Leadership of WYKKO
Grandmaster Katsuo Yamamoto
Grand Master Katsuoh Yamamoto is a 10th degree black belt and the Founder of Yoshukai Karate. He is the driving force behind the new World Yoshukai Kobudo Organization along with Mr. Hiroaki Toyama, Mr. Mike Culbreth, and all the instructors who have joined the organization. This is the first time Master Yamamoto has allowed a new Organization to be formed since Master Koda came to the United States in 1969. Master Yamamoto will be a very visible part of World Yoshukai and you can expect to see him in the United States more often.
Master Yamamoto began karate at the age of twelve working out with a friend and learning the basic skills of the art. At age 15 he began serious training in Chito-Ryu Karate, under Master Chitose the founder of Chito-Ryu and the former student of the famous Master Gichin Funakashi who began the Okinawan Karate, which is the forerunner of all Japanese styles of karate today.
He trained faithfully and at age 22 became the number one practitioner in Japan in 1960. He retired undefeated as the All Japan Karate Champion in 1961. At this time, he also achieved the position of Master. During the following year, he founded the first school of Yoshukai Karate which became recognized as a true Martial Art in 1963. The number of his students grew and as they became instructors, Yoshukai began to grow throughout the world including the United States. Master Yuki Koda arrived in the U.S. in 1969 and established U.S.Yoshukai Karate. The style soon became well known as the Actual Fighting Karate through special demonstrations throughout the world. These demostrations challenged the limits of human power. Mr. Yamamoto broke baseball bats, blocks of concrete and ice.
World Yoshukai Karate is recognized for extensive physical training, self-defense, self-control and respect for oneself and others. World Yoshukai students are noted for their perseverance, loyalty, dedication, respectful manners and strong hearts. Grand Master Yamamoto has founded an organization determined to provide quality instruction to anyone at any age.
Kaicho Hiroaki Toyama
I have been intrigued by the martial arts when I was a child, as is evident with my forty years of experience in training and instructing in martial arts. I took judo and kendo instruction before studying karate. I was lucky to study Yoshukai Karate under our grand master, Mr. Yamamoto and his wife, Mrs. Sumiko. I studied in Kitakyushu City in Japan.
In 1975, I was privileged to travel to the United States to study under and work with Master Yuki Koda, director of U.S. Yoshukai Karate. Master Koda was named 1997 Instructor of the Year by Black Belt Magazine. Even though he passed away in March of 1997 after a battle with cancer.
In the 1970's and 1980's, I competed in many tournaments in the U.S. I was ranked in the Top 10 by Black Belt Magazine in the early 1980's. I was named National Champion in U.S. Yoshukai rankings in 1989 and Instructor of the year in 1992. In 2000, I was proud to receive my seventh degree black belt ranking. During this time, I am proud to have taught many fine students, some of which became interested in kickboxing competition in the 1980's. Two of them have since taken world kickboxing championship titles. They are Gerry Blanck and Cheryl Wheeler. Cheryl was also chosen Woman of the Year by Black Belt Magazine in 1997.
My dedication to WYKKO is also made possible by the support of my wife Donna and three children Crosby, Adam, and Scarlett. Their help and understanding contribute to both my abilities and my time.
We are very proud to have quality instructors and black belts in World Yoshukai, many of which are national champions and nationally ranked. They are both strong and supportive. As Shihan Mike Culbreth and I join together in this organization, we will continue to search for true karate and to teach karate-do.
Kaicho Mike Culbreth
I began training in Yoshukai Karate when I was 17 years old. Like every other young kid I was infatuated with the martial arts and had no idea that I would end up receiving my Black Belt much less becoming a Co-Director of the World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo Organization. I guess it must be fate that I was one of the first persons that Mr. Toyama met when he first came to the United States and that we have grown toward this new phase in both of ours lives.
Yoshukai Karate has become my way of life. Thanks to Grand Master Katsuoh Yamamoto, founder of Yoshukai Karate, and my Instructor, Master Yuki Koda, both myself and Mr. Toyama have been able to continue the legacy of Yoshukai Karate. I am a 7th degree Black Belt in Yoshukai and I received two of those ranks while in Japan. I have been a National ranked competitor in kata, weapons, forms, point fighting and full-contact karate and this was largely due to the training and leadership my instructors had instilled in me.
I have challenged myself in heavy and speed breaking demonstrations that include ice, baseball bats, concrete, stones and multiple boards. I have competed not only in the United States but Japan as well. I have also traveled as far as Peru and other countries to help spread the knowledge of the martial arts. I also attend other martial arts seminars to help increase my knowledge of the martial arts. I provide self-defense and rape prevention seminars for many different organizations, such as the Elder Hostel Program in Georgia, The Georgia Department of Welfare, the local Dare program, and many other local and national organizations.
I have also helped train the local police department in self-defense classes. I have been hosting the Southern Region Open Karate Tournament for the past 21 years in Dothan, Alabama and look forward to many more years. One of my goals is to train young leaders who will carry on the legacy of Yoshukai Karate. I believe that hard traditional martial arts training with lots of emphasis on respect, manners, honesty and discipline are the backbone of a true Martial Artist.
Yoshukai helps students to become well rounded individuals and well as karate students. Our teaching does not just emphasize just one area but encompasses all areas such as, katas, weapons, self-defense, breaking, point fighting and Japanese knock-down fighting (full contact). Another one of my goals is to have Yoshukai know as a martial arts that works in real life situations to protect yourself and your families. My success also would not have been possible if I did not have the support of my wife, Denese and all my family and friends.