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Shotokan Karate

“Shoto”, meaning "pine-waves" (the movement of pine needles when the wind blows through them). This was Funakoshi's pen-name, which he used in his poetic and philosophical writings and messages to his students. The Japanese “Kan” means "house" or "hall". In honour of their Sensei, Funakoshi's students created a sign reading Shotokan, which they placed above the entrance to the hall where Funakoshi taught. Gichin Funakoshi never gave his system a name, just calling it Karate.

Karate was originally written as "Chinese hand". In 1935 masters from the various styles of Okinawan Karate changed it to the Japanese meaning of "empty hand "

Gichin Funakoshi (10th November 1868 - 26th April 1957)

Funakoshi was born in Okinawa in 1868. As a boy, he was trained by two famous masters of that time. Each trained him in a different Okinawan martial art. From Yasutsune Azato he learned Shuri-te. From Yasutsune Itosu he learned Naha-te. It would be the merging of these two styles that would one day become Shotokan Karate.

Masatoshi Nakayama (13th April 1913 - 15th April 1987)

Nakayama was born on Honshu Island, Japan in 1913. He began learning Karate under Gichin Funakoshi in 1932. In May 1949, Nakayama and other colleagues helped establish the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Funakoshi was the formal head of the organisation, with Nakayama appointed as chief instructor. Masatoshi Nakayama was a 9th Dan while alive and was posthumously awarded 10th Dan after his death.

Taiji Kase (9th February 1929 - 24th November 2004)

Kase was born in Chiba, Japan in 1929. In 1944, at the age of 15, Kase attained the rank of 2nd Dan black belt in Judo.  That same year, he started karate under Gichin Funakoshi. He would later become chief instructor for the European branch of the JKA. One of his duties in the JKA was to train instructors in kumite (sparring), and amongst his students was Keinosuke Enoeda. Taiji Kase held the rank of 9th Dan.

Hirokazu Kanazawa (3rd May 1931 - Present)

Kanazawa was born on Honshu Island, Japan in 1931. In his school years, he trained in Judo and rose to the rank of 2nd Dan. He began training in Karate under the then-head instructor of Shotokan Karate, Masatoshi Nakayama. Kanazawa also learned from the founder of Shotokan, Gichin Funakoshi, and is one of the few living karateka (practitioners of karate) to have done so. After Nakayama's death in 1987, many senior instructors left the JKA leading to Hirokazu Kanazawa forming the Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF). The International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF) promoted Kanazawa to 10th Dan in 2001. Within the SKIF he holds the rank of 8th Dan, attained in 1998.

Keinosuke Enoeda (4th July 1935 - 29th March 2003)

Enoeda was born on the island of Kyushu, Japan in 1935. By the age of 16, Enoeda had reached the rank of 2nd Dan in Judo. After graduating from university, Enoeda studied at the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Honbu headquarters in Tokyo under Masatoshi Nakayama, the JKA's chief instructor, and Kumite under the direction of Taiji Kase. On 20th April 1965, following the JKA's policy of sending instructors abroad to introduce karate to the rest of the world, Enoeda travelled to England with JKA instructors Shirai, Kanazawa, and Kase. In 1985, Enoeda was ranked 8th Dan. Shortly after his death, the JKA awarded him the rank of 9th Dan.

Pauline Laville-Bindra (8th January 1945  -  21st July 2010)

Pauline was born on the 8th of January 1945 in Middlesborough. She began her martial arts training in Judo aged 12, at the Middlesbrough Judo Club, where she reached the rank of blue belt. Pauline started Karate at the BKF's (British Karate Federation) Middlesbrough dojo in 1962, under instructors Fred Kidd and Walter Seaton. After moving to London in 1964, at the age of 19, Pauline resumed her Karate training and attended Vernon Bell's dojo. In 1967 Pauline made history, becoming the first woman in Britain to be awarded the grade of 1st Dan by Hirokazu Kanazawa and the JKA. After Kanazawa left the UK for Germany, Pauline continued her Karate education under Keinosuke Enoeda. Pauline Laville-Bindra held the rank of 8th Dan.