Legends of the JKA

Karate Legends

This is a 1975 picture, shot after a meeting of the US's top JKA instructors; Haramoto sensei (far left) appears together with three legends of the JKA: Nakayama, Nishiyama, and Okazaki.

In 1944, Gichin Funakoshi and his students organized themselves into the Nihon Karate Kyokai (Japan Karate Association) and named Funakoshi chief instructor emeritus. Masatoshi Nakayama was the JKA's first chief instructor, in charge of day-to-day training at the Tokyo headquarters. If you search for his name at Amazon, you'll find 24 books and 8 videos, through which he defined what JKA Shotokan is all about.

The JKA aimed to establish a rigorous, high standard of quality for their teaching; the newly-formed organization instituted a stringent and thorough instructor training program. Only the cream of karateka were admitted, and only after graduating honorably from college and attaining 2nd Dan. In an intensive year of study, candidates were instructed not only in karate but also in psychology, physics, anatomy, business management, history and philosophy of physical education and sports. Upon completing the training program (with 3rd Dan and a dissertation), they were assigned to a year's teaching internship. The results of this apprenticeship were about a dozen highly proficient karateka, ready to disseminate JKA Shotokan overseas.

First to arrive in the U.S. were Hidetaka Nishiyama (Los Angeles) and Teruyuki Okazaki (Philadelphia), both in 1961. Other famous instructors followed in rapid succession: Takayuki Mikami, Yutaka Yaguchi, and Hirokazu Kanazawa. Two years later, Masataka Mori arrived and ultimately went to New York. Following that, our head instructor, sensei Kenichi Haramoto, came to California and started the JKA of Northern California; at that time his hierarchical superior was Nishiyama sensei. Following a reorganization of the JKA, Haramoto sensei's organization started reporting to Mori sensei in New York.

Currently a 7th Dan and certified instructor of the JKA, Haramoto sensei began his training in Tokyo, Japan in 1962. In 1966 he led the Aoyama Gakuin University Karate team to first place in the All Japan Collegiate Karate Championship. Later, while earning his MBA at Aoyama Gakuin Graduate School, he taught JKA Shotokan karate at the university. Sensei Haramoto came to the United States in 1970, establishing the JKA of Northern California, headquartered in San Francisco. In 1975, Sensei Haramoto was appointed judge at the World Karate-Do Championship Tournament.