also destroyed by aerial bombings and ensuing fires that rained down on Tokyo as the war was ending.  Out of the ashes, surviving students dedicated themselves to re-establishing Master Funakoshi's dojo (hall).  Master Masatoshi Nakayama, a student of Master Funakoshi helped found the Japan Karate Association in 1949, with this goal in mind.  Following his master's example, Master Nakayama worked as a college professor and served as JKA Chief Instructor for three decades.  As an initial focus of the organization, they named their style; Shotokan. In time, the JKA was to become the premier Shotokan organization in the world. Amongst other dan certificates from different karate organizations, Sensei Wes, Sensei Peter, and Sensei Trisha all earned JKA dan diplomas in the 1990's from then-JKA Chief Instructor Master Tetsuhiko Asai.

The Early Growth of Shotokan and Spreading of the Art Outside of Japan

As karate flourished in Japan's finest universities, these clubs produced most of the art's best students and instructors.  Unfortunately, there were long-standing rivalries and intense competition among the schools that would creep into their karate as well.  While Takushoku University and its alumni gradually took over leadership of Shotokan and the JKA, by the late 1950's senior karateka from other university clubs broke away and formed Master Funakoshi's other modern legacy - Shotokai.  Differences that drove a deep wedge between the two organizations were the JKA's development and introduction of sports-oriented kumite and a growing commercial aspect to the JKA.  Takushoku University had a global view that went beyond Japan, its name actually meaning: development, industrialization and colonization.  The early JKA leadership, who were graduates of Takushoku believed in the importance of spreading the art into foreign lands and took a business-like approach to accomplishing this.  To this end, the JKA established a graduate level instructors program (Kenshusei) in 1956 for a few of their best young black belts.  The highly trained graduates of the program were then dispatched to different countries to establish JKA Shotokan Karate-Do world-wide. In the mid-1960's, Sensei Taiji Kase would go to France, Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda to England, and Sensei Hiroshi Shirai to Italy.  The very first JKA "missionaries", however, were received by the USA.  In 1961, Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama was sent to the west coast while Sensei Teruyuki Okazaki landed in Pennsylvania and along with others who would follow, would spend the rest of their lives popularizing the art in America.  That same year, Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa arrived in Hawaii to establish the Karate Association of Hawaii (KAH).  Throughout the 1960's, the KAH was led by Sensei Kanazawa, followed by fellow Takushoku alumni Sensei Masataka Mori and Sensei Tetsuhiko Asai (both Kanazawa and Asai were former All-JKA champions).  Sensei Asai would later become Chief Instructor of the JKA world-wide.  Following his departure in 1969, Sensei Kenneth Funakoshi, a Hawaii-born Japanese American was appointed as Chief Instructor of the KAH.

Sensei Kenneth Funakoshi's Influence on HIS Karate-Do Foundation

HIS Karate-Do Foundation Senseis have many decades of martial arts experience, but foremost is their expertise in Shotokan Karate-Do, which began under the tutelage of Sensei Kenneth Funakoshi.  Sensei Funakoshi was the primary instructor for Sensei Wes, Sensei Peter and Sensei Wayne for many, many years---he was the most influential in developing and honing their karate skills.

Sensei Funakoshi was born in 1938 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  At the young age of 10, he began training in Judo.  Athletically gifted, he was active in high school in football and swimming, and later attended the University of Hawaii on a swimming scholarship.  As there was no Japanese karate available in Hawaii while he was a teenager, he earned a black belt in the rough fighting style of Kajukembo (an eclectic Kempo system) under Adriano Emperado.  When Sensei Kanazawa brought Shotokan Karate-Do to Hawaii in 1961, he was interested enough to visit and see what this well-known JKA champion was like.  After several visits, he became attracted to the mild and courteous manner that Sensei Kanazawa had with his students and decided to join the KAH.  It wasn't until some time after he started in Shotokan, that he discovered he was distantly related to the Founder, Master Gichin Funakoshi (they are fourth cousins).  He quickly rose through the ranks and became the KAH champion, as well as placing in the National All American Karate Federation (AAKF) Championships several years in a row in both kata and kumite.  In addition to training under the JKA instructors at the KAH for 10 years, he was also personally trained by Sensei Nishiyama in Los Angeles.  Sensei Kenneth Funakoshi led the KAH from 1969 to 1986.  During the 1970's, KAH became one of the largest and highly respected karate organizations in Hawaii.  Sensei Funakoshi relocated to San Jose, California in 1986 due to growing requests from dojos outside of Hawaii asking for his instruction and leadership.  Following his move to California, he established the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association (FSKA).  Today, hundreds of dojos located throughout the United States, Central/South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia are now affiliated with the FSKA.  Although HIS Karate Do Foundation is not affiliated with FSKA, its Shotokan Karate-Do roots can be traced to the teachings of Sensei Funakoshi.