The Beginners Guide to Shotokan Karate by John Van Weenen

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  • Overview
  • John van Weenen was born in 1941 and spent his early years in Enfield, Middlesex. At school he proved to be an exceptional swimmer, representing England in 1956.


Binding Paperback
Publisher John Van Weenen
Country of Origin UK
Number of Pages 388
Pubilcation Date 1983
Condition New

Product details

  • Karate Book
  • by John Van Weenen
  • Great Classic
  • Loads of Photos
  • Great Story

The Beginners Guide to Shotokan Karate Description

'On the back' of The Beginners Guide to Shotokan Karate

John van Weenen was born in 1941 and spent his early years in Enfield, Middlesex. At school he proved to be an exceptional swimmer, representing England in 1956.
By the early 1960's, he had developed a deep interest in the Martial Arts but was frustrated by the lack of available information on them.

In 1963, he emigrated to Australia and soon after arriving in Adelaide, saw an advertisement in a local newspaper for Karate lesson's. John joined the club, run at that time by the late Moss Hollis, a 3rd Dan to whom John will always remain indebted. Three years later, after training four nights a week, he was awarded his Black Belt.

John returned to England in 1966, where he established the first Karate Club in North London. People came from all over the capital to his Dojo in Enfield, to learn of this new and mysterious art.

The Club affiliated to the Karate Union of Great Britain and Hirokazu Kanazawa 5th Dan was the Chief Instructor. In July 1967, Kanazawa Sensei relinquished his position and returned to Japan. More than anything, John wanted to go too.

The Japanese Embassy in Grosvenor Square told him it was impossible.

Undeterred, he set out with two fellow students, across Germany, Poland and Russia and finally arrived at Yokohama.

The training sessions at the J.K.A. Headquarters in Tokyo were at worst "Severe", and at best, " Inhospitable". In retrospect, they were of course priceless.

The following year he returned to the U.K. after having walked 3,000 miles across North America and so began his life as a Professional Karate teacher.

In the 27 years that have followed, John has taught Karate-Do to tens of thousands of people from all walks of life and many of today's National Chief Instructors, began their Karate training in one of his Dojo's.

Whilst adhering strictly to the teachings of Kanazawa Sensei, whom John himself regards as the "Greatest Teacher of Modern Times", he was unknowingly being drawn more and more towards the doctrines and philosophy of Funakoshi Sensei.

By 1991, fate had taken a hand and John found himself leading the largest convoy of humanitarian aid to leave the U.K. since World War 2. The route lay through war torn Jugoslavia to the tiny country of Albania, who's citizens were dying of starvation under communist oppression.

Harnessing virtually everything he had ever learned during almost 30 years of practising Karate-Dö and with the assistance of a loyal team, the aid finally got through and without any form of physical violence whatsoever.

Two years later on a lonely mountainside road he met Albania's most famous daughter - "Mother Teresa". "Make benevolence your lifelong duty. This surely is an important mission, It is a lifelong effort, truly a long journey". They were the words of Funakoshi Sensei, written 50 years earlier but they could just as well have been her's - their philosophy was indistinguishable.
John now lives with his wife Jane and their two sons, Haydn and Mansel at Fineshade in Northamptonshire.

"Okinawa", the principal island of the Ryukyu Archipelago, means "A Rope In . An apt description indeed, seeing that this long slender island lies near the centre of a line of islands that stretch from Japan in the north to the very doorstep of China in the south.

We know that there were Ryukyuan contacts with the Asian continent as early as the third century B.C., a fact that is shown by the number of artifacts identified with north China that have been found near Naha in Okinawa. The inevitable conclusion is that apart from the cultural influences that found their way into the Ryukyu Islands, there came an influx of weaponless fighting techniques that were the progenitors of modern day China saw the development of the Shaolin Chuan Fa by the Indian Monk Bodhidharma in the Sixth Century, and in the following Century, some Japanese students of Buddhism, studying in Chinese monasteries, were undoubtedly exposed to these techniques. It is reported, the more adventurous of these, after completing their training, set sail to the East in order to spread the teachings to the known world. Although conjecture, such Monks if stranded on the distant Ryukyus doubtlessly would have introduced the natives to their form of self defence as well as to their religion.

From the end of the T'Ang Dynasty to the beginning of the Ming period in 1368 - a span of 450 years - there is an unexplained silence regarding the development of Karate in the Ryukyus.

Karate proper is believed to have evolved after 1372 when official Chinese Okinawan relations were instituted. The practise of Chuan Fa increased greatly and when combined with the ancient Okinawan system of combat known as "Tode" (Toe-Day), fighting with fists, produced Karate.

During the secretive years (1609-1903) we find little information on Karate activity, although this was the period of greatest development.

After 1903, Karate became more or less standardized in various styles or "Ryu", and in 1915, Karate was brought to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi when he demonstrated the art at the Great Japanese Martial Arts Headquarters in Kyoto called the Butoku-Den.

During the years following 1915, other Okinawan Masters journeyed to Japan to teach their art and in doing so, formally introduced to the world an effective system of unarmed, hand to hand, combat.

In 1936 Funakoshi established the "Shotokan" in Tokyo and this eventually led to the inauguration of the Japan Karate Association in 1955 with Funakoshi as Chief Instructor, where he remained until his death in April 1957, at the age of 88.


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