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Sonny Pillay

P. Sonny Pillay, 7th Dan Black Belt

spillay3Chief instructor Sonny Pillay has received many special awards during his karate career spanning 35years.

During the 1996 WKF (World Karate Federation) World Junior and Cadet Championships, the WKF awarded him with a special honorary award. In 1998 he was honoured with an international award for his worldwide contribution to the martial arts by the India festival committee of New York.

KASA, the national governing body for karate in South Africa honoured him with a Sixth degree all styles grade and a commendation award for his contribution to the karate fraternity in 1999. In addition to his responsibility of SKISA, he presently holds the following positions:
Member of UFAK(Union of the Federation of Africa Karate) technical commission
Executive Member of the Grading Commission of KASA (Karate Association of South Africa)

Sonny Pillay started off with the JKA Shotokan style in 1968 and in 1971, he opened a small dojo with some fellow students. Owing to great frustration that because of their "non-white" status, he and of his fellow colleagues were not able to test for Black Belt ranking, he set his sights abroad, particularly on England, as his idol, the great Kanazawa Sensei was the resident instructor in England at the time.

Sonny did not manage to meet Mr Kanazawa during his short visit to England in 1975, as Kanazawa had moved to Canada. Nevertheless, he did meet and train another great master who played a tremendous influence on his karate career - none other than Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda.

During 1976, he represented the S.A. Indian team against the English National team, gaining vast experience in tournament fighting techniques, fighting against such famous karateka as Billy Higgins, Ticky Donovan and others.

In August 1977, he emigrated to Britain with his newly wedded wife. For one solid year he trained under the watchful gaze of "The Tiger" (Enoeda Sensei) as well as with Sensei's Kawazoe, Tomita and Asano. December of 1978 had him testing for Black Belt under Asano Sensei who had in that time, switched to SKI. Soon after that he returned to South Africa at the invitation of a local Shotokan instructor who had requested his services to teach. This was the foundation for the SKISA

In 1979, he went back to England for a three months intensive course with Asano Sensei, after which, Asano Sensei visited South Africa. That opened the way for the many other Japanese Sensei to visit and teach. He has also since then, on a yearly basis, taken teams abroad to compete and train.

Training Period: 1968 - ……

Present Rank:

  • 8th Degree Black Belt – International Federation of Pankration Athlima (IFPA)
  • 7th Degree Black Belt – Union of Federations of African Karate (UFAK)
  • 7th Degree Black Belt – Shotokan Karate-do International Federation (SKIF)


Continental President:

  • African Union of Pankration Athlima (AFUPA)


  • Shotokan Karate-Do International South Africa (SKISA)
  • Federation of Pankration Athlima of South Africa (FPASA)
  • International Karate Friendship Association (IKFA)

Chief Executive Officer (CEO):

  • 8th SKIF World Cup Karate 2003

Vice- President :

  • KwaZulu Natal Karate Federation (KZNKF)[All-Styles Provincial Federation - SASCOC]

Executive Member:

  • Technical Commission – Shotokan Block: Union of Federations Of African Karate (UFAK)
  • Technical Board – Karate South Africa (KSA)
  • South African Defence Association (SADA)

Chief Instructor:

  • Shotokan Karate-Do International South Africa (SKISA)



  • Member of the South African Indian Karate Team that fought against the England (Reigning World Champions)


  • Special Commendation Award by the World Karate Federation (WKF) for Development/Promotion of Karate in South Africa


  • Produced World Police and Fire Games Karate Champion – Ravi Moodley


  • Special Commendation Award by the Karate Association of South Africa (KASA)


  • Life Time Achievement Award by the India Festival Committee – New York


  • Successful in bid to host the 8th SKIF World Cup Karate 2003 in South Africa        


  • Awarded Kyoshi status at the 8th SKIF World Cup Karate 2003
  • Awarded Protea (National) Colours – Coaching
  • Produced Junior World Champion – Njabulo Khumalo
  • Head Coach of Team South Africa that placed 4th out of 53 countries at the 8th SKIF World Cup Karate 2003


  • Presented Dr. Nelson Mandela with SKIF Honorary 10th Degree Black Belt (Doctorate)
  • Appointed to promote karate on the African Continent (development commission) by the President of Union of Federations of African Karate (UFAK)
  • Special Commendation Award – Received at the Hayashi-Ha World Championships in Malaysia
  • Tournament Director KZN Karate Federation and Karate South Africa (KSA)
  • Inducted into the first ever South African Martial Arts Hall of Fame
  • Awarded 7th Degree Black Belt by the Union of African Karate (UFAK), the All-styles Continental Body representing the World Karate Federation (WKF) -First South African to be awarded this Rank of Nanadan by UFAK


  • Appointed Tournament Director KZN Karate Federation and Karate Association of South Africa (KASA)
  • Awarded 8th Degree Black Belt by the International Federation of Pankration Athlima (IFPA) at the 2nd IFPA World Cup in Brazil
  • Appointed Continental President of the African Union of Pankration Athlima (AFUPA)


  • Appointed Technical Director for Shotokan Karate-do International Mauritius (SKIM)
  • Special Commendation Award by SKIF for Outstanding Contribution for the promotion of Karate in Africa.


  • Celebrated 40th Year in Karate
  • Awarded 7th Degree Black Belt by Prof. H. Kanazawa (10th Dan) – President: SKIF
  • Appointed National Selector for Karate South Africa (KSA)
  • Initiated the SKISA ‘Stop Woman and Child Abuse’ Program

I have produced World Champions, Proteas and several International and National Champions. I preside over 52 clubs nationally comprising of 2000 members.

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