Although I do not have a computer, I recently learned that on the Internet, SKA has been introduced as a Shotokai group. This is not correct. I want all SKA members to know that although we have a good relationship with them, and I have many friends in Shotokai, we have never belonged to Shotokai. SKA is an older organization than Shotokai. The word Shotokai existed before 1940 as sort of a fraternity name among the young instructors in Shotokan.
Right after Master Funakoshi passed away (April 26, 1957), Shotokan split into four separate groups, the University group, Japan Karate Association (JKA), Shotokai, and overseas Shotokan. Originally, three University Karate clubs had power under Master Funakoshi. The oldest one, at Keio University, was part of the University group. Waseda University¹s club split into three groups: Shotokai, University, and overseas (SKA). The Takushoku University (we call it Takudai) group took over the administration of JKA.
During World War II, Senior Genshin Hironishi, was a communist, therefore he was not drafted, and he stayed in Tokyo with Master Funakoshi’s junior, Yoshitaka. Sr. Hironishi founded JKA.
When the Takudai group in JKA removed their university flag from Master Funakoshi’s coffin, and left from Master Funakoshi’s house, Sr. Egami and Sr. Hironishi decided to leave JKA, and made Shotokai an organization. Although they are my own seniors, they never talked about the incident until Sr. Egami came to visit me with his wife in 1973.
During the past 40 years, many Shotokai senior black belts have come to visit Southern California, and stayed at my house. Recently, Mr. Tomoji Miyamoto, an instructor of the Karate club at Chuo University in Tokyo, who is now studying Chinese martial arts while he is teaching Karate at Tsinghua University, a top university in Beijing, visited me in Santa Barbara. He was one of Sr. Egami’s top pupils. Our senior black belt, Norman Welch, has also visited him in Beijing.
I use the word ‘Senior’ only when referring to someone who practiced before me in the same dojo at Waseda University. The exception is when I am talking about other respected seniors of Shotokan from other universities, such as Seniors Isao Obata and Shuntaro Ito from Keio. Seniors Hiroshi Noguchi, Shigeru Egami, and Genshin Hironishi were classmates. They practiced together at the same dojo, and graduated from Waseda University in 1936. They were my seniors.
Sr. Noguchi passed away this year, at the end of June. He was 92 years old. I attended his funeral in Tokyo. He was the founder of the first Karate club at Waseda. He and his wife visited us in Los Angeles when SKA invited them in 1983.
We appreciate the support and encouragement from all our respected seniors, and young karateka, whatever organization they belong to. I believe that serious practice can only bring us closer together.
— Tsutomu Ohshima