Shotokan Karate of America (SKA) maintains a high level of non-commercialism and is devoted to teaching karate on its highest levels, as a martial art and a way of life.
founded and is still led by Tsutomu Ohshima, one of Master Funakoshi's last direct pupils. In 1955 Mr. Ohshima came to the United States. Despite the secluded nature of Mr. Ohshima's early US practices, knowledge of his teachings quickly spread and he became the first person to teach karate to the US public.
In August of 1957 Mr. Ohshima was asked to demonstrate Karate during the intermission of the annual Nisei Week Judo Tournament, held in Koyasan Hall in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. This was the first public demonstration of traditional Shotokan karate in the United States, and has since become an annual SKA activity. In 1958 a separate karate tournament was added as part of Nisei Week under the direction of Mr. Ohshima. The Nisei Week tournament is now the oldest annually held karate tournament in the United States, and is still presided over by Mr. Ohshima. By 1959 the Southern California Karate Association (SCKA) was formed, which has grown over the years to become a nationwide organization, Shotokan Karate of America (SKA).
In July 1959 the first US Special Training was held. In December Mr. Ohshima awarded six of his students the rank of shodan (first degree black belt), making them the first American-trained black belts in Shotokan karate. (These honored six were Caylor Adkins, George Murakami, Mas Norihiro, Jordan Roth, Roe Suzuki, and George Takahashi.)
In 1960, three years after the death of Master Funakoshi in Japan, Mr. Ohshima led the Waseda Karate Club black belts on a tour of Okinawa and its karate experts. This was the first official visit by students from the Japanese mainland since before the Second World War.
A key event in the history of US karate occurred in 1967 when Mr. Ohshima brought the first organized group of karateka (karate practitioners) from America to tour and demonstrate in Japan. During their two weeks in Japan, this group of 36 black, brown, and white belts (including two from Canada and two from Europe) left a strong impression of the high degree of development that karate had attained in the United States. This visit created much interest in American karate among Mr. Ohshima's seniors in Japan. In 1968 Mr. Ohshima invited Senior Isao Obata, the first Captain of the Keio University Karate Club, to the United States. During his stay Senior Obata personally observed and educated Mr. Ohshima's students.
In 1970 five SKA members (John Beltram, Don DePree, Jeff Klein, Ron Thom, and Henry Wilkerson) were honored by being selected to the United States team representing America in the first World Karate-do Championships held in Tokyo, Japan. Their outstanding performance enhanced the international reputation of Shotokan Karate of America.
Another visit of major importance from Japan occurred in 1973, when Mr. Ohshima and SKA invited Senior Shigeru Egami to the United States. SKA organized a massive demonstration for Senior Egami, and he honored us by lecturing and educating our members.
During 1975, because of SKA's committed involvement with the Amateur Athletic Union, the entire responsibility for the Third World Karate-do Championships was thrust upon us. Participants from 35 countries traveled to Long Beach, California, for the event. It was an enormous and difficult task, but it ultimately enhanced our goal of spreading the "way" of karate by increasing communication, heightening understanding of karate, and gaining constructive viable relationships with martial artists and leaders from all parts of the globe.
In 1975 SKA invited Senior Tadao Okuyama to visit the United States to observe our members. He also personally led Mr. Ohshima in daily practices.
To commemorate our 20th anniversary in 1976 SKA held a memorable celebration, including a public demonstration and tournament. High-ranking karate experts from all over the world came to honor the occasion. Various speeches and awards were made, including a presentation to Mr. Ohshima of a special plaque by Councilman Bob Farrell on behalf of the City of Los Angeles for his unselfish devotion to karate, his students, and the public for over twenty years. We were especially honored by the presence of Senior Kamata-Watanabe from Japan, who accepted our invitation to attend. Senior Kamata-Watanabe spoke to our members, emphasizing that all members of SKA should be proud of our association with Mr. Ohshima for his work over the last twenty years in developing the strongest and most traditional karate organization following the teachings of Master Funakoshi.
Mr. Ohshima is also recognized as Shihan (chief instructor) of many other SKA-affiliated
national Shotokan organizations
worldwide. SKA maintains its national headquarters in Los Angeles.
For more information go to SKA headquarters website.