History of Kofukan

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We are proud members of the Kofukan International, a well rounded, diverse style of traditional karate led by Shihan Keiji Tomiyama who visits us here in Australia for annual teaching seminars and to conduct senior dan gradings.

Please see below a history of Kofukan.

A condensed version of the 45 years of Tani-ha Shito-ryu Karate-do Kofukan International taking directly from KofukanKarate.com.

1970 : Master Tani, Soke of Tani-ha Shito-ryu Karate-do Kempo Shukokai, asked Doshisha University Karate Club students whether any of them would like to assist in the development of Tani-ha Shito-ryu abroad and go to America to assist Sensei Kimura or to Europe to assist Sensei Suzuki. It was intended to be for one or two years after graduation, before settling down to be ‘company men’ back in Japan. Out of the three who said yes, two finally made the journey from Tokyo to Paris in March 1972. These were Naoki Omi and Keiji Tomiyama, now Joint Chief Instructors of Tani-ha Shito-ryu Karate-do Kofukan International. Not quite ‘company men’ in the recognized sense, they are nevertheless dedicated to one organization, and that is the karate association which has now spread around the world.

1972 : However, the Chief Instructor for Europe at the time was Sensei Yasuhiro Suzuki. He was assisted by Senseis Hanai, Ikazaki and Shimabukuro, who each had their own specialities. Life with the two ‘new boys’ settled down to a routine of lessons in French, informal training among themselves and visiting the different karate clubs in the evening. In the summer their number increased again, when Miss Ishimaru and Mr. Hayashi arrived . In that same year a Shukokai Championship was held in Stockholm. Sensei Suzuki was of course in charge of Tani-ha Shito-ryu Shukokai in Europe at that time, but without as yet a structured organization. The main countries involved were France, England, Yugoslavia and Sweden, with small groups in Norway and Belgium.

1973 : Sensei Suzuki moved to work at his company’s Brussels office, taking Keiji Tomiyama with him to teach in Belgium.

1974 : In the spring a large “Central Dojo” was opened in Brussels and members of S.W.K.U. (England) attended for two week-long seminars. After this, Mr. Hayashi was sent to England to teach where he stayed for about a year.

1975 : Euro-Cup in Brussels, the first of a yearly event.

From 1976 till 1978, the Euro-Cup was held each year at Pepinster, a small Belgian town near the German border.

In 1975, the large “Central Dojo” had to be closed and a smaller one was found near the Gare du Nord. This Dojo became the headquarters of S.W.K.U.E. (Shukokai World Karate Union Europe) until 1978.

The association continued to develop, alongside some groups who adhered to Master Kimura’s organization, which is why there are two or more Shukokai organizations in some countries.

1977: We started to issue our newsletter “Forum” twice yearly. “Forum” continued to be published until 1982.

In 1978, Keiji Tomiyama moved to England leaving Sensei Shimabukuro to look after Belgium.

1979 : The Euro-Cup was held in Paris. Keiji Tomiyama was appointed General-Secretary. It was decided to formalize our organization and to collect a membership fee from every member to pay for administration costs and services. Belgium disagreed and so had to leave the organization. Sensei Shimabukuro left Belgium to engage in business and the “Central Dojo” was closed, bringing the era of Tani-ha Shito-ryu in Belgium to an end.

1980 : The Euro-Cup was held in Peterborough, England. Sensei Suzuki attended the event and conducted a grading examination for Mess. Omi, Okubo, Kamohara and Tomiyama in lieu of demonstrations during the event: all were awarded 5th Dan.

Also in 1980, Master Tani visited Europe with his wife and several instructors. On that occasion, Master Tani asked for a World Cup to be organized the following year in Europe. So, we organized a World Cup in Edinburgh in 1981. Master Tani brought Mr. & Mrs. Inagaki with him, who later formed Nippon Kofukan.

Sensei Suzuki finally went back to Japan that year, called by his company, thus Senseis Omi and Tomiyama became the leaders of the organization. Some other Japanese instructors had also by this time left the organization, leaving just three resident in Europe, including Hiroshi Okubo.

Kofukan

At the beginning of the 80s there were many groups calling themselves “Shukokai”, especially in Britain. The majority of these groups were break-aways from Sensei Kimura’s organization. Being one of many “Shukokai” groups made the impact of our organization weaker. After many discussions between Sensei Suzuki and Sensei Tomiyama it was decided to call our organization “Kofukan”, the name of Sensei Suzuki’s Dojo, instead of “Shukokai World Karate Union Europe”. We became the one and only “Kofukan” with a strong identity. Sensei Tomiyama explained the situation to Master Tani and we, naturally, remained as a part of his “Shukokai” organization.

1986 : Master Tani visited Europe and awarded Mess. Omi, Okubo and Tomiyama 6th Dan.

1987 : Master Tani attended our Euro-Cup held in Slovenia (then Yugoslavia). Our member countries then were Sweden, Norway, Scotland, England, France, Channel Islands and Yugoslavia.

1990 : From this time on there was a rapid expansion of the organization.

In 1990 Bulgaria joined with Dimitar Savov at the head, also Georgia, ex-USSR, under Vladimir Japaridze and Shota Shartava.

Portugal rejoined under the leadership of Joao Dias in 1991 and Denmark also joined.

After a chain of contacts, Kofukan was well established in Zimbabwe, Botswana & South Africa by the end of 1991.

Also in 1991 we were joined by Matthew Beaumont’s group in Australia and in 1992 by Brian Davis in New Zealand.

After an initial contact by Emmanuel Rajasekaran in 1989, the United Arab Emirates & India became members in 1992. Shihan Tomiyama visited India for the first time in 1993.

In 1992 Karl Skrabl, previously training in Slovenia, moved to work in Switzerland and started a group there.

Good contact was maintained with Mr. & Mrs. Inagaki from 1981 onwards, including many group visits to their home town of Izushi, and in 1994 they received permission from Master Tani and Sensei Takahara to leave Sensei Takahara’s Seikenkan group to become independent as Nippon Kofukan (Kofukan Japan).

Israel joined in 1994.

Also, through contact by Kofukan Georgia, groups in Russia, Kazakstan, Ukraine and Greece also joined.

Kofukan 20th Anniversary

We held our 20th Anniversary Event in Oslo in 1992. We invited Master Tani and he accepted to attend. Unfortunately, Master Tani was hospitalised and could not make it. However, he sent Senseis Yamada, Ishitobi and Sumino as well as Miss Yamada as his representatives to the celebration. Also, he awarded a “Shihan” diploma to Keiji Tomiyama on this occasion.

Shukokai 45th Anniversary

Master Tani held the Anniversary Championships and celebration event in Kobe in 1994.

Both Senseis Omi and Tomiyama attended this remarkable event and were both awarded 7th Dan. Sensei Omi received his “Shihan” diploma on this occasion.

Since 2000

In more recent years we have been joined by Argentina, Belarus, Canada, Kuwait, Nepal and Qatar.

So Kofukan has certainly grown as an organization since it was created. We consider it a remarkable achievement to gain so many new member countries without ever offering any incentive such as giving away new grades. All our members, both old ones and new ones, are serious and honourable people who are dedicated to following and continuing the style while still being creative about how they communicate the message to their members. We are proud of their continuing progress and achievements.

New Kofukan

K tomiyamaAlthough Senseis Omi and Tomiyama became the practical leaders of the Kofukan organization after Sensei Suzuki’s return to Japan in 1981, the structure of the organization was unchanged. Keiji Tomiyama remained as General Secretary and Sensei Suzuki remained as the Chief Instructor despite the fact that he stopped practising and teaching due to his busy schedule.

In 1994 it was suggested that we needed to re-structure our organization to reflect the true state of the organization and clarify the positions of responsibility. After working on the question Keiji Tomiyama proposed certain changes of structure at our International Committee meeting in 1995. After some discussion, a new structure was agreed, which has evolved over time. The current structure is as follows :

Honorary Chaiman: Sensei Yoshimichi Shimizu

Adviser: Sensei Yasuhiro Suzuki

President: Keiji Tomiyama

Chief Executive: Naoki Omi

Joint Chief Instructors:

Keiji Tomiyama & Naoki Omi

Secretary: Sally Tomiyama

Chief Referee: Steve Coupland (England)

Since that time, Master Chojiro Tani has sadly died, and the position of Soke of Tani-ha Shito-ryu Kempo Karate-do Shukokai has been taken up by his son, Chojiro Tani II. We continued to have a good and productive relationship with his Shukokai organization from that time.

However, from November 6, 2017, Kofukan International has withdrawn from Tani-ha Shito-ryu Kempo Karate-do Shukokai to further develop our own unique organization around the world.

We welcome membership or other enquiries worldwide by email to the Secretariat, kofukaninternationalsec@btinternet.com.

Honouring the memory of a master

KOFUKAN INTERNATIONAL MEMBERS HONOUR MASTER CHOJIRO TANI AT THE SHUKOKAI 50TH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN JAPAN

Report by S. Tomiyama, Shito-ryu Karate-do Kofukan International Secretariat

How it all began

Since university days, Naoki Omi and Keiji Tomiyama had respected and followed the leadership of Master Chojiro Tani, practising Tani-ha Shito-ryu under the ‘Shukokai’ banner. From 1968 when they first joined Doshisha University Karate Club, although the club’s main training was in Goju-ryu, Master Tani visited to teach quite regularly and, eventually, the club decided to dedicate itself to Tani-ha Shito-ryu. In addition to his classes at Doshisha, they visited his Central Dojo quite often and, from time to time, held training camps there. At these training camps, Master Tani taught six to eight hours a day for one week. Despite being one of the top karate masters of Japan, he never took himself too seriously. He always made jokes and funny coments during the breaks and after the training sessions, and there was always much laughter. As well as their strong relationship with Master Tani, messrs. Omi and Tomiyama were always well looked after by Mrs. Tani, supporting her husband from behind the scenes, and they always enjoyed visiting his Dojo. So when Master Tani was looking for volunteers to help spread Tani-ha Shito-ryu through Europe, these two jumped at the chance and have never looked back. Although for many years operating solely under the ‘Shukokai’ name, in 1983, concerned at the number of splinter groups now using the name, the group that they had helped to create changed its name from ‘Shukokai World Karate Union’ to ‘KOFUKAN’ (in full, Tani-ha Shito-ryu Karate-do KOFUKAN International) . Thus it became unique as an organization, with its own strong identity, while remaining firmly a part of Master Tani’s ‘Shukokai’ organization. Keiji Tomiyama explained the situation to Master Tani, and the relationship continued to flourish down the years. In the early days, he had visited Europe almost every year. In 1980, Master Tani visited Europe with his wife and several instructors. On that occasion, he asked Keiji Tomiyama to organize a World Cup the following year in Europe. The event was held in Edinburgh, and members were delighted that Master Tani was able to attend. In 1986 he visited Europe again to give seminars in England, France and Norway, and came back the following year to attend our Euro-Cup, held in what was then Yugoslavia, now Slovenia. However, when we held our 20th Anniversary Event in Oslo in 1992, we naturally invited Master Tani to attend and he accepted, but he was hospitalised and could not make it.  He did, however, send Senseis Yamada, Ishitobi and Sumino as well as Miss Yamada as his representatives to the celebration.  Also, he awarded Keiji Tomiyama the “Shihan” diploma on that occasion. In 1994, Master Tani held the Shukokai 45th Anniversary Championships and celebration event in Kobe.  Both Senseis Omi and Tomiyama attended this remarkable event and were awarded 7th Dan, with  Sensei Omi also receiving his “Shihan” diploma.

Master Tani’s last visit to Europe

Following the shock death in 1996 of Sensei Shigeru Kimura, whose organization based in the United States had also been a member of  Master Tani’s ‘Shukokai World Karate Union’, Tani-ha Shito-ryu Karate-do Kofukan International became effectively the only worldwide organization officially recognized as representing Tani-ha Shito-ryu Shukokai. Also, after the structure of the Kofukan organization was officially changed in 1995, to reflect what had effectively been the case for some years, placing Keiji Tomiyama as President and Joint Chief Instructor and Naoki Omi as Chief Executive and Joint Chief Instructor, with Master Tani as Soke,  and the organization had grown considerably in membership around the world, Kofukan had begun to make plans for a grand celebration in their 25th anniversary year, in which Master Tani would play a central part.  To this end, a World Cup for Kofukan members and an Open Course with Master Tani and other senior instructors was organized to take place at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on April 12 & 13, 1997. The Kofukan Association were proud to receive Master Tani as Guest of Honour, together with his wife, and to fulfil a dream which he had long expressed to hold such an event in London. Competitors, officials and supporters from more than 20 countries attended the Championship, and for all three open training sessions on the Sunday the Main Arena of Crystal Palace was full. Little did we know at that time that it would be the last occasion on which we would receive instruction from our Soke.  Although he looked quite strong and healthy when he visited London, Master Tani’s health declined during the succeeding summer and, when Shihan Tomiyama visited his Dojo with our members during their regular trip in November of the same year, they could not see him because he had just been hospitalised.  Sadly, he stayed in hospital until his last moment : on Sunday January the 11th 1998, Master Tani died, stricken by cancer of the liver. Shihan Tomiyama said later “We miss him greatly and will always remember him.  It is our one consolation that he and his wife were finally able to come to London last year to enjoy the respect and admiration of his followers and to see the development of our Kofukan organization.  I heard from various people in Japan that Master Tani was very happy about his last visit to London and talked about it quite frequently. To repay our debt to him, Sensei Omi and I decided to support his last wish of handing over the Soke, or the head of the style, to his son.  We will also keep supporting Mrs. Tani out of our gratitude and respect.  And, most of all, we will keep developing and improving our Kofukan organization, as a part of the Shukokai organization, with the help of our instructors and members worldwide.”

Kofukan supports new leadership

When it was subsequently decided that many existing member groups wished to continue with the existing ‘Tani-ha Shito-ryu Kempo Karate-do Shukokai’ organization, and that Master Tani’s son should be the new Soke, taking the name of Chojiro Tani II, Kofukan International was one of the groups to pledge their support.

Thus it was that members of Kofukan from all around the world began to plan the trip of a lifetime to Japan to compete in the Shukokai 50th Anniversary Memorial Championship in Kobe, in order both to honour the memory of our first Soke and to show our support for the new Soke and our desire to grow and strengthen through the practise of Tani-ha Shito-ryu.  To fully take advantage of the opportunity, we decided to stage our own World Cup the following week in Izushi, alongside the Nippon Kofukan National Championships. It was an ambitious project which required a lot of planning, but everyone had the advantage of being fired by immense enthusiasm and pride.

The trip, starting on August the 25th, 1999, was hectic but thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. It is not the easiest task to get more than a hundred people who speak several different languages from A to B in Japan without losing any, even sometimes when A is quite close to B, but that is all part of the adventure. A heatwave made even the sightseeing hard work sometimes. After arriving at Osaka’s new Kansai airport, built on a man-made island off the coast, the various international groups transferred by ferry across the bay to Kobe. The first few nights were spent in ‘seamen’s hostels’, in Japanese style rooms, which meant sleeping on the tatami’d floor. Good for your posture, so they say! The Japanese hosts arranged some sightseeing of the area, and also a venue for all the teams to get some practise before the first big event, the Shukokai 50th Anniversary World Championship. Teams from 12 Kofukan member countries were looking forward to competing with their counterparts from other Shukokai organizations.

The afternoon preceeding the tournament, however, was earmarked for a formal party presided over by the new Soke of Tani-ha Shito-ryu Shukokai, Master Chojiro Tani II. He and other senior members of Shukokai and supporters of the organization gave welcoming speeches, and all delegates observed a two minute silence as a mark of respect to the memory of  Master Chojiro Tani I. After that, everyone had the chance to eat, drink, chat and be entertained. Among others, the Inagaki family (of Nippon Kofukan) were loudly applauded for their performance of ‘taiko’ (Japanese drumming), and there was an enthusiastic response to the New Zealand delegates’ ‘Hakka’ , as there was for a polished karaoke rendition of “Country Roads” by Scotland’s Chief Instructor Paul Reid. After bidding goodbye to old and new friends, we made our way back to our accomodations for an early night, to be rested for the 9 a.m. opening of the Championship.

On Sunday August the 29th, we made our way to the Hyogo Prefecture Cultural and Sports Centre for the Shukokai 50th Anniversary World Championship to be met by a sea of eager faces. The day’s vents began with a parade of all the competitors, totalling more than a thousand in all. After this ceremony there were speeches of welcome and encouragement by various senior members of Shukokai and their guests. Before the competition proper began the hundreds of adepts stood to attention for two minutes silence in memory of Master Tani. From then on it was constant action on all nine areas until early evening, with categories for everyone from Primary School Children to the over 40s.

Among the international successes, some of the best came from junior competitors : H. Inagaki of Kofukan Japan took first place in both Junior High School Girls Kumite and Junior High School Kata, while V. Brito of Kofukan Portugal took bronze in Junior High School Girls Kumite; R. Leskovsek of Kofukan Slovenia took 3rd place in Junior High School Boys Kumite; and G. Marusa of Slovenia and P. Brito of Portugal gained 6th and 8th place respectively in High School Boys Kumite. There was an impressive list of Kofukan successes in the senior sections too. In Adult Kyu grade 70kg + Kumite, Kofukan England members S. Cole, C. Dorgu and D. Groenwald took the first three places, while gold and silver in the Adult Dan grade Under 70kg Kumite went to the Frenchmen K. Erida and F. Bazelaire, with Kofukan Norway’s C. Bruaroy in bronze position. Kofukan France figured strongly in the Adult Dan grade 70kg + Kumite too, J. Ferreira taking 2nd place and A. Ezici in 3rd. In the Over 40 years Kumite, S. Coupland of Kofukan England was in 1st place, while M. Pipet of Kofukan Channel Islands and A. Marusa of Kofukan Slovenia tied for 3rd. M. Fryblova and K. Johansen, experienced fighters practising with Kofukan in Norway, achieved 1st and 2nd in Women’s Kumite, with K. Tsuda of Kofukan Japan in 3rd, while S. Smith (Kofukan England) was placed in 7th and S. Araoun (Kofukan France) placed 8th. For the Team Kumite event, each team consisted of 4 men and 1 woman, and there was some tough competition. Despite this both Kofukan England teams performed well, to achieve final placings of England ‘B’ in 1st and England ‘A’ in 3rd.

In Adult Kata events, P. Brito of Portugal won 3rd place in Adult Kyu grade Kata, while in Adult Dan grade Male Kata T. Masuda of Kofukan Japan came 2nd, with E. Leal of Kofukan Portugal in 3rd, J. Dias of Portugal in 4th and F. Bazelaire of Kofukan France in 6th. Y. Fujino of Kofukan Japan was gold medallist in Adult Dan grade Female Kata, with C. Lorenz of Kofukan Portugal in third place.

All in all a great result, with Kofukan members taking away with them a large number of trophies, good memories and plenty of reason to celebrate!

Everybody transferred to Osaka the next day, and spent several days looking at castles, temples, shrines and parks, along with taking in the sights and sounds (not to mention the food and drink) of contemporary Japan. All this led up to Kofukan International’s own World Cup in Izushi, Hyogo Prefecture, on September the 6th. After transferring by coach we arrived in the town nestling in the mountains, where the air was clear and the welcome very warm. Kofukan Japan’s hard-working supporters laid on several parties, two being open air barbecues, which helped to relax the competitors in time for the tournament on Sunday. It helped that the luxurious Izushi Grand Hotel where all the delegates were staying provided a hearty buffet breakfast and was situated a leisurely stroll from the Championship venue. Once there, though, it was time for hard work. All the international competitors involved were determined to fight hard for places in the kumite categories, as always, but with the added dimensions of being in Japan, spiritual home of karate, and having a mostly Japanese audience, which included new Soke Chojiro Tani II as Guest of Honour.

While Kata events in the Kofukan World Cup 1999 got under way, some of our European delegates, that is, junior competitors and adults who were not members of their country’s core squad, took part in sections of Kofukan Japan’s National Championship. They were glad of another opportunity to test themselves, having travelled so far, and appreciate being invited to participate. In the Kumite section, V. Brito of Kofukan Portugal won second place in the Junior High School Female category, and P. Agbakoba of Kofukan England shared 3rd place in the Adult Male category.

World Cup Kata results, after three rounds, featured Japanese and Portugese adepts strongly in Individual and Team categories, with the addition of a Frenchman in Individual and England in the Team event. As for Men’s Kumite, Norway featured prominently as usual, but there were also strong performances from French competitors and some good placings for individuals from Portugal and England. This reflected also in Men’s Team Kumite, which was hotly contested, giving a final result of France in first, Norway in second and England in third, while Norway’s women beat England’s for first place in Women’s Team. Norwegian competitors were strong in Women’s Individual Kumite too, taking all three places in the Under 60kg division and first place in the 60kg+ Individual : English competitors took 2nd and 3rd in that division.

At every Kofukan Euro or World Cup, officials are asked to nominate a Male and Female Karate-ka of the Day, based not only on performance but also on criteria such as attitude and spirit. On this occasion they chose S. Senelier of France as Male Karate-ka of the Day and M. Fryblova of Norway as Female Karate-ka of the Day.

We would like to thank all our members who worked hard officiating and all the competitors who participated at both competitions, who helped to make the events successful and proved themselves to be excellent representatives of Kofukan International.

After transferring back to Osaka the day after the World Cup, most delegates had only one night left for relaxation before returning to their countries of origin with their trophies, souvenirs and memories of a great trip. Some may never go back to Japan, but all were glad that they had been involved in a fantastic event which, although sadly marking the end of one era, also celebrated the beginning of another great one.