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Debating with your friends who’s the best Karate coach?

Hirokazu Kanazawa, Mas Oyama, or Hidetaka Nishiyama?

Here is our list of the best Karate coaches of all time.

Do you agree with our picks?

Best Karate Coaches:

  1. Hirokazu Kanazawa
  2. Mas Oyama
  3. Hidetaka Nishiyama
  4. Gichin Funakoshi
  5. Teruyuki Okazaki

#1 Hirokazu Kanazawa

  • πŸ† Achievements: 10th Dan karate black belt, and founder of Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1950s–2019
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation
  • 🌐 Nationality: Japanese

Hirokazu Kanazawa is regarded as one of the premier karate masters and instructors of his time, having achieved the prestigious 10th Dan black belt. He was known for his elegant techniques and deep understanding of Shotokan karate.

Having studied directly under Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate, Kanazawa carried on the tradition and principles of his sensei. Throughout his life, he traveled extensively, teaching and spreading Shotokan karate across the globe.

Kanazawa founded the Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF), which has grown to become one of the largest and most influential Shotokan karate organizations worldwide. His legacy lives on through the countless students and instructors he has trained.

#2 Mas Oyama

  • πŸ† Achievements: Founder of Kyokushin Karate, 10th Dan karate black belt
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1940s–1994
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: Kyokushin Karate Organization
  • 🌐 Nationality: Japanese-Korean

Mas Oyama, born Choi Yeong-Eui, was a legendary martial artist known for founding the Kyokushin Karate style, renowned for its full-contact sparring approach. He achieved the highest level of 10th Dan black belt and was respected for his physical strength and incredible feats, such as battling bulls with his bare hands.

Oyama developed the Kyokushin system with a philosophy that emphasized discipline, hard training, and a non-quitting spirit. Kyokushin has since become one of the most influential and widespread schools of karate, known for its rigorous training regimen and emphasis on real-world effectiveness.

Through the establishment of the International Karate Organization, Oyama spread Kyokushin Karate worldwide, inspiring and training a multitude of practitioners. His contributions to karate have left an indelible mark on the martial arts world.

#3 Hidetaka Nishiyama

  • πŸ† Achievements: Co-founder of the Japan Karate Association (JKA), 10th Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1940s–2008
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: Japan Karate Association, International Traditional Karate Federation
  • 🌐 Nationality: Japanese

Hidetaka Nishiyama was an influential figure in the promotion and development of karate as a structured discipline across the globe. He was a co-founder of the Japan Karate Association (JKA), one of the most prominent karate organizations in the world.

Nishiyama’s dedication to karate was profound, and he was instrumental in developing the JKA instructor training program and the establishment of standardized kumite (sparring) and kata (form) techniques. His technical expertise and educational approach brought a scientific and pedagogical foundation to karate instruction.

Later in his life, Nishiyama also founded the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF). His commitment to preserving the traditional aspects of karate and furthering its study as a martial art and sport earned him recognition and respect worldwide.

#4 Gichin Funakoshi

  • πŸ† Achievements: Founder of Shotokan Karate, Father of Modern Karate
  • πŸ“… Years Active: Late 1800s–1957
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: N/A
  • 🌐 Nationality: Japanese

Gichin Funakoshi is widely known as the father of modern karate, having been pivotal in introducing the martial art to mainland Japan from Okinawa. He is the founder of Shotokan karate, one of the most practiced karate styles in the world.

Funakoshi was devoted not only to the physical aspects of karate but also to its philosophical underpinnings, emphasizing the development of character over combat ability. He famously quoted, “The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.”

Under his guidance, karate evolved from a local Okinawan fighting style into a respected martial art practiced globally. Through his writings and teaching, Funakoshi established the foundation upon which modern karate stands.

#5 Teruyuki Okazaki

  • πŸ† Achievements: 10th Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, founder of the International Shotokan Karate Federation
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1950s–2020
  • πŸ‘• Teams Coached: International Shotokan Karate Federation
  • 🌐 Nationality: Japanese

Teruyuki Okazaki was a prominent karate master credited with introducing and establishing Shotokan karate in the United States and beyond. He held the rank of a 10th Dan black belt, the highest rank in the discipline.

As a direct student of Master Gichin Funakoshi, Okazaki was dedicated to preserving and promoting the teachings of his sensei. He was known for his technical excellence, detailed instruction style, and deep philosophical understanding of the martial art.

In 1977, Okazaki founded the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF), which has since become one of the world’s leading Shotokan karate organizations. His legacy is carried on by the numerous students and instructors who continue to practice and teach Shotokan karate according to his guidance.

FAQ

Who is the greatest Karate coach of all time?

Hiroshi Shirai is often considered the greatest Karate coach, renowned for his expertise and contributions to Shotokan Karate.

Who was the most successful Karate coach?

Teruyuki Okazaki is viewed as the most successful Karate coach, having trained countless champions in the Japan Karate Association.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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