Kung-fu arrived in the U.S. with the first Chinese immigrants in the mid-19th century, but the growth of karate is largely owed to contact between American servicemen and Japanese experts during the post-World War II occupation of Japan and Okinawa.
Kung-fu: the Forerunner of Karate King-fu was a part of the Chinese lifestyle in the labor camps and mining towns that grew up following the gold rush of 1848. With the importation of large numbers of Chinese laborers to work on the Central Pacific Railroad, beginning in 1963, the swelling Chinese communities isolated themselves within their own, transplanted culture. Conflicts over control of gambling, prostitution, and the like arose; rival secret societies fought each other in the notorious “Tong Wars,” which lasted until the 1930s. The troops in these internecine wars were “hatchetmen,” so-called because they used mean cleavers and hatchets as weapons. They were skilled also in kung-fu, in the art of “pin-bowing,” and in hurling lethal, razor-edged coins. Hatchetmen in the U.S handed down, form one generation to the next, the secret and sinister practice of kung-fu, the forebearer of modern karate.
Until roughly two decades after World War II, kung-fu was not available to non-Chinese on the U.S. mainland. The early Japanese and Okinawan communities in the U.S. were isolated, introverted, and intensely secretive about their ethnic arts and crafts. Judo was the only exception; Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, encouraged its spread. According to martial arts scholar Donn F. Draeger, Kano asked that “judo training be undertaken not only in the dojo but also outside it, and so make its physical aspects the focus of human endeavor for the progress and development of man.” The other martial arts had no such original intention.
The first club to practice kung-fu in organized classes with instructors from Chinese provinces was a branch of the Chinese Physical Culture Association, founded in Honolulu in 1922. This association promoted physical culture among the islands’ Chinese communities, but kung-fu remained unavailable to non-orientals until 1957, when Tinn Chan Lee, a t’ai-chi-ch’uan specialist, became the first Chinese sifu to open his teaching to the general public.
In 1964 the closely-guarded doors of kung-fu finally opened in the U.S. mainland. Art Y. Wong of Los Angeles, born in China, broke the traditional kung-fu “color line” by accepting students of all races at Wah Que Studio in Los Angeles’ old Chinatown. Also in 1964 the movie idol Bruce Lee and his one-time partner, James Yimm Lee, began accepting non-Orientals at Lee’s kwoon in Oakland , Calif. In fact, notorious John Keehan, a.k.a. “Count Dante,” claimed to have trained there as early as 1962.
Teachers like New York ’s Alan Lee, Ark Y. Wong, and T.Y. Wong popularized Shao-lin. Choy-Li-Fut and t’ai-chi-ch’uan quickly became public and, soon after the various branches of northern and southern Shao-lin kung-fu.
In northern California, sifus Kwong and Brendan Lai helped establish the praying mantis system. Y.C. Wong promoted the hung gar and tiger crane systems; Kuo-Lien-Ying promoted t’ai-chi; George Long, the white crane; and Lau Bun and the Luk Mo Studio, Marshal Ho, Started the National T’ai-Chi-Ch’uan Association in the early 1960s, opening up instruction in this “soft style” of kung-fu to Caucasians.
Throughout the U.S. kung-fu spread, especially during the Bruce Lee era, when so-called Eastern Westerns dominated American and international movie screens. Even so, the majority of kung-fu styles and teachers still remain hidden.
Many of the first karate students were street fighters. Few of these rough types possessed, however, the discipline necessary to remain with the art and learn it thoroughly. The small number who did found their original attitudes startlingly transformed. Today, karate classes are predominantly composed of businesspersons, professionals, skilled workers, and students-a cross section of American society.
Karate Comes to Hawaii In Hawaii, a great cultural crossroads, karate secured a ffoothold long before its emergence on the mainland. Although practiced within the Okinawan community, no wider audience had seen karate in Hawaii until 1927, when Kentsu Yabu, a famous Okinawan master, introduced Shuri-te in a public demonstration at the Nuuana YMCA in Honolulu.
A few “naichi” Japanese (i.e., Japanese from one of the four main islands of Hawaii) who observed the YMCA demonstration adjudged karate a strong fighting art, possibly even stronger than their judo. Interest in karate by non-Okinawans flourished thereafter. Yabu’s open teachings also brought together interested groups of Okinawans for practice and recreation, something the rivalries of Naha, Shuri, and Tomari had prevented on Okinawa.
In 1932 Choki Motobu, a legendary, eccentric Okinawan karate fighter, was denied entry to Hawaii when a group of Okinawan promoters living in Hawaii tried to import him for a public match against well-known Island fighters. In 1933 Zuiho Mutsu and Kamesuke Higaonna were allowed into Hawaii with the understanding that they would teach and lecture but not compete in the boxing ring. Both refused to engage in public matches and prepared to depart immediately. Tomas Miyashiro, who had studied with Yabu in 1927, convinced other karate enthusiasts to approach the pair collectively and urge that they remain in Hawaii to teach their art. They agreed and, after great initial success at the Asahi Photo Studio, the site of their classes, the Izumo Taishi Shinto Mission.
The club formed from these classes, the Hawaii Karate Seinin Kai (Hawaii Young People’s Karate Club, subsequently staged a public karate demonstration at the Honolulu Civic Auditorium. A number of Caucasian spectators in attendance, mostly members of the First Methodist Church, became interested in learning karate. Through their efforts, the first known Caucasian group in the Westen world to study openly and to sponsor karate activities was formed in 1933. shortly thereafter, both Mutsu and Higonna departed for Japan, where they had been teaching previously.
In May 1934 Chinei Kenjo, editor of the Okinawan newspaper Yoen Fihn Sha, invited grandmaster Chojun Miyagi, the founder of goju-ryu karate, to Hawaii. Miyagi lectured and taught to popularize Okinawan goju-ryu karate-do, staying almost a year and returning to Okinawa in Feb. 1935.
The spread of kempo to the Islands is largely owed to Dr. James Mitose, a Japanese-American born in Hawaii in 1916. At age five he was sent to Kyushu , Japan , for schooling in his ancestral art of self-defense, called “kosho-ryu kempo,” said to be based directly on Shao-lin kung-fu. Mitose returned to Hawaii in 1936. in 1942 he organized the Official Self-Defense Club at the Beretania Mission in Honolulu. This club continued under his personal leadership until 1953, when it was assigned to Tomas Young, one of his chief students. Only five of his students, Tomas Young, William K.S. Chow, Paul Yamaguchi, Arthur Keawe, and Edward Lowe, attained the rank of Black Belt. But the kempo arts flourished in Hawaii and later on the west coast of the mainland, where three of Mitose’s proteges formed clubs of their own. In 1953 before going to the mainland, Mitose wrote What is Self-Defense, reprinted by his students in 1980.
Of Mitose’s students, perhaps Chow played the most significant role in the evolution of the American marital arts. Although he had learned kosho-ryu kempo under Mitose, Chow was the first to teach what he called kenpo(first law) karate. From 1949 Chow trained a great number of students to the rank of black belt, including Adriano Emperado, Ralph Castro, Bobby Lowe, John Leone, and Paul Pung. By far the most famous of Chow’s students is Ed Parker, a leading pioneer in the American karate movement.
Adriano “Sonny” Emperado was a co-founder in 1947 of the kajukenbo system, former by five experts: Walter Choo (karate), Joseph Holke (judo), Frank Ordonez (jujutsu), Emperado (kenpo), and Clarence Chang (Chinese boxing). The name is an acronm derived from the five disciplines of its founders: ka from karate, ju from judo and jujutsu, ken from kenpo, and bo from Chinese boxing. Today, this style is one of the most prominent in Hawaii . In 1950 Emperado founded Hawaii’s first and largest chain of karate schools, the Kajukenbo Self-Defense Institute, Inc., in which he still holds the office of vice-president. Probably Emperado’s most famous student Al Dacascos, founder of the won hop kuen do system.
In 1954 Japan ’s colorful Mas Oyama visited Hawaii for a month to assist Bobby Lowe, a Chinese-American, in setting up the first overseas branch of Oyama’s kyokushinkai style.
Karate Emerges on the Mainland The first karate school on the U.S. mainland was established by a former sailor, Robert Trias, who began teaching karate in Phoenix in 1946. In 1942, while stationed in the Pacific, Trais trained with Tong Gee Hsing, a teacher of hsing-i and Shuri tode ryu, and a nephew, according to Trais, of Okinawa ’s Choki motobu. The word “karate” was not then in universal use; Shuri tode ryu was a style of Okinawan shorei-ryu karate.
Upon his discharge in 1946, Trais retruned to the U.S. and established his private, 14-foot-square dojo. He charged a low annual fee for instruction in judo or karate for two to three hours daily, seven days a week. Until the late 1970s when John Corcoran investigated the subject, little acknowledgement was give Trais as the actual founder of karate in America . Later, in 1948, Trais formed of the United States Karate Association (USJA), the first karate organization on the mainland.
From March to November 1952 Mas Oyama of Japan toured 32 states by invitation of the U.S. Professional Wrestling Association-officials famous challenge matches with professional wrestlers and boxers, all of whom he is said to have defeated. Oyama’s exhibition bouts and demonstrations, including breaking of boards, bricks, and stones, received great public attention, including articles in the New York Times, which covered his bout with a pro boxer at Madison Square Garden .
In 1951 Emilio Bruno, judo teacher, pioneer, and administrator, had been named supervisor of judo and combative measures for the Strategic Air Command(SAC), Bruno formulated a new approach karate into a systematic unarmed combat technique. To implement his idea, he suggested a pilot program to General Curtis LeMay, then commander of the U.S. Air Force and one of Bruno’s judo students. The program had a significant effect on the subsequent propagation of karate in the U.S.
With General LeMay’s endorsement and SAC’s sponsorship, Bruno initiated eight-week training programs for Air Force instructors at the Kodokan, judo’s mecca, in Japan . Kodokan officials contacted the Japan Karate Association(JKA) to manage the karate instruction, and that organization selected Higetaka Nishiyama as one of the coaches. Financially backed and supported by SAC, Bruno invited famous four-month 1953 tour of every SAC base in the U.S. and Cuba. The touring group included seven judoka and three karate dignitaries: Higetaka Nishiyama, Toshio Kamata, and the late Isao Obata, a JKA co-founder and senior disciple of Gichin Funakoshi.
The 1953 SCA tour was responsible for opening up communication between Japan and the U.S. , accounting for the migration of dozens of Japanese karate instructors to America . It also influenced other U.S. military branches and departments to adopt similar martial arts programs.
In 1954 the JKA established its first, small headquarters in Tokyo , and, with the establishment of a central dojo, Nishiyama was elected chief of the JKA instruction department. He conceived a plan to train large numbers of karate. His plan, once put into operation, accounted for the migration, beginning in 1955, of many instructors who pioneered Shotokan karate wherever they settled. Nishiyama himself assumed responsibility for furthering karate in the U.S.
In 1954 Ed Parker, Black Belt kenpo student of William Chow, began teaching a karate course at Brigham Young University . Hawaiian-born Parker, who had arrived on the mainland in 1951, limited instruction to Americans attending the university. His evening classes enrolled as many as 72 students; city police, state highway patrolmen, fish and game wardens, and sheriffs’ deputies. With some of his students, Parker formed an exhibition team, and through various chambers of commerce, he and his group performed in several Utah cities.
William Dometrich, who began his karate training in Japan in 1951, returned in Dec, 1954, settling in Kentucky. A student of Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, the founder of Chito-ryu karate, Dometrich was the first to teach this system in America . He formed the U.S. Chito-Kai in 1967.
Denver ’s Frank Goody, Jr., who had as early as 1924 started judo lessons with his father, is the first instructor to have taught karate in the Rocky Mountain region. Jack Farr, in compiling the history of martial arts in Colorado, reported that between 1945 and 1951, Goody promoted yawara tournaments within his judo school in Denver. While Goody’s background is the subject of much confusion, his contribution to karate school in Boulder, CO, and is credited with teaching nearly all the other karate pioneers in the Colorado area.
Dewey Deavers, a jujutsu and karate instructor who reportedly traveled in China and Japan in the 1920s, surfaced around 1954 in Pittsburgh . By then he had already trained two students to the rank of black belt: Warren Siciliano and Larry Williams. Williams in that year introduced karate to a promising student, Glenn Premru, who in the late 1960s and early 1970s, became a noted performer and national kata champion.
In 1957 Cecil Patterson, a wado-ryu black belt, opened a private club in Sevierville , Tenn. In 1962 he opened his first commercial school in Nashville, which, by the mid-1970s, expanded to as many as 17 dojo across Tennessee. Patterson also began the Eastern U.S. Wado-Kai Federation.
Okinawa kempo master Zempo (atsu) Shimabuku founded the first known karate dojo in Philadelphia in 1957.
In 1958, Roger Warren, who studied in the Orient, stated teaching karate in Chicago and Peoria. Charles Gruzanski (d. 1973) also opened a marital arts school in Chicago in the same year. Gruzanski, who spent many years in Japan, was a black belt in a number of different arts and was one of the few Caucasian experts in masaki-ryu-manriki-gusari, a viscous chain and sickle weapon.
In the mid-1950s Ed Kaloudis traveled to Japan to improve his judo knowledge. While there he studied koei-kan karate from Eizo Onishi. In 1958 Kaloudis moved to New York where he began to teach at NYU and also to members of the New York City Police Department. He later moved in New Jersey and opened up schools in Clifton and Caldwell. Today he oversees a large number of affiliated schools.
Robert Fusaro, who trained under Nishiyama in Japan, was the first man to teach karate in Minnesota. He began teaching his shotokan style in 1958 in Minneapolis and founded the Midewest Karate Association. Today he runs a number of schools in Minnesota.
In 1958 George Mattson was discharged from the U.S. Army. He returned home to Boston where he became the first Uechi-ryu instructor in America, as well as the first karate pioneer in the New England region. Mattson became a leader of karate on the Eastern Seaboard sponsoring the first karate tournament in New Enland in 1961. Mattson also wrote one of the first books on karate, The Way of Karate, published in 1963.
In 1958 in Portland, Oreg., Moon Yo Woo began teaching kong su an obscure Koren style of karate.
In 1958-59 Harry Smith, a students of Don Nagle, opened the first-known karate school in western Pennsylvania. He trained several students including Joe Penneywell, Harry Ackland and James Morabeto.
Around this time Walter Mazak and Joe Hedderman opened a dojo in Pittsburgh , Hedderman was a student of Chito-stylist William Dometrich.
In 1959 Philip Koeppel was discharged from the Navy. He has studied karate in Japan with Richard Kim and Kajukenbo with Adriano Emperado in Hawaii . In 1960 he joined the USKA and studied under Robert Trias. In 1963 he helped promote the 1st World Karate Championships in Chicago and had since built a strong chain of karate studios throughout the Midwest .
In 1959 Natamoro Naikima opened a school in Philadelphia teaching shorin-ryu.
Peter Urban, one of the founders of karate on the East Coast, opened his first goju-ryu karate school in Union City , New Jersey , in Sept. 1959. Urban had studied in Japan with Richard Kim and later became a top student of Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi.
In 1960, Urban moved to New York City and taught karate at the Judo Twins (Bernie and Bob Lepkofker) and later established his own dojo, the famous “Chinatown Dojo.” He also broke away from the goju-kai organization and formed his own, which he called USA Goju. Urban probably trained more top black belts than anyone on the East Coast; among them were: Chuck Merriman, Al Gotay, William Louis, Frank Ruiz, John Kuhl, Lou Angel, Thomas Boddie, Joe Lopez, Joe Hess, Bill Liquori, Aaron Banks, Ron Van Cleif, Susan Murdock, Owen Watson, and Rick Pascetta.
Dr. Maung Gyi, a master of Burmese bando, founded the American Bando Association in Washington , D.C. , in 1960. This was the first Asian boxing association in the U.S.
Ron Duncan, a karate student of Don Nagle, began teaching in Brookly in 1959. Besides karate, he taught jujutsu as well as weaponry.
Another dojo, the Tong Dojo, also opened in Brooklyn in 1959. Founded by George Cofield , who got his black belt from Maynard Minor (one of the first shotokan instructors in the U.S. affiliated with the JKA), Cofield taught such well-known students as Tomas LaPuppet, Alex Sternberg, and Hawk Frazier. LaPuppet went on to become one of America ’s premier tournament fighters of the 1960s, and is considered one of the greatest championships ever to emerge from New York City.
During this same period, Chris DeBais was teaching karate at the Judo Twins. He later went on to train with Peter Urban.
The New York Karate Club was founded in 1959 by Hiroshi Orita. Orita, a renukan stylist, later switched to shotokan in 1961 and affiliated himself with Philadelphian Teruyuki Okazaki.
Also in 1959, Wallace Reumann began teaching karate at his judo club in Newark , N.J. When he departed a few years later, his senior student, James Cheatham, took over the instruction. Cheatham trained the controversial Karriem Allah who fought Jeff Smith in a full-contact bout, which was seen worldwide as part of the Ail/Frazier “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975.
Don Nagle moved to New Jersey in 1959 and with his partner Joe Bucholtz opened a school in Jersey City.
Upon his discharge from the U.S. Marines, Harold Long began teaching isshinryu in eastern Tennessee. In 1962 he opened his fist dojo in Knoxvill, one of the earliest karate schools in the South.
Finally in 1959, Mas Oyama visited the U.S. for the second time, opening schools across the country. His California affiliate was Don Buck, a rugged individual who generated much attention to Oyama’s style over the years.
Dan Ivan, who was one of the first postwar Americans to study at the Kodokan, settled in southern California in 1956 and opened a karate school in Orange County . A former C.I.D. agent in Japan , Ivan made periodic trips back to the Orient. In 1963 he saw a karate and weapons demonstration by Fumio Demura; impressed, he brought Demura to the U.S. in 1965 to help him teach in his growing chain of schools. In the ensuring years the two would become inseparable partners and would establish more than 20 schools teaching Shito-ryu karate. In addition, Demura became one of the most sought after performers-demonstrating his karate and weaponry at Japanese Village, Sea World, and Las Vegas’ Hilton Hotel.
The first person to introduce Okinawan goju-ryu karate to the U.S. was Anthony Mirakian, who founded the Okinawan Karate-do Academy in Watertwon, Mass., in 1960. A quite individual who learned his karate in Okinawa , Mirakian is one of the most knowledgeable instructors to teach in the U.S. He has, over the years, kept a low profile in American karate community but was persuaded to make major contributions to this encyclopedia.
Goju-ryu instructor Charles Iverson visited Robert Trais in 1960 and exchange numerous katas with Trais. This led to the latter’s formation of his shorei-goju-ryu style, which became a common style in the USKA.
New York saw the arrival of Henry Cho in 1960. Cho was the first to introduce tae kwon do in the eastern U.S. Cho’s ability, as well as his keen business sense, made him an instant success, and even today he runs one of the largest schools in Manhattan.
After becoming isshin-ryu founder Tatsuo Shimabuku’s number 1 student, Steven Armstrong-a former Marine-settled in Seattle, Wash. In 1960. Armstrong taught karate out of his garage for a while and later opened a full-time dojo, which by the 1970s expanded into a chain of nine schools throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Other early pioneers of the region included Bill Ruder, Ernest Brinekee, Morris Menk, Bob Hill, Don Williams, and Bill Weaver.
Another principal force in the area at the time was Bruce Terrill of Portlan , Oreg. Behinning in 1960, Terrill expanded his one school into a chain of twenty affiliated studios.
Terrill, a founder of his own style of wu ying tao, trained nationally ranked Dan Anderson and Pauline Short, one of the first female back belts in the U.S. Short opened a school exclusively for the instruction of women, one of the first in the U.S.
Virgil Adams was the first to teach karate in the state of Kansas, in 1960. He operated out of Wichita.
Ralph Lindquist, an isshin-ryu stylist, opened a school in 1960 in New Cumberland, PA.
In Michigan, Al Horton began teaching his uechi-ryu in Kalamazoo in 1960. Other early pioneers included J. Kim in Lansing ; Ernest Leib in Mushegon; David Praim in Mt. Clemens (1962), who taught fighters Everett Eddy and Johnny Lee; and Paul and Larry Malo from Detroit who taught Shito-ryu and operated a number of multi-million-dollar karate centers.
As the decade closed, karate was gaining appeal. While no single member of the 1950-60 group of pioneers appears to have been greatly successful, the fact that so many individuals were operating schools, whose enrollments ere increasing steadily, proved this new form of self-defense was attractive to the general public. In this decade the foundation was laid for the circulation of styles, instructors, and masters that would in the 1960s see the art of karate surpass judo in numbers of active practitioners.
The 1960s also marked the beginning of an extensive immigration of Korean tae kwon do instructors. After Jhoon Rhee, who introduced tae kwon do in the U.S. in 1956, the first wave included; S. Henry Cho, Richard Chun, and Duk Sung Son in New York; D.S. Kim in Georgia; J Kim and Sang Kyu Shim in Michigan; Mahn Suh Park in Pensylvania; Haeng Ung Lee in Omaha; Ki Whang Kim in Maryland; and Jack Hwang in Oklahoma. In all, it is estimated that more than 25 masters during the early and mid-1960s settled in the U.S. The Vietnam War gave this native Korean art visibility. Pictures of Korean instructors training American GIs in hand-to-hand combat appeared in Time and Newsweek. While these legitimate instructors were encouraged to emigrate to the U.S., the teaching credential itself was to create an intense controversy in American karate. As more and more Korean tae kwon do instructors and masters arrived in the U.S., it was clearly unlikely that all of them could have taught American military personnel. Yet this claim, coupled with insupportable claims to unreasonably advanced degree of black belt rank-usually no less than 7th dan-first caused suspicion, then rebellion by an “All Korean Champion,” was another of the tae kwon do credentials. It is improbable that there were more than a few dozen All Korean Champions, since tae kwon do embraced no organized competitions until the 1960s- when more than 800 master instructors were teaching tae kwon do in the U.S. The degree and intensity of business competition was undoubtedly the motive for these exorbitant claims. At any rate, potential martial arts students now had a choice of where and with whom to study. By the early 1970s more than 1,200 tae kwon do instructors were reportedly teaching in the U.S.
Such phenomenal growth placed increasing demands of the tae kwon do community as a whole, and the need for a central organization quickly became apparent. In the U.S., as in Korea , the cause of organization was initially obstructed by affiliations of master instructors to parent schools and associations in Korea.
Meanwhile, within the Japanese karate community, Tsutomu Ohshima, who was still traveling, arranged in 1961 for Hidetaka Nishiyama to come to California to preside over his Los Angeles headquarters. Nishiyama arrived in July and within four months struck out on his own to form the All America Karate Federation (AAKF), a branch of the powerful Japan Karate Association (JKA). Today, the AAKF is one of the largest karate organizations in the U.S. This development spawned a bitter political rivalry between Ohshima and Nishiyama, which continues under the surface of the international amateur karate movement. Both pioneers, however, are consummate karate masters. Each is responsible for having firmly planted Shotokan karate in the U.S. , and for having trained numerous disciples of high technical skill.
Richard Kim, sensei to such American karate pioneers as Peter Urban, Phil Koeppel, and Canada ’s Benny Allen, came to America from Japan in 1961 and began teaching at the Chinese YMCA in San Francisco Calif. Later Kim became the foremost karate historian residing in the U.S.
Top JKA instructor Teruyuki Okazaki arrived in the U.S. in May 1961 and began teaching Shotokan karate in west Philadelphia. In Sept. 1962 he formed the East Coast Karate Association, a branch of the AAKF. Today he oversees the 50,000-member International Shotokan Karate Federation.
Also in Philadelphia that year, Mahn Suh Park established his first tae kwon do dojang, which, like Okazaki ’s dojo, is still in operation today.
It was around 1961 that John Keehan, alias “Count Dante,” began teaching karate in the Midwest from his base dojo in Chicago, III. Keehan joined the USKA in 1961, at age 22, and was instrumental in helping Trais firmly entrech the USKA in the Midwest , the association’s strongest territory. He taught numerous students all the way to black belt, who opened their own schools and turned out respected students.
On the night of April 23, 1970, he took part in the infamous “dojo war” that ended in the brutal stabbing death of his friend and students, Jim Koncevic, at the Green Dragon’s Black Cobra training hall in Chicago. The tragedy left a profound mark on Keehan until his death from bleeding ulcers in 1975.
An early pioneer of karate in the South was John Pachivas, who became the first karate instructor in Miami Beach area in 1961. Pachivas reportedly has been active in the marital arts since the mid-1940s, and holds degrees in judo, jujutsu, and goju-ryu karate.
In Jan. 1961 George Pesare introduced kenpo karate to Rhode Island in Providence. Preceded only by Ted Olsen, Pesare would in time become the foremost instructor in his state and an influential leader in the northeastern U.S.
One of the first New York instructors to be affiliated with Mas Oyama was Augustin DeMello, who opened the New York Kyokushinkai karate club in Greenwich Village in 1961. he later broke away from Oyama and quit teaching.
Daeshik Kim, a judo and tae kwon do instructor, came to Atlanta, Ga., in 1961 where he began teaching tae kwon do in the physical education department of Georgia State College.
Among Kim’s students were Joe Corley, Chris McLoughlin, “Atlas” Jesses King, Larry McClure, and Dick Lane . In 1966, Kim sold his Institute of Self-Defense , a non-campus club, to McLoughlin and Corley.
Corley and McLoughlin established several branch schools over the years, all in and around Atlanta , and they jointly produced the first Battle of Atlanta in 1970. Later, the tournament would become one of the most prestigious in American sport karate.
Individually, Corley would become one of the most influential voices in Southern karate by spearheading the formation of the Southeast Karate Association (SEKA). In the 1970s, he would invest most of his time and money in the full-contact karate movement.
McLoughlin would make his mark as one of the first professional martial arts journalists who also was a black belt.
In Los Angeles, Mito Uyehara, an aikido practitioner, and his brother, Jim, published the inaugural issue of Black Belt Magazine in 1961. the first issue was in digest from, with articles on judo, karate, aikido, and kendo. Though it suffered lean years, the publication became one of the most successful in its field. In the late 1960s, the brothers dissolved their partnership, Jim taking with him the merchandise trade-which later developed into Marital Arts Supplies- and Mito retaining ownership of the magazine. The publication struggled until Mito launched a line of paperback textbooks, which eventually brought large profits. This, coupled with shred capitalization on the marital arts movie trend of early 1970s, made Mito Uyehara one of the few millionaires of the martial arts business.
Out of the Uyehara publishing empire have come some 60 textbooks, the monthly, Karate Illustrated (since 1969), and the monthly Fighting Stars (since 1973). In 1975 Mito reduced his active involvement and moved to Hawaii .
In 1961 New York ’s John Kuhl wrote, edited, posed for, and published a karate manual/magazine called Combat Karate. Kuhl stated his karate training in Montreal in 1957 under Ari Anastasiata. After moving to New York City in 1970, he continued his training with Peter Urban and Gosei Yamaguchi, son a Gogen, the goju-ryu teacher. Two of Kuhl’s early students were Aaron Banks and Al Weiss. Kuhl and Weiss co-produced in 1962 a manual entitled Karate, the most popular instruction book at its price. Its success prompted the 1968 publishing of Official Karate Magazine, a bi-monthly. It soon became a monthly, with international distribution. The magazine’s outlook is radical compared to the conservative Black Belt. It was an animated voice in the movement toward an Americanized form of karate. And Weiss, its editor, had been recognized for writing the most potent monthly editorials in his field.
Bob Yarnall, a shorin-ryu instructor, opened his first dojo in 1962 in St. Louis, Mo., where he has remained to this day. A student of James Wax, Yarnall has instructed such pioneers as Jim Harrison, Parker Shelton, and Bill March, who was a successful competitor in the European karate circuit. Yarnall is probably the best-known exponent of Matsubayashi-ryu in the U.S. and had been a long itme member of Trais’ USKA. His wife, Joyce, assists her husband in the operation of his schools, and is a photographer whose collection includes many historic pictures of the sport and its early champions.
Jhoon Rhee opened his first school in Washington , D.C. , in 1962, and within three months had amassed more than 100 students. This, then, became the basis of the Jhoon Rhee empire, which later blossomed into one of the largest privately-owned marital arts enterprises in the world today.
The Jhoon Rhee Institute have developed many of the most accomplished karate competitors in American karate. Some notable students are: Larry Carnahan, Michael Coles, Gordon Franks, Jeff Smith, Jose Jones, Wayne Van Buren, John and Pat Worley, Otis Hooper, John Chung, and Rodney Batiste.
Rhee would also being teaching tae kwon do to distinguished members of the U.S. government hierarchy, senators and congressmen among them. Through his endeavors, Rhee would become a genuine celebrity to the D.C. general public.
Allen Steen, Rhee’s student, established the first school of his eventual empire in 1962 in Dallas, TX. Only Johnny Nash preceded him by a few months. No one, however, would dominate the Southwest territory as would Steen. Like Rhee, Steen trained many of America ’s top karatemen, among them Mike Anderson, Skipper Mullins, Pat Burleson, Fred Wren, Roy Kurban, and Jim and Jenice Miller.
In 1962 after a visit to Pittsburgh by Master Tatsuo Shimabuku, at the invitation of James Morabeto and Harry Smith, disharmony once again set in among the city’s isshinryu principals. Morabeto opened several dojo of his own, while Harry Ackland and Joe Penneywell established the Academy of Isshinryu Karate in downtown Pittsburgh. William Duessel and William Wallace, students of Shimabuko, assumed ownership in the late 1960s.
At this time, Nick Long began teaching Okinawan kempo in Greensburg, PA., where he built a large following of college students.
In Denver , Robert Thompson and Fran Heitmann jointly opened a tang soo do school in 1962. that same year, Chuck Sereff, a black belt student, of Heitmann’s, established his first school and brought in Korean instructor Moon Ku Baek to teach there. Sereff and one of his black belts, Ralph Krause, opened another Denver karate school, but later the two went separate ways. Today, Sereff had one of the largest operations in Colorado .
Frank Ruiz earned a chestful of medals including the Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Bronze Star during the Korean War. Upon his release, he became one of Peter Urban’s first students in 1960. In 1962, he launched his own teaching career in New York City, and produced two nationally recognized fighters, Louis Delgado and Herbie Thompson (of Florida), and East Coast karate champions Ron Van Clief, Owen Watson, and the late Malachi Lee. Ruiz later broke away from Urban to form his own Nisei Goju organization. In 1970 Ruiz cheated death after being stuck y a car traveling 80 m.p.h., managing four years later to walk normally and even practice karate.
The Birth of Franchised Karate In 1963 two brothers, Jim and Al Tracy, founded their first kenpo karate school in San Francisco ; both had been students of Ed Parker. After spending large sums in development costs, the brothers launched what became the largest chain of karate schools in the world, under the trade name “ Tracy ’s Krate.” The Tracy brothers brought big business practices to karate. Their strategy included a proven sales system, adapted from commercial dance studios. At its peak, 1969-73, the Tracy organization was estimated to have 70 studios under its franchise banner. After hiring Joe Lewis, one of the sport’s brightest starts, as a figurehead for its franchise recruitment program, the organization attracted instructors who, using the knowledge gained in business indoctrination courses, were able to make careers in the marital arts. Among the early corps of Tracy ’s novitiates were Jay T. Will, Al Dacascos, Jerry Smith, Jerry Piddington, Dick Willett, Roger Greene, Steve LaBounty, and Ray Klingenberg.
At the same time, throughout the mid- and late 1960s, other instructors and organizations were developing sales systems and business practices particulary sited to the marital arts. Jhoon Rhee, Allen Steen, Chuck Norris, and Ed Parker soon expanded into franchising. Bob Wall of Los Angeles is credited with having helped many marital artists adopt sound business practices in their schools, among them Norris, Rhee, and Colorado ’s Jim Harkins. An astute businessman, Wall developed and manualized a sales system still in use many professional karate studios across then nation.
n 1963 Chuck Norris, who would become one of the most respected karate fighters in the world, established his first school in Torrance , south of Los Angeles . In 1968 he and Bob Wall bought out Joe Lewis’ interest in the Sherman Oaks Karate Studio. From there he launched a chain of seven studios until 1975m when he gave up the operation to concentrate fully on a motion picture career.
Norris was responsible for guiding more than 100 students to black-belt rank and dozens to competitive prominence. Among them are: Jerry Taylor, Pat Johnson, John Natividad, Howard Jackson, Ralph Alegria, Darnell Garcia, and Bob Burbidge, among many, many others.
In April 1963 Master Duk Sung Son, president of the World Tae Kwon Do Association, immigrated to the U.S. and began teaching in and around New York City. Within a few years, Son was teaching his art at Princeton , N.Y. , Brown and Fordham Universities , and later at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point .
Francisco Conde in 1963 initiated classes exclusively for females at the Women’s Karate Club of Fort Meade, Maryland. There his wife, Kathleen, received some of his early training before going on to become one of the premier black belt competitors in her region. Known for his tournament promotions, as early as 1963 Conde became a driving force behind man of the regional activities of the Mid-Atlantic states .
Roger Carpenter, a black belt student of George Pesare, came to Wichita , Kans. , in Sept. 1963. Carpenter taught karate for two years at churches, YMCAs, and a National Guard Armory. In the spring of 1965, he opened the first commercial karate school in Wichita . By 1964, Jim Harrison had also established a school in Kansas City .
In Denver , Shotokan stylist Joe Costello (d.1973), from Hawaii , opened a dojo downtown. That same year, Ralph Krause opened the first of an eventual chain of karate schools in Colorado .
Ki Whang Kim, a highly respected tae kwon do master, organized a YMCA class in Washington , D.C. , in 1963. This class produced some outstanding D.C. martial artists including John Camance, Albert Cheeks, Phil Cunningham, Mike Warren, Furman Marshall, and John Mickens. During the 1970s Mike Warren was widely considered to be America ’s best tournament fighter and, indisputably, one of the best technicians in the sport.
Lou Angel, Jack Hwang, and Bill Brisco, all Oklahoma City , are the recognized pioneers of karate in Oklahoma . Angel, a former U.S. Marine and student of Peter Urban, arrived in Oklahoma at an unspecified date in the early 1960s. He is best known for having produced the Tulsa Southwest Karate Championships in 1963, where Mike Stone would launch his impressive fighting career. Stone, then still a brown belt, became an overnight sensation by winning first place in the sparring division and soon rose to prominence as the sport’s first superstar.
Jack Hwang, a pioneer of tae kwon do , immigrated to the U.S. in 1960. he taught quietly until opening his first school in Oklahoma City in 1964. In 1965, Hwang produced his inaugural All American Open Karate Championships, which is a highlight of the southwestern karate circuit.
Marine sergeant Sam Pearson, a disciple of Master Eizo Shimabuku, founded a shorin-ryu karate club in 1963 at Camp LeJeune , N.C. His most famous student is the aforementioned Glenn Premru of Pittsburg , who would become one of the sport’s first corps of great kata champions and flamboyant performers.
Tournaments The early 1960s brought the first American karate tournaments. Until 1963 several local and, at best regional competitions were organized in deifferent parts of the U.S. Principal among these early evernts were the All American Karate Championships and the North American Karate Championships. The former was held in Los Angeles in Dec. 1961 by Hidetaka Nishiyama, concurrent with his formulation of the All American Karate Federation. Nishiyama chose as the tournament site the Olympic Auditorium, the West Coast boxing center. The tournament was produced as a fund-raiser for the March for Muscular Dystrophy. Participants were chiefly members of the Shotokan style of karate, but some came from as far as Canada and Hawaii .
The North American Karate Championships, conducted on Nov. 24, 1962 , was the first karate tournament held at Madison Square Garden , and the first open karate competition in America . Here, Mas Oyama appeared for the second time in his illustrious career, and this time the appearance was not for the purpose of demonstrating karate’s superiority to professional boxing and wrestling. Preceding the finals, Oyama presented one of his impressive breaking routines, crushing rocks, bricks, and boards with his bare hands, feats even at that time considered phenomenal by the American public. Gary Alexander, one of the early wave of “fighting” instructors, won the black belt sparring championship. In 1963 he established his first school in New Jersey and began promoting notable karate tournaments himself.
On July 28, 1963 , Robert Trais and John Keehan jointly hosted the 1st World Karate Tournament at the University of Chicago Fieldhouse , gathering contestants and officials from around the country. (The 1963 event was won by AlGene Caravlia.) This was the first truly national American karate tournament and the forerunner of the many subsequent tournaments using and abusing the title of “World Championships.” To date, this misnomer had been attached by various promoters to more than 20 North American karate tournaments. Clearly, it is an inexact title, since the participants do not come from all over the world.
Tournament titles were not an issue, however, during the embryonic stage. What is important is the Trais’ event attracted most of the prominent American karateka. What took place in Chicago set a precedent for the emergence of large-scale, national-caliber competitions. This particular event was retitled the USKA Nationals in 1966, and in 1968 adopted its present title, the USKA Grand Nationals. It is one of the longest-funning annual karate tournaments in America .
Also in 1963, Texan Allen Steen inaugurated his Dallas Southwest Karate Championships, in which Mike Stone, still a brown belt, won the black belt fighting division. Steen’s tournament was retitled in 1965 the U.S. Karate Championships. David Moon, one of the few Asian instructors competing in open sparring divisions, won the first of three consecutive grand championships there. The tournament maintained its national prestige until the mid-1970s.
During this period many judo and jujutsu black belts had begun studying karate; their styles were often unrefined. Some were the recipients of “cross-over” ranks, i.e., because of their proficiency in one art they might receive dan rank in karate. As each generation of American karate black belts became progressively more polished, fluid, and performance-conscious, the old ex-judo/jujutsu converts appeared out of touch with new developments in the art. Despite criticism, many of these same figures were responsible for introducing the marital arts to individuals who would later make contributions to the growth of American karate. One of these, Jerry Durant, trained top fighter Artis Simmons as well as Art Sykes, William Cavalier and Vince Christeano.
In 1964 Trais again staged his World Championships in Chicago , but this year two new tournaments shared the spotlight. The first was Ed Parker’s International Karate Championships in Long Beach , Calif. Parker’s tournament, like Trais’ the year before, attracted the biggest names in American karate. Mike Stone became the event’s first grand champion, an accomplishment overshadowed historically by the results of a demonstration presented there by an unknown Chinese stylist Bruce Lee.
Lee was a sensation. Demonstrating his skills, he sent partners reeling backward with his 1-inch punch, a technique that became a personal trademark. Lee’s performance left a lasting impression on many practitioners and non-marital-artist spectators.
Parker’s Internationals grew in size and prestige until about 1976, reaching its zenith in 1974, when Parker drew a record-setting 6,000 contestants. In 1975 Parker awarded prize money totaling $16,250, the largest yet at an American Pro/Am tournament.
The second prominent event of 1964 was Jhoon Rhee’s U.S. National Karate Championship, held in Washington , D.C. Pat Burleson of Texas , winner of the black belt grand championship, joined AlGene Caraulia in becoming the first recognized national champion of the new sport. Today Burleson is looked upon as the “granddaddy” of tournament fighters and the first genuine star in the sport.
In late 1964 Mahn Suh Park produced the first open tournament in Philadelphia , the Globe Tae Gyun Championships; it became an annual promotion enjoying steady growth.
Jhoon Rhee pulled off a coup in 1965: he persuaded Wide World of Sports to film and subsequently broadcast segments of his U.S. National Karate Championships. His was the first American karate tournament to receive television coverage from a network sports program. However, a heated match for the grand championship between Stone and Walt Worthy, in which there was bloodshed and heavy contact, earned the displeasure of the show’s producers. Select excerpts only were broadcast. And the program ignored the sport for the next nine years.
It is important to recall here the nature of competition in this period. It was a time of bloodshed and brutality. Historians have called it-suitably-the “blood and guts era” of American sport karate, a period spanning from 1963, when the major open tournaments began, to roughly 1970, when the sport temporarily graduated to its first kick-boxing phase. During this time tournaments were an arena for only the most courageous karate fighters, with a high tolerance for absorbing punishment. The type of sparring then popular is called “non contact” or “light contact.” Rules stipulated closely pulled blows to the face and only light body contact. Excessive contact was grounds for disqualification. Despite this general rule, heavy contact to both the face and body was so common that competitors and officials alike appeared to accept it. The techniques, crude and calamitous by today’s standers, were as unrefined as the rules governing the infant sport. A fighter might break an opponent’s bones of knock him into the grandstand and not be disqualified. If he was a true fighter, the opponent was expected to come back and dish out the same punishment he had received.
The Second Generation In karate instruction a virtual explosion took place from 1964 onward, not only in the U.S. , but in Canada , South America , Europe and Asia . Ex-military personnel, having studied the marital arts in the Orient, returned home en masses to open karate schools. Augmenting this rapid growth were the second generation, students of the original pioneers, who concurrently established studios of their own.
In Sept. 1964 the Institute of Technology in Pasasena adopted a regular course of karate instruction supervised by Tsutomu Ohshima. This is the first known karate program to have been accepted as an accredited course by an American college.
The move to establish karate as part of the educational curriculum had enjoyed widespread success in Japan . Thus, the early Japanese stylists in the U.S. concentrated on this aim. Later, the Korean tae kwon do instructors, perhaps even more meticulously organized, likewise made significant progress toward gaining acceptance for the marital arts in American institutions of higher learning.
In Beaver Falls , Pa. , Willie Wetzel, a master of pukulan, was one of the first instructors of an Indonesian discipline to surface in the U.S. One of his students, Barbra Niggel, in the mid-1970s distinguished herself as a national kata champion.
Pauline Short should probably be called the “mother of American karate.” Short opened in 1965, the first karate schools exclusively catering to a female clientele, in Portland , Oreg. In 1975 she became one of the nation’s top 10 female fighters.
Also in 1964, Bill Readers emerged in Erie , Pa. He trained Art Sykes.
In 1965 Glenn Premru returned to Pittsburgh , having trained with Shorin-ryu instructor Sam Pearson. He opened a dojo in the North Hills section of town.
Mike Stone became the first superstar of the sport. He had dominated competition since 1963, and by the time of his retirement had been active for only eighteen months. Although he competed in a total of nine tournaments, all of them were large-scale events featuring highly rated fighters. Stone won in 1965 what could be considered Karate’s Triple Crown: the Internationals in Long Beach , U.S. Nationals in Washington , D.C. , and World Championships in Chicago . Although Stone claims to have won 89 consecutive black belt matches, the record shows he lost a grand championship match in the middle of his run, at the 1964 Western U.S. Karate Championships in Salt Lake City . (Stone won the heavyweight title, but was defeated by David Johnson in the grand championships play-off.)
The first genuine martial arts craze in America began in 1966, with Bruce Lee made his acting debut as Kato in the Green Hornet TV series. From Sept. 9, the weekly series remained on the air until Mar. 17, 1967 . There were 26 half-hour episodes, and reruns began in 1968. Although this series was short-lived, Lee’s provocative kung-fu action in the show’s numerous fight scenes stirred the public’s imagination. Thousands of new students became involved in the marital arts. This development seemed to prove that the popularity and acceptance of the Asian marital arts was directly related to the degree of its exposure in the visual media.
During the mid- and late 1960s “American karate” emerged. The name describes an open minded practice method and philosophy that challenged time-honored Asian patterns, traditional karate. America karate gained support from both anit-traditionlists, opposed to the strict oriental ideology, and non-traditionalists, a less radical sect, opposed to the study of one system exclusively. Basically, it was traditional karate put to tropically American uses.
Until the late 1960s Asian instructors in the U.S. wielded considerable political power, chiefly because they controlled large numbers of students. This status slowly began to change as Trias, Parker, Steen, Urban, Nagle, and other American karate advocates built personal following, the American names started to become synonymous with karate. After 1969 American athletes dominated the fighting division of major tournaments with very few exceptions. This development, in conjunction with the proliferation of American karate instructors, worked to precipitate an important shift in the marital arts hierarchy.
With the rapid growth and diversification of karate during this era, there came about, perhaps inevitably, political fragmentation and an unprecedented degree of stylistic prejudice. There was, and still is, a tendency among various styles and stylists to ignore the merits, however consequential, of other styles. Among karate styles and karate organizations there are factions that multiply alarmingly each year. Out of this dissonance and confusion have emerged three loosely identifiable legions in the U.S. : traditionalists of purists, the non-traditionalists and anti-traditionalists-both of which have been called the commercialists- and a mixed group that can be called the commercial-traditionalists.
The year 1966 marked the competitive debut of Joe Lewis, who had distinguished himself quickly, earning his black belt in Okinawa in a mere seven months. With just twenty-two months of training, Lewis entered his first tournament in 1966, Rhee’s U.S. Nationals. He won the black belt championships, using one technique exclusively, the side kick. Demonstrating his versatility, Lewis also won the black belt kata championships.
During the late 1960s the number of karate tournaments swelled substantially on a state, regional, and especially, on the national level. Yet, as the sport grew, so did its problems. Promoters disagreed on rules and procedures; the sport suffered from a lack of unification and standardization, a problem that continues to plague it today. Thse difficulties did not impede two rising tournament stars, both of who became recognized world champions: Chuck Norris and Skipper Mullins.
After losing the 1966 International grand championships to Allen Steen, Norris came back to win the grand title two years running, 1967 and 1968. He also won the grand title of the 1967 and 1968 All American Karate Championships, produced by S. Henry Cho in New York . Norris was an innovator in combination techniques; until his arrival fighters usually delivered only one technique to score a point. After his victories combinations became standard in the sport.
Skipper Mullins, 6 feet, 150lbs., was heralded as the fastest kicker in karate. Many of his victories were the result of whiplike kicks, at a time when punchers dominated the tournament circuit. Mullins rose to prominence on lightweight and middleweight victories in the All American Karate Championships, produced by Jack Hwang in Oklahoma City , and the Top 10 Championships. In one weekend in Feb. 1967 Mullins fought in New York City on Friday, Dallas on Saturday, and Los Angeles on Sunday. Norris and Mullins, with Mike Stone and Joe Lewis, are the great karate champions of the 1960s-only Lewis continued competing into the 1970s.
Team Competition In 1967, in New York City , team competition was introduced. The concept was originated by Aaron Banks, who became karate’s most prolific promoter. Banks continued the team competition format, producing the first team event of national caliber in 1968, the East Coast vs. West Coast Team Championships. The victorious West Coast contingent was represented by Joe Lewis, Steve Sanders, Chuck Norris, and Jerry Taylor. Representatives for the East Coast were Tomas LaPuppet, Joe Hayes, Kazuyoshi Tanaka, and Louis Delgado.
Team competition was soon adopted by karate promoters throughout the country. Banks also deserves credit for keeping sport karate flourishing in New York when others could not: form 1967 to1975: his over 100 flamboyant productions gave regional exposure to aspiring East Coast competitors.
The Sport Turns Professional For five years, from 1963-68, sport karate had grown strictly on an amateur basis. In 1968 several promoters endeavored independently to add to professional dimension, offering prize money to victorious fighters and meeting the expenses of star names participating in the events.
In February 1968 Jim Harrison staged the 1st World Professional Karate Championships (WPKC), the first of a string of tournaments to use this popular title. In principle, at least, this was the first professional tournament in the history of American karate. Harrison conducted the event in his Kansas City dojo two days after Allen Steen’s U.S. Championships in Dallas . Many top fighters were invited, but in view of Harrison ’s permissive rules, which endorsed heavy contact, only six fighters participated. They were: Joe Lewis, Bob Wall, Skipper Mullins, J. Pat Burleson, David Moon, and Fred Wren. Several fighters suffered broken ribs and noses and were forced to forfeit. Lewis won the title, becoming karate’s first paid professional fighter when Harrison awarded him the token sum of one dollar.
In Augugust 1968 Robert Triad and Atlee Chittim produced the World’s Hemisphere Karate Championships in San Antonio , Tex. The second professional karate promotion held in the U.S. , this was the first to be conducted as a genuine tournament. Victor Moore of Ohio won the grand championship in a spirited battle with Joe Lewis and took a purse of $500. (Lewis also took away $500, a contract guarantee.)
The most important professional karate even of the decade was Aaron Banks World Professional Karate Championship, produced on Nov. 24, 1968 , at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. This invitation established four fighters as recognized world champions. In contrast to Harrison ’s event, each champion was paid $600. And Banks paid all of his ringside personnel, from officials to the announcer. The champions were heavyweight Joe Lewis (over Victor Moore); light-heavyweight Mike Stone (over Bob Taiani); middleweight Chuck Norris (over Louis Delgado); and lightweight Skipper Mullins (over Kazuyoshi Tanaka). There were subsequent protests disputing the event’s status as a legitimate world championship, in the sense that the contestants were predominantly American, but no one disputed the world-class skill of the four winners. (Only Norris returned in 1969 to defend-successfully-his title.)
Another karate competitor who made his bid for national prominence at this time was Ron Marchini of Stockton , Calif. He won Henry Cho’s Tournament of Champions in 1968 in New York City , and then went on to distinguish himself as one of the top competitors of the late 1960a and early 1970s.
Challenge to authority and inconsistent tournament regulations became the rule rather than the exception, though tournament planning was steadily improving. The amount of promiscuous contact in tournaments became a destructive issue, and injuries increased dramatically, often because of inexperienced and intimated officials. Some believed the sport should encourage contact; others wanted contact barred.
Commercial karate came of age in 1969. Women and children flocked to the schools, as more and more instructors expanded classes to accommodate them.
In 1968, two influential marital artists, Jay T. Will, and AlGene Caraulia established schools in Ohio . Will, a student of Ed Parker and Scott Loring, had relocated to Cleveland from Chicago .
Until 1965 the Japanese styles had the largest following in the U.S. , but by 1967 Okinawan karate was attracting more students. In 1969, with the great influx of Korean immigrants, tae kwon do suddenly outdrew the others. More than ever before, practitioners were changing from one style to another. Consequently, interest in organizations and unification dwindled.
The Birth of Full-Contact Karate Joe Lewis objected to the unrealistic structure of non contact karate, in which blows were to be pulled short of actual contact. Its nature was to score points without producing results-what Bruce Lee called “swimming on dry land.” At the peak of Lewis ’ disenchantment, which had begun as early as 1969, he started training with , and was influenced by, Bruce Lee and ranked heavyweight boxer Joey Orbill. He began training in various Los Angeles boxing gyms, with the intentions of becoming a professional boxer.
In later 1969 Lewis was contacted by Los Angeles promoter Lee Faulkner, who was organizing a major noncontact team contest in which he wanted Lewis to participate. Lewis agreed on the condition that Faulkner permit him to fight also in a full-contact match. Faulkner agreed to promote the bout, but only if Lewis fought in the teams event as well. Lewis searched frantically for a suitable opponent. After repeated rejections from top karate fighters, he found Greg Baines, a San Jose kenpo stylists, who agreed to meet Lewis under full-contact conditions.
The bout, preceded by the U.S. Team Championship, took place on Jan. 17, 1970 , at the Long Beach Sports Arena. Results of the contests were victories for Lewis, by a 2nd-round knockout, and for a West Coast team composed of Lewis, Mike Stone, Bob Wall, Chuck Norris, and Skipper Mullins. And, while the Lewis/Baines bout had been promoted as the “first full-contact” championship, during the fight itself the uninformed announcer inadvertently but repeatedly called it “American kick-boxing.” The announcer’s blunder kick-boxing. The term “full-contact karate” would not be used for several years later. In this its original form, full-contact karate survived for only a year; Lewis successfully defended his title during that year ten times, with no opponent lasting past the 2nd round. The Jan. 17 team bout also marked the last fight in Chuck Norris brilliant competitive career.
Karate in the 1970s Pat Johnson of Sherman Oaks, Calif. , a nationally respected tournament referee, originated the “penalty point” system for excessive contact in 1970. The “Johnson Ruling,” as it was called by Karate Illustrated, essentially ended the uncontrolled “blood and guts era” of non contact sport karate. Johnson’s innovation, introduced at the National Black Belt Championships in Albuquerque , is used as a standard today in every U.S. karate tournament. Under this rule, competitors who make excessive contact forfeit one point;
The year 1970 also marked the emergence of amateur sport karate on a truly international scale: 32 nations took part in the 1st WUKO World Karate Championships at Tokyo ’s Budokan. A conference held prior to the even had resulted in the name of World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO). Qualification and participation rules, however, were ill-defined and competition of organizational rules covering the tournament. As such, Japan was permitted to have four teams competing and the U.S. three. All other nations had one. The U.S. members had been selected by extensive negotiations among the principal U.S. Japanese stylists. The only nationally known U.S. member was Tonny Tulleners of Los Angeles; he won third place in individual fighting at the WUKO event.
The disorganization of the 1st WUKO World Championships was the chief reason for the eventual existence of two organizations governing international amateur karate: WUKO and the International Amateur Karate Federation (IAKF) with Los Angeles ’ Hidetaka Nishiyama the elected executive director as of 1974, when the association was formed. The struggle to organized international karate has engaged these two bodies since then. The goal is a worthy one: Olympic recognition and acceptance for the sport.
The AAKF resisted a move in 1973 by the AAU to relinquish its rights as the international karate representatives of the U.S. , in WUKO, and subsequently resigned its membership in the AAU. Afterwards, the AAU formed its own karate committee with Carylor Adkins, a student of Tsutomu Ohshima, named its first chairman. So bitter were the political conflicts that in 1976 Adikins dropped out of karate altogether and moved from Los Angeles to a farm in middle America .
In Thailand , its homeland, kick-boxing, or more properly, Muay Thai (Thai kick-boxing) was- and is-national pastime. In America , however, it failed dismally. In 1971 American kick-boxing dies almost as suddenly as it begun. There was virtually no spectator support, and promoters were losing more money than ever before. Along with kick-boxing, professional karate, in its noncontact form, also died. Chuck Norris held perhaps the last important pro tournament of the initial era. His 2nd World Pro/Am Championships of 1971 attracted a large representations of top-rated fighters, but barely 1,00 spectators showed up at the spacious Los Angeles Sports Arena where it was staged.
In the 1970s, the ties between parent schools in Korea and tae kwon do instructors in the U.S. had been weakened by a decade of separation and “Americanization.” Consequently, a number of regional tae kwon do associations were born. On the nation’s college and university campuses the American Tae Kwon Do Coaches Association and the American Collegiate Tae Kwon Do Association were created in 1972. These organizations worked jointly to send a U.S. team to the inaugural World Tae Kwon Do Championships in 1973, at which the U.S. team placed second, and the 2nd World Championships in 1974, both held in Seoul , Korea .
The most significant development of 1971 was the advent of the “Longstreet” television series, co-starring Bruce Lee. Unlike productions that had preceded it, the one-hour season opener actually identified the art being shown and was the first to explain on screen the philosophy behind the Asian fighting arts. The program was a showcase for Lee’s innovative teaching methods. Cast as a martial arts master, Lee tought the blind detective, Longstreet (James franciscus), how to protect himself, through both the physical maneuvers of jeet kune do and Lee’s personal philosophy. That particular school is now considered by many marital arts aficionados Bruce Lee’s best work on film, and it had become a classic. The season opener was written by Stirling Silliphant, one of Lee’s students.
This year marked the rise to stardom of Bill Wallace, who rocketed from virtual obscurity to America ’s number-1-ranked karate fighter a position he also held in 1972 and again in 1974. Wallace won Allen Steen’s highly competitive U.S. Championships and the USKA Grand Nationals.
In 1972 an astonishing growth occurred in the martial arts. Much of it was directly attributable to the marital arts’ sudden emergence as a bona fide entertainment vehicle. It began when filmmaker Tom Laughlin released Bill Jack in which he starred. Although the karate sequences in Billy Jack took but a few minuets, with hapkido master Bong Soo Han doubling for Laughlin, they demonstrated more than any previous motion picture the electrifying visual aspects of the martial arts.
Bruce Lee’s Fists of Fury, released on the heels of Billy Jack, became one of the first Chinese films to be distributed to general movie theaters. In the Orient, it unexpectedly broke all box-office records, eventually surpassing the longstanding hit, The Sound of Music. Shortly afterward, Lee’s second film venture with Raymond Chow, Fist of Fury (The Chinese Connection in the U.S. ), eclipsed the success of its predecessor and catapulted Lee to stardom as the biggest box-office draw in the history of Asian cinema.
Back in the U.S. , the mounting martial arts mania was accommodated by and influx of Hong Kong kung-fu films that virtually flooded the American market. Critics labeled them “Eastern Westerns” or “chop-sockeys.” But the trend found its way into big-budget projects such as Red Sun, starting Charles Bronson and featuring Hollywood karate master Tak Kubota.
Kung Fu, starring David Carradine, aired as an ABC-TV Movie of the Week on Aug 8, 1972 . This weekly series, which showcased marital arts philosophy as well as physicality, had a positive effect on the trend, introducing martial arts on a regular basis directly to American living rooms.
The need for stuntmen familiar with the marital arts grew. Conventional Hollywood stuntmen were at the time inexperienced in the arts, and marital artists poured into Hollywood casting offices. Some of the more flamboyant and fortunate were catapulted to stardom. With the release of Melinda, Los Angeles ’ Jim Kelly, hired as a fight-scene choreographer, was made a co-star. Kelly went on to star in Enter the Dragon, Black Belt Jones, The Golden Needles, Tuck Turner, Three the Hard Way, Hot Potato, Black Samurai, and Take a Hard Ride.
Also in 1972 Emil Farkas founded Creative Action Associates, the first martial arts company to cater to the motion picture and television industries. His company set up action sequences for shows such as “The F.B.I.,” “Mannix,” “Mod Squad,” “Mission Impossible,” “Spiderman,” and many others.
Hungarian-born Farkas came to the U.S. in 1965 with black belts in judo and karate. He began giving private lessons to some of Hollywood’s top celebrities, among them Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, Herb Albert, Jimmy Caan, Dennis Hopper, Fred Williamson, ect. Through his students Farkas gained entrance to Hollywood ’s inner circle and soon was working regularly on T.V. shows and features as a fight choreographer and stuntman.
Joe Lewis unexpectedly announced his retirement in 1972. During his tenure as champion, Lewis amassed more than 30 major titles. He was the only four-time grand champion of the U.S. National Karate Championships (1966-69) and the only three-time grand champion of the International Karate Championships (1969-71).
Coincidental with the entertainment craze, tournament karate was thriving as never before. In 1972 Mike Stone, now a promoter, conceived the first tournament franchise. Earlier, Stone, together with Chuck Norris and Bob Wall, had created the Four Seasons Karate Championships, a quarterly series of contests held in southern California . When the others lost interest, Stone maintained the tournaments. In 1972 he sold its name and concept to promoters in other pars of the country and created the Four Seasons Nationals in Las Vegas as the culminating event of the network.
Public interest in marital arts reached its zenith in 1973. Thousands of spectators who formerly had no interest in karate supported tournaments as never before. And theaters showcasing marital arts films were doing great box-office business.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong , Bruce Lee was working constantly. Following Way of the Dragon, his third hit, he immediately started production on Game of Death. But the film was interrupted when Lee received a co-production offer from Warner Bros. to start in Enter the Dragon, Enter the Dragon was the first co-production between Chinese and Hollywood filmmakers. On July 20, 1973 , shortly before the U.S. release of Enter the Dragon, the world was staggered by the unexpected death of Bruce Lee in Hong Kong . Only 32, he allegedly died from acute brain swelling, the cause of which remains enigmatic. Lee’s chief jeet kune do protégé is Dan Inosanto.
Enter The Dragon became the king of marital arts movies, the unsurpassed classic of the genre. Today, this picture stands out as one of the most profitable in international cinema history. Though numerous imitators attempted to replace Lee, no one could duplicate his spectacular success. By 1974 the marital arts craze, commonly called the “Bruce Lee Era” began tapering off.
Professional Karate Revival The comeback began in the summer of 1973, when Oklahoma Mike Anderson published his inaugural edition of Professional Karate Magazine. Anderson openly campaigned for the restoration of professional karate, backed y his quarterly publication and his compilation of national and regional rating of karate players. Widespread acceptance of these rating revolutionized the rating polls, making Black Belt’s annual Top 10 rating antiquated by comparison.
Shortly after the release of his inaugural issue, Anderson staged his Top 10 Nationals in St. Louis . Anderson offered a $1,000 grand championship purse, a precedent immediately adopted by other major promoters. The even was the first to make mandatory the use of Jhoon Rhee’s newly created Safe-T Equipment in the black belt fighting divisions. This innovation launched a new form of karate fighting, which in 1974 was dubbed “semicontact” by marital arts journalist John Corcoran. The use of the Safe-T Equipment, basically foam rubber hand and foot pads, added excitement to competition, safely permitting moderate contact to both the face and body.
At this even Los Angeles ’ Howard Jackson won the grand championship and prize money. At 5 feet 5 inches, 152 lbs, Jackson became the first lightweight to dominate his sport and professional karate’s biggest money winner of 1973.
Jackson had usurped Bill Wallace, at the time America ’s tow tournament fighter. Wallace was a sport karate phenomenon in that he gained most of his victories by relying on one technique exclusively, a left-footed whip-like roundhouse kick. His kicks were clocked at an incredible delivery speed of 60 m.p.h., and when he later became the premier star of full-contact karate, he was aptly nicknamed “Superfoot.”
On June 4, 1973 , John Corcoran was hired as book editor for Ohara Publications, the sister company of Rainbow Publications, publishers of Black Belt and Karate Illustrated. By the end of the year, he had begun to work on both magazines as assistant editor, Corcoran was the first karate black belt to become an editor of these publications, and he rose to prominence as one of the first genuine martial arts journalists in America . He was preceded as a black belt editor only by Official Karate’s Al Weiss. Corcoran was a student of Glenn Premru.
Corcoran was hired the same week as Jerry Smith, a commercial artist, who was also a black belt and a disciple of Joe Lewis. The pair formed an intimate friendship and Corcoran continued his martial arts studies with Smith, who was to become recognized as one of the first full-contact karate coaches in the U.S.
In Aug. 1974 Ed Parker offered a winner-take-all purse of $2,500 for the grand champion of his International Karate Championships in Long Beach . In a spectacular 25-point overtime match, John Natividad, a student of Chuck Norris and Jerry Taylor, defeated Benny Urquidez, 13-12. Even today, spectators debate the outcome of this classical contest; some believe Uruidez, a regional favorite, scored an overtime point against the favored Natividad before the latter landed his conclusive point. Historians call it one of the greatest bouts of the light-contact era.
The continuing martial arts mania kept business flourishing through 194. Aaron Banks’ Oriental World of Self-Defense, an annual production of martial arts demonstrations, set a gate record in its field. The promotion, held at Madison Square Garden , attracted 19,564 spectators, according to Banks. The paid live gate reportedly reached $100,000. The event was aired on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
Ken Min, of the University of California at Berkeley , conducted the first collegiate survey in 1974 to determine how many schools offered karate, tae kwon do, and kung-fu classes on campus. Judo, which preceded the arts in its American migration, outranked all of them. Of 596 college responding to the survey, 278 offered some type of judo program. At the same time, there was equal interest in karate, tae kwon do, and kung-fu. Of 448 colleges reporting, 228 offered some type of program in one of these three disciplines.
Joe Lewis and Tom Tannenbaum decided to resurrect full-contact karate. They planned to promote the World Professional Karate Championships. Lewis brought Mike Anderson into the deal and Anderson spent most of 1974 preparing for what was to become the most extraordinary promotion in American karate history. He spent months finding and establishing European and Asian representatives. German karate entrepreneur George Bruckner, Anderson ’s friend and business associate, conducted an elimination contest to determine European full-contact representatives. Three of the four American representatives were selected on the basis of their divisional supremacy in Professional Karate’s ratings; they were lightweight Howard Jackson of Los Angeles, middleweight Bill Wallace of Memphis, and light heavyweight Jeff Smith of Washington, D.C. Joe Lewis, originally scheduled to co-host the event, chose to come out of retirement and gith as the heavyweight representatives. Lewis was the only karate fighter with full-contact experience.
Jeff Smith, during this year, had surpassed Jackson to become America ’s foremost tournament fighter. He was, in fact, named the 1974 “Fighter of the Year: by Professional Karate Magazine. A product of the rugged Texas schools of karate, Smith had moved to the nation’s capital in the early 1970sto teach for Jhoon Rhee.
Two months before the event, in July 1974, Anderson relocated his operation to Los Angeles . In August he formed a promotion company with Beverly Hills business couple, Don and Judy Quine, who helped finalize negotiations with Universal Television. In late Augest , the Quines and Anderson formed the Professional Karate Association (PKA), the sport’s first sanctioning body, to establish full-contact karate as a major professional sport with recognized champions, standardized rules, and network television coverage of its bouts. Anderson also persuaded Bob McLaughlin and John Corcoran, editors of Black Belt and Karate Illustrated, to work jointly as editors of Professional Karate. Instead of editing, however, the two worked feverishly on the fast approaching World Championships.
On the night of September 14, 1974, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, 14 fighters from eight countries vied in a double elimination for the inaugural titles. Four emerged as world professional full-contact champions: heavyweight Joe Lewis, light heavyweight Jeff Smith, middleweight Bill Wallace, and lightweight Isaias Duenas of Mexico City . Among the American entrants, only Howard Jackson, suffering from a severe knee injury, lost his bid for the title. This extravaganza drew one of the largest live gates for competition karate, $50,00, unprecedented $20,000 in total prize money. Each champion earned $3,000, while runner-up received a smaller purse. All fourteen impressive news soured, however, when Anderson later reported a personal loss exceeding $60,000. Tom Tannenbaum sold the broadcasting rights to ABC’s “Wide World of Entertainment.” The event aired twice as a 90-minuet special, the first time acquiring the highest rating of a “Wide World” special for 1974.
Great controversy ensued. The traditional karate community contended that full-contact degraded the art form and would have a negative influence on schools enrollments. This faction felt the television taught in schools everywhere as a required course of learning and Moreover, detractors protested the association of the word “karate” with full-contact and vocally sought a name change to “kick-boxing.”
It wasn’t to be. For one, the sport could only be sold to television because of the popularity of karate. It was a word and an activity with which television executives were familiar. Kick-boxing, on the other hand, was associated with the far more brutal sport popular in Thailand and Japan . When its promoters attempted to get it on American television, they failed. T.V. executives felt it was too violent. Consequently, the name “full-contact karate” was retained.
In Oct. 1974 tae kwon do was recognized as an amateur sport separate from karate by the AAU. This development was chiefly due to the efforts of Ken Min, tae kwon do coach of Berkeley University , with the support and aid of members of the AAU Judo Committee and a dozen tae kwon do maters. A number of important tournaments –starting with the 1st AAU Invitational Tae Kwon Do Championships in June 1974, held at Berkeley under Min’s able direction, through the 1st National AAU Tae Kwon Do Championships, conducted at Yale University in Mar. 1975, and the Mar. 1976 version held in Kansas City- promoted and publicized the sport aspect of this Korean art.
It was in Kansas City that a U.S. tae kwon do federation was conceived with the purpose of supporting the National AAU Tae Kwon Do Committee. Tae Kwon Do programs in American universities reached a new level of progress with the advent of the 1st National Collegiate Tae Kwon Do Championships, held at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux , Ls., that same year.
From 1975 onward, two activities dominated the martial arts; films and the sport. These continue to be the most active and visible aspects of the industry, based simply on mass exposure through the various media.
The year 1975 was one of economic disaster, signaling the beginning of the end of marital arts movie boom. The industry suffered a double blow when it was victimized jointly by the depressed national economy and the pronounced tapering off of martial arts in the cinema. Some instructors blamed the new full-contact movement for deteriorating enrollments at the school level. Others felt it was not the sport itself, but poorly conditioned fighters and unprofessional promotions.
Following the inaugural world championships, a rash of full-contact promotions broke out in 1975, spreading to epidemic proportions. At one point in Los Angeles alone, hardly a week passed without a full-contact event. Within a year of its birth, no less than seven full-contact karate organization sprang up. Their organizers were convinced that the infant sport and its potential sales appeal to television might be the financial salvation of the declining marital arts industry. It wasn’t.
In all fairness, the army of inept promoters who tried to capitalize on the young sport were not totally at fault. Some blame had to be shared by the fighters themselves. Many entered the ring preposterously undercondidioned, and none of them had any ring experience.
Those organizations that moved into the promotional end of the sport in 1975 were: Tommy Lee’s World Series of Martial Arts; Jhoon Rhee’s World Black Belt League (WBBL), a team concept; Joe Corley’s South East Professional Karate Commission (SEPKC); Aarons Bank’s World Professional Karate Organization (WPKO); and Larry Scott’s and Valerie Williams’ National Karate League (NKL), another team concept. Each association created its own rules, sanctioned its own promotions, and established its own champions. Each independently sought television exposure for its promotions. Of these early organizations only two remain: Banks’ WPKO and Rhee’s WBBL.
The Scott/Williams NKL featured Benny Urquidez as its premier star. Urquidez quickly accumulated the most impressive record in his sport by virtue of his consistent victories in 3-and 5-round NKL team bouts across the country. However, the NKl was under-financed and suffered major losses. It disbanded in 1976. Its principals left substantial depts. In their wake, as well as a negative business reputation for karate in general.
In 1975, 50 million viewers saw full-contact karate when Jeff Smith defeated Karriem Allah. The closed-circuit broadcast was a preliminary card to the Muhammad Ali/Joe Frazier “Thrilla in Manila ” fight.
On May 3, 1975 , the PKA in conjunction with Joe Corley’s Battle of Atlanta in Georgia , produced a full-contact card whose main event was the much-acclaimed bout between Corley himself and Bill Wallace. It marked the first title defense of the new sport and, as in Los Angeles , it attracted more than 10,000 spectators to the Omni Arena. Wallace retained his crown with a 9th-round TKO.
Notable at this even were two new concepts: the addition of professional kata competition to the regular competition, an innovation of Mike Anderson’s at his Top 10 Nationals in St. Louis; and the introduction of marital ballet, created by Jhoon Rhee, in which a team of black belts perform a synchronized kata routine to classical music. This latter concepts served as the prototype of the musical kata divisions gaining popularity in American karate tournaments today.
One week later, on May 10, Aaron Banks conducted a title defense held under the auspices of his WPKO, Presented at the Nassau Coliseum in New York, Banks’ event later aired on ABCs “Wide World of Sports,” a development creating a fierce dispute between Banks and Quines, whose original PKA event had aired as an ABC network special. The PKA felt it was a conflict of interest on the part of ABC to air two different events that declared two different sets of “world champions.” Banks’ card crowned four divisional champion:Joe Hess of New York (now of Florida ), light heavyweight Fred Miller of New York , middleweight Kasim Dubar of New York , and lightweight Benny Urquidez of Lost Angeles. By year’s end, Urquidez was the leading money winner of his sport, having earned more than $30,000.
In June 1975, Mike Anderson resigned as an executive officer of the PKA to purse the promotions of the sport on his own. The Quines assumed complete control of the PKA, while Anderson eventually formed the World All-Style Karate Organization (WAKO) with George Bruckner in West Berlin , Germany . At the same time, Anderson ’s Professional Karate magazine was suffering from poor sales. He decided to move his operation back to Oklahoma City . Bob McLaughlin entered the public relations business; John Corcoran joined author Bob Wall as editor of Wall’s self-published book, Who’s Who in the Martial Arts. By autumn, Corcoran launched a full-time career as a free-lance writer specializing in the marital arts.
Professional Karate, it must be emphasized, left a lasting mark in its field. No magazine before or after it had such a profound impact on all aspects of the sport, its participants, and its formation of a professional foundation. Through Professional Karate, careers were launched and professional karate athletes began to receive a degree of respect and admiration they had never before known. Most of these benefits can be directly attributed to the magazine’s founder and publisher, Mike Anderson, who often put his money where his heart was to promote the sport.
The movies of 1975 included the Striling Silliphant-scripted The Killer Elite, directed by Sam Pechinpah. The film featured a bevy of West Coast martial artists clad in ninja disguises engaging in poorly staged fight scenes having nothing to do with ninjutsu. The Killer Elite suffered from production disputes and inferior editing. It did average box-office business.
Bruce Lee: His Life and Legend, to which Warner Bros. devoted $2000,000 in development cost, never advanced from preproduction. Warner launched a worldwide search for a candidate to play the lead role in this Bruce Lee bio, co-scripted by Linda Lee, Bruce’s widow, and director Robert Clouse. Advertisements seeking the candidate were run in major newspapers across the U.S. and thousands of aspiring marital artists swarmed the Burbank studio applying for the role. Denver ’s Al Dacascos (now of Hamburg , Germany ) was given serious consideration. The producers eventually settle on Chinese-Canadian Alex Kwok of Vancouver . After changing his name to Alex Kwon, capping his teeth, and paying him to holding fee, the producers dropped the project and the film was never made.
Released films of 1975 included Paper Tiger, starring Toshiro Mifune, David Niven and Irene Tsu, and Hot Potato and Take A Hard Ride, starring Jim Kelly. None left an impression.
The big disappointment of 1975 was the final retirement of superstar Joe Lewis following two back-to-back nontitle defeats. Remarkably, in the last of these bouts, Lewis dislocated his right shoulder after the 1st round and, despite excruciating pain, continued fighting for the durations of the contest. He lost a seven-round decision to Ross Scott because of penalties for insufficient kicks.
Ed Parker’s Internationals in Aug. 1975 awarded the largest sum of prize money ever for a Pro/Am karate tournament, a total of $16,250. Kata winners were awarded an overall $1,000 of them sum. The two figures stand as records to this day.
Along with Washington vs. Dominican Republic team matches on Sept. 14, 1975 , Jhoon Rhee presented a special politician’s semi-contact division pitting a trio of Democrats against a Republican threesome in what was called the Capitol Hill Grudge Bout. Presented under the auspices of Rhee’s World Black Belt League, the novel division featured Democrats Rep. Walter Fauntroy(D.C.), Rep. Tom Bevill ( Ala. ), and Sen. Quentin Burdick (N.D.) against Republicans Rep. Willis Grandison Jr. (Ohio), Rep. Floyd Spence (S.C.) and Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska). The Congressmen appeared on behalf of the Freedom of the Press Foundation; they were members of Rhee’s twice-weekly classes and have come to be known as the “Capitol Hill karate corps.” (The match was drawn.)
On Sept. 21, in conjunction with George Bruckner’s All European Karate Championships, America’s Gordon Franks met Mexico’s Ramiro Guzman to decide who would emerge as the first world super lightweight champion of full-contact karate. Franks, then a 20-year-old college student from Minneapolis , won the title in a unanimous 9-round decision. Promoted at the Deutschlandhalle Arena in West Berlin , it was the first full-contact would title fight to be staged in a foreign country. The promotional budget was reportedly $130,000, the single most expensive karate promotion up to that time. Franks, besides being the original champion in this 139-lb division, was also the first black fighter to become a full-contact world champion.
Also in 1975, the 3rd WUKO World Karate-do Championships were held, for the first time in the U.S. , at the Long Beach Arena. It was an uneventful tournament for the U.S. amateur karate athletes. The British team emerged as the new world champions, and the Japanese fighters, as usual, dominated the individual competition.
In Black Belt’s 1976 survey respondents in karate registered an 11 percent increase in students from 1975-76. Judo and tae kwon do registered no increase of decrease. Yet, many leaders in karate stated that a decline took place. One answer may be that the decline was registered in the 1974-75 and that interest had picked up in this year. A statistic of interest was that 18 percent of all students in both 1975 and 1976 were female. Approximately 31 percent of all students were children, 14 or younger. However, it was not clear from the survey that girls age 14 or younger were not also included in the female as well as the children’s statistics.
In 1976 the full-contact karate movement continued to be the pacesetter fro the industry. By now, most of the smaller promoters found the expense prohibitive, and the more distinguished entrepreneurs took command of the sport. Most of the lavish events were filmed for television and appeared on sports shows such as “The Champions,” “CBS Sports Spectacular,” and the PKA’s 90-minute “Sports Special of the Month.”
The year kicked off with champion Bill Wallace becoming the first karate athlete ever to participate in ABC’s “Superstars” competition Wallace appeared in the third set of eliminations on Jan. 31, which was broadcast nationwide on Feb. 7. Wallace placed in two events, but finished only tenth out of 11 entrants in his elimination series, besting Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite a disappointing finish, it was and extraordinary endorsement for the sport of karate.
Prior to Wallace’s appearance, Don Quine, who now managed the champion, originated the nickname “Superfoot,” a nickname attributed to Wallace’s uncanny kicking ability.
A PKA event held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Oct. 1, 1976 , marked the beginning of the association’s contractual arrangement with CBS Sports, as well as merger attempt with promoter Howard Hanson of Westminster , Calif. The CBS deal eventually accounted for four network broadcasts per year of PKA-sanctioned world title fights. Critics accused the PKA of conflict of interest. The organization was operating both as a sanctioning body and , though Sport Karate, Inc., a sister corporation, as a promotional body. The PKA principals, Don and Judy Quine, countered by claiming the sport’s survival depended on their synthesis of its various activities. The PKA sanctioned a total of 19 events in 1979.
After his merger attempt with the PKA soured, Howard Hanson formed the World Karate Association (WKA), a full-contact sanctioning body that became the PKA’s strongest competitor. As its president, Hanson survived by arranging promotions in Japan , pitting Japanese kick-boxers against American full-contact karate fighters, using a combination of the two sports’ rules. After the PKA stripped Benny Urquidez of his lightweight title in 1977, the champion fought predominantly in the WKA and quickly established himself as a superstar in Asia , where be defeated every kick-boxing challenger and champion he fought.
The most bitter conflict between the PKA and the WKA is a dispute over rules. The WKA advocates the use to leg kicks, while the PKA rigidly opposes them. The issue is one of potential injury to the athletes. The PKA maintains that these techniques are dangerous to the fighter’s physical safety and his career longevity. Hanson parries this charge by pointing to the Orient, where some kick-boxing champions remain active after more than 50 fights were leg kicks, at their most vicious, are employed.
n September 1976 California passed as law placing full-contact karate under the jurisdiction of the State Athletic Commission (SAC), which regulated professional and amateur boxing and wrestling. It marked the first time that any form of American karate was regulated by a government body, even though many marital artists had been attempting for years to bring traditional karate under government supervision for licensing of instructors. The California commission sanctioned the organization of the volunteer group called the Full-Contact Karate Advisory Board to assist in the formation of standard rules and practices for the sport.
The state athletics commissions, which regulates professional and amateur boxing and wrestling in 13 of the United States , have gradually begun regulating full-contact karate since 1976.
In California , the SAC generally recognized the PKA’s rules and policies as standards for the sport, with the exception of the controversial leg kicks. In July 1978 the North American Boxing Federation, to which all SACs belong, approved a motion to officially recognize the PKA as the international governing body of professional full-contact karate.
Finally in 1976, amateur karate, under the WUKO, was accepted for membership in the General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAIF), brining it one step closer to the Olympics. In the following year, however, the General Assembly of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) issued a directive specifying that the two world karate bodies, the WUKO and the IAKF, had to unify before Olympic recognition of karate would be granted. As a result, that recognition was postponed indefinitely.
1976 WORLD TITLE FIGHTS
Date: 2/8; Site: Atlanta , Ga. ; Sanction:SEPKA
Division:Lt.Hvywt,; Winner: Jeff Smith; Loser: Wally Slocki
Promoter: Joe Corley; Television: “The Champions” (Syndication).
Date: 1/13; Site: Las Vegas , Nev ; Sanction: PKA
Division: Midwt.; Winner: Bill Wallace; Loser: Jem Echollas
Promoter; SKI Telvision: “Sports Special of the Month” (90-minuet syndication).
Date: 5/29; Site: Toronto , Can. ; Sanction: PKA
Division: Midwt.; Winner: Bill Wallace; Loser; Daniel Richer
Promoter; Jong Soo Park; Television: Filmed by ABC “Wide World of Sports” but not aired.
Date: 8/28; Site: Honolulu , Hawaii , Sanction; PKA
Division: Hvywt.; Winner: Teddy Limoz; Loser; Mike Aroyo
Division: Ltwt.: Winner: Benny Urquidez; Loser: Earnest Hart, Jr.
Date: 10/1; Site: Los Angeles , Calif ,; Sanction; PKA
Division: Mdwt.; Winner: Benny Urquidez; Loser: Gary Edens
Television: “CBS Sports Specturlar.
Activities in the sport and movies continued to remain at the forefront of the martial arts for 1977. The big news was the starring debut of Chuck Norris, the first karate champion turned actor. Norris was best known to filmgoers for his performance against Bruce Lee in the climactic fight scene of Return of the Dragon. His first starring role came in Breaker, Breaker, a low-budged exploitation film that attempted to capitalize on Norris’ karate name and expertise and the CB radio trend. Filmed for under $250,000, Breaker, Breaker according to director Don Hulette, grossed $10 million.
Before the release of Breaker, Breaker, Norris signed a three-picture deal with a new production company called American Cinema and began filming Good Guys Wear Black. By the time it had fun its course, Good Guys had grossed $20 million.
Other filmmaking efforts featuring the marital arts this year included Revenge of the Pink Panther, starring Peter Sellers, with Ed Parker as a hired karate assassin. A Fistful of Yen, staring Bong Soo Han of Billy Jack fame, was one of three vignettes composing the satirical Kentucky Fried Movie. Yen is actually a parody of Enter the Dragon and is perhaps the first American made comedy related to the martial arts genre. It had become a cult classic.
With two national television broadcast and a total of ten sanctioned events in 1977, the PKA remained at the forefront of contact karate. The April 23 “Triple Crown” championship for the Las Vegas Hilton was broadcast live by “CBS Sports Spectacular,” marking the first live broadcast of karate in any form in U.S. history. But the PKA principals, Don and Judy Quine, were also pressing its world champion to sign exclusive contracts with them. Refusal on the part of several led to the Quines stripping them of their titles. One of these stripped champions was Benny “The Jet” Urquidez.
Howard Handson, who had just formed his World Karate Association, quickly recruited Urquidez to fight in the Orient under the WKA banner. Urquidez went to Japan and became the first American fighter ever to beat the Japanese kick-boxers at their own game. Urquidez scored a knockout over champion Katsuyuki Suzuki on Aug. 2 before a national television audience in Japan . His victory amounted to a national insult to the Japanese, who take their sport amounted to a national insult to the Japanese, who take their sport very seriously. Following his win, retired and undefeated champion Kunimatsu Okao publicly challenged Urqidez to a bout for which he would come out of retirement. Urquidez accepted, On Nov. 14, at the prestigious Budokan in Tokyo , the two met in a vicious showdown resulting in an Urquidez victory. Bloody and battered, Okao was knocked out cold in the 4th round and had to be helped form the ring. The bout was carried over Japanese national television and drew an unprecedented $500,000 live gate, the largest on record for professional karate.
The victory brought Urquidez’ record to 40-0 with 38 knockouts, the best in his sport, and made him and international celebrity. In Japan , he became a cult hero and the central figure of a series of comic books entitled Benny the Jet. He also represented his sport in a Japanese documentary, Kings of the Square Ring, which also featured boxing’s Muhammad Ail and wrestling’s Antonio Inoki.
Howard Jackson became the first karate champion to enter professional boxing and win. Within one year, Jackson amassed a pro boxing record of 14-1-2 with 11 knockouts. Jackson ’s precedent had since 1977 led the way for other karate athletes to pursue dual careers in the boxing and karate rings.
The 4th WUKO World Kararte-do Championships in 1977 marked the return of this international event to Tokyo . The tournament, held at the Budokan, featured kata competition for the first time. American players fared better at kata than fighting, but tied for fifth place in team fighting. Japan dominated the kata competition, winning two top positions, and the strong Dutch contingent surprisingly dominated both the team and individual fighting titles. Otti Roetof of Holland defeated Great Britain ’s Eugene Codrington to become the WUKO amateur world champion.
On March 5, 1977 , the 3rd National AAU Tae Kwon Do Championships were held at the University of California at Berkeley , in conjunction with the 1st North American Tae Kwon Do Championships. The latter event was highlighted by the first organizational meeting of the North American Tae Kwon Do Union. Later, on Sept. 15-17, at the Amphitheater in Chicago , the World Tae Kwon Do Championships made its debut in America .
1977 WORLD TITLE FIGHTS
Date: 3/12; Site: Los Angeles , California: Sanction:WKA
Division: Spr. Ltwt.; Benny Urquidez/Narong Noi (Declared a no contest)
Promoter Howard Hanson
Date: 4/23; Site: Las Vegas
New Division: Hvuwt; Winner: Ross Scott; Loser: Everett Eddy
Division: Midwt.: Winner: Bill Wallace; Loser: Pilinky Rodriguez;
Division: Ltw: Winner: Benny Urquidez, Loser; Howard Jackson
Promoter; SKI; Television: “CBS Sports Spectaculer” (Wallace/Rodriguez aired live).
Date: 5/21; Site: Charlotte , N.C. ; Sanction: PKA
Division; Lt Hvywt; Winner: Bill Wallace; Loser; Ron Thiveridge
Promoter: Hee II Cho.
Date: 5/21; Site: Charlotte , N.C. ; Sanction; PKA
Division; Lt Hvywt.; Winner: Jeff Smith; Loser: Jim Horsley
Promoter: Jerry Piddington.
Date: 8/2; Site; Tokyo , Japan ; Sanction: WKA
Division; Spr. Ltwt: Winner: Benny Urquidez; Loser:; Katsuyuki Suzki
Promoter: Howard Hanson/Ron Holmes/Hisashi Shima/Antonio Inoki; Television: Japanese national TV
Date: 10/8; Site: Indianapolis , Ind ,; Sanction: PKA
Division: Midwt.: Winner: Bill Wallace; Loser; M. Pat Worley
Division: Welwt.; Winner: Earnest Hart, Jr., Loser: Eddie Andujar
Promoter: SKI; Television: “CBS” Sports Spectacular”
Date: 11/14: Site: Tokyo , Japan ; Sanction: WKA
Ltwt Winner: Benny Urquidez; Loser: Kunimatsu Okao; Division;
Ltwt Winner: Kunimasa Nagae; Loser: Tony Lopez; Promoter’
Hanson/Holmes/Shima; Television: Japanese national TV.
Date: 11/28; Site: Honolulu , Hawaii ,; Sanction: PKA;
Division:Mdwt.; Winner: Bill Wallace, Loser: Burnis White
Promoter; Kip Russo.
Participation in the Korean martial arts reached an all-tome high from 1977-78, according to Black Belt’s 1978 survey. Almost 65 percent of the respondents were either students of instructors in hapkido, tae kwon do, or tang soo do. Also at an all-time high was the percentage of practitioners in the category of “others,” those from obscure or combination arts. In comparison to previous surveys, response form practitioners in theof the Japanese arts was at a low, virtually equal to the number of respondents for the Chinese disciplines.
In 1978, while the WKA was idle, the PKA coordinated a sanction for a light-heavyweight title fight between champion Jeff Smith and challenger Dominic Valera, for a decade Europe ’s greatest noncontact karate champion. Valera had made the transition to full-contact fighting in mid-1975 following a fierce dispute with the WUKO’s amateur karate politicians. Valera met Smith for the PKA title on May 22 in Paris before a sold-out crowd. Smith won a dull 9-round decision.
Also on the international front, John Corcoran began to syndicate his article to martial arts magazines across the world. This marked the first time a domestic writer secured mass exposure aboard for American marital artists and events on a regular basis. He became the world’s foremost martial arts magazine writer and joined an elite groups of syndicated peers: Zarko Modric in Yugoslavia and John Robertson and Arthur Tansley in Japan .
Semicontact ( often called “point karate” or “tournament karate”) in 1976-77 had sunk to an all-time low in popularity and interest. Chiefly responsible for the decline was the absence of recognizable stars; all of the great fighters had turned to full-contact. In 1978, however, a star emerged. Keith Vitali won the grand championships of two of America ’s most prestigious tournaments: the Battle of Atlanta and the Mid-America Diamond Nationals. The victories catapulted him to the pinnacle of every 1978 Top 10 rating poll in the U.S. Vitali duplicated his number-1 rating for the next two years before retiring in Feb. 1981 at 28. He and Bill Wallace are the only point fighters in U.S. history to have been ranked number 1 for three consecutitive years. Vitali’s intense rivalry with Texan Ray McCallum, beginning in 1979, infused new life into a sport sorely needing it. Although the pair met only three times in competition, with Vitali winning twice, the contests were classic encounters. Though their presence and performance, point fighting was rejuvenated and more martial artists took an interest in the sport. Vitali won the rubber match at the 1981 Superstar Nationals in Oakland California , where he was grand champion runner-up and announced his retirement from competition.
1978 WORLD TITLE FIGHTS
Date: 3/11 Providence , R.I. ; Sanction: PKA
Division:Midwt.; Winner: Bill Wallace; Loser: Emilio Narvaez
Division: Welwt.; Winner: Bob Ryan; Loser: Earnest Hart, Jr.
Promoter: SKI/George Pesare; Television: “CBS Sports Spectacular.”
Date: 5/22; Site: Pairs, France; Sanction: PKA; Division: Lt. Hvywt
Winner: Jeff Smith; Loser: Dominic Valera
Promoter: Guy Jugla/ Marc Counil.
Date: 7/22; Sites; W. Palm Beach , Florida; Sanction: PKA
Division: Welwt.; Winner: Steve Shepherd; Loser: Bob Ryan
Promoter: Steve Shepherd/ Don Haines.
Date: 11/30; Site: Atlanta , Ga ,: Sanction: PKA
Division: Welwt.: Winner: Earnest Hart, Jr.; Loser: Steven Shepherd
Promoter: SKI/Joe Corley; “CBS Sports Spectacular.”
The Second Boom By 1979, a martial arts movie renaissance was underway. At the forefront of these films was Chuck Noriss, in A Force of One, produced by American Cinema. Due to Norris’ personal philosophy, A Force of One earned a PG (Parental Guidance) rating and consequently reached a huge market of youthful moviegoers. Also starring Jennifer O’Neil and Bill Wallace, who made his film debut, Force was a box-office hit form its outset and even received favorable critical reviews.
Joe Lewis, who once competed against Norris in the karate ring, became the second American karate champion to star in a motion picture. Lewis’ transition had been expected by martial artists, since it was common knowledge that he had been seriously pursuing an entertainment career since 1970, when he took up acting. Filmed on location in Europe and Asia , Jaguar Lives-Lewis’ first film- is a poorly written “travelogue” intended as a spy action adventure in the James Bond tradition.
In 1979, two projects that originally involved Bruce Lee finally appeared in American theaters. Game of Death, partially filmed by Lee before Enter the Dragon but unfinished at his death, and Circle of Iron (a.k.a. The Silent Flute), originally written by Lee, Striling Silliphant, and actor James Coburn, were replete with production complications and controversy.
Back in 1977 producer Raymond Chow decided to string together select footage of Lee from Game of Death and integrate it with a film and story line engineered for and around it. The resulting film was an ill-assorted mixture of action by no less than four doubles who played the role of Lee. Nevertheless, the approximately 10 minuets of Bruce Lee footage tacked onto the new footage, however absurd, gave the audience their idol.
The Silent Flute, despite a reported $4 million budget, a host of name actors, countless collaborators, an Oscar-winning screenwriter, and two cult heroes, turned out a week fantasy/odyssey, and was probably a decade too late to appeal to the martial arts consciousness of the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s. it starred David Carradine.
The martial arts resurgence was not limited to film. Joe Hyams took three years to complete Zen in the Martial Arts, a collection of compelling personal anecdotes touching upon the wisdom transmitted by his martial arts master instructors, including the late Bruce Lee. Predicted to become a classic whose lesions will be as relevant in the future as they are now, the book was a sensation in its field.
In October, the PKA signed a pact with the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), a new 24-hour cable company that broadcast sports exclusively. In Nov. 1979 ESPN broadcast five PKA –sanctioned events form across the country. By Mar. 1980 the PKA was selling weekly bouts for ESPN broadcast. At the time the agreement was signed, ESPN had four million viewers nationwide and anticipated growth based on pay-TV revolution and the phenomenal American sports appetite.
Finally, in 1979 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved tae kwon do as a sport worthy of Olympic recognition. According to Dr Dong Ja Yang, president and chairman of the National AAU Tae Kwon Do Committee, this development ment that tae kwon do would not “be eligible for selection into the games.” The approval came too late for the sport to be included in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles , but there was indication that it would enter the 1988 games, which will be hosted by Korea . Another encouraging growth factor was the inclusion of amateur tae kwon do, as well as amateur karate competition, in World Games I, held in July 1981 in San Jose , Calif.
1979 WORLD TITLE FIGHTS
Date: 3/? ; Site: Tokyo , Japan ; Sanction: WKA
Division: Spr. Welwt.: Winner: Alvin Prouder, Loser: Toshihiro Nishiki
Promoter: Howard Hanson/Hisashi Shima; Television. “ NBC Sports World”/Japanese national network
Date: 5/2: Sites; So. Lake Tahoe , Nevada; Sanction: WKA
Division: Spr. Ltwt. ; Winner: Benny Urquidez, Loser: Rick Simerly
Promoter; Howard Hanson: Television: “NBC Sports World.”
Date: 5/26; Site: W. Palm Beach , Florida; Sanction: WKA
Division: Midwt.: Winner: Steve Shepherd; Loser: Chris Gallegos
Promoter: Steven Shepherd
Date: 10/?; Site: Tokyo, Japan; Sanction: WKA
Division; Ltwt.; Winner: Benny Urquidez; Loser: Yoshimitsu Tomashiro
Promoter; Howard Hanson/ Hisashi Shima; Television: Japanese national network.
Date: 8/25; Site: Hampton , Virginia; Sanction: PKA
Division; Banwt.; Winner: Veron Mason; Loser: ?
Promoter: Frank Hargrove
Welwt.; Winner: Steve Sheperd; Loser: Earnest Hart, Jr.
Promoter; Steve Shepherd/Don Haines
Date: 12/23; Site: Las Vegas , Nevada; Sanction: WKA
Division; Banwt; Winner: Graciela Casillas; Loser: Irene Garcia
Promoter: Hap/Holloway/Ron Holmes.
After a career spanning 12 years, Bill Wallace retired on June 15. He won a 12-round decision over Robert Biggs in a bout broadcast live on “CBS Sports Spectacular.”
July marked the release of the inaugural issue of Kick Illustrated, the second marital arts magazine published by Curtis Wong (his first in 1973, was Inside Kung-Fu). Kick, edited by John Corcoran, was an immediate success; it helped restore traditional values to the martial arts media. Late in 1980 Wong and Corcoran produced a one-shot special entitled Marital Arts Movies. So impressive were its sales that Wong launched it in July 1981 as a month magazine with editor Sandra Segal at the helm.
In Sept. 1979 a group of enterprising karate instructors from St. Paul , Minn. , published the first edition of Sport Karate Magazine. Its reception by the sports community led to expansion to a monthly magazine format in July 1980. edited by Gary Hestilow and John Worley, Sport Karate had come closest to duplicating the defunct Professional Karate in serving the interest of the sports athletes. Limited by regional distribution and direct mail subscriptions, Sport Karate ceased publication in June 1981.
Overall, more than 40 PKA-sanctioned events were telecast over the ESPN in 1980, and CBS aired three more. The rival WKA broke into the American network with one broadcast over “NBC Sports World” and signed a television syndication pact with Hollywood Programmed Entertainment for the broadcast of 26 full-contact cards domestically and abroad.
In August, Chuck Norris, with a media blitz and personal appearance, publicized the release of the Octagon. Having fulfilled his contract with American Cinema, Norris became a free agent. In 1981-82 he starred in three films- An Eye for and Eye, Silent Rage, and Forced Vengeance- and formed his own production company.
August also marked the second American tour of a Chinese wu shu troupe, through the coordination of San Francisco ’s Anthony Chang, a wu shu stylists and one of America ’s great form champions. The first visit had been in 1974; the 1980 tour took the Peking troupe to San Francisco , Oakland , Los Angeles , St. Louis , Boston , New York , and Houston . The troupe’s San Francisco performance was filmed by ABC’s “Wide World or Sports” for later broadcast.
Full-contact karate was televised in two national broadcasts of PKA bouts, one on :NBC Sports World,” the other on “CBS Sports Spectacular.” NBC aired the unexpected defeat of PKA heavyweight champion Ross Scott by Demetrius Edwards, via a 7th round knockout. This marked the first of two matches within a one-week period in which established world championships were defeated by challengers. On August 9th, challenger Cliff Thomas of El Paso , Texas assumed the PKA world super-lightweight title, upsetting Gordon Franks by a 3rd round TKO. Old champions give way to the new young challengers. The field starts opening up on a grander scale making way for international contenders. The effect is synergistic as the sport renews itself.
Perhaps the greatest event of the 1980 martial arts renaissance was the staggering success of the television mini-series SHOGUN. Based on James Clavell’s best-selling novel, the $22 million project aired on NBC the week of Sept 15-19 in five parts, and presented American audiences with the first insight into the world of the feudal Japanese Samurai. Shogun captured 125 million viewers, or more then half of the total television viewing audience in the U.S. Shogun’s phenomenal success created a new wave of interest by the American public in learning the “Samurai Arts”. Supply companies reported a sudden boost in orders for samurai swords and other Japanese-related weapons. Karate schools were inundated with phone calls from potential students, and business increased dramatically. With the 1980 Warner Bros. release of the Big Brawl, general American audiences were introduced to the irrepressible new king of kung-fu, Jackie Chan. Chan’s fame spread from Hong Kong when beginning in 1978, three of his pictures surpassed the grosses of Bruce Lee’s films in Asia : Drunken Monkey in a Tiger’s eye, Fearless Hyena, and The Young Master, the last having sold more tickets, according to its producers Golden Harvest, then any other picture of any genre ever to play Hong Kong . Chan was quickly discovered by Hollywood and cast in his first American-made film, The Big Brawl; his American debut, however, failed to duplicate his international appeal.
When Mexico suffered last-minute sponsorship problems, the 5th WUKO World Championships was picked up by Spain as the host country. The event, originally scheduled for 1979, was delayed one year by this development. The tournament took place in Madrid on Nov. 28-29, with 55 countries represented. The AAU had conducted its team selection tournament in New Jersey , from which America fielded its strongest, most experienced contingent ever. Head coach Chuck Merriman anticipated the possibility of returning home with a world championship.
Tokey Hill of Ohio became the first amateur world champion to emerge from the ranks of America ’s fighters. Not since 1970, at the inaugural WUKO tournament, had an American placed in individual fighting, when Tony Telleners won third place. Hill won a gold medal and Pennsylvania ’s Billy Blanks defeated the Spanish national champion to advance to the finals, where he took silver in the openweight class. Blanks then took a bronze medal in the 80kg division, making him the only American double medal winner in world class amateur karate competition.
Another new division, in addition to the openweight class, was women’s kata competition. Kathy Baxter of New York and Pam Glaser of Massachusetts placed within the top 8 finalists, with Baxter taking a respectable fifth place.
Significantly, the 1980 AAU karate team was composed of players representing a multitude of karate styles, whereas earlier, most of the U.S. team had been predominantly Japanese stylists.
The international rivalry between the WUKO and the IAKF took a bright turn on Dec. 25, 1980 , when a unification meeting between the WUKO and the IAKF took place in Tokyo . Zentaro Kosaka, president of the IAKF, and Ryoichi Sasakawa, president of the WUKO, initiated talks for the consolidation of international amateur karate-do competiti0on.
Since 1977 the international Olympic committee had directed that prior to consideration of karate as a recognized non-participatory Olympic sport, application for this status must emanate from only one federation truly representing the great majority of karate federations worldwide. The Dec. 25 conference resulted in unification of WUKO and the IAKF in Japan only-the intention was to unify amateur karate in those parts of the world still divided between two organizations. With world unity essential to IOC acceptance, it is believed the organizations can overcome the remaining obstacles to that recognition.
Hawaii During the era of Japanese immigration to Hawaii, in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, many Japanese immigrants trained in the art of Kodokan judo arrived. The first judo club in Hawaii, the Shunyo-Kan, was formed on March 17,1909, by Shigemi Teshima and Naomatsu Kaneshige. Consul-General Isami Shishido, 7th dan, joined the club in 1919 and served as chairman of the club’s board of directors for many years.
The Shobu Kan judo club was founded by Yajiro Kitayama, Nakajiro Mino, and others. Its first dojo site was the basement of the Ono Bakery on Beretania Street, followed by several locations in Honolulu, until it was moved to its present location on Kunawai Lane in the Liliha area.
Other clubs were subsequently established, and in 1929, three of the major judo clubs, Shunyo Kan, Shobu Kan, and Hawaii Chuugakko (junior high school) initiated an effort to organize judo in the territory of Hawaii. The organization hoped to demonstrate a united effort to the community and to be recognized as an instrument through which the social and cultural significance of this martial art would be transmitted and perpetuated. Organized judo grew rapidly under the supervision of this body, the Hawaii Judo Kyokai. In 1925, the Kodokan issued the first certificates for black belts to judoka in Hawaii. In 1927, a judo seminar was conducted by a visiting Waseda University judo group, headed by Mr. Makino, 6th dan. By 1932, the Hawaii Judo Association had several active clubs, and received official recognition from Prof. Kano during one of his stopovers in Honolulu. The certificate of recognition, #76, issued by the Kodokan Judo Institute on November 15,1932, was the first such authorization granted to a yudanshakai outside of Japan.
By John Corcoran and Emil Farkas From The Original Martial Arts Encyclopedia