The Japan Karate Association (JKA) is one of the world's largest karate organizations, with members in over 100 countries. The JKA is an organization that promotes the practice of Shotokan karate worldwide and provides its members with international technical standards and certification. The JKA was founded in 1949 by Gichin Funakoshi and the first JKA headquarters dojo (honbu dojo) was established in 1955.
In 1957, the JKA was approved as a legal entity by the Japan Ministry of Education. Master Gichin Funakoshi died only a couple of weeks later at the age of 89. After Funakoshi Sensei's death, Master Masatoshi Nakayama became the official Chief Instructor of the JKA. Master Nakayama was instrumental in the creation of the JKA Instructor Program initiated in 1956. The most gifted JKA students were chosen for this full time karate program. After they had completed the Instructor Program, they became the new wave of JKA Shotokan karate. Under Chief Instructor Masatoshi Nakayama, a new generation of respected instructors were sent abroad, spreading karate worldwide.
Following Masatoshi Nakayama's death in 1987, at the age of 74, the JKA began to fragment, both at the Tokyo headquarters and internationally. Many instructors broke away to start their own associations. Despite all of this, the JKA is still the largest and among the most influential of karate organizations. In 1991, Motokuni Sugiura was appointed Chief Instructor of the JKA. Along with his predecessors, he placed great emphasis on the practice of kihon, kata, and kumite. Sugiura Sensei was largely responsible for creating a modern standard for JKA kata. It was during his tenure that the book series Karate-Do Kata (Vol. 1 & 2 in English) was published. These volumes are now considered by JKA enthusiasts as the new "Bible of JKA kata." In 2009, at the age of 85, Master Sugiura retired from his position as Chief Instructor of the JKA. In 2010, Sensei Masaaki Ueki was appointed as Chief Instructor. Master Ueki is well-known for his excellence as an instructor and as a tournament champion, having won gold medals in several JKA All Japan Championships, in both kata and kumite. Under his leadership, the JKA remains "the keeper of karate's highest tradition."