Centre Three from left to right
Tom Somerville, Neil Frazer and Warwick Lobb
Yoshukai International Karate came to New Zealand in 1979 when Tom Somerville, a New Zealander who had been living in the United States, and training with Charles Scanlon and Kevin Bradford in New Jersey, started a dojo at the University of Canterbury.
In the early 1980s, two of Tom’s students (Neil Frazer and Warwick Lobb) travelled to New Jersey to complete their black belt training. After Tom left, Neil Frazer took over running the club, and with assistance from Warwick, the club prospered. In 1987 Dave Leathwick, one of Neil and Warwick’s students, travelled to New Jersey to complete his black belt. Since that time the University club has produced many black belts, and they are now scattered around New Zealand and the world.
In 1990, Dave Leathwick started a club in Palmerston North which still runs today as the Tokomaru Dojo. The third New Zealand club active today is in Wellington and was started by Darel Hall in 2004. Dave Leathwick and the other two New Zealand dojo leaders and students frequently visit other dojo to exchange ideas and train.
In 1992 a team of senior black belts, led by Jim Sullivan and Lee Norris, travelled from Florida to New Zealand to train and this cemented links between Yoshukai in New Zealand and headquarters in the U.S. New Zealanders now travel regularly to the U.S. to train, often attending the annual Natsu Keiko (Summer Camp) at St. Leo’s University in Florida.
Similarly the ties between Australian-based and New Zealand Yoshukai mean that there are also frequent exchanges between the two countries, and in particular at the Yoshukai Australasia Easter camp.
The dispersed nature of New Zealanders means that New Zealand Yoshukai practitioners living in Malaysia, Canada, France, England or elsewhere come to training when they are back in New Zealand. Many of them can be found on the Yoshukai group on Facebook.com.
Neil Frazer lives in Sydney Australia where he has a dojo and from where he continues to lead Yoshukai Australasia.
In 2006 senior U.S. black belts Mike and Christina McClernan and Bill ‘Tiger’ Moore came to New Zealand for the Yoshukai Australasia Easter camp. With these increasing exchanges between the US and the Australasian dojos Yoshukai in New Zealand and Australia has never been stronger.
*2008 saw Bill 'Tiger' Moore return for the Easter camp