Malcolm Dorfman Shihan 9th Dan

  • Deputy Grandmaster - Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF)
  • Chief Instructor - Karatenomichi South Africa (KWF SA)
  • Africa and Asia Continent Director - World Shotokan Karate-do Association (WSKA)


Malcolm Dorfman Sensei was born in Johannesburg on 31 March 1947. His Martial Art experience which includes Karate, Judo and Kendo extends close to 60 years of which karate training and teaching is more than 50 of those years. After three years of Judo between the ages of 11 to 14 years, he recommenced Judo training at the University of Pretoria Judo Club under Eddie Dorey Sensei at the age of 17 and the following year (1966) joined the University of Witwatersrand Judo Club where he captained the Wits Judo team.

At that time, he joined the University karate club and a few months later, the JKA dojo of Stan Schmidt Sensei. He made rapid progress, and in 1970 was selected for the very first Springbok (national) team to tour overseas. In 1978, after being chosen as the Springbok captain, he retired from the team, but still competed internationally on a selective basis for several years thereafter.

He went abroad many times to train with karate masters all over the world, inter alia, M. Nakayama Sensei and the instructors of JKA headquarters in Tokyo, H. Nishiyama Sensei (USA), H. Kanazawa Sensei (Japan), T. Kase Sensei (France), H. Shirai Sensei (Italy), K. Enoeda Sensei (UK), H. Ochi Sensei (Germany), and especially M. Tanaka Sensei (both in Japan and when Tanaka Sensei was resident in Denmark).

Malcolm Dorfman Sensei was well known in the famous "Hornets' Nest", the elite instructors class of the original Japan Karate Association, before it fragmented. From 1974, when he first trained there as a 3rd Dan, up till 1993, he had been to Japan almost 20 times, and trained in the "Hornets' Nest" each time for an extended period.

In 1986 he was awarded 6th Dan by M. Nakayama Shihan, the late Chief Instructor of the Japan Karate Association making him the holder of the highest Dan level awarded to a non-Japanese during the lifetime of M. Nakayama Shihan, who died in 1987. He also achieved the highest status qualifications given by the Japan Karate Association to a non-Japanese, which are A-class International Instructor, A-class International Judge and A-class International Examiner and was elected to the International Shihankai (Master Panel) of the Nakahara JKA in 1993, a few months before resigning from that organisation.

From 1993 till 1999, Malcolm Dorfman Sensei was a member of the Asai JKA, where he was graded to 7th Dan by a panel headed by Asai Sensei in February 1994. However, in 1999, after the Japanese High Court ruled in favour of the Nakahara JKA with regard to title to the name Shadan Hojin Nihon Karate Kyokai (Japan Karate Association), the former Asai JKA organisation split into three, with Asai Sensei forming the Japan Karate Shotokai (JKS), Abe Sensei forming the Japan Shotokan Karate Association (JSKA) and Yahara Sensei forming the Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF).

Malcolm Dorfman Sensei opted to go with the Karatenomichi World Federation. After undergoing a lengthy and arduous grading examination held the day prior to the 2000 Karatenomichi World Championships in Cardiff, Wales, he was awarded the rank of 8th Dan KWF by the Japanese Master Panel (International Shihankai) under Yahara Sensei making him the only non-Japanese in the world at that time to hold the KWF rank of 8th Dan. In addition, at that time, he was appointed as a member of the original 3-man Supreme Master Board (Saiko-Shihankai) of the Karatenomichi World Federation, the first and at that time, the only non-Japanese to hold this status. The other two members were Yahara Sensei and Isaka Sensei, the other two 8th Dan holders in KWF.

Malcolm Dorfman Sensei also held the title of KWF World Vice-Chief Instructor jointly with Isaka Sensei and in 2016, after Isaka Sensei's resignation, became the sole KWF World Vice-Chief Instructor (this title was amended in 2017 to Deputy Grandmaster).

At the 2017 KWF World Congress in Malta, Malcolm Dorfman Shihan graded to 9th Dan while ratifying his deputy grandmaster status within the Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF). The examination panel consisted of the supreme Master Panel of the KWF, headed by the legendary Mikio Yahara Shihan. This was a truly historic moment, making Malcolm Sensei the first 9th Dan westerner in a Japan-based mainstream shotokan organisation. His grading was also remarkable in that 9th Dan is typically given as an award, yet Malcolm Sensei in true budo (warrior) spirit chose to actually do a physical exam.

Malcolm Dorfman Sensei is the Chief Instructor and official representative of the Karatenomichi World Federation in South Africa and operates the South African branch under the name of Karatenomichi South Africa. Karatenomichi South Africa also has membership with the World Shotokan Karatedo Association (WSKA) where he was appointed as WSKA Director for the African and Asia Continents, is one of the three member WSKA Technical Board and one of five members of the WSKA Referee Commission.

Malcolm Dorfman Sensei introduced Kendo into South Africa in 1985, and through his efforts the South African Kendo Federation was established. Due to his extensive karate commitments, he eventually handed over the reins to his senior kendo students.

In recent years, Malcolm Dorfman Sensei has increased his international seminar instruction schedule, mostly in the USA, UK and Europe.

In his spare time, Malcolm Dorfman Sensei likes to read about and research American Old West history, British history and feudal Japan history. On a sporting level, he is an avid alpine skier, and spends the end of the year vacation skiing in the American Rockies. He is also a keen football (soccer) fan and an ardent Manchester United supporter.


For own sporting achievements (1978)

For coaching achievements (1981)


9th Dan KWF in 2017
First 9th Dan Westerner in a Japan-based mainstream shotokan organisation.

8th Dan KWF in 2000
Highest Dan level ever awarded to a Westerner by a major official Japanese Shotokan organisation. Also the youngest and only Westerner to pass this examination at the first attempt.

7th Dan JKA Shotokan in 1994
Highest Dan level ever awarded to a Westerner by the Japan Karate Association (Asai faction).

6th Dan JKA Shotokan in 1986
Highest Dan level ever awarded to a Westerner by M. Nakayama Shihan, the late Chief Instructor of the Japan Karate Association. (Shadan Hojin Nihon Karate Kyokai - prior to the split).


Springbok South African National Team:

  • Member of the Springbok team for 9 years, commencing in 1970 and Springbok captain in 1978.


  • Chief Referee of South Africa for 12 years, commencing 1982.
  • International Referee in several organisations.


  • National Coach of the first ever Protea team in 1993.

International Championship achievements:

  • Winner of several international titles in a competition career that spanned 27 years (1967 to 1993)

South African All-Styles Karate:

  • Founder member of first official non-racial all-styles karate organisation in South Africa (KASA) in 1993
  • Awarded 8th Dan by KASA for technical contribution to the development of karate in South Africa.
  • Former National Executive Member for more than 2 decades.
  • Former official Technical Director for more than 2 decades.

Status in Japan & Worldwide:

  • Deputy Grandmaster of Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF).
  • Member of the Karatenomichi World Federation 'Saiko-Shihankai' (Supreme Master Panel) - one of the original three members.
  • Holds the highest rank ever awarded to a Western member of a Japanese Shotokan mainline association.
  • Awarded the rank of A-class Instructor, A-class Examiner & A-class Judge by the Japan Karate Association (JKA Asai faction) in 1994.
  • Re-awarded the rank of A-class Instructor, A-class Examiner & A-class Judge by the KWF on its inception in 2000.
  • World Cup Supervisor at the KWF World Cup from 2002-2015.
  • Appointed by the World Shotokan Karate-do Association (WSKA) as Africa Continent Director in 2001 and in addition as Asia Continent Director in 2015.
  • Member of the WSKA Referee Qualifications Panel for the World Championship since 2005.
  • Appointed by the World Shotokan Karate-do Association (WSKA) to the newly formed 5-man Referees Commission in 2013.
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