A Brief History
In 1951, a group of Japan's most prominent martial artists from a variety of disciplines gathered in November of that year to discuss the first, large-scale open demonstration of Japanese martial arts since the end of World War II. In January the next year, The National Japan Health Association was founded. It would later be called the Kokusai Budoin, International Martial Arts Federation.
IMAF was officially founded in January, 1952 by Master Kyuzo Mifune, Master Kazuo Ito and Shizuya Sato of Judo; Master Hakudo Nakayama and Master Hiromasa Takano of Kendo; Master Hironori Otsuka of Karate-do, and Kiyotaka Wake and Sueo Kiyoura. The first Chairman was Prince Tsunenori Kaya (uncle of Emperor Hirohito, and former lieutenant general in the Imperial Army), and was followed by Prince Higashikuni (the first post World War II Prime Minister, the only member of the Japanese Imperial Family to have held this post).
Some of the best known IMAF martial artists and leaders include:
- Kyuzo Mifune, Hanshi, Meijin 10-dan Judo
- Kazuo Ito, Hanshi, Meijin 10-dan Judo
- Shizuya Sato, Hanshi 10-dan Nihon Jujutsu and Hanshi 9-dan Judo
- Hakudo Nakayama, Meijin 10-dan Kendo
- Hiromasa Takano, Meijin 10-dan Kendo
- Hironori Otsuka, Meijin 10-dan Karatedo
- Gogen Yamaguchi, Hanshi 10-dan Karatedo
- Hirokazu Kanazawa, Hanshi 10-dan Karatedo
- Kazuo Sakai, Hanshi 10-dan Karatedo
- Katsuo Yamaguchi, Meijin 10-dan Iaido
- Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikikai Aikido, and son of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba
After the first exhibition in Hibiya Park in 1952, members of IMAF continued to promote the practice of Japanese martial arts throughout Japan. In 1953, the 2nd All-Japan Budo Exhibition was held in Okayama Prefecture, Japan. Spectators came from many cities to watch these prominent martial arts perform.
In 1958 the name Kokusai Budokai was adopted but later changed in 1965 to Kokusai Budoin IMAF shortly after
the 4th Annual All-Japan Budo Exhibition in Tokyo. Prince Higashikuni became the second Chairman of IMAF in 1965.
In 1968 Master Kazuo Ito and Shizuya Sato traveled to 12 countries promoting and demonstrating traditional Japanese
martial arts. This was the first Kokusai Budoin World Tour. A few years later in 1970, the Government of Panama
invited Master Kazuo Ito to introduce Judo to Central America. Since then, a variety of different Judo and Nihon Jujutsu
styles have evolved throughout Central and South America. In 1973, Sueo Kiyoura was appointed the first President of IMAF.
IMAF continued to grow and spread the knowledge of Japanese martial arts throughout the world. And in 1975, the first
international branches opened in Belgium, France, Great Britain, India, West Germany and the Netherlands. In 1976,
delegates from these branches arrived in Tokyo for the 1st International Kokusai Budoin Conference. Three years later in
1979, the 1st European Congress was hosted in Paris, France.
In 1981 Denmark, Austria and Taiwan became branch IMAF Countries. Later in 1983, Gunzo Fukuhara was
appointed the second President of IMAF. In the next year, the United States established an IMAF
Branch and hosted the 1st IMAF Americas meetings & seminars in 1985. In that same year, the 10th Annual All-Japan Budo Exhibition was held along with a celebration in honor of Prince Higashikuni's 99th birthday in Tokyo, Japan.
In 1986, Shinsaku Hogen was appointed as the third President of IMAF. In 1988, Italy and Switzerland become IMAF Branch Countries, and the 7th European Congress was held in Torino, Italy with seminars in France and the UK.
In 1991, Europe celebrated its 10th Anniversary European Congress, an event held in Belgium with seminars in Germany.
In 1992, IMAF celebrated its 40th Anniversary along with the 17th Annual All-Japan Exhibition. Later, in 1994, IMAF Americas celebrated its 10th annual meetings & seminars.
Since 1995, IMAF Headquarters has sponsored tours featuring Branch Representatives worldwide. This is a special time for
all members to get together, practices Japanese martial arts and share ideas in organization. Branches in Europe and the Americas have hosted numerous Exhibitions and Seminars throughout the years.
2002 was a very special year for IMAF. This marked the 50th Anniversary for the organization. With celebrations in Tokyo,
several prominent guests from government, industry and the martial arts community in Japan attended along with worldwide
IMAF Americas celebrated its 20th Annual Meetings & Seminars while IMAF Europe celebrated its 22nd Annual Exhibitions &
Seminars in 2004.
The 2005, Kokusai Budoin, IMAF events calendar featured IMAF Americas seminars May 20 - 22nd in Mission Viejo, California, and Kokusai Budoin, IMAF European seminars October 28 - 30th in Strasbourg, France.
The 2006 Kokusai Budoin, IMAF events calendar featured the 55th anniversary celebrations, beginning with the 30th All Japan Budo Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan, 20 through 29 March Japan Tour, and 11 through 22nd April Japan Tour, IMAF Americas seminars June 2nd through 4th in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Kokusai Budoin, IMAF European seminars October 13 through 15th in Exincourt, France.
The 2007 Kokusai Budoin, IMAF events calendar featured the 2007 April 3rd through 14th Headquarters Tour, and the 31st All Japan Budo Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan held June 24th.