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Harada Sensei MBE

However, tragedy struck again, Egami fell ill before he could physically pass on his new found body condition; but Harada had already experienced it, he had indeed passed it onto to his pupil.

At the first summer camp that Harada attended he was introduced to an outstanding 3rd Dan named Tadao Okuyama. Harada trained under him every afternoon for 2 years. Okuyama suddenly disappeared after a disagreement with master Kamata over technique. He left and went into the Tsukuba Mountains 50 miles Northeast of Tokyo in search for the truth. A couple of years later he re-appeared but trained only with Master Egami in secret. One day Egami told Harada of this and used a meeting with Okuyama as motivation whilst he practised. Then in 1955 when Harada was due to leave Waseda that day came. As soon as Harada saw the kimono clad Okuyama with his long flowing hair he said, “I knew I couldn’t win the encounter”. There was something special about him. Harada faced him all the same, but as soon as it had begun it was over “it was truly incredible” Harada recalled, “so fast”. Okuyama had attacked Harada’s head with an open palm. Okuyama had not even physically touched Harada “but I felt the power, such power, I had never felt that before anywhere”. It still haunts Harada to this day. Okuyama had not been locked in the past as many of his contemporaries were; he was concerned with future…how to evolve. A long time partner of the gifted Renshi Yoshitaka, Master Egami admitted to Harada that Okuyama’s level was even higher still; so high in fact that no one could follow him.

After completing his Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1953, Harada had then undertaken a Masters, which he successfully completed in 1955. Whilst at graduate school he assisted Master Noguchi and also had a position with Toshiba. He also assisted Master Matoshi Nakayama to teach American servicemen. It was during this time at Waseda that Harada first witnessed the founder of Aikido - Master Morihei Ueshiba, he described him as “tremendous”. Harada was also fortunate enough to see his final demonstration at the Kodokan in 1969, only months before he died. Harada spoke of Ueshiba’s apparent ability to throw opponents, without touching them to his teacher Master Egami. Master Egami told Harada about his own encounter with Ueshiba many years before as a student, likewise finding himself flying through the air without any physical contact. He then told his student something that would affect his life for the next 50 years – Master Egami said “you must endeavour to produce this effect with Karate technique”.

Karate Goes To South America

In 1955 Harada took a position with the Bank of South America in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was to set sail on the Africa Maru. Master Egami (whom he had trained with night before). Master Motohiro Yanisagawa (a student of Egami from Chuo University) and his son Daisuke saw Harada off. His parents and sister had said their farewells earlier as requested by their departing son. During the journey, the ship docked in Los Angeles, Harada had an opportunity to visit his old friend from Waseda Tsutomu Ohshima who was now based in California.

On his arrival in Brazil, Harada settled into his new job at the bank, the manager on learning of his newest employee’s Karate expertise, asked Harada to do a demonstration for the bank staff. After the demonstration, a young employee approached him and asked to be taken on as a student; but there was nowhere to train! The prospective student was persistent and found a Judo dojo, which he said, they could use together. They began training in October 1955. Soon the student’s nephew joined and then some of his friends came. In no time the club expanded to some 30-40 students. This was the first Karate Club in the whole of South America, Harada as his instructor Gichin Funakoshi had been before him, was a pioneer of Karate.

Master Harada wanted to affiliate the club with Japan and wrote to Master Funakoshi. O’Sensei responded to his student’s letter and Harada was shocked by the contents of the letter. Master Funakoshi firmly stated that Harada should start up a separate Brazilian Organisation. Harada was pleased and encouraged. O’Sensei considered that, the art he introduced to mainland Japan had been largely spoiled and corrupted. By starting a new organisation, there was a chance for Karate to start afresh, away from the squabbling and bureaucracy that had become so commonplace in Japan. Hence the Karate-do Shotokan Brazileo was born.

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