About ISKF Philippines
The ISKF is a traditional Shotokan Karate organization, founded by Master Teruyuki Okazaki, who studied directly under Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate.
ISKF Philippines is the only and official affiliate of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) in the Philippines.
The ISKF is a non-profit organization that strives to uphold the integrity and goals of Master Gichin Funakoshi, which includes following the guidelines and principles set forth in the Shotokan Karate Dojo Kun and Niju Kun. The ISKF is rich in tradition, but continuously moves forward to bring all countries together to follow these same guidelines.
As ISKF’s local affiliate, ISKF Philippines aims to contribute to the global organization by propagating the practice of Karate, especially Shotokan Karate, in the Philippines.
Our Story: Birth of ISKF in the Philippines
The Philippines is a country rich in culture brought in from the migrations of the Malays, the Chinese and Spaniards. The Martial instinct, inherent in the Filipino, was depicted by Tribal chieftain Lapu Lapu as he and his band of warriors battled a vastly superior Spanish force under Ferdinand Magellan on the shores of Mactan.
Filipinos love Martial Arts. A handful of Okinawan Masters introduced in the 1950’s Shorin-ryu. The love for Karate flourished. However due to the scarcity of getting a real Japanese sensei, we are locally swamped with Karate teachers of dubious origins or self-claim to be a student of some famous master. Naturally, ranks abound that are inconsistent with the level of knowledge much less skill.
We had been training in Shotokan Karate for a long time in the absence of an authentic Japanese sensei. Thus was the predominant circumstance in the Philippines. We just trained oblivious to the fact that “Were we getting the right training?”
A friend of mine told me during one of our training sessions that he was able to train in the Academy of Martial Arts Shotokan or AMAS that was owned by his boyhood friend. They were doing authentic Shotokan Karate and perhaps he can arrange for a meeting. I jumped immediately to the opportunity and arranged for a meeting with AMAS head, Joji Mercado sensei and Emil Valdes sensei.
The meeting was fruitful and we connected immediately. They invited us to their tournament on February 2002 to compete as part of the Philippine team. When we came to South San Francisco, we took part in the Dan exams, although I was already a Godan in our local club, I took the test for Shodan under Yaguchi sensei.
I was immediately impressed by Yaguchi sensei, his movements seem to be effortless and has great form. I respected him right away as I told others that seldom do I see a 70 year old that can beat the hell out of me. We also went to our first Mastercamp in 2002 and that was the time I saw Teruyuki Okazaki shihan. I was awe-struck and felt very lucky to go through a class under him, how close can I ever get to be with legends.
In that Mastercamp, I felt a sense of belongingness and family. I witness many people in their sixties and seventies still do Karate, which is a rarity in my country, then it hit me that ISKF propagates Karate as a way of life.
While I was with my cabin mates one time, a guy asked me nonchalantly who was my sensei? I hesitated to answer because that question normally should connect you to the Shotokan family tree, from which I cannot tell them that I was just an outgrowth. I then realized how important it was, especially when you are abroad, to have a pedigree.
I envy my American friends to have easy access to these great Japanese senseis and perhaps they never see how lucky they are to be able to train consistently with them, in contrast, we are deprived of them for a long time in the Philippines.
Our friends in AMAS made contact with Teruyuki Okazaki shihan and told him about our intention to become ISKF members. However, JKA protocol dictated that we should go through the JKA Philippine representative. It was either with Kunio Sasaki sensei or Masanori Takahashi sensei. I managed to have a dialogue with them, however because of strict internal policies, we were required to change our organization name, be stripped of our ranks and go under them.
It was no deal for us, as we had contributed a lot to make our organization big and strong. All I want was to practice Karate the ISKF way. So the idea of becoming ISKF hibernated.
Many years passed since, then came that faithful day when Joji sensei called me from overseas. He said that ISKF had just become independent from JKA and they are now opening globally, and if I was still interested. I said, I was and was so thrilled that our dreams will materialize.
We scheduled to go to San Francisco and to coincide it with the 2007 US Nationals. We met with Okazaki shihan, Cathy Cline sensei and Joji Mercado sensei and discussed our intention to establish ISKF Philippines. Shihan approved of the idea and after he and the other senseis left the meeting, we were literally jumping for joy.
We opened ISKF Philippines to the different Shotokan clubs and got good response. We invited Shihan to come over to be our special guest for our Okazaki Cup. This was his first time to come to the Philippines and we had a good turn-out. Okazaki Cup became a yearly event since 2008 and we also had the privilege to have Hiroyoshi Okazaki sensei for three years straight now.
As we had been given the right to host the World Shoto Cup on 2020, a turn of events chanced upon us to host it earlier. Hiro Okazaki sensei told us that Barbados backed out of hosting and if we were open to the idea of getting it. We immediately said yes and were very excited to be able to bring the Shihankai over to the Philippines.
Hosting the World Shoto Cup is a first ever in the history of the Philippines and probably will take a long time to repeat. But looking back from where Karate started here in the 50’s, brings a smile to my face as I think we made good progress. From Asia, Europe and the Americas, we can say that the sun never sets in our ISKF Globe.