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History of Shotokan Karate
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History of Shotokan Karate
Okinawan karate master Funakoshi Gichin was born in Okinawa in 1868. He dedicated his whole life to the promotion of the art of karate which is said to have emerged in Okinawa Japan approximately 500 years ago. It is believed that in this environment karate developed as a form of unarmed combat for protecting oneself and one’s country.
By 1949, Funakoshi Gichin’s followers had established an association for the promotion of karate. The association was called Nihon Karate Kyokai, or Japan Karate Association.
JKA has membership in over 100 countries and is the largest and most prestigious karate organization in the world. It is the only legal karate entity officially approved by the Japanese government as an association of members for the promotion of karate.
JKA approaches karate with great intensity of purpose, and maintains a large and dedicated professional staff of highly trained instructors. At the JKA, karate is not merely a sport, it is a martial art whose aim is the harmonizing of mind and body for balance, strength, perseverance and patience, for total confidence and self mastery.
JKA produces some of the strongest and most skillful karate-ka in the world, and this can be attributed to the fact that each student learns each technique and tradition in its original and most powerful form. JKA karate is the refinement of one of the oldest and most traditional types of Okinawan karate – Shotokan. Every technique and movement in JKA karate is based on solid, scientific, physical movement theory. It is for this reason that so much emphasis is placed on the basic foundational techniques, or kihon.
One aspect of JKA karate which sets it apart from other styles is that JKA karate tournaments have no weight classification or half point system. This differs to "all styles’ tournaments which award 3 points for a kick to the head, 2 points for a kick to the body, and one point for any kind of punch. JKA tournaments are much more strict in that one can only be awarded either an ippon (full point) or wazari (1/2 point). An ippon is awarded for a technique which would have downed your opponent. Utilizing this point system, coupled with the fact that no size or weight divisions apply, is a reflection on the essence of JKA karate which is for its students to gain mastery of themselves in order to be able to overwhelm their opponent.
JKA prides itself on selecting its Chief Instructors from the Shihankai as opposed to other affiliations whose leadership is passed down to an inheritor when their master is gone. In this scenario, the danger exists that the inheritor may be a weak leader which may result on the organization losing its direction or even disappearing altogether. JKA’s Chief Instructors are always elected by the Shihankai, JKA’s staying power is therefore unmatched. JKA is forever.
The History of JKA in Durban KZN
Sensei Rob Ferriere started Karate in 5 January 1963 when he and his friends went to watch a class and met Sensei George Higginson (Founder of Shotokan Karate(JKA) in Natal).
He trained out of the Kodokwai Dojo. Sensei George brought in Shotokan experts from all over the world including Japanese Sensei’s came to South Africa in 1965. They were Sensei’s Kase, Shirai, Enoeda and Kanazawa. Enoeda Sensei went to Johannesburg and stayed with Sensei Stan Schmidt, while Kanazawa Sensei went to Cape Town.
Roots of Highway JKA
One of Sensei Rob’s famous students Sensei Duncan Player started training with Sensei Rob in 1970. He later, 1982, opened up clubs in Westville, Pinetown and Kloof. After establishing a strong support based – Duncan then merged these clubs into Pinetown - "Player’s The Club – Karate Dojo”. In 1994 Duncan retired from Karate and handed his Dojo over to the then current South African Kumite Champion and South African Team Captain – Sensei Ronnie Webber (Who named it the Ronnie Webber Karate Institute). Two of Sensei Duncan’s senior students Sensei Wally Fry and his daughter Sensei Tammy then started the Current - Highway JKA Dojo. (Soon thereafter Ronnie Webber Retired and passed his Pinetown Dojo onto Sensei Karen Prinsloo - who continues to run that dojo out of Cowies Hill).
Sensei Tammy Fry is currently Chief Instructor at the Highway JKA dojo and has been joined by Sensei Leonardo Ciutto whom also comes out of the Duncan Player era. Other members that have been Fundamental in the building and growth of Highway JKA are Sensei Debbie Fry, Sensei Hayley Fry, Sensei Gareth Crowe and Sensei Roxanne Lagesse.
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