Jan Knobel - 6th dan
had the great pleasure of getting to know Jan Knobel
recently at a world Championship and found him to be a
kindred spirit. Our
backgrounds are quite similar; we both go back aways (an
Americanism) and have been around the block a few times.
That said I found him to be a true delight and
professional and a gentleman of karate.
There is no pretense with Jan what you see is
what you get. Special
thanks must go to his wife Hanny for supplying most of
the information in this article.
May 30th 1950, married and father of 3 sons. Went to
work on a cruise ship when he was 18 and visited the USA
many times, he still finds it his favorite country. This
resulted in a 3-week motorcycle trip to the West Coast
during his 25th wedding anniversary.
his early sailing career ended and he married his wife
Hanny, he went searching for something to fill his free
time. After seeing him play soccer, his father, former
soccer coach of Ajax Amsterdam and the Dutch National
Soccer team, advised him to hang his shoes on a
tree because in his opinion: "He could not
crush an egg with his feet". So he quit soccer and
began to practice karate.
first foreign teacher was sensei Miyazaki and his
assistant Sawada. They made such a big impression on him
that Jan committed himself fully to Karate. It started
out as a hobby and became a life style and his living.
After a period of teaching karate at a local sports
school, Jan started his dojo in 1983. The dojo was and
still is called UMO, meaning feather. This crest was a
description of Jan's character and lifestyle, done by
his former Japanese teacher sensei Miyazaki, who has
passed away. He thought the feather in the air is swift
and uncontrolled, attached to an arrow the feather
directs and controls the arrow. This he thought Jan's
character was, happy and fun but straight to the point
and honest. Jan thought this is a great honor that
sensei Miyazaki described him this way.
Jan practiced karate in the early days with
senseiís as Nakayama, Kase, Enoeda, Shirai, Ochi,
Asai, Yahara, Abe.
Sensei Abe he met in 1985 during his first visit
to Japan. He practiced with sensei Abe during the Gaijin
class for several weeks. At that time entering the JKA
instructors class or training with the JKA
instructorís class was impossible.
In the early days Jan had a lot of success during
competitions. Several times he was the Dutch champion in
individual and team events, especially in his specialty
Kata. In 1993 he transferred from the national
organization to his old love the JKA. He was sick and
tired of politics and only wanted to practice and enjoy
karate his way. Also the national organization was an
all style organization and therefore left little room
for traditional Karate. Jan went to the JKA Asai
fraction and stayed there until the last split. During
his stay with sensei Asai he met sensei Richard Amos and
since then always stayed in contact with him. Jan
developed his Karate under Asai sensei and became more
inspired. He still wanted to compete and he became
European Champion, 2nd in the World Championships 1993
Johannesburg and World Champion in Greece in 1996. This,
he felt completed his competition career and he devoted
himself to coaching his sons and the rest of his team.
Until now the successes are hard to count, several
European champions, high scores during World
Championships, several 1st - 2nd and 3rd places. Being
independent, after the Asai split, Jan and his team
competed with all kinds of organizations. He thought of
himself as a Ronin, a master less samurai. He kept
contact with all the various organizations and finally
decided to become a member of the WTKO, a traditional
organization that was and still is in Jan's blood.
Jan shares his time between his dojo and courses he is
giving throughout Europe. He is a well-known instructor
in the Balkan countries and due to his efforts these
karateka are now able to travel throughout Europe to
he is a very busy man Jan still finds some time for his
hobbies: speed cycling with his 80 year old father who
is still has a perfect condition. During these daily
trips they share their knowledge about their sport and
Jan uses this knowledge to develop his Karate. Jan likes
to workout alone in his dojo and likes driving through
the country on his motorbike with his wife Hanny. At
present Jan is training for his 7thdan.