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HISTORY OF THE HELLENIC TRADITIONAL KARATE FEDERATION (H.T.K.F.) – SHOTOKAN KARATE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION (S.K.I.F.)

Over the last months of 1987 a group of around thirty teachers and friends of Shotokan Karate got together frequently to discuss the ever-burning question of unification of Greek karate under one common agency, which, operating democratically, would set the basis for the infrastructure and development of Karate in Greece, combining two main characteristics:
1) The GREEK-NESS and INDEPENDENCE of the agency.
2) The securing and continuity of the TRADITIONAL way of teaching and practicing Karate.

After numerous discussions, disagreements and confrontations, a group of five (5) unions prevailed which practiced Shotokan Karate and whose members set the following goals:
1) To eliminate the dependence of Greek Karate from foreign centres and teachers.
2) To pursue the recognition of the self-reliance of Greek Karate on an international level, through the development of relationships and the exchange of knowledge and experience on a basis of absolute EQUALITY and MUTUAL RESPECT and ESTEEM.
3) To maintain the TRADITION and philosophical basis of Karate teaching and practising.

Accordingly, in May 1988 was established the HELLENIC TRADITIONAL KARATE FEDERATION (H.T.K.F.) Contacts with the various international organisations of Karate had begun already from the beginning of 1988 aiming at the development of relationships based on the aforementioned principles. Those contacts soon bore fruit. In August 1988, that is, just a few months after its establishment, the HELLENIC TRADITIONAL KARATE FEDERATION not only achieved recognition by the INTERNATIONAL TRADITIONAL KARATE FEDERATION, (Ι.Τ.Κ.F.), the head of which was, and still is, Sensei Hid. Nishiyama (9 DΑΝ); it also became a regular member of I.T.K.F. and its official representative in Greece, with the right to carry out examinations and to award DAN grades, recognised as being awarded by Sensei H. Nishiyama himself. This achievement, unprecedented in Greece, shows Sensei Hid. Nishiyama’s high esteem for H.T.K.F and the ethos and technical efficiency of its teachers, and constitutes the first actual proof of trust and respect by an established master and organisation towards Greek Karate and its representatives.

Thus, H.T.K.F. and its Technical Committee became the first Greek organisation to award GREEK certificates and GREEK DAN-Grades of an international validity. However, this collaboration did not last long. In Spring 1990 Ι.Τ.Κ.F. organised a World Championship of Karate in Peru.  Faithful to its commitment, and despite its great financial problems at the time, stemming from the fact that it was still at an early stage of organisation and therefore largely self-financed, H.F.T.K. sent a delegation and a full team to Peru to participate in that Championship. Sadly, the in person contact and acquaintance with the Ι.Τ.Κ.F. was a great disappointment. 
That is because:
1) It turned out that I.T.F.K. had major organisational weakness and that it was under a big crisis.
2) Against what had been agreed and for the sake of its own politics in Europe, I.T.K.F. attempted to impose on H.T.K.F. the Yugoslav Mr Vladimir Yorga, Vice-President of I.T.K.F., granting him total power and control over the structure of H.T.K.F.

Faithful to its statutes, H.T.K.F. decided that it wished to remain exactly as was originally created, that is GREEK. It therefore abandoned I.T.K.F. and followed its own route.
For the three following years, H.T.K.F. was in contact with other organisations, invited teachers from abroad, organised seminars and competitions, and participated in international events. As far accession into an international agency was concerned, however, H.T.K.F.’s request for collaboration based on equality always received a negative response by the foreign Karate agencies. All of these simply wanted to control H.T.K.F., their requirement for collaboration always being the complete dependence of H.T.K.F. on foreign teachers and centres. In March 1992 H.T.K.F. became a regular member and the Greek representative of Κobe Osaka Ιnternational as the international organisation of Sensei Thomi Moris, distinguished teacher of Karate, and thus it developed relationships of mutual respect, friendship and collaboration.In July 1992 H.T.K.F. participated in the International Seminar and Championship of ΚΟΒΕ ΟSΑΚΑ ΙΝΤΕRΝΑΤΙΟΝΑΙ in Glasgow, Scotland. However, the H.T.K.F. representatives brought back with them to Greece a new kind of scepticism: the main body of ΚΟΒΕ ΟSΑΚΑ ΙΝΤΕRΝΑΤΙΟΝΑL belonged to the SHITO RYU system, whereas the totality of the H.T.K.F. members practised SΗΟΤΟΚΑΝ ΚΑRΑΤΕ. Subsequently, a search began for a new international agency of collaboration.

Already in May 1992 contacts had begun with the well-known Karate teacher Sensei Toshio Υamada. They were further cultivated later in the same month during a seminar in Zografou (Athens), attended by the entire H.T.K.F. The many discussions and meetings during that seminar marked the beginnings of friendship between Sensei Yamada and the Heads of H.T.K.F. In turn, via Sensei Toshio Υamada H.T.K.F. got in touch with one of the greatest living Karate teachers, Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa, leader of the world organisation Shotokan Karate International. Thanks to Sensei Toshio Υamada’s references, Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa accepted to visit Greece, to teach in Athens (Holargos) in November 1992 in a seminar organised by H.T.K.F. and to act jointly with H.T.K.F.’s Technical Committee in Dan gradings. The many and long discussions between H.T.K.F. and that great personality of Karate, as well as Sensei Kanazawa’s appreciation of the high technical level of the H.T.K.F. members and of their faith to the Traditional Shotokan Karate were crowned with success: H.F.T.K. became a regular member of Shotokan Karate International and its exclusive representative in Greece, while H.T.K.F.’s certificates came to be officially recognised by S.K.I.F.

The above overview may lead to the ERRONEOUS conclusion that S.K.I.F. is isolated from the rest of Greek Karate. The reality is exactly the opposite. H.T.K.F. was established in order to unite Greek Karate. Its goal is to develop and spread karate according to a set of right principles. To this end, all the Union-members of H.T.K.F. are at the same time members of Hellenic Karate Federation (H.K.F.), a federation recognised by the Greek State and to which all different styles of karate belong. H.T.K.F. staff members offer their services to H.K.F. and participate organically in H.K.F.’s various sectors such as the Board of Directors, the Examiners Committee, the Referee Committee, the Technical Committee, the Disciplinary Committee and so on.

H.T.K.F.’s athletes not only participate in H.K.F. championships, but they have also gained a distinction and some are members of various national teams. Equally indicative of H.T.K.F.’s complete lack of prejudice against H.K.F. and its members, as well as of any tendency to defy other organised parties of Greek Karate are H.T.K.F.’s excellent relationships with all of the representatives of traditional styles in Greece. H.T.K.F. members participate in large number in the seminars and educational events of those other organisations. All this serves to emphasise the seriousness of H.T.K.F.’s principal goals, among the most important of which are the elevation of Greek Karate, its respectable representation on an international level and, finally, the complete harmony and collaboration of karate’s various agencies in Greece towards karate’s improvement and augmentation.

All this inevitably raises the question: since H.T.K.F. pursuits such important goals, then why does it still remain small in terms of number of members? The answer to this question is fairly simple (although it has resulted from long discussions and much reflection). The pursuit of quality in every endeavour undertaken by H.T.K.F. requires time, funding, substructure, self-sacrifice and the denial of strictly individual ambitions of its members in favour of a collective and sincere goal. Consequently, the selection of staff members as well as of the union members is particularly strict. There is an abundance of applications by unions of Shotokan karate wishing to become members of H.T.K.F. Their acceptance, however, depends upon their technical level, their infrastructure and their willingness to work together with existing members towards the fulfilment of H.T.K.F.’s goals in an atmosphere not only of mutual respect and esteem, but also favouring the creation of strong and deep, almost family-like, bonds.

It is worth noting that all important decisions concerning the course, goals and ways of H.T.K.F. are made by its General Convention in an a climate of equality and brotherhood, without status, ranking or seniority distinctions between its members.Up until now, H.T.K.F has managed to attain a unified system of teaching and examinations for all its members, a fully organised and unified system of training and competing, and a full team for all categories and to represent Greece in European and World Championships.




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