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Breaking News: Teruyuki Okazaki has passed away

The picture shows Teruyuki Okazaki the 10th dan holder in Shotokan karate.

Another sad news hits the global karate community: Teruyuki Okazaki passed on April 21st 2020. According to the official announcement by the International Shotokan Karate Federation, which founder he was, Okazaki Shihan passed away due to an infection with the Coronavirus. The karate world mourns with all ISKF members. Our thoughts are now with his family, relatives, and friends.

Teruyuki Okazaki became 88 years old. The age of 88 is considered sacred in Japan. Because the Chinese characters for 88 look very much like the character of rice (see the Japanese tradition of “beiju“).

Short Biographical Spotlights of Teruyuki Okazaki

Teruyuki Okazaki belonged to a special group of Shotokan karate masters. Born on 22 June 1931 in Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan he had the chance to train at Takushoku University under the guidance of Masatoshi Nakayama and sometimes also under Gichin Funakoshi. He himself taught after greaduating from Takushoku University at the JKA honbu Dojo and several universities in Tokyo.

The picture shows Gichin, Funakoshi, Masatoshi Nakayama, and Teruyuki Okazaki.
Gichin Funakoshi, Masatoshi Nakayama, and Teruyuki Okazaki (right)

In 1961, Teruyuki Okazaki moved to the United States to become an oversees Shotokan karate instructor. He became a world wide known and was mainly based at the east cost of the USA. In 1977, he formed together with other Shotokan masters the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) and split away from the All-American Karate Federation (AAKF) led by Hidetaka Nishiyama.

Together with Hirokazu Kanazawa, Hiroshi Shirai, and Masaaki Ueki, Teruyuki Okazaki became the only living 10th dan in Shotokan karate. He received this accolade in 2007.

For a full and detailed biography of Teruyuki Okazaki please visit findingkarate.com.

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Footage: Mikio Yahara 10th Dan Exam

Mikio Yahara 10th dan examination published.

Yesterday, it was reported that Mikio Yahara past the physical exam for 10th Dan. While most commentators found the awarding of the rank of a 10th Dan to Yahara sensei plausible. Many doubted that he had to take a physical exam.

The Shotokan Times found new evidence in the internet that shows Mikio Yahara in front of a committee performing an unprecedented Tekki Nidan.

The Leopard

The publisher of the video claims that it shows the Dan examination of Mikio Yahara. In the background one can see that the examination took place at the KWF World Conference. The KWF hold this conference from November 7 to 10, 2019 in Tokyo.

Further videos have appeared in the internet. All videos show an excellent performance of Mikio Yahara. His 73 do not hold him back to be still a very dynamic and fast karateka with a strong focus on budo. Due to his agility he got the nickname “Leopard” during his competitive career. Whether the exam consisted of more exercises than just Tekki Nidan is unknown to that point. We will report about further information.

Mikio Yahara Joins 10th Dan Club

Mikio Yahara has joined now a very exclusive club of 10th Dan holders. Beside him Teruyuki Okazaki, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Hiroshi Shirai, and, also since this year, Ueki Masaaki had been awarded the rank of 10th Dan. However, according to our information has Mikio Yahara been the only awardee so far who went through a physical exam. This might set new expectations for the awarding of higher Dan ranks in the future. Because committees lent higher Dan rank for outstanding achievements and service to associations and karate in general in the past. Thus, Mikio Yahara has perhaps set a new mark.

Congratulations to Mikio Yahara, oss!

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Video of Ueki Masaaki´s 10th Dan Promotion

The Facebook page, The Martial Way, published footage from the 10th Dan promotion ceremony of Ueaki Masaaki. According to rumors did the ceremony take place on April 10, 2019. The video was published 12 hours ago on Facebook.

Link to the video!

Videos an pictures of other Promotions also appeared on the internet. Yoshizo Machida, for instance, was awarded the 8th Dan. The Shotokan Times will keep you updated.

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Official Answer of the JKA-HQ about Ueki Masaaki´s 10th Dan

Ueki Masaaki Shihan might had become the the first 10th Dan holder in the history of the JKA, as we have reported last week. We came to this conclusion because the website of the JKA indicated the award. However, no public announcement was made.

Speculations About Awarding of 10th Dan to Ueki Masaaki

Right after our report speculations occurred. Some supposed that it was high time for Shihan Masaaki to receive the award because Hirokazu Kanazawa and Teruyuki Okazaki already had been awarded 10th Dan. They are the same generation like Ueki Masaaki. Thus, the award was only consequential.

Others asserted that the award was given because of internal promotions within the Shihankai of the JKA. Takeshi Oishi, for instance, was awarded the 9th Dan. In order to maintain the hierarchy within the organization the promotion of Shihan Masaaki was a necessary step.

Message to JKA HQ: Why Did Ueki Masaaki Received the 10th Dan?

We wanted to know it directly from the JKA-HQ. That is why we wrote an email to the headquarter and asked about a statement. Yesterday, we received the short answer. The JKA-HQ wrote:

“Shihan Ueki was awarded 10th dan by recommendation of Shihankai. The first and second chief instructors were given the award too.”

As the most of you have speculated, it was an internal decision. Why the JKA did not report about it, is still up for speculation. But it seems theoretically plausible that such a forced promotion due to hierarchical and/or seniority reasons is not deemed as prestigious and honorable by the JKA in comparison to a granting of a 10th Dan by the Kokusai Budoin like Hirokazu Kanazawa received.

Why Was Decided This Way?

One would expect the JKA to utilize and explain this huge step. Because it is an important selling-argument for such an organization and a decision that only takes place every few decades. In the history of Shotokan, only a handful of people have hold a 10th Dan. The awarding should therefore be something special and highly valued. Under those kind if circumstances it seems odd that the JKA did not announce the award. We again requested an official press release by the JKA in which they might explain the decision and to prove all speculations wrong. The answer is still pending.

However, for many JKA members this might also been sad. The social media response on our report showed that many had wished to celebrate the award with Shihan Masaaki. Some might also be disappointed because the JKA did not inform its members about the decision. That reveals a gap between the Shihankai and the members. Some members might have felt left out although they are strongly committed to the organization, its values, and their chief instructor. We hope the JKA finds a way to solve this issue.

If we receive further information we will report immediately.

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Shihan Ueki Masaaki of the JKA awarded 10th Dan?

It would be the first living 10th Dan in the History of the JKA. According to the JKA website, Shihan Ueki Masaaki was awarded the 10th Dan. When, why, and by whom the award was overhanded is currently unknown. The Shotokan Times has contacted the JKA Headquarter in Tokyo by email for further information. Perhaps, it might be a writing mistake. But against this hypothesis stands the fact that on two different pages of the JKA website the rank of a 10th Dan. This award would come as a surprise. Up to now, the JKA has not released an official statement in English that The Shotokan Times is aware of. When we have further information we will immediately report about the topic.

The picture shows the profile of Masaaki Ueki on the website of the JKA.
The picture shows the profile of Masaaki Ueki and other high ranking instructors on the website of the JKA.