Karate's influences originated from what is now India and came eventually to ancient China. It was brought to Okinawan Islands where it became fostered and advanced into To-de, which later would be called "karate" (empty hand) by the Japanese. Upon the Japanese Emperor’s "suggestion" an elite student of Okinawa's fighting system and school teacher, Gichin Funakoshi, travelled to mainland Japan in 1922, never to see his native island again.
Immersed in Japanese samurai like Bushido culture, Funakoshi created a new style of what was now called “karate.” With its Okinawan veins still intact, but with the help of medical and biological scientists within Japanese universities, Master Funakoshi created what would become the most devastating fighting art in the world, Shotokan. In time his disciples would stun the world with the exportation of this fearsome combative art through the Japanese Karate Association (JKA). But, for some few westerners, their path predated the JKA and began in Japan.
Far before most westerners had heard of "karate" one man was training in a dojo in Tokyo, Japan overseen by the legendary founder of modern karate not long after leaving the battlefields of Korea in the 1950s.
The man was Richard C. Gould and he would be one of the most senior western karate practitioners in the world and he would become one of the senseis responsible to bringing upwards of thousands of people into the life of Shotokan Karate-do.
After loyally following his sensei, the revered Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama (西山 英峻), in the United States to senior level, alongside karate-ka such as Kenneth Funakoshi and Ray Dalke, Gould continued the karate path helping in organizations that included the JKA, WUKO, and ISKF before co-founding the AJKA and founding his own American Shotokan Karate Federation (ASKF) in 1982.
The ASKF exploded onto the karate scene from its home at South Dakota State University hosting karate greats such as: Masahiko Tanaka, Yutaka Yaguchi, Teruyuki Okazaki, with continued work with his karate comrades Ray Dalke, Leslie Safar, and other karate giants.
Gaining a reputation for both a rugged, yet highly respected karate organization the world over, producing honorable, yet feared fighters, Gould's ASKF mirrored the man that took his first steps on Asian soil with an M1 Garand, as a combat soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps into the Korean War. Still, the ASKF became his largest and proudest accomplishment.
It would seem that Master Funakoshi, Sensei Richard Gould, and all of their followers' paths were destined to become intertwined. What is sure is the ASKF followers' journey is certainly a joined path today.
Today the ASKF continues in its unique and traditional way. His most senior students continuing to uphold the road of the ASKF for others to follow. His son, David, now holds the position of chief administrator for the ASKF, retains a 6th degree black belt, and teaches and directs the ASKF international headquarter at the Shotokan Karate Dojo at 12102 East Mississippi Avenue Aurora, Colorado 80012.
The true history of Shotokan Karate, an indepth look into the karate culture, sensei R. C. Gould's colorful world and legacy, the ASKF, and much more.
ASKF.org, updated December 2017.
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Gould, Richard David, Kiyoshi, Roku Dan (6th dan) 1984 - …
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Yokota, Kousaku. Shotokan Mythes: The Forbidden Answers to the Mysteries of Shotokan Karate, 2nd ed. (U.S.A: Kousaku Yokota Published), 2015.
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