The Official Answer of the JKA-HQ: Why Ueki Masaaki received the 10th Dan!

Last week, we reported that Masaaki Ueki Shihan might had become the the first 10th Dan holder in the history of the JKA. We came to this conclusion because the JKA website indicated the award. However, no public announcement was made.

Right after our report speculations occurred. Some supposed that it was high time for Shihan Masaaki to receive the award because Hirokazu Kanazawa and Teruyuki Okazaki already had been awarded 10th Dan. They are the same generation like Ueki Masaaki. Thus, the award was only consequential.

Others asserted that the award was given because of internal promotions within the Shihankai of the JKA. Takeshi Oishi, for instance, was awarded the 9th Dan. In order to maintain the hierarchy within the organization the promotion of Shihan Masaaki was a necessary step.

We wanted to know it directly from the JKA-HQ. That is why we wrote an email to the headquarter and asked about a statement. Yesterday, we received the short answer. The JKA-HQ wrote:

“Shihan Ueki was awarded 10th dan by recommendation of Shihankai. The first and second chief instructors were given the award too.”

As the most of you have speculated, it was an internal decision. Why the JKA did not report about it, is still up for speculation. But it seems theoretically plausible that such a forced promotion due to hierarchical and/or seniority reasons is not deemed as prestigious and honorable by the JKA in comparison to a granting of a 10th Dan by the Kokusai Budoin like Hirokazu Kanazawa received. One would expect the JKA to utilize and explain this huge step. Because it is an important selling-argument for such an organization and a decision that only takes place every few decades. In the history of Shotokan, only a handful of people have hold a 10th Dan. The awarding should therefore be something special and highly valued. Under those kind if circumstances it seems odd that the JKA did not announce the award. We again requested an official press release by the JKA in which they might explain the decision and to prove all speculations wrong. The answer is still pending.

However, for many JKA members this might also been sad. The social media response on our report showed that many had wished to celebrate the award with Shihan Masaaki. Some might also be disappointed because the JKA did not inform its members about the decision. That reveals a gap between the Shihankai and the members. Some members might have felt left out although they are strongly committed to the organization, its values, and their chief instructor. We hope the JKA finds a way to solve this issue.

If we receive further information we will report immediately.


6 comments

  1. With respect to the Shotokan Times article, Ueki-sensei is NOT the “same generation” as Okazaki Teruyuki or Kanazawa Hirokazu.

    First, both Okazaki and Kanazawa were born in 1931, 8 years earlier than Ueki.

    Second, Okazaki-sensei started his Karate training in 1947, Kanazawa started his training in 1952 and Ueki started his training in 1955. As anyone who has trained in Shotokan Karate knows, someone who started training 8 years earlier than you and who is ranked at least two black belt levels above your white belts did is not your contemporary or of the “same generation.”

    Third, Okazaki-sensei graduated as the first “test” JKA instructor in 1955, Kanazawa graduated from the instructors program in 1957 (along with Mikami Takayuki) and Ueki graduated as a JKA instructor in 1961.

    Fourth, Okazaki-sensei was ranked Godan and Kanazawa-sensei was ranked Yondan at the time Ueki-sensei graduated from the JKA instructors program in 1961 and obtained his Sandan

    Okazaki-sensei is the senior living JKA ryu instructor in the world, and the last living JKA ryu Karate master to have studied under Funakoshi Gichin. I believe that if he was living in Japan today, that he would be the JKA’s Chief Instructor.

    Based upon the sempai / kohai system, it can also be said that if Kanazawa Hirokazu, Mikami Takayuki or Yaguch Yutaka sensei’s were living in Japan, and in the case of Kanazawa, still part of JKA, any of them would have rightfully been the JKA chief instructor.

    None of the above is meant to detract from Ueki-sensei in any manner. He was my teacher at Sophia University and I have nothing but the greatest respect for him, but having also studied with Okazaki-sensei and Kanazawa-sensei, I believe the record needs to be set straight related to JKA ryu history and seniority.

  2. Sensei Kenedy can you also expand on Nishiyama Sensei who I also ghonk6out ranks all the aboved mentioned Sensei
    Thank you.
    Martin Attale.

  3. I think the only reason not to announce is that award ceremony took place only on April 10. Let’s celebrate this event! Too much thinking about Dans and promotions has nothing to do with the practice.

  4. The promotion of Ueki shihan was announced by the videoing of the promotion ceremony at the hombu, and subsequent wide publication on social media. At the same ceremony Kawasoe, Machida and one other master were promoted to 8th dan.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.