What is ASAI Shihankai?

The main function is to uphold and improve the karate technical standard of ASAI. The members are responsible for approving the Examination Syllabus, dan recognition, the ASAI tournament, etc. We also engage in the discussion of the technical matters to understand those subjects that are not only Shotokan related but the other styles as well as martial arts in general.

One of the important responsibilities is the dan recognition. Obviously, this can be a sensitive matter not only for the candidates but also for ASAI because there are many who claim the dan ranks but their diplomas are not legitimate.

ASAI’s fundamental policy is that we recognize the diplomas only from the JKA and its lineage international organizations such as ISKF, SKIF, WSKF, JSKA, JKS, IJKA, etc. One requirement is that the chief instructor of that organization is Japanese and was a member of JKA for many years at one time. However, there are many karateka who earn their dan ranks from the organizations that do not belong to the requirement above. Many organizations, both local and international, are not related to Traditional karate or had no link to Nakayama karate heritage. We typically do not accept those diplomas. If a diploma from one of those organizations is submitted to us, it is our responsibility to review the diploma and investigate about such organization to determine if we can honor the diploma or not.

Currently we have seven Shihankai members around the world. We are happy to share the brief karate bio of the Shihankai members here.

Kousaku Yokota: Chairperson of the Shihankai board

Shihan Yokota, 8th dan, has extensive martial arts experience of nearly 60 years. Not only does he have over 50 years of Shotokan Karate experience, he has also studied other styles of karate, Goju-Ryu and Kyokushinkai. He is also familiar with the art of Judo and Ki. He has experience with Kobudo (weapons) too; Nunchaku, Sai and Nanasetsubin (7 chain whip) to deepen and supplement his knowledge and skills in Karate-do.

Yokota started his martial arts training in 1960 when he was just 13 years old. He started taking lessons in Judo at the Hyogo Prefecture Police station, where he met a fellow student who also practiced karate. (This student was practicing Judo to further improve his fighting skills.) Yokota was so impressed by him that although he had been training in Judo for three years, he made the decision to switch his training to Karate. Yokota, thus, joined the JKA Prefecture headquarters in Kobe and started his training in Karate-do in 1963.

In 1973, Yokota moved to Philadelphia, PA where he was a full time instructor at the ISKF headquarters, as well as a personal assistant to Master Teruyuki Okazaki, 10th dan, ISKF Chairman. Yokota was one of the top competitors in the East Coast Regional Tournaments in the 1970’s. In 1981, he returned to his hometown of Kobe to complete his instructor’s training under the late Master Jun Sugano, 9th dan, JKA Vice Chairman. While in Japan, Yokota competed in the Prefecture tournament and won the championship two years in a row. He represented his prefecture and competed in the JKA All National Championship in Tokyo in 1981 and 1982. He was also chosen as one of the competitors for All Japan Sport Event in Shiga Prefecture in 1982.

After completing the JKA instructor’s training, Yokota moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1983 to teach in Mountain View. In 2001 he resigned from JKA after 40 years of membership to follow Master Asai (JKS). Yokota later received his Roku-dan (6th dan) from Master Asai, the Chief Instructor of JKS. After passing of Master Asai in 2006, he resigned from JKS to establish his own organization, ASAI (Asai Shotokan Association International). He is the founder and World Chief Instructor of ASAI.

Yokota is also a famous author who has published five books: Shotokan Myths, Shotokan Mysteries, Shotokan Transcendence, Karatedo Paradigm Shift and Karatedo Quantum Leap (all available from Amazon Books). He is 71 years old (as of 2018) but the age does not stop him from training 3 to 4 hours every morning to keep his physical condition and karate skill. Yokota also travels around the world to teach Asai ryu karate and to promote budo karate to the members as well as the non-member karate practitioners.

Yuji Kamihara: In charge of Asia

Shihan Yuji Kamihara of Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture has a very impressive karate experience that extends over fifty three years. He started his first karate training at JKA in 1962. He entered Shotokai in 1965 because of the university (Nanzan) karate club belonged to Nihon Karatedo Shotokai. He has trained many years under famous Shigeru Egami, the founder of Shotokai. He is versed in both Shotokan and Shotokai karate. He is also a researcher and his life time endeavor is to find the relationship between kata and bunkai.

He is now the chairman of Kokusai Karatedo Shoto Nankukai and holds a rank of Hachi-dan. He also has the dan ranks from other organizations including Zenkuren (JKF) 3 dan, Zenjitsuren 7 dan and Gakuren 6 dan. If you add them, he has 24 dan all together. He is heavily involved and active in the coaching and judging at the various organizations.

He is heavily involved and active in the coaching and judging at the various organizations.

  • Nanzan University karate club coach: 15 years
  • Nagoya Shoka University karate club coach: 4 years
  • Aichi Gakusen University karate club coach: 4 years
  • Aichi Gakusen University karate club GM: 2 years

He also holds the national judging license at JKF (Japan Karate Federation), senior instructor license from JSA (Japan Sports Association) and all national judging license from AJBKF (All Japan Business Karate Federation).

Michael Johnson: In charge of Northern Americas

  • 6/1969 – 12-1969: Basic Okinawan Kenpo. Ft.Ord, California.
  • 2/1970 – 8/1977: Began formal Shotokan (JKA) training, UCSD La Jolla, Ca., Hiditaka Nishiyama (9th Dan).
  • 8/1974 – 9/1976: Advanced Shotokan training, UCSD, La Jolla, Ca. Lester Ingber (9th Dan)
  • 12/1976 – 6/1980: Shotokan (JKA) training with UC Berkeley Karate Club Berkeley, Ca.
  • 10/1980 – 6/1985: Shotokan (JKA/ISKF) training at Mt. View, Ca. Dojo, Hajame Yokota (5th Dan)
  • 7/1985 – 7/1997: Shotokan (ISKF) training at Redwood City YMCA Dojo, Redwood City Ca., K Yokota (8th Dan)
  • 8/1997 – 5/2007: Valley Shotokan (ISKF), Sacramento, Ca. Matt Thomas, (6th Dan)
  • 5/2007 – current: Sierra Shotokan, Asai Ryu, Grass Valley, Ca., Instructor. Academy of Marital Arts, ISKF, Sacramento, Ca. Instructor, President of ASAI

Principle instructors:
H. Nishiyama (JKA)
Y. Yaguchi (ISKF)
T. Okazaki (ISKF)
T. Asai (SKS)
James Fields (ISKF)
K Yokota (ASAI)

Shodan 9-1983, T. Okazaki
Nidan 12-1988, Y. Yaguchi
Sandan 5-1998, Y. Yaguchi
Yondan 5-2002, K. Yokota
Godan 6-2011, K. Yokota
Rokodan 6-2012, K. Yokota
Nanadan 12-2013, K. Yokota

  • Instructor and Examiner (ASAI)
  • Instructor Trainee (ISKF)
  • Class B Judge (ISKF)

Participation in over 70 State and International training camps and seminars. Guest instructor on National and International levels. Continues to compete in Senior divisions at Regional and National levels.

Sinval Bittencourt: In charge of Southern Americas

Started his karate journey on September 25th, 1971.

  • 1º Dan; 1978, Tiuji Yamaguchi
  • 2º Dan; 1981, Luiz Watanabe and Sasaki
  • 3º Dan, 1985, Luiz Watanabe and Machida
  • 4º Dan, 1988, Luiz Watanabe and Tanaka
  • 4º Dan, approved, 1991, CBK, Sagara and Shinzato
  • 5º Dan, 1996, JKA (later JKS) Uriu
  • 5º Dan, approved, 1998 CBKI
  • 6º Dan, 2003, SKIF Furusho
  • 6º Dan, 2005 approved, CBKI, Osvaldo Messias (CBKI: Brazilian Confederation of Karate Inter styles)
  • 7º Dan, 2010, CBKSC, Gilson Tanaka (CBKSC: Brazilian Confederation of Semi Contact Karate)
  • 7 Dan, 2017, ASAI, Kousaku Yokota

Andrew Nightingale: In charge of Europe

Sensei Andrew Nightingale is the founder, Chief Instructor and director of the Independent Martial Arts (IMA-UK) group based in the United Kingdom and has maintained a successful and well established dojo for many years. His first introduction to the Martial Arts was at the age of 11 through schoolboy Judo and boxing (1979) and shortly afterwards, in the early 1980’s, experienced his first taste of Shotokan Karate at a local KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain) club. He later joined a British Shotokan Kyogi International (who was then and still is headed by Charles Gidley Sensei – 8th dan) dojo back in 1991 and in 1992 became a full time member where he maintained a continued and loyal membership until he departed to concentrate fully on his own group in December 2014 and took on a change of direction when a natural progression and restructure of life and Karate was needed.

Over the 25 years with Sensei Gidley’s group, Andrew was not only a dedicated student, he was a national & international competitor, a referee, a founding member of the original BSK/BSKI international squad, regional group technical officer, club grading examiner and personal student. He always held a good respectful and healthy mutual relationship through many shared Karate experiences with the BSKI, one of which saw successful participation in the first JKA / Asai fraction 1997 European Championships held in The Netherlands where he reached the finals to take silver medal for team Kumite and Gold for team Kata events.

One of the core philosophies for Sensei Nightingale’s dedicated approach to his group is, when it comes to training, to “keep things simple to understand” and to “Just Teach Karate”. It is one of his (and his group’s) aims to maintain as much of a complete system as is possible without losing the integrity of the Traditional Shotokan system, formally, practically, defensively, combatively in a non-political and democratic environment. As his main focus of research into training has always been to try and unlock the basic formal elements and structures (Kihon &Kata) of Karate and concentrate on applying its principles to a more real combat (bujutsu) creative approach at different levels only made following Shihan Yokota and ASAI a natural evolvement.

Ali Oskuie: In charge of Middle East and Africa

Sensei Baheri was born in 1967 in Osku cities of East Azerbaijan province of Iran. His karate training start in 1980 with Master Khosrow Danesh (8th Dan) in the KAN ZEN RYO style. KAN ZEN RYO was first karate style which entered to Iran and trained by professor Varaste (9th Dan).

  • • He received his first Dan in 1991.
  • • In 1995 he received to 2nd Dan in KAN ZEN RYO.
  • • In 1998 he received to 3rd Dan in SHOTOKAN JKA style under the supervision of Shihan Nekofar. (Shihan Nekofar was Asia kata champion and one of the founders of Advance Shotokan karate)
  • • He received for 4th Dan of Shotokan in 2002
  • • After successfully passing the Dan 5 test, he received his 5th Dan in Shotokan RYO BU KAI style in 2007. (This test was carried out by the technical committee of Iran karate federation.)
  • • Sensei Baheri received for 6th Dan in Shotokan RYO BU KAI in 2014. Dan 6 exam was taken by technical committee of Iran karate federation. technical committee consists of 5 masters which are 8th Dan in karate)

Since 1989, he opened his karate Dojo in Osku (the Dojo name is Azarjavan club) and started to train karate and self-defense skills to his students. During these years he trained and introduced great champions for the karate of Iran and Asia.
One of most famous of them is sensei Armin Roshani. He received to first and second place of Asia team kata. The last medal which he achieved was 3rd rank of 2015 Brazil karate one competition in individual kata. Sensei Armin has 5th Dan of Shotokan karate and he is a member of the Iran ASAI technical committee.

Sensei Baheri has several champions and responsibilities in the karate of Iran. In the last years he worked with Sensei Manuchehr Haj Mohammadian (6th Dan of SHOTOKAN RYO BU KAI and chairman of IRAN Shotokan RYO BU KAI Karate) and Master Kushi Yamazaki. His last responsibility was the chairman of Iran Shotokan RYO BU KAI technical committee. His last championship was 3rd rank of team kata in Armenia 2015 international karate competition.

John Lovatt

  • 1960. Read his first karate book. E J Harrison’s Manual of Karate. Built his first makiwara.
  • 1962. Joined British Karate Council. Awarded 5th Kyu by Kenshiro Abbe.
  • 1969. Awarded 1st Dan by Mitsusuke Harada (British Karate Council)
  • 1970. 2nd Dan and joined Cho to Ken Budo Renmei.
  • 1974. 3rd Dan. Appointed Chief Instructor Karate (Cho to Ken Budo Renmei)
  • 1982. Joined UK Branch of Kokusai Budoin. (IMAF)
  • 1983. Accepted as member of Kokusai Budoin. Japan (3rd Dan)
  • 1985. 4th Dan
  • 1988. 5th Dan
  • 2007. 6th Dan

Since 1969, I have taught at local Youth Centres in Stoke-on-Trent, and at UK domestic seminars around the country. I am still teaching at a couple of Youth Centres, and regularly visit other local dojo. I was Regional Director for Kokusai Budoin for several years and I am currently Director for Karate & Iaido for a small Budo organisation in the UK.