KenZenIchi Kase-Ha Academy
(Formerly Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Shotokan Karate Academy)
Sensei Taiji Kase 9th Dan
(1929 - 2004)
Sensei Kase in kamae position
Following in his father’s footsteps, one of the greatest teachers of Shotokan Karate-Do began to practice Judo when he was 6 years old and by the age of 16 had achieved 3rd Dan. At this time he saw Yoshitaka Funakoshi practicing Karate-Do in the Shotokan Dojo in Tokyo and was so impressed that he made Shotokan Karate-Do his life choice.
During WWII Taiji Kase trained as a Kamikaze pilot. However fate intervened and he survived because Japan surrendered the day that he was due to make his flight.
After the war, Taiji Kase, became the first and youngest holder of 3rd Dan and joined the newly formed the JKA to fulfil his ambition to become a full-time karate instructor. In 1963 he headed the JKA Instructor School, teaching younger instructors including Shirai, Enoeda and Kanazawa. He led this group on a world tour to spread Shotokan karate around the globe. In 1965 he arrived in Europe where he settled and from 1967 until his death in 2004 he lived in Paris.
Although he was a member of JKA and one of the creators of the first competition rules, he never ceased to practice Karate as a Budo martial art. However, the modern development of Karate led to its separation from the Budo concept. His belief was that this development of Karate-Do into a modern sport and its separation from the Budo concept caused Karate to lose its authentic soul.
Taiji Kase considered sport competition only one phase of development, because competition takes place in a limited reality; competition is restricted by the rules and referee’s objectivity. In martial art philosophy the mind must be free with no limits, leading to a level above competition. This is Budo Karate.
His deep affection for Samurai traditions and the principles of the Bushido Code shaped his approach to Shotokan Karate-Do, resulting in a distinctive lineage that bears his seal - Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate-Do. Kase Shihan’s approach towards different aspects of practice, physical, mental and spiritual, had only one aim and that was to go beyond normally accepted limits.
Following the ideas of his teachers and tirelessly searching for ways of elevating his own abilities, Kase Shihan achieved unsurpassed levels of energy control. His now legendary, often breath-taking, demonstrations cannot be explained logically, they are considered more metaphysical phenomena, which ultimately raise questions about the potential of human abilities.
Kase Shihan had a distinct personal vision and that was to teach Karate-Do free of any sport or political influence. The frequent conflicts and changes which dominated the world karate scene did not impinge on his vision, which he managed to preserve and paved the way for the development of his own karate style.
Taiji Kase embodied the love of Karate-Do to which he devoted his life. The integrity and humility of his behaviour, along with his fierce loyalty to friends and students made Kase Shihan a role model for those who love Karate-Do.
His life is exemplary for all those who love Karate-Do and his line comes to us directly from Gichin and Yoshitaka Funakoshi.
Today it continues to live as - Kase-Ha Shotokan-Ryu Karate-Do.
Senseis Kawasoe, Enoeda, Kase, Shirai and Tomita
Sensei Velibor Dimitrijevic 7th Dan
Sensei Dimitrijevic teaching in Malmo, Sweden
Sensei Velibor “Vebo” Dimitrijevic, was one of the close assistants to the late Taiji Kase Sensei. Born in 1953, Sensei Dimitrijevic, who is a Dipl.-Ing in Mechanical Engineering, began practising karate in 1969 at the age of 16.
Between 1974 & 1987 Sensei Dimitrijevic was a member of the national team of the former Yugoslavia taking part in 3 World, 11 European and 2 World Cup Championships & winning a total of 15 medals including two as European Kata Champion. In former Yugoslavia he won 22 medals. He was kata champion eight times. In his weight category for kumite he was a two-time champion. In his native Serbia he was Champion in the open weight category kumite and kata champion for 10 consecutive years.
This enormously successful sports career did not affect his determination to pursue higher goals than mere medals. Sensei Dimitrijevic considers a competitive career a step in the exploration and search of the real essence of Karate-Do, the ultimate goal of which was reaching a level beyond technique and physical power.
At the time Sensei Dimitrijevic began to practice karate, Shihan Taiji Kase was Technical Advisor of the Karate Association of Yugoslavia. It was his choice to select Sensei Dimitrijevic for the national kumite team in the 1974 European Championship in London.
Vebo was also greatly influenced in karate attitude and technical development by one of Kase Sensei’s assistants, Sensei Takashi Tokuhisa. At the time, Sensei Takashi was probably the most technically advanced young Japanese Shotokan karate instructor in Europe.
In 1988 Sensei Dimitrijevic left Serbia for Greece. His contact & friendship with Mr. Alkis Panagiotopoulos, the director of a private school in Athens, proved that both men shared an approach to karate and a mutual understanding of the martial art. They established Shotokan Karate Club “Ippon” within the Athletic Association of the Panagiotopoulous School.
In 1989, after its foundation, Sensei Dimitrijevic became a member of Kase Sensei’s World Karate-Do Shotokan Academy. After a number of seminars throughout Europe Kase Sensei acknowledged Velibor’s outstanding qualities by appointing him as one of his assistants. It seemed that destiny had reunited them after so many years. It was this crucial contact with Kase Sensei that led Sensei Dimitrijevic to adopt Budo karate as his life philosophy.
In an anecdote Sensei Velibor states that after one of the first seminars Sensei Kase said to him: “You were champion, you have excellent technique and exceptional Kimé but now it is time for you to start practicing karate” - Sensei Dimitrijevic was almost forty years old at the time and was shocked by the statement. Following his instincts and fascination with Kase’s Budo approach, Sensei Dimitrijevic could not resist the challenge so began a new cycle in his karate journey, this time searching for qualities beyond medals, technique and physical power. Since then he has been devoted to the ideas and concepts of Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate-Do.
Today, after a further 30 years of practice, he has created a distinctive, systematic approach to training which leads to the development of all fundamental Budo principles, while preserving the authentic teachings and the spirit of Taiji Kase sensei. His VEBODO system clearly incorporates technical and physical aspects of training with abdominal breathing and mind control, leading to better understanding and application of the ki energy phenomenon.
Sensei Dimitrijevic recently left Athens and returned to his native Serbia where he is the President of the Shotokan Karate-Do Academy of Serbia. He regularly teaches in Sweden, Norway, Finland, England, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
In April 2023 he will be teaching a seminar for us at KenZenIchi Kase-ha Academy in the Tewkesbury Dojo
Sensei Kase demonstrating with Sensei Dimitrijevic
Sensei Dimitrijevic taking gold in individual kata
Sensei Dirk Heene 8th Dan
Dirk Henne demonstrating blocking and control
Born in Belgium in 1949, Dirk Heene Sensei started karate when he was 17 years old. He was a member of the Belgian National Team from 1970 to 1980 and graduated with a Physical Education teacher’s degree from the University of Ghent in 1972.
During his career, he had the opportunity to train with many renowned instructors, but it would be with Sensei Taiji Kase that he would develop his strongest relation. After many years under his wing, he became one of Kase’s Sensei most trusted students and has been instrumental in establishing the reputation of Shotokan Ryu Kase Ha around the world as President of the Shotokan Ryu Kase Ha Instructors Academy
His tremendous reputation as a remarkable Shotokan pedagogue precedes him and he is one of the most respected karate-ka in the world teaching not only in his native Belgium but around the world
Dirk was very influential in the development of the English Shotokan Academy after the death of founder Steve Cattle, guiding the ESA instructor group as they took up the challenge of continuing the work begun by Steve.
Sensei Heene with Senseis Cattle and Contarelli
Sensei Heene relaxing at the beach
Sensei Steve Cattle 6th Dan
Sensei Cattle in gedan barai position
Sensei Steve Cattle was the founder of our parent association the English Shotokan Academy and a great influence on the direction of our club. In 1984 here was invite d to teach at Cheltenham and introduced the instructor team to what is now referred to as Kase-Ha Shotokan Karate but at the time was an unconventional approach to training following the teachings of Taiji Kase Sensei.
Steve Cattle was born in York in 1947 and like so many people of his generation his earliest exposure to martial arts was through Judo not karate. Steve was an exceptional Judoka reaching 2nd Dan, becoming the European Lightweight Champion in 1967 and competing in the World Student Games in Tokyo that same year.
However by that time he had already been exposed to karate, starting his training in 1962. From 1970 until 1984 he was a member of the KUGB National Team. He was one of the elite - Technical Committee member, a Grading Examiner and professional karate teacher. I use the word “teacher” advisedly because one of Steve’s greatest qualities was his ability to teach rather than instruct. Steve was also something of a philosopher with a degree in theology and a teacher training qualification
He was a formidable competitor famed for his fighting spirit and tactical ability, winning the National Championship in 1974 and 1981 and leading his Kirkdale team to victory in 1982. He was part of the British squad that inflicted the first ever defeat of the Japanese in the World championships in Tokyo..
teve was influenced very early in his career by a man that we all came to look upon as our godfather – the late Sensei Taiji Kase. He recognised in Sensei Kase a man with a similar body type to his and a kindred spirit – in Kase this was the Samurai spirit and in Steve his much vaunted Viking spirit. He also recognised that Kase Sensei had something different, something more, to offer than the other Japanese instructors. After the first meeting he trained with Kase Sensei at every opportunity absorbing the essence of Kase’s karate, learning and developing his techniques and methods.
In 2009 Steve left his well-paid position in the KUGB to start the ESA in order to follow the new direction that Kase Sensei was taking. The Cheltenham Club was one of the founder members of the new organisation.
Unfortunately Steve died suddenly at the age of 47; however his organisation and senior students have carried his legacy on
Click attachement icon for a personal dedication to Steve Cattle by Sensei Alan Armstrong
Sensei Steve Cattle
Sensei Cattle with an ashi barai