Japan Karate Association England (“JKAE”) is a non profit making association based in England and Wales and is associated with the Japan Karate Association (“JKA”) in Japan, one of the most prestigious, oldest and largest Shotokan Karate organisations in the world.
Under the guidance of the Chief Instructor, Sensei Yoshinobu Ohta (7th Dan), and together with the Executive and Technical Committees, they provide the administrative and practical direction to JKA England.
With clubs all over England and Wales, there is sure to be a club close to you. Check here for your nearest Dojo
The Japan Karate Association (JKA), is the world’s largest and most prestigious karate organization. Their mission is to promote the way of karate throughout the world, while ensuring that it remains true to the philosophical precepts since establishment of the JKA in 1949. The Association in England and Wales is JKAE England (JKAE) and through our Chief instructor, Sensei Ohta (7th Dan), we continue to be strongly affiliated to the JKA in Japan. This bond is reinforced by regular visits by world leading instructors from Japan who instruct at our International Courses held in May and September each year.
The JKA is the generally-recognized heir to the Shotokan karate tradition as developed by Supreme Master Funakoshi Gichin, and teaches a specially-refined form of Shotokan style karate.
Shotokan karate is one of the most widely practiced forms of karate in the world today, and one of the most traditional. Introduced to Japan from Okinawa by Supreme Master Funakoshi Gichin, Shotokan puts heavy focus on kihon (basic techniques), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring) to develop a range of powerful and dynamic techniques.
Karate is a form of unarmed combat employing a wide range of punching and kicking techniques. There are no weapons involved in practicing karate and the term “karate” literally means “empty hand” where only hands and feet are used for blocking and striking.
There are many distinctive styles of karate with their own characteristics such as emphasizing speed, power and hip rotation while other styles concentrate on competitions, self defense or various applications of techniques. Through hard training and practice, karate develops not only the body but also the mind and character.
The similarities in styles are a consequence of some of the shared histories karate has with other martial arts. The common source is attributed to a Buddhist monk called Bhodidharma who in the 5th century traveled from India to China to teach Zen Buddhism. The study of Zen required considerable mental concentration as well as physical stamina. He devised a way of combining Chinese and Indian Kenpo (fighting) with Yoga and a system of physical training to refine techniques. The monks of the Shaolinssu were particularly adept to this and as they traveled through China, and the different fighting techniques were adapted to the local conditions. With this adaptation, different styles of martial art were beginning to take shape.
Okinawa lies between China and Japan and was a refuge for those fleeing civil wars in China. Chinese fighting methods were passed on to Okinawans who adapted them with their own form of unarmed combat. Chinese movements tended to be smoother and rounded than the Okinawan and combined to become commonly known as “Tang Hand” or “Chinese Hand”.
Okinawa was occupied by the Japanese Satsuma in the 17th century who forbade the carrying of weapons and Tang Hand flourished secretly as an illegal means of self defense. It was refined to even strike through the body armour of their aggressors which accounts for some of the emphasis of developing wood breaking techniques within some styles.
Okinawan born Funakoshi Gichin was the first to introduce Tang Hand to Japan in 1917. He also studied Japanese Jujitsu and other martial arts. In 1936 after modifying his own style he renamed it “Karate” (empty hand). Various other Okinawans followed Funakoshi to Japan and other styles evolved as a result:
The main characteristics of Shotokan karate to that of other styles is that it emphases a low stance with wide foot positions. This allows a considerable use of hip power in generating techniques. Shotokan also places great emphasis on Kata. Other styles will adopt emphasis on other areas and techniques which differentiates them from Shotokan.
Supreme Master Funakoshi Gichin (1868-1957) is considered the father of modern karate. Born on 10th November 1868 in Okinawa, he was of samurai lineage.
By age 11 he had already made a name for himself in the Ryukyu-style martial arts and also learned karate-jutsu (“Chinese-hand martial art”). Over the years he pursued his training and continuously developed his remarkable skills. Master Funakoshi became chairman of the Okinawa Martial Arts Society, as well as an instructor at the Okinawa Teacher’s School.
In 1922, aged 54, he introduced Okinawan karate-jutsu at the first Japanese Ministry of Education sponsored Physical Education Exhibition. This introduction was the first ever public display of karate-jutsu in Japan. It was a stunning success and the previously unknown martial artist Funakoshi Gichin rose to instant fame throughout the Japanese world of martial arts.
Master Funakoshi subsequently began teaching at Tokyo’s Meiseijuku, a dormitory for Okinawan students. In 1922, he published a book entitled “Ryukyu Kempo Karate.” It was the first formal exposition in Japan on the art of karate.
In 1929, after much thought and reflection, he also changed the name of karate-jutsu (“Chinese-hand martial art”) to karate-do (“the way of karate,” or “the way of the empty hand”). He then defined the twenty precepts of karate, and established a grand karate philosophy.
On April 10, 1957, the Japanese Ministry of Education gave official recognition to the JKA, and it became a legal entity. A mere sixteen days later, at the age of 89, Master Funakoshi passed away. A memorial monument to Master Funakoshi was established at Enkakuji Temple in Kamakura. Members of the JKA pay an honorary visit on April 29th each year, the date of the Shoto Festival.
The Twenty Precepts of Karate – Within these twenty principles, based heavily on Bushido and Zen, lies the philosophy of the JKA.
Master Nakayama Masatoshi (1913-1987) – Born in April 1913, he was a descendant of the Sanada clan, where his ancestors were highly skilled instructors of kenjutsu (the art of swordsmanship).
After joining university in 1932, Master Nakayama joined the university’s karate club under Master Funakoshi Gichin and decided to devote his life to karate.
In 1946, along with fellow Shotokan practitioners, he revived the Shotokan karate tradition with Funakoshi Gichin as Supreme Master. In 1949, they established the Japan Karate Association. By 1955 a headquarters dojo was built in Tokyo and in 1957, the Japanese Ministry of Education granted the JKA exclusive legal recognition as an official association of members for the promotion of the way of karate.
He developed, together with his fellow JKA instructors, a new, rational method of teaching that was tailored to the level and goals of each student: karate as a physical development tool, karate as a method of self-defence, karate for matches, etc. He also emphasized the necessity for each aspect of training to be physical and practical, and he scientifically analyzed how to make this so.
Master Nakayama also invented karate’s first match system – the first ever JKA All Japan Karate Championship, held in 1957. His adaptation of kata and kumite for the match system was a huge success. By 1961 the 5th JKA All Japan Karate Championship was attended by His Majesty the Crown Prince of Japan.
Master Nakayama not only valued the spiritual aspects of karate that his teacher Funakoshi Gichin espoused, notably the virtue of modesty and the spirit of harmony, but also a constant remembrance that “there is no first attack in karate.” In practice, Master Nakayama insisted that each technique should demonstrate one’s powerful and whole-hearted personal best. He also emphasized that it is crucial to study the inseparable trinity of karate—kihon, kata, and kumite—as one. He continually reminded everyone to keep in mind that “the way of karate we pursue is a bare-handed martial art which we practice with an unwavering heart in a state of emptiness; it is a way of developing the personality.”
He summarized all his techniques and philosophy in a famous 11-volume series entitled “Best Karate,” which is still used as a benchmark reference text for karateka today.
In 1987, Master Nakayama passed away aged 74.
Master Keinosuke Enoeda (1935 – 2003) was born on 4th July 1935, and was a direct descendant of two samurai lineage.
He was introduced to the martial arts through Judo and reached 2nd Dan by the time he was 16. After studying Economics at university, he was invited to enrol on the JKA three-year instructor programme were he was taught by Masters Funokoshi and Nakayama. He quickly gained his black belt and became the All Japan Karate Champion, earning him the nickname “Tiger” from Master Nakayama who is credited with saying he fought like a tiger during the championships. The nickname was justified for his exceptional fighting spirit and fearsome determination. He became one of Japan’s finest ever competitors and instructors.
He was sent around the world stopping in Hawaii, the USA, Indonesia, South Africa, as well as Europe by the JKA to teach karate but eventually settled in England where he set up a number of clubs and taught dedicated instructors over all the UK the precepts of karate. It was during this time that many of the leading JKAE instructors were taught under Master Enoeda. Many senior instructors remember his great spirit, energy, but above all else, charisma.
While Chief Instructor of other organisations, it was Master Enoeda’s links with the JKA that prepared the foundations for the JKAE after he passed away.
Master Enoeda died in 2003 aged 67.
Sensei Yoshinobu Ohta – 7th Dan is the Chief Instructor of the Japan Karate Association England.
Born in Japan, Sensei Ohta attended the famous JKA Instructors class in Japan. Sensei Ohta was Master Enoeda’s assistant from 1983 to 2003. It was during this time he gained an international reputation for being one of the most technically skilled JKA instructors. He teaches at all national courses and teaches abroad, as well as at his own clubs in London.