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Rodrigo Rojas: Disputed Funakoshi Cup Champion 2017

Rodrigo Rojas has shown incredible skills during the 14th Gichin Funakoshi Cup in Irland in 2017. Unfortunately, his victory was overshadowed by his lack of etiquette. A report and commentary by Dr. Christian Tribowski

First non-Japanese Victory since 1998

In 2017, the ground shook. The earthquake of that day changed the landscape of traditional Shotokan Karate for the next decade. Rodrigo Rojas from Chile broke the winning streak of the dominating Japanese Karateka. It took place in the kumite competition at the 14th Gichin Funakoshi Cup, the official JKA world Championship in Limerick, Ireland. Since 1998, no non-Japanese won the JKA world championship. And nobody expected Rodrigo Rojas to change this. However, he did and the surprise was huge.

Rodrigo Rojas Behavior caused Criticism

Right after his victory over Okada Yasunori many critics raised their voice. The most of them revolved around Rodrigos behavior during his fights. While nobody accused him of unfairness. Most of the commentators criticized his way of dealing with the judges and his way of celebration when he scored a point. Both, how the critics described it, were not bushido-like but rather cocky. Exaggerated cheering after scoring and head shaking after several decisions of the judges were perceived as disrespectful and a shame for traditional Shotokan Karate Do.

We do not know Rodrigo. We do not know his intentions, his character, upbringing, convictions, or his way of live. And it is not in our aim to judge anybody.

Rodrigo Rojas also Fights in the WKF and Karate Combat

However, whether somebody agrees with the critics or not, the case of Rodrigo Rojas reveals the deep differences between traditional Shotokan Karate Do and Sports Karate like it is practiced within the WKF. Rodrigo himself has been fighting in the WKF for several years now. He is also part of the highly commercialized Karate Combat tournament.

Do less important in Sports Karate

In both organizations athleticism, medals, and sponsoring contracts are more important than respectful behavior. As everybody could see during the last WKF World Championship in Madrid, many fighters behaved in a cocky and emotional way. Apparently, Sports Karate does not put much energy in the education of the mind, manner, humility, moral consciousness, spirit, and Do.

Shotokan Serves Ethical Purpose

For us, however, Shotokan Karate Do empowers people. Shotokan helps them to reach their full physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually potential as human beings and free them from negative influences. It also civilizes the world and guide people in a non-violent, respectful, and humble direction. All that happens when they follow the 20 Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi. Do is paramount for us. This is our Way of Shotokan.

If you agree or disagree leave us a comment below and let us discuss. Oss!

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The evolution of Shotokan Karate Do associations

By Dr. Christian Tribowski

When a movement becomes bigger, but wants to maintain order and set technical as well as behavioral standards, it is just a matter of time until it forms an association. This is a normal process of professionalization.

The same happend to Shotokan Karate Do. Since grand master Funakoshi, several associations have emerged. Some have already been closed. Some have created new branches or split into different suborganizations. Over the course of the last 70 years a constant evolution took place.

However, the ecology of Shotokan associations has become difficult to grasp. Especially for beginners it appears like a complex puzzle. In order to give you an overview, the Asai Shotokan Association International created the geneology of Shotokan Karate organizations. We hope this leads you through the jungle of Shotokan associations.


Our aim is to cover them all. In the end, Shotokan is one big community.

Your association is not included in the chart? Please let us know. We are curious to hear from you and will add it.

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Do you know Sensei Richard Heselton? You have to!

Richard is the most successful Western karateka. However, many karateka do not him. Her we give you a glimpse into his incredible karate journey. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Many Westerners have gone to Japan in order to learn the art of Shotokan Karate. However, only a handful of them has become successful on the peninsula. The most successful one is Sensei Richard Heselton. Right after he gained his high school degree in England, he moved to Japan to begin his life-long Karate journey. On his way, he studied under Sensei Tatsuya Naka and Sensei Koichiro Okuma.

First Westerner to become Captain of the Takushoku University Karate Club

But he did not stop there. He also became a student at the renowned Takushoku University and joined its world famous Karate Club. While this was already a sensation, that a Westerner joins the Takudai. Richard Heselton also exceeded this success. He became its first foreign team captain. In this position, he led the Takudai Karateka to several tournaments and successes. Even after university, he was an active competitor at several tournaments like the All Japan Championships.

Lecturer at the Takushoku University and Karate Instructor

Today, he is a lecturer at the Takushoku University and an instructor at the Takudai Karate Club. At Takudai he is an assistent to Sensei Katsunori Tsuyama and Sensei Tatsuya Naka. Beside his career as an lecturer and instructor he also played roles in several  movies like the international successful High Kick Girl.

Richard Heselton as Role Model for Spirit and Budo

From our point of view, Sensei Richard Heselton is a amazing role model when it comes to spirit. He broke trough boundaries and mastered tremendous challenges with perseverance, a strong will, and a clear focus. Therefore, he also serves as an excellent example of budo. Without the readiness to fight and to take the hits such an extraordinary biography would not have been possible.

Oss, Sensei Heselton!

The following documentary excellently portraits Sensei Richard Heselton.

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WSKF Chief Instructor: Shihan Hitoshi Kasuya

Shihan Hitoshi Kasuya of the WSKF is an insider tip among the international chief instructors of the big associations. However, he is a true fighter and displays a incredible  spirit. His signature techniques are ushiro mawashi geri and ushiro shuto uchi. He is also a serious counter puncher, who has a great timing and precision. Among his many accolades is the 1st place in individual and team kumite at the S.K.I.F. 2nd World Championship in Germany in 1985.

The following video is a brief tribute to his skills. Enjoy!