Master Hidetaka Nishiyama is considered to be one of the great masters and pioneers of
Japanese Traditional Karate. He began his study in 1943 at the age of fifteen, with Master
Gichin Funakoshi, the man who introduced Okinawan karate to Japan. At that time, karate
was not yet popular. Other marti
al arts, such as judo and kendo were taught as compulsory classes in Japanese middle
schools, similar to American phy-ed classes. After a difficult search he found Master
Funakoshi and his karate dojo in Tokyo. He continued his study from Funakoshi after he
went to college.
In the late 40's the American Strategic Air Command (SAC) special forces began combat
training in judo, aikido and karate. In a recent interview, Master Nishiyama related some
of the events of that time period.
"We were invited to the American bases to instruct... I was the youngest. Every time we
went to the bases we were expected to give demonstrations. These were very tough, I had
to break many boards so pretty soon my hands and forearms were in a bad state. This
happened 3 or 4 times a day. Eventual
ly I couldn't move my arms." According to a student of Master Nishiyama, "...many
times the American instructors would present Mr. Nishiyama with very thick boards that
had been soaked in water. Mr Nishiyama never failed to break these boards and never
once asked his seniors to break them for him."
Although this was a difficult time for Master Nishiyama and his fellow karate enthusiasts,
it helped him realize that karate could be spread internationally. They were subsequently
invited to the United States in 1953 to tour every SAC base in the U.S. and Cuba.
Master Nishiyama later became one of the original founders of the Japan Karate
Association, home of the famous JKA Instructors School wich has produced some of the
most famous karate masters in the world: Kanazawa, Enoeda, Shirai and Mikami. In
1960 he published "Karate: The Art of Empty Hand Fight
ing". It is still considered the definitive text on the subject and the best selling karate book
in history. In 1961 he moved to the United States and founded the All American Karate
Federation (AAKF). In 1978, the AAKF completely restructured its organization and
changed the name to the American
Amateur Karate Federation. The AAKF is a public benefit, non-profit corporation and is
the sole Traditional Amateur Karate governing body in the U.S. It is also a member of the
International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF), the worldwide governing body of
The AAKF controls controls national and regional competition and develops technical
advancement through special training seminars throughout the US. The AAKF hosted the
very first karate competitions between the U.S. and Japan in the historic 1964 Goodwill
Tournament held in Los Angeles. in 1968 th
e AAKF planned and hosted the World International Karate Tournament, the first world
scale competition which was held in Los Angeles and Mexico City in cooperation with the
Mexica Karate Federation.
The ITKF was founded in 1975 to help avoid confusion between the "new" karate styles
and traditional karate, and to maintain consistency in traditional karate training throughout
the world. Currently, Master Nishiyama and the ITKF are diligently working with the
International Olympic Committee to ha
ve traditional karate recognized as an official Olympic event.
Master Nishiyama is now working on a new karate book aimed at karate instructors. He
feels that in many geographically larger countries like the U.S., there tends to be a lack of
continuity among instructors and their teaching methods because they cannot come together
as frequently due to distance.
He hopes this book will advance the level of instruction and philosophy of karate in every
country that teaches the art.
Master Nishiyama continues to travel throughout the world teaching karate. He is
currently the Chairman of the AAKF and President of the ITKF and is one of the highest
ranking black belts in karate (9th Dan). He resides in Los Angeles with his wife and their