A former JKA Grand Champion, he was one of the first generations of JKA instructors to teach outside of Japan. He has had a massive influence on the development of Karate in Italy.
Hiroshi Shirai (2021)
Hiroshi Shirai- A Success Story
By the time Hiroshi Shirai graduated from High School in 1955, he had become a robust young man. At high school, he participated in Judo and Kendo. He was a keen athlete, participating in track and field.
. In 1956, The following year he joined the university’s Karate club. Shirai had seen a JKA film featuring Masatoshi Nakayama, Hidetaka Nishiyama, Teruyuki Okazaki and Taiji Kase, performing various kata and kihon. Initially, he was interested in learning the self-defence aspects of Karate. The club’s Chief Instructor was Nishiyama. As was typical of the time, training sessions were tough. Training sessions tended to comprise of one-hour kihon; one-hour kumite; and one hour kata.
In 1957 Shirai was promoted to 1st Dan. Two years later he was promoted to 2nd Dan. He started focusing on the competitive aspects of Karate. At the 1959 National University Championships, he won the team kumite title as part of the Komazawa University team. That same year, while still a student he competed at the 3rd JKA All Japan Championships. In his first JKA Championships, he finished joint third in the kumite event. The event was won by Takayuki Mikami, with Hirokazu Kanazawa the runner up. In 1960 Shirai was promoted to 3rd Dan. In the same year, he reached the kumite final at the 5th JKA All Japan Championships, finishing runner-up to Testsuhiko Asai.
Instructor of karate:
Hiroshi Shirai began teaching Karate at Toritsu University and to personnel of the US Air Force. His long-time instructor, Hidetaka Nishiyama relocated to Los Angeles.
At the 6th All Japan Championships, Hiroshi Shirai joined Kanazawa and Mikami in becoming the third JKA Grand Champion. He won the kata event defeating Mikami in the final. In the kumite event, he defeated Keinosuke Enoeda in the final. In 1963 at the 7th JKA All Japan Championships, Shirai was involved with Enoeda in a rematch of the previous year’s final. In what is considered one of the greatest finals, Enoeda was victorious over Shirai.
In 1964 Hiroshi Shirai was promoted to 5th Dan. The following year he embarked on what was to be a momentous event for the promotion of JKA Karate.
Italian Karate Association:
In 1966 Shirai founded the Italian Karate Association (AIK). Using what he had learnt from his various teachers, he helped make AIK into a strong Shotokan Karate association. Shirai was promoted to 6th Dan in 1969. The following year he founded the Italian Federation of Sports Karate (FESIKA). This was followed in 1971 with the opening of the Studio Shirai-Accademia del Karate dojo. In 1974 Shirai was promoted to 7th Dan. At the invitation of Hideo Ochi, he taught at his first German Gasshuku in Kiel, Germany. In 1978 the foundation the Shirai founded, FESIKA, amalgamated with FIK to form a super federation. The following year Shirai founded the Instituto Shotokan Italia (ISI). Shirai was promoted to 8th Dan in 1986. This was followed by a promotion in 1999 to 9th Dan.
1976 saw the publication of Shirai’s first book “Manual of Karate“. In 1979 Nakayama’s eleven book series, “Best Karate” was published. Shirai featured in book 6 demonstrating the kata Bassai-Dai.
True Master of Karate:
Hiroshi Shirai has been a leading light in the development of Shotokan Karate in his adopted home of Italy. As one of the first generations of JKA instructors to teach outside of Japan he has shared his immense knowledge with students across Europe in various seminars and courses. Not content, he has striven to push the boundaries of Karate through his study of Goshindo. He is the epitome of a true master of Karate.
‘‘Breathing is very important in karate. You should first start with breathing exercise very slowly. Inhale 30 seconds exhale 30 seconds. After you inhale slowly and exhale fast, inhale fast, exhale slowly, and the opposite way around. You also can go to the forest, to a quiet place, close your eyes, and just breath slowly in and out, than you got a better feeling for contraction and your body.’’