Kiyoshi Nakakura was born on September 24, 1910, in the Kagoshima Prefecture, from a farming family. Tetanus brought away his father when he was only 5 years old. Kiyoshi started practising Kendo from early childhood and his energetic temperament soon caused him to excel in it. He made up his mind to become a professional budoka and in 1927 joined the Daidokan Dojo, where for two years he eagerly dedicated himself full-time to Kendo training under the guidance of Kanehiro Maruta sensei.
Maruta was a very strict old-fashioned teacher that didn’t turn a blind eye to mistakes. One day Nakakura inadvertently stepped on a shinai and his teacher hit him hard with it, then told him: “How could you step over a shinai which stands for a real sword? Someone like you will never be able to become any good however much you practice or for however long. Quit now and go home!”.
Nakakura asked for forgiveness and after apologising to the shinai, was left standing in the corridor with it raised above his head for the duration of the class. He was then pardoned and sent back to the students’ dormitory. No matter how hard it was, he stuck with it and graduated in 1929, after which he was hired as a Kendo teacher at the Daitosha Kogyo Office in the Fukuoka Prefecture.
The occasion of a school field trip to Tokyo later in 1929 offered the 19-year-old Nakakura the opportunity to meet with the leading swordmaster Hakudo Nakayama. The reason for it was to antagonize his old teacher Maruta who, while Nakakura was still at the Daidokan, had boasted that he would easily defeat Nakayama and ended up instead defeated by him in a Kendo challenge. Once he heard that Nakakura was Maruta’s student, Nakayama received him in his dojo, even though he had no recommendation letter.
He also invited him to join training after getting one of his students to lend Nakakura the necessary Kendo gear.