Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara ( 1944-1995)

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A� A� A� A�A�Kancho Ashihara was born on December 5th 1944 outside Hiroshima. Kancho grew up with his grandparents in a small village called Nomicho. As a boy he was a restless soul and often got into fights. He first came into contact with Budo when he started training Kendo at the age of 10 to get an outlet for his energy.

In September 1961 the young man first entered a karate club. He saw karate practitioners train and spar hard and realistically, something he liked immediately. The club was Oyama Dojo, later the Kyokushinkai Honbu Dojo.

Kancho trained intensely and participated in every possible training session. His stubbornness and perseverance finally made it possible for him to grade to Shodan on March 26th 1964. He was then only 19 years old, and no one at the dojo could defeat him in kumite.

In 1966 Kancho was made instructor in Kyokushinkai Karate at the Honbu Dojo. He performed well, and it was decided that Kancho would have the honour of travelling to Brazil to instruct and spread Kyokushinkai Karate, something he had dreamed of for years.

The dynamic concept of Sabaki was developed by Kancho Ashihara forming the Three principal points for Ashihara Karate. Preparation, and the use of the four positions represented by the circular symbol of Ashihara Karate became the first point. The importance of timing and evaluation of distance (maai) became the second point. The third point is the stance, which must always be maintained whatever the situation to give maximum mobility.

Kancho Ashihara continued to the city Matsuyama, and Ashihara Karate quickly became popular there as well. Kancho started to instruct the police force, and universities started clubs in the area. Clubs were developed in Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Shiga and other places. In March 1978 the construction of the Dojo in Matsuyama commenced and Kancho moved there at the end of the year. In 1979 the building was completed, and since 1980 it is the Honbu Dojo for NIKO -Ashihara Kaikan.

Kancho was still associated with the Kyokushinkai organisation, but instructors in neighbouring districts were complaining about Kancho’s expansion of clubs. To avoid conflict within Kyokushinkai, Kancho Ashihara choose to resign from actively practising Karate at an official meeting in Tokyo in March 1978. Kancho announced that he was willing to give up leadership for the clubs, he had developed to concentrate on running his club in Matsuyama. It turned out that this was not enough, and Kancho was expelled from Kyokushinkai shortly thereafter, following urge by competing instructors. It was with this background that Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara created New International Karate Organisation in September 1980. In this organisation Kancho could continue to develop his own Karate, Ashihara Karate.

Shortly after founding NIKO, Kancho Ashihara started to plan the publishing of a series of books on the Ashihara system. The first part was published in 1983, and a total of three books were published. Two of these have been translated to English. There are also three instructional videos by Kancho, which are still used for educational purposes.

In 1987 came the first signs of Kancho’s illness. He had ALS, a rare disease of the nervous system. In the beginning of the 90’s his condition worsened and Kancho passed away on April 24th 1995, only 50 years old. Over 1000 persons were at his funeral and paid their last respects to a man, who went in to history as a truly, great karate master.