Kanazawa, 10th DAN, currently holding the highest black-belt rank bestowed by
the Japanese upon any martial artist, was born on 3rd May 1931 in northern Honshu,
Japan. He started training in his early twenties and went onto forming the Shotokan
Karate-Do International Federation, to which he is chief instructor.
going to University he had studied and practised European boxing as well as judo
achieving the rank of 2nd Dan. Looking to start karate he looked for a style which
suited him, with heritage and history. The Shotokan style as taught at Takushoku
University was for him and that was where he went.
Masatoshi Nakayama Sensei
was one of his many teachers. Nakayama would explain the 'why' of karate. Kanazawa
feels that whilst the old ways of following blindly and doing what you were told
built up great speed, the bad point was that they were unable to build upon what
others had learned. A particular movement that could be performed a better way
may take ten years to discover when it could have been noted in a day. But too
much explanation was not good either, and so a middle way is best.
was also taught by Minoru Miyata, an equivalent ranked karate-ka to Nakayama.
Sensei Miyata had different form, he had learned from Yoshitaka (Gichin Funakoshi's
third son) at the Shotokan dojo. This led Kanazawa to the realisation that 'Shotokan
'pure' does not exist.'
Kanazawa gained his Shodan at the end of 1953 in
an astonishingly short time, one of the examiners being Funikoshi Sensei. Kanazawa
says passing Shodan is just the beginning of studying karate really. A year later
he gained Nidan under Funakoshi. Kanazawa noted that freestyle was observed and
Funakoshi did not oppose it; however Funakoshi did object to competition. Training
regularly with the likes of Funakoshi Kanazawa graduated from Takushoku University
in 1956 and at the request of Nakayama, Kanazawa joined the J.K.A. just as they
were about to instigate an instructors programme.
The JKA was established
as an educational body in 1955, and became accepted as a corporation in 1958 with
a great deal of help from Kanazawa. With about 200 'karate' styles around it was
important to establish standards for instruction and register them with the education
ministry, so under the guidance of Master Funakoshi the instructors training program
was formulated by Kanazawa, with significant contributions from other more senior
students. Kanazawa was one of the first two students on the course.
and Nakayama were concerned for the next generation, not just Japanese, but worldwide.
They wanted peace, and they considered karate a means of spreading it. Nakayama
being an academic taught theory at the instructor's course and to get karate truly
established he gave it a firm and rational base.
A pivotal point in Shotokan
karate was the 1957 JKA All-Japan Championships. Struggling with the idea of karate's
promotion Master Nakayama and the JKA believed that competition would be the next
evolutionary step, doing for karate what it had done for Judo and Kendo. Many
of the 'old boys' believed it degraded the art and was the antithesis of what
Funakoshi had stood for. Competition rules were devised over time with safety
in mind and competition was indeed a success. However the notion that real karate
might be lost in competition haunted Nakayama until his death.
won the first JKA Championships in kumite and won again the following year in
both kata and kumite, becoming the first JKA Grand Champion before being sent
out into the world, followed by many other great karate-ka, to spread karate.
Shotokan was becoming firmly placed on the world map.
Kanazawa Sensei's book "KANAZAWA, 10th Dan - Recollections of a Living
Karate Legend" is highly recommended and is the source of this article
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