Who are the current "Stars" of Shotokan Karate (Japanese OR Western) ? Who are spoken about in the same way as Sensei such as Nakayama, Enoeda, Yahara, Asai, Kanazawa, Kagawa, Kawasoe, Tanaka, Osaka etc were in their day ? I think Sensei Tatsuya Naka is "up there" just now. What does everyone else think ? By "in their day", I don't mean that these Sensei have had their time, as it were ! I don't think I'm explaining myself properly ! :-[
That might sound very cynical but not for the reasons you might think, hear me out. I do believe that their are some outstanding karateka around and you could easily compile a list of up n comers (Murakami, Hasselton, Bertel, La Grange, Yamaguchi, Dorfmann, Herbert, Langley et al) who are making a huge impact and contribution to their respective organizations and beyond. AND who I believe could potentially rival those mentioned by Andy (sacrilege I know )
All these "stars" Andy mentioned all come from a time when the JKA were needing to 'spread the word' and popularise karate around the world. And in this the power of the personality (sometimes even cult of the personality) was used to further the cause. Each of them developed followers of their own particular brand, so when it came to the split in the JKA people tended to follow their 'star'. The power of the personality triumphed over the power of the organization.
In my personal opinion organizations recognize this now and instead of pushing the individual brand, you will see that first and foremost it is the organizational brand that is pushed and the individual second.
Hence me asking if there are any 'stars' compared to years past.
I think that there are SO many fine Karateka about now that it is harder to 'stand out' BUT I also believe that the splits/arguments/rivalry also has diluted everything so much = Hard to fathom who is 'good' and who is advertised or self advertises as the best!
I am not knocking professional Instructors advertising and promoting themselves to get work = perfectly acceptable IMHO but (for example) how many Teams Leave the UK with National Karate Team on their Tracksuits to go to yet another World Champs?
And this is also falling foul of rapidly dropping levels of people 'doing' Karate! I fear that in a few decades Karate could well diminish into a minority/rare participation 'thing' and will be replaced by hybrid MA's. But I suppose that is evolution
a few short paragraphs folks to really discuss it would take pages
I think that people think of these guys as stars in large part because karate in general and shotokan in particular was new to the West and shotokan was synonymous to most people back then with the JKA. I think that their being stars was as much marketing/publicity as anything else. How many of you consider Ohshima as a "star', let alone any of his many many senior students who have been in shotokan for many decades. For that matter, how many of you know of Kisaka, who remains the most amazing kicker of anyone that I have ever seen. In short, I think the stardom of these instructors is due only in part to their technical and instructional abilities and personalities and is due at least as much to them having been in the right place at the right time.
Why oh Why after karate being all around the world and Gaijin' studying as hard and long as the Japanese are you only considered up and coming IF your Japanese? I am sure many nations have fine karateka coming through!
You talking to me? If so, I agree with you. I only mentioned Ohshima and Kisaka because they in fact were of the same older generation as Okazaki, Enoeda, etc. They may may be less known in some circles, but like I said, they are as worthy as the others of being considered stars. Indeed, in the SKA, I would bet that most know little or anything of the JKA stars of the 60's that people here like to hold in such high regard.
As for the current and up-and-coming instructors, I see no reason to think that Japan has any advantage over non-Japanese intructors. Indeed, I have seen much more innovative Western instructors thanJapanese.