Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957)
Born in Shuri Okinawa, Gichin Funakoshi founder of Shotokan Karate, introduced karate (empty handed combat fighting & defense) to mainland Japan, 1922. The name "shotokan" comes from Funakoshi's pen name, "Shoto", which means "wind in the pines" or "pine waves". Gichin Funakoshi transformed karate from purely a self-defense fighting technique to a philosophical martial "do" (way of life).
Tomosaburo Okano (1922-2003)
As a direct student of Gichin Funakoshi and Gigò Funakoshi, Tomosaburo Okano was granted permission to start his own school of shotokan - developing the Kenkojuku style of Shotokan, 1942. The style of kenkojuku shotokan is considered to be more biomechanically sound and self defense oriented than other types of shotokan karate.
Frederick J. Hamilton (1925-1986)
A direct student of Tomosaburo Okano, Fred Hamilton used his knowledge and teachings passed on to him to create programs helping to keep kids and adults off the crime riddled streets of Harlem, USA. He was also one of the first promoters to allow women to participate in all categories of martial arts competition. The founders of NZ Whanake Rangataua Martial Arts chose to work with Master Fred Hamilton because he was considered most closely akin to them in spirit and ideals.
Also a direct student of Tomosaburo Okano, Miyazaki trained in Kenkojuku Shotokan karate before taking his skills to USA. He has taught for many years producing hundreds of black belts and international and national champions and instructors - some of whom have become instructors at their own karate dojo's. Masters Frederick Hamilton and Toyotaro Miyazaki (above) both trained in New York whilst affiliated to Kenkojuku shotokan karate and were Head instructors to Whanake Rangataua Martial Arts Chief Instructors including Sensei Vern Winitana (below).
Whanake Rangataua Martial Arts, NZ, Chief Instructor Vern Winitana, 5th Dan
Vern Winitana began his martial arts journey initially with Kempo Bushido Karate, then in Tien Sien Pai, with John Tahuparae. By 1974 he started his club in Porirua and would later form another in Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt.
In 1977, Tien Sien Pai formally changed its name to NZ Whanake Rangataua Martial Arts. Key people paramount to the emergence of Whanake Rangataua were Rangitihi John Tahuparae (deceased), businessman Ben Matthews, Chief Instructor Charles Mareikura (deceased) and Chief Instructor Vern Winitana.
Over the next 10 years, chief instructor Vern Winitana travelled abroad competing in highly regarded professional fighting events. He trained with Kenkojuku Shotokan Masters Fred Hamilton and Toyotaro Miyazaki, and graded under Master Tomosaburo Okano, in Japan.
Kyoshi Vern Winitana often facilitates gradings and seminars for both the Lower Hutt and Porirua clubs, whilst the trainings at the Lower Hutt club are instructed by his wife 4th Dan Chief Instructor Sensei Te Rangi Winitana.