O'Sensei Richard Kim
(Nov 17th, 1917 - Nov 8th, 2001)
by Sensei Kurt Nordli
1917: Sensei Kim is born in Hawaii on Nov 17th, 1917.
1925: He began training in both boxing and judo. With his boxing he spent many hours in the local boxing clubs. His judo training was under Kaneko-sensei.
1927: This is when sensei met Yabu Kentsu (the sergeant) at the Nuuanu YMCA and studied karate basics for a year.
(Yabu Kentsu 1863 - 1937)
Yabu Kentsu was a top student of Itosu Yasutsune. Yabu was a graduate of the Kashi-Yoseisho (non comissioned officers school) and was a stickler for the basics. Yabu was one of the first men to instruct karate in the Okinawan school system. In 1927 he moved to Hawaii where he taught in the local YMCA for about a year then he returned to his homeland. Some of Yabu's top students were Kanken Toyama, Chosin Chibana and Shinpan Gusukuma.
1928: After training under Yabu Sensei Kim further continued his training under Arakaki Ankichi. After this he trained with Mutsu.
(Arakaki Ankichi 1899 - 1927)
Aragaki was born into a wealthy family in Shuri. He started training under Chomo Hanashiro and Shinpan Gusukuma. In his teens he dropped out of middle school and began training under Chosin Chibana. One of Aragaki's most famous matches, when he was 19 he entered a sumo tournament and defeated a giant wrestler from the village of Yomitan. Aragaki died at the young age of 28 from ulcers. One of his final students was Shoshin Nagamine who went on to start the matsubayashi branch of Shorin-Ryu.
1935: Sensei Kim graduated from high school and attended the university of Hawaii. At this point he was studying karate in Honolulu with Tachibana. While in University he furthered his boxing experience by training at Sato's Gym on Maunakea Street in Honolulu. Here he sparred with some of the best up and coming champions of the world.
1937: In 1937 Sensei traveled to Shanghai, China and enrolled at St. Johns University and then Towa University where he received a doctorate from each school. While in China he studied Tai Chi at the 'Shanghai Martial Arts Academy' under Chen Chin Wuan. At the same time he studied Pa Kua and Shorinjiryu Kenpo at the 'Stemberra Physical Culture Institute' from Chao Hsu Lie.
Sensei Kim's greatest instructor in China was Wang Xian Zhai who taught him a style called Yi Quan.
(Master Wang Xian Zhai, 1885 - 1963)
Wang Xiangzhai (1886-1963), also known as Nibao, Zhenghe or Yuseng (Monk of Universe) was one of the best students of Guo Yunshen (Kuo Yun Shen), famous master of xingyiquan (hsing-i ch'uan). In childhood Wang Xiangzhai was weak and of poor health. That's why his parents decided that he should do some excercises to strenghten his body and improve health. Because Wang and Guo families were related, Wang Xiangzhai's father asked Guo Yunshen, who lived at that time in a neighbouring village, to teach his son kung-fu. Guo refused though, saying that he was too old to accept new students. But later some friend of both families persuaded Guo, and eight years old Wang started learning xingyiquan.
One story says that once, when Guo got cold, and despite of this went out without putting his jacket on, after some time little Wang, who was worried about his master's health, took jacket and went out to look after Guo. At last found him in some quiet place, doing very strange exercises, quite different from those, which he usually taught. Astounded Wang silently watched master, who stood without motion in a position which Wang saw for the first time. At some moment Guo heard rustle and turned around - he saw that it was his little pupil who brought him his jacket. Since that time Guo treated the boy quite differently than other students, teaching him stuff which was not passed to others. Only Wang Xiangzhai learned all the secrets of Guo Yunshen's zhan zhuang exercises, which exercises became later the most characteristic element of Yi Quan.
1937: It was while in China that he first met Kenichi Sawai.
In 1940 in Tokyo a big festival of martial arts took place in which Chinese teams also participated. Some Chinese masters collaborating with Japanese went . The chief of the team tried to persuade Wang Xiangzhai, whom he regarded as greatest master, to participate. Wang refused. But because during the festival, the Chinese talked a lot about Wang Xiangzhai, soon many Japanese started coming to Beijing to visit Wang. Many of them challenged Wang, and all were defeated. Many of them wanted become Wang's students, but only one was accepted. It was Kenichi Sawai, who later created his version of Yi Quan, known in Japan as tai ki-ken (Sawai was one of most famous masters of martial arts in Japan, he was consultant of Masutatsu Oyama, founder of kyokushin karate).
1939: Sensei Kim finally traveled to Japan and continued his studies under Yabu Kentsu who had moved back to Japan. At this point he also continued training under Kenichi Sawai. It was about this time he began learning kobudo from Toyama Kanken, and joined the Japanese Busen.
(Toyama Kanken 1888 - 1966)
Toyama studied martial arts for a while under Kanryo Higaonna but most of his training was under Ankoh Yatsuni Itosu of Shuri. His weapons training was with Chosin Chibana. Toyama formed the All Japan Karate Do Association in 1946.
1940: It was while in Japan Sensei Kim met noted karate historian Kinjo Hiroshi. Kinjo impressed Sensei Kim as being a walking karate encyclopedia.
(Sensei Kim & Kinjo Hiroshi - Photo taken to commemorate Sensei's 8th Dan)
1941: Sensei Richard Kim at the age of 22 received the rank of Yondan.
(Sensei Kim in his early 20's)
1945: It was this year that Sensei Kim met and began training under Yoshida Kotaro, the man he considers to be his main instructor. Kotaro instructed Sensei Kim in the art of Daito Ryu and kobudo from 1945 - 1952. It was from Yoshida Kotaro that he received the 'Menkyo Kaiden', (certificate of full proficiency given by a Master to a chosen student best suited to carry on the style) and the scroll depicting the history of Daito Ryu.
Yoshida Kotaro is by some considered to be Ueshiba Morihei's sensei. Sensei Kim considers Kotaro to be one of the greatest masters of all time.
Pictured here is Sensei Kim in his late 20's and his instructor Yoshida Kotaro
(Yoshida Kotaro circa 1964)
1948: It was around this time Sensei Kim met Gogen Yamaguchi and Mas Oyama in Yokohama.
(Gogen Yamaguchi, 1909 - 1989)
(Sosai Masutatsu Oyama, 1923 - 1994)
1951: From 1951 - 1957 Sensei Kim instructed Karate, Judo and Kobudo in Yokohama.
1957: Sensei established the Kenshu Kan Karate School with James Miyagi in Hawaii.
(Pictured are Richard Lee, Sensei Kim & James Miyagi)
(Sensei James Miyagi)
1959: Sensei Kim moved permanently to San Francisco, where he established the Shorinji Ryu Karate School at the YMCA in Chinatown. Established the Zen Bei Butokukai
1966: Santa Cruz branch joined the Zen Bei Butokukai under Sensei Kim.
(Dr Paul Castillo & Linda Castillo)
1967: Sensei Kim is voted "Sensei of the Year" by Black Belt Magazine.
1970: Started writing a monthly column for "Karate Illustrated" magazine from 1970 - 1980.
1972: Sensei Kim became director and head instructor of the AAKF/ITKF Black Belt summer camp held at UCSD.
1972: Denis Farbatiuk and Don Warrener visit Sensei Kim in San Francisco and become members of his organization.
1973: Sensei Kim is voted into the Black Belt Hall Of Fame as the "Man of the Year".
1973 Sensei Kim and Brian Ricci came to Canada for the first time. This is the first of many visits.
1974: The book, "Weaponless Warrior" is published.
1975: This is the year Sensei Kim was named "Who's Who in the Martial Arts". Also from now until 1981 Sensei Kim became the editor of the Japanese and Okinawan entries for "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Martial Arts".
1976: Sensei Kim established the International Butokukai with chapters in France, Germany, Canada and USA.
1978: Aoinagi-ha Karate under Raymond Castilonia joined the Zen Bei Butokukai. Sensei Kim founded the organization "Way of Mankind". He became the director of the U.S. Team for the I.A.K.F. world championships, and received the honorific title of "Hanshi".
1979: Denis Farbatiuk brings Sensei Kim up to Canada for the first ever "Guelph Summer Camp". These camps have continued from that point on with Mrs. Eileen Dennis in charge of them. Mrs. Dennis is head of the 'Eastern Canadian Butokukai'.
1980: The Shima Karate School under Rick Marshall became members of the Butokukai. Rick Marshall is named head of the 'Western Canadian Butokukai'.
(Sensei Kim and Rick Marshall - Head of the "Western Canadian Butokukai")
1980: The Butokukai branch in Quebec is founded.
1982: Sensei Kim's second book "The Classical Man" is published.
1983: Rick Marshall brings Sensei Kim up to Victoria B.C. for the first of many summer camps at the University of Victoria. Between the years of 1983-1986 the books "Kobudo 1,2 & 3" are published.
1984: Sensei Kim received the Rank of Kudan from the ITKF
1987: Tyndall's Karate School is established and became a branch of the Zen Bei Butokukai.
1993: Busen of Canada is founded.
1996: Sensei Kim oversees the first ever "National Butokukai Karate Championships" is held in Vancouver B.C. with competitors from Canada and the States.
1998: The second "National Butokukai Karate Championships is adjudicated by Sensei Kim, held in Niagara Falls Ontario.
1999: Final Victoria summer camp is held.
1999: O'Sensei Kim is promoted to the rank of Judan.
Sensei turns 80 on Nov 17, 1999.
(The Canadian entourage, from left to right) Rick Marshall, O'Sensei Kim, Robert Leong, Dino Cain, Greg Mellor, Sonia, Yulia, Debbie Bilton, Joe Fournier, Robbert Intveld, Kurt Nordli,
2001: Sensei Kim passed away on November 8th 2001 in San Diego California. His many students from all over the world will miss him.
O' Sensei Kim was truly one of the last great masters in the world.
Pictured is O' Sensei Richard Kim's Memorial