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Shotokan Karate – Kata Unsu (M. Nakayama)

Masatoshi Nakayama Sensei was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture Honshu Japan in 1913. In 1937 he graduated from Takushoko University and went to Peking to study Chinese. Whilst there he studied various styles of Chinese fighting.

He was a prominent student of Master Funakoshi Gichin, the Father of Modern Karate Do and for some 27 years, until Funakoshi’s death in 1957, he closely associated with the master assisting him with instruction and demonstrations. In doing so, he took a unique opportunity to assimilate not only the physical techniques, but also the philosophical aspect of Karate-do from the pre-eminent authority.

When Funakoshi Sensei passed away, Nakayama Sensei became the 2nd Chief Instructor of the JKA and in turn, passed this knowledge on to his students. He was responsible for the global dissemination of Karate throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s where graduates of his elite Instructor Program were allocated assignments to establish and develop Karate overseas.

Nakayama Sensei is also credited with setting up the rules of Shiai (competition). At the time, (the late 1950’s) the move to introduce a competitive aspect to a fighting art was controversial, however it was done under the supervision of Master Funakoshi who was initially very resistant to the idea of competition in any form, feeling that it could be contradictory to the true nature of Karate-do, and liable to cause students to lose focus on what was important.

Nakayama Sensei gave a wider Karate audience access to Master Funakoshi’s ideas when he wrote a series of instructional books, including the famous Dynamic Karate and later the Best Karate series. He also produced films and videos providing detailed technical and practical information on Kata, Kihon and Kumite. These works were based on an in-depth study of the principles of Kinesiology, Anatomy and Physiology and made Karate techniques and explanations globally accessible.

Although his residence was in Japan, as Chief Instructor of the Japan Karate Association, Nakayama Sensei travelled extensively, giving instruction and presenting demonstrations of his art. He continued to do so until his death.

Masatoshi Nakayama Sensei passed away on April 15th, 1987 at the age of 74. He held the grade of 10th Dan. He is remembered by those who trained with him as a very fair but demanding, instructor, who showed natural courtesy and respect to everyone he met.

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