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Nakamura, Tadashi (1942- )

On April 12, 1966, Tadashi Nakamura stepped for the first time onto American soil. He was twenty-four years old and had come to promote Kyokushinkai karate in North America. For thirteen years he had been devoting himself to the study and teaching of karate in Japan, and the time was right to bring the true spirit of Japanese karate to North America.

Kaicho Nakamura began his karate training in 1953, under Master Masutatsu Oyama, and became the youngest in Japan to receive a black belt in Kyokushinkai-kan. In 1961, at nineteen, he debuted on the tournament scene with a first place triumph in the All-Japan Student Open Karate Championship. He began instructing at Camp Zama, a U.S. military base near Tokyo, and coached the highly prestigious Toho Medical University karate team. He became a national hero in 1962 by knocking out the Thai kickboxing champion in a match to determine which nation had the superior martial art. He went on to earn his seventh dan and assume duties as chief instructor at the Kyokushinkai Honbu in Tokyo. In 1966, he was selected by Master Oyama as the best one to assume the challenge of bringing the true spirit of karate to New York.

Nakamura began teaching in a small studio atop the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Things progressed slowly. At first there were very few students, and attendance increased at a very slow rate. Plus, many martial artists, hearing of a new "top karate man from Japan", came to challenge him. He had to fight many matches in order to prove his skill and establish his expertise. All challengers were summarily defeated and many then joined the school, impressed by what they saw in the young Nakamura. Kaicho remembers, "I immersed myself in instructing at the dojo, thinking all the time that whatever happened I would bear it and pull through until I succeeded. It was necessary to have the sort of determination and responsibility that ensured that my own will persevered until I overcame all obstacles."

For the next five years, the Kyokushinkai Organization grew steadily. In May, 1971, the Kyokushin Kaikan North American Honbu (Headquarters) was established. By this time, there were over thirty affiliated Kyokushinkai schools in America: The Chairman responsible for all of them was, of course, Nakamura. It was difficult to keep track of the tremendous growth of Kyokushinkai in other schools while simultaneously trying to maintain consistency at Honbu. During this period, Kaicho felt that the sheer volume of his responsibilities was taking him away too often from his regular students. It seemed that around this time, Oyama Kancho was becoming more concerned with the growth and popularity of Kyokushinkai than with the quality of the training and instruction. Many of the American affiliates had never even been observed. They existed in name only, yet were called Kyokushinkai.

Finally in 1976, Nakamura respectfully withdrew from Kyokushinkai. Though Nakamura was prepared for the difficult task of building his own organization in the United States, he hardly expected the vehement response from Japan. Oyama moved to banish him from the martial arts world. He was defamed, vilified and, finally, on a cold night in February 1977, gunned down in a Manhattan parking lot.

But Nakamura recovered and persevered. He founded Seido Karate and has built it into an organization with more than 50 affiliated dojos around the world. Its New York Honbu is one of the largest schools in the world. Most important, Seido represents the ideals for which Kaicho Nakamura had fought and sacrificed. Since the founding of Seido Juku, Nakamaura has crystallized his ideals and beliefs into a philosophy of living that has given strength and inspiration to thousands of students around the world. His innovative teaching methods offer a step by step program to strengthen the mind, body, and spirit - a unique approach that makes Karate available to men and women of all ages and abilities.

On October 20, 1996, the World Seido Karate Organization celebrated its 20th anniversary at the world famous Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. All Seido branches from around the globe travelled to participate in the first World Tournament, which included kumite and kata. More important though was the chance for everyone to honor the philosophy and man to whom they had dedicated many years. Letters from President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, President Nelson Mandela, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in, which they showed their admiration and respect for Seido Karate, were among those received by Kaicho prior to the event. Yoshio Karita, Consul General of Japan, offered congratulations to Kaicho, and Ruth Messinger (Manhattan Borough President) and Arlene Wettman (NYC Sports Commissioner) both presented proclamations declaring October 20th in the Borough of Manhattan and the City of New York, officially "World Seido Karate Day"

Reproduced with permission of Seido Karate from its website: (Edited for punctuation and clarity)

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Mas Oyama, Kyokushinkai,Seido Juku, Masutatsu Oyama, Kyokushinkai-kan, Camp Zama, karate

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