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.

World Yoshukai Directors

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 in 1974 at 18 years of age in Brewton, AL.  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.  It was fate that I was one of the first persons that Mr. Toyama met when he first came to the United States and we have grown toward this phase in both of our lives.  World Yoshukai Karate has become my way of life for me with the support of my wife, Denese and my daughter Brooke who are both Black Belts in Yoshukai.  Denese is the first female to receive a rank of Shihan in the United States.  I am an 8th degree Black Belt in World Yoshukai and I received two of my ranks while in Japan and the 8th degree was received in Canada.  There are only three 8th Degrees presented in the United States by our Grand Master and they are, Kaicho Hiroaki Toyama, Pensacola, Florida Hu-Kaicho Gerry Blanck, Pacific Palisades, California, and my-self.  I was presented my Gold Belt from Master Yamamoto in 2013.  The Gold Belt symbolizes the top level of training and experience in Yoshukai.  I have had the privilege to have known Master Yamamoto for over 43 years.  Master Yamamoto was very close to my family and my wife’s family. When I was a young black belt Master Yamamoto took me under his wing and became a mentor and father like figure in my life.  We had many special moments together.  During this time when Master Yamamoto came to the States he would stay at our home for weeks and months at a time.  Due to this I was able to train and learn directly from Master Yamamoto the true Yoshukai that he founded.  I have trained directly under our Grand Master since white belt.  It helps me to pass on to the World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo Organization the true Yoshukai Karate that he founded.  I was the assistant Director for many years under the direction of Master Yuki Koda before his passing in 1997. We are the Founders of the World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo Organization and were given written permission by Grand Master Yamamoto to form this Organization in the United States in 2000.  World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo Organization is the only Yoshukai that was and is authorized to teach, train and promote karate students and Black Belts with written authorization from Grand Master Yamamoto.   Kaicho Toyama and I never left the direction of Grand Master Yamamoto.  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 placed second in 1982 and 1984 in Japan at the Knock-Down Karate Championships.  Both wins were by decision.  I have traveled from the United States with the Yoshukai Karate Team and we took first place in the team Japanese Knock-down fighting competition.  I also participated in an Expo in Hawaii and won first place in the heavy weight Japanese knock-down fighting competition.  I have challenged myself in heavy and speed breaking that includes ice, baseball bats, concrete, stones, and multiple boards.  I have competed not only in the United States but internationally as well.  I have gone as far as Peru, Taiwan, Japan (many trips), and other countries to help spread the knowledge of the Yoshukai martial arts.  I have attended many 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, the Department of Welfare, the local Dare program, church groups, and many other local and national organizations.  I have helped train the police department, state troopers and various law enforcement agencies in self-defense classes.  I have been hosting the Southern Region Open Karate Tournament annually since 1979 in Dothan, Alabama and it is the oldest karate tournament in the State of Alabama.  I have hosted or assisted in hosting over 200 tournaments in my career.  I teach World Yoshukai Karate full-time at my private studio, local schools and with the Department of Leisure Services.

One of my goals is to train young leaders to carry on the legacy of World Yoshukai Karate.  I have trained thousands of students over the past forty three years.  I believe that hard traditional martial arts training with emphasis on respect, manners, honesty, and discipline are the backbone of a true Martial Artist.  World Yoshukai helps students to become well-rounded individuals as well as martial artists.  Our teaching does not just emphasize one area but encompasses all areas such as, katas, weapons, self-defense, breaking, point-fighting and Japanese knockdown fighting (full contact).  Yoshukai is known as the actual fighting karate.  Another one of my goals is to have World Yoshukai known as a professional organization and martial arts that works in real life situations to protect yourself and your families.  

I have met many people over the years in my karate training and have many special friends thru Yoshukai and the Martial Arts.  I have seen many Masters of the Martial Arts over the years and in my heart I believe Master Yamamoto was the BEST.

World Yoshukai is Yoshukai now that Master Yamamoto has passed.  He chose me and Kaicho Toyama to carry on his legacy of Yoshukai in all parts of the World.

Updated July 23, 2017