The Uniontown Karate Club is a member of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF), which was founded by one of the men who was instrumental in first bringing karate to the United States in the early 1960s.
The ISKF is a non-profit organization that seeks to promulgate traditional Japanese karate-do throughout the world. The ISKF was founded in September 1977. Shihan Teruyuki Okazaki, 10th dan, the Chairman and the Chief Instructor of the ISKF, and Shihan Yutaka Yaguchi, 9th dan, the Vice Chairman and the Vice Chief Instructor, were two of the original founders. Today, the ISKF is comprised of over twenty-eight Pan American countries, and over thirty-two countries from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The ISKF is still growing and continually adds new clubs and countries to its membership, and currently has over 75,000 individual members worldwide.
The vision of the ISKF founders was to promote traditional shotokan karate-do as described in the teachings of the Dojo Kun and Niju Kun. Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of modern shotokan karate, wrote the Dojo and Niju Kuns not only as a guide to practicing karate, but also as a guide to everyday life. He viewed karate as a vehicle to spread peace and harmony worldwide. Master Nakayama was also a staunch supporter of spreading karate to the world and letting each culture adopt and spread karate in their homelands. He wanted to present karate-do in the context of each country’s culture and in a democratic fashion. He believed this approach would contribute to spreading karate-do around the globe. This vision laid the foundation for the structure and guidance of the International Shotokan Karate Federation.
The name of the organization encapsulates the purpose, history, and future of the ISKF. The choice for the name was a conscious decision of the founders to acknowledge the growth of karate around the world and to show respect to each member country. Because karate was becoming a worldwide martial art, the founders felt it was only fair to act as an international entity. Karate, although a traditional Japanese martial art, was now international, hence they dropped Japan from the title just as judo, kendo, and aikido organizations did. “Shotokan” shows respect and homage to Master Funakoshi for developing the form we now practice.
By 1981, the ISKF had grown to include other countries in North and South America, and the Caribbean. Throughout the 1980s, the organization continued to grow and add member countries. This group of countries was later recognized as the Pan American region within the Japan Karate Association (JKA). In 1987, the ISKF hosted the first Pan American tournament in Trinidad with a handful of countries. In 1989, the tournament was held in Guyana and over 20 countries were invited and participated. Subsequent tournaments have been held throughout the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and the United States.