Harada Sensei MBE
It was at this time that Gichin Funakoshi endorsed his faith in Harada, awarding him his 5th Dan, at the very young age of 28. Master Harada has never sought a Dan grade beyond Godan feeling it meaningless, how could he grade above his own teacher O’Sensei, who was 5th Dan (this is also the highest grade attainable in Master Harada’s organisation the KDS).
In April 1957, Master Harada received a telegram from Master Egami informing him of that Master Funakoshi had passed away quietly in hospital on the 26th of that month. He had been at his old teachers side when O’Sensei took his last breath. Egami had taken on the role of looking after the Old Master and had learnt much from him, but when Egami fell ill, no one could fulfil his duties. Funakoshi’s family objected to a particularly well-known association and one bureaucrat of that organisation in particular, to arranging the funeral.
There were many reasons for this. Therefore a group was formed to attend to the funeral, with Yoshihide, O’Sensei’s oldest son as Chairman – the Shotokai. At this time the Shotokai had no Karate significance, but some of its members did, Masters Hironishi, Egami, Yanisagawa. Members of the Shotokai were executors to the estate and trusted by the Funakoshi family. Under the direction of Dr. Nobumoto Ohama the President of Waseda, the Waseda group joined. After the funeral the Shotokai was not dissolved and the universities of Chuo, Senshu, Toho, Gakushuin and Tokyo Noko remained. At this point, there were, no technical differences, all were practising Shotokan.
Master Egami wrote to Master Harada, to inform him of the developments. Harada with his close ties to Master Funakoshi and Egami subsequently became a member of the Shotokai. Funakoshi’s students could not agree in which direction the founders style should develop. The Shotokai were dedicated to preserving the orthodox teachings of Gichin Funakoshi, and Egami believed that future development should lead along the path the old master had intended. Certainly it could be said that Funakoshi did not approve of the direction certain senior Karateka were taking his Shotokan Karate.
Late in 1959 Master Ohshima, now a 5th Dan awarded by Waseda University came to Brazil to visit his old friend Master Harada and teach at his dojo. He stayed for two weeks, and whilst he was there the two met up with Master Masahhiko Kimura a famous Judoka from Takushoku University. By 1963 Master Harada had some 16-17 blackbelts under him, all 1st Dan.
His first blackbelt was Mr. Yasuda a fellow bank employee. By now other instructors had come to Brazil and the usual petty rivalries had begun, it was time to move on.
Later that year Master Harada had been invited to Paris. Karate students there had heard of him and raised sufficient funds to buy an air ticket in order that he could visit them. Harada resigned his position at the bank, with the intention of taking a year out to travel, before returning. By now, an additional call had been received by Master Harada, to take over Ohshima’s group (at the request of Master Ohshima). On his arrival in Paris, Master Harada taught at the dojo’s of Tetsuji Murakami, a Yoseikan 3rd Dan whom had come to France at the invitation of Henri Plee. At this time Master Harada was teaching orthodox Shotokan Karate. Practise mainly consisted of Ten-no Kata, Kihon, Sambon Kumite and Kata. Whilst researches with Egami had certainly become a part of Harada’s practise, these benefits were being expressed through a university style he had been taught. However, Master Harada was aware of the rigidity of the Shotokan he had been practising and endeavoured to evolve and progress.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Master Harada always took part in each lesson; he would accept each student in turn, allowing a strong bond to be built. Another instructor involved with Harada at this time was a named Hoang Nam. But, again, jealousy and politics appeared again, forcing Master Harada to take his obvious talents elsewhere.