Our History

1957   After the passing of Funakoshi Sensei, the leadership of the Japan Karate Association was given to Masatoshi Nakayama. In fulfilling his vision of world-wide distribution of Shotokan karate, senior karate-ka from Japan were assigned to further introduce karate to all four corners of the globe.

1961   Teruyuki Okazaki was assigned to the United States to begin teaching Shotokan Karate to Americans. The ISKF is an organization which currently has thousands of members in nearly every county in North and South America.

1970-1974   Bob Hoffman began his study of Shotokan Karate with Mr. Okazaki as his Sensei (teacher) at West Chester University and received his shodan (1st degree black belt).

1977   Shihan Okazaki, along with several other JKA instructors, established the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) to oversee JKA Shotokan Karate in the Western hemisphere.

1980-1981   Mr. Okazaki requested Bob Hoffman to further introduce Shotokan Karate to the Chester County area, and in March of 1981 Mr. Hoffman established the Downingtown Karate Club.

1990   This club evolved into the Chester County Shotokan Karate Club (CCSKC).

Master Gichin Funakoshi

Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate, was born in the Shuri, Okinawa Prefecture of Japan in 1868. Though a sickly child, who was not expected to live long, he developed both his body and mind through the study of Karate and the scholastic works of ancient China. Master Funakoshi spent his life as a school teacher, a poet and, most importantly to many, a martial arts instructor.
He was credited with introducing the martial art of Karate-Do to Japan in the early 1900’s. In fact, his demonstration for the emperor, held at the first Japanese National Athletic Exhibit in 1921, lead to the Japanese interest in Okinawan martial arts and the eventual founding of the Shotokan Dojo in Tokyo, Japan.
The name Shotokan, quite likely not the name that Master Funakoshi would have chosen, because of his strong sense of modesty, came from combining his pen name Shoto “Pine Waves” with the term Kan “way or house of.” To his students, the name Shotokan quite literally meant “Funakoshi’s way.”

Master Masatoshi Nakayama

Masatoshi Nakayama, born in 1913 to a Samurai family, trained in Kendo, the traditional Japanese art of the sword, for more than 5 years before entering Takushoku University. But, at the University, he first observed the martial art that was to become known as Shotokan Karate and, in 1932, he began his training directly under Master Funakoshi. In order to better understand Shotokan Karate, and quench his own thirst for knowledge, Master Nakayama traveled extensively through China, learning about other traditional martial arts.

His lifetime accomplishments are too numerous to fully list here. Besides authoring countless textbooks on the subject, and a lifetime of teaching traditional Shotokan Karate-do, he is also credited with creating the concept of “sport” Karate. His basic rules and concepts for tournament competition are still used today, to promote, not competition itself, but the use of competition as a training tool for the serious student of Shotokan.

Personally appointed by Master Funakoshi to oversee instruction of Shotokan, Master Nakayama led the Japan Karate Association (JKA) for many years, until his death in 1987

Master Teruyuki Okazaki

Teruyuki Okazaki was born in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan in 1931. His study of martial arts began at elementary school age with Judo and Kendo. In 1947, when it was time to enter Takushoku University, he decided to train in Aikdo, with Master Ueshiba, and karate, with Master Funakoshi. In time, the decision was made to devote all of his time to karate.

After graduating in 1953, and until his appointment to the United States in 1961, Sensei Okazaki continued the growth of his influence in Shotokan Karate. He taught Shotokan at the University, as well as Japan’s self-defense academy, traveled with Masters Funakoshi and Nakayama giving demonstrations, teaching, and studying other martial arts, and was hired by the Japan Karate Association to coach the first instructor trainee program.

The short assignment to the U.S. has now lasted almost 50 years. His organization, the International Shotokan Karate Federation, is the largest outside of Japan, providing more evidence of his profound expertise as a karate-ka (holding the 10th degree) and as a world renowned leader in Shotokan karate.