37 jaar UMO Karate  1983 - 2020


Sensei Tetshuki Asai & Sensei Jan Knobel sr.  -  Juni 1994

Born May 30th 1950, married and father of 3 sons. Went working on a cruise ship when he was 18 and visited many times the USA, what he still finds his favourite country. This resulted in a 3-week motorcycle trip at the West coast during his 25th wedding     anniversary. After his sailing period and after getting married to his wife Hanny, he went searching for something to do during the evening times. 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 to the tree because to his opinion: “He could not crash an egg with his feet”. So he did and he went to  practice karate. 

His 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 for him as a hobby and became a lifestyle and his living. After a period of teaching karate at a local sports school, Jan started his own 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 himself thought this a great honour sensei Miyazaki described him this way. 

Jan practiced karate in those early days with sensei’s as Nakayama, Kase, Enoeda, Shirai, Ochi, Asai, Yahara, Abe. Sensei Abe he met in 1985 during his first visit to Japan. He practised with sensei Abe during the Gaijin class for several weeks. At that time entering the JKA instructors class or training with the JKA Instructors class was impossible.

In the early days Jan had a lot of success during competitions. Several times Dutch champion, individual and team. 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 being so left a little room for traditional Karate. So he went to the JKA Asai fraction and stayed there until the last split. During his stay with sensei Asai he met sensei Amos and since then always stayed in contact with him. Jan developed his Karate under Asai sensei and became more exited. He still wanted to compete and he became European champion, 2nd in Johannesburg during the World  Championships 1993 and World champion in Greece 1996. This, In his eyes completed his Karate and he devoted himself to coaching his sons and the rest of his team. Until now the successes are hardly 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 samurai without a master. He kept contact with all those organisations and finally founded the WJKA, a traditional organization which was and still is in Jan’s blood.

Nowadays Jan shares his time between his dojo and courses he is giving throughout Europe. He is a well seen instructor in the Balkan countries and due to his efforts these Karateka’s are now able to travel throughout Europe to compete in several competitions. 

He is founder of JKA the Netherlands and the WJKA.


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