Kotaka Dojo all Japan champion, recent WKF champs & some Hawaii karate history

Below is a BLOG which has received some high traffic on our Facebook "group Page" and overviews some elements of my 2011 visit to the Kotaka Dojo and Hawaii. Hawaii has a very rich karate heritage stretching back to the early 1900s and Kotaka (9th Dan) is an ex-all Japan champion of the 1960s who has produced numerous recent world champs. The BLOG is of note given we have some good general karate history postings by Young senei (7th Dan), Bartholomay sensei (7th Dan), McDonald sensei (7th dan) &  even manages to weave Chuck Norris into a discussion on traditional Japanese karate!

Photo: George Kotaka teaching at his dojo in Oct 2011

kotaka dojo karate shito-ryu
Jason Armstrong - posted October 2011

I visited the Kotaka dojo today in Hawaii - an amazing club in that one place has produced a number of World Karate Federation medalists in recent years - most famously son George Kotaka (son of the head shihan who was All Japan Champion in 1962) and Elisa Au. Both of these individuals have won at muilple WKF champs over an 8 year period. It is the best point oriented dojo I have seen in my travels with both kata and kumite being very sharp, fast and strong...

Wayne MacDonald (7th Dan, Budokan, Shotokan) - posted October 2011
Hi Jason Shihan, Yes George won my division at the last WKF worlds I contested in Madrid in 2002, he won every bout with awesome Yaku anticipation! Great to see that your getting out and about,

Jason Armstrong - posted October 2011
Yes, a top notch guy. He was just coming out of the juniors in the US scene when I was still competing over there. So I had seen him before. Amazing legacies, both he and his father!

John Bartholomay (7th Dan Shito-ryu) - posted October 2011
My original Sensei, David Krieger Sensei co-founded IKF "Kotaka Dojo" and brout Chuzo Kotaka Sensei from Japan to Hawaii. We used to train Kotaka-ha Shito-Ryu until I joined as a direct student of Kenzo Mabuni Soke. Kenzo Mabuni Soke promoted Kotaka Sensei to 8th dan. Kotaka Sensei came to our Taikai in Osaka and his son George walked away with it all, very tallented and accomplished karate men. As a side note, Kotaka-ha Shito-Ryu is very much like Shotokan and is very different from Seito Shito-Ryu of the Mabuni family. There is little differentiation between Itosu-ke and Higaonna-ke kata in Kotaka-ha Shito-Ryu.

Jason Armstrong Thanks for the comments and history kyoshi. Yes given Chuzo Kotaka sensei had been trained by Tani and Kuniba sensei over 50 years ago I thought I may see a dojo style very close to the Tani line I trained with in Himeji. However the dojo has migrated over the years to the WKF shito-ryu way. Regardless, their standard is as good as it gets!

John Bartholomay (7th Dan Shito-ryu) - posted October 2011
David Krieger Sensei was a student of Tani Sensei in Japan. After Krieger Sensei left Hawaii and moved to Santa Barbara, he started his own dojo, the Pacific Karate-Do Institute in 1974. I remember when Krieger Sensei went back to Hawaii for one of his yearly visits with family and the IKF, he returned and we had to change all kata to conform to the Kotaka-ha kata. Shortly after that we relinquished our affiliation with IKF. Miguel Villalobos and I inherited PKI by default of outlasting everyone else! Villalobos Shihan runs PKI in Santa Maria, California and I have the Santa Barbara Dojo.

Sensei Young (7th Dan Shotokan) - posted October 2011
As a follow-on to the Traditional Japanese Karate Network's Facebook page re comments on Kotaka & ties to Tani Shito by Sensei Jason & Kyoshi Bartholomay:

Back in the late 60's, Kotaka Sensei had to return to Japan for a short visit so he made arrangements with our Sensei (Tetsuhiko Asai) to have his students train at our HQ dojo on Kaheka Ln. in his absence. There were two students that stood out and one was David Krieger and the other was Shigeru Narikawa. They gave our students a run for their money...

When we had the "Mainland vs Hawaii" tournament, all the top guns from the mainland came like Mike Stone, Tony Tulleners, Chuck Norris, Tom Lapuppet, Skipper Mullins, Arnold Urquidez, to name a few. Dave Krieger faced Chuck Norris and beat Chuck 2-0 with two mawashi geris (if I remember correctly). Krieger Sensei was a formidable opponent in his younger days. Our dojo (JKA Hawaii) was forbidden to compete in that tournament because it was an open tournament and head honcho (Nishiyama Sensei) told our sensei our dojo couldn't participate. Mainland beat Hawaii but I remember Black Belt Magazine covered that event and the writer saying that "the claws of the tiger were removed" (meaning some of Hawaii's toughest fighters - Ken Funakoshi, Eugene Watanabe, George Sasano, etc. weren't allow to compete on the Hawaii team) which minimized the Hawaii team's chances of winning.


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