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