About SKIF Yudansha Kai
At the Beginning
In 1983, the 1st SKIF World Championships was held in Tokyo with 16 participant countries. By the 4th World Championships in Mexico City in 1991, this had grown to 41 countries. It was there that Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa shared with me the concept of a Yudansha Kai and asked me to be its founding chairman.
Dr Philip Kwok
The story began in 1957 when Dr Phillip Kwok (now SKIF Hanshi 9th dan) travelled abroad from Hong Kong to study at MIT and Harvard where he received a PhD in Physics. There in the US he went on to work at IBM and joined a Shotokan-style karate dojo opened by a colleague.
In 1971 he returned to Hong Kong and in that same year, Sensei Rikuta Koga (now Chief Instructor of SKIF Switzerland) went to work in Hong Kong and started a JKA Dojo and he became is student. In the following year, Sensei Kenichi Namikata arrived as a full-time instructor and Phillip Kwok (Hanshi) was appointed the chairman of the HK Branch. In that year he was sent to Japan on karate business and that is when he first met Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa. After that, he visited Hong Kong 3 times a year, and I found him to be a uniquely inspiring teacher and, above all, a person with noble character.
It is also through this period that I first met Sensei Satoru Iwai now SKIF International Liaison. He held firm principles yet was open-minded. When he started the SKI Federation in 1978, Hong Kong was the first overseas country to join. Since then, we have worked together on many events, including all the Yudansha Kai seminars at the world championships.
Why Yudansha Kai?
Soke’s idea for SKIF Yudansha Kai was that from time to time, SKIF members and other styles would come together and learn from each other, receiving instructions under him. He noted that many Japanese martial arts organisations had an alumni structure based on some minimum requirements for entry. For this alumni, it was to be a yudansha, a holder of a dan grade, a black belt. It was hoped that karate-ka from all around the world would not only meet to compete but also to train together, achieve harmony with one another, and contribute to the growth of SKIF through his teachings and philosophy.
The Yudansha Kai is a Hong Kong-registered company with a working committee. The financial accounts of Yudansha Kai are externally audited annually in accordance with Hong Kong corporate laws.
Yudansha Kai Over The Years
The 1st Yudansha Kai Seminar was held at the 6th World Championship Italy in 1997. It was immensely successful and much appreciated by all as it was held before the dan examinations and tournament. Since then, the Yudansha Kai Seminar has been a fixture at every world championships, including the current one - the 10th Yudansha Kai Seminar.
In 2002, we held our first resident seminar in Hong Kong. Instructed by then Kancho Hirokazu Kanazawa, Sensei Manabu Murakami and Sensei Daizo Kanazawa. Our members from around the world attended. Its purpose and format proved to be the precursor to the SKIF International Seminar, held every year in Japan since 2014 until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Yudansha Kai has operated for almost 30 years. We have run seminars, purchased computers for the Honbu office in the 1990s, initiated English lessons for Honbu Dojo instructors, contributed funds supporting the SKIF All Japan Championships, shared income from Yudansha Kai seminars with Honbu and donated to causes affecting SKIF karate-ka, including the 2011 Japan Tsunami Appeal and 2015 Nepal Earthquake Relief Effort.