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Masatoshi Nakayama

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Nakayama Sensei, who was Gichin Funakoshi's most loyal student became head of the famous Japan Karate Association (JKA) after the death of Funakoshi. His methods and teachings are the cornerstone of today's Shotokan. It would be very hard to follow the Shotokan of Gichin Funakoshi today although the basic principles are almost the same.

Nakayama Sensei moved the system on, making it the most popular dynamic style in the world. Unfortunately, in the early days of Shotokan arriving in the west the techniques were changed in order to make them easier for the westerner to understand, with a view to teaching the correct form of the techniques later on once an understanding had been gained of the basic principle. However this was a grave mistake, as in many cases the techniques were never corrected, and karate-ka ‘perfected' various ‘training' techniques.

Senseis Nakayama, Kanazawa and Enoeda

Through the years as Shotokan grew and more senior instructors emerged, the original techniques of Shotokan seemed to have been forgotten or in some cases never learned in the first place. An example is found in the use of basic blocks. Some instructors do not understand the technical use or the application, such as their use in attacking or defending. Another example is the use of forward stance, in its narrow form (not shoulder width apart), which is very prominent in Nakayama's kata. For certain kata movements, Nakayama taught to pivot on the heels when, for example, moving from kiba dachi to zenkutsu dachi – a technique alien to some senior instructors today.

Nakayama was virtually single handed in popularising karate to the degree we have today. He was instrumental in having a similar grading system to that of Judo and to retain younger students realising that freestyle and competition was a necessary part of the early years in our training. Nakayama viewed karate as a living thing, which must continue to evolve and change constantly to allow it grow.


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