About SKA

Photo of Tsutomu Ohshima

Shotokan Karate of America (SKA) is a nonprofit karate organization, founded in 1955 by Tsutomu Ohshima, who is also recognized as the chief instructor of many other national Shotokan organizations worldwide.

Mr. Ohshima's distinguished association with Shotokan karate began at Waseda University in Japan, beginning in 1948. While he was there he trained directly under the style's founder, Master Funakoshi. Mr. Ohshima left Japan in 1955 to continue his studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he led his first US practice. The first university karate club in the United States was founded by Mr. Ohshima, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, in 1958. The following year (1959) saw the founding of the Southern California Karate Association (SCKA). For the next ten years the reputation and membership of the SCKA continued to grow. Many new dojos were started by Mr. Ohshima's black belt instructors in California and across the nation. Thus the organization was renamed Shotokan Karate of America in 1969

Mr. Ohshima describes in an interview an early formative experience leading to his own study of Shotokan karate:

"When I was the leader of a small high school," he explains, "I was threatened by people. And I could find out for myself, I am not courageous enough to do anything, no matter how I thought, no matter how I found out some theory or logic. It does not work.

"One day I was going to Tokyo. This group was beating one young student because he was a quiet boy. And this was a ridiculous reason. But these guys were beating this young boy--same age as me, 15 or 16. I got so mad. Mad, because the person next to me said, 'Don't go, you'll get beat up.'

"I was ashamed of myself. I knew this was injustice. Why couldn't I put myself out there? I could be beaten up, but I could stand it. But I just sat there and overlooked. I said to myself, 'I am a coward guy.' I knew somebody was getting beat up, but I couldn't help him. Therefore, when I was practicing karate, every time I asked myself, 'Are you ready to put yourself into something that you believe is justice?'"

Through serious martial arts practice, we can learn to face ourselves strictly and show our best spirit in all situations. In another interview, Mr. Ohshima noted that "originally this was the most important thing about martial arts--to reach a higher level, to become a strong human being. Strong doesn't mean big arms. It means who can be a more strict human being with himself. That is the ideal of martial arts." And that is our practice in SKA.

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