Sensei Masatoshi Nakayama was one of the most respected figures in Shotokan karate. Before his death in 1987, he was awarded the 10th dan, the highest possible rank in karate.

Masatoshi Nakayama was born on April 6th 1913 in Japan. He originally took up several sports, including judo and kendo. According to an anecdote he arrived for one of his kendo sessions at the wrong time, having misread the timetable. A karate class was in session at the dojo instead. Apparently he forgot about kendo straightaway and devoted himself to karate.

Nakayama Sensei was a loyal student of the father of Shotokan karate, Sensei Gichin Funakoshi. Under his supervision, Nakayama trained five hours a day, with training consisting simply of kata and punching a makiwara. Nakayama continued his training when he went to China in 1933 and 1937.

In 1949, Nakayama Sensei was one of the people responsible for founding the Japan Karate Association, JKA. Funakoshi Sensei named Nakayama the Chief Instructor of the JKA. Perhaps his most important contribution in this role was the institution of a training programme for JKA instructors. These instructors then moved all over the world and founded national karate associations. The popularity of Shotokan karate today is evidence of the success of this programme.

Nakayama became a great reformer of Shotokan karate. He introduced gohon, sanbon and ippon kumite to karate, which are now an integral part of the training of every beginning karateka. He also brought Jyu-ippon kumite and Jyu kumite to Shotokan. He introduced competitions, making karate into a sport. Funakoshi would hardly have recognised the Shotokan practiced after Nakayama's changes.

Nakayama was one of the most prolific authors on Shotokan karate, and because of his writings many of his views on karate have become standards across the JKA. Nakayama's books include: Best Karate series, Dynamic Karate, Katas of Karate and Superior Karate.


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