Malaysian martial arts pioneer Thamby Rajah died on Sunday at the age of 96. Credited as being the first Malaysian to earn black belts in judo and aikido, Rajah began his martial arts training with instruction in Japanese ju jutsu following World War II. This initial training inspired him to travel to Japan in the early 1950s where he continued to learn various forms of budo.
While in Japan, Rajah practiced with such notables as judo 10th dan Kyuzo Mifune, famed aikido instructor Gozo Shioda and legendary American martial artist Donn Draeger. But it was Shioda who became his primary instructor. Rajah would return to Malaysia to open the country's first aikido school in 1960 teaching Shioda's yoshinkan style through his Shudokan Institute. Rajah's students would eventually go on to spread his brand of aikido in Australia and the United Kingdom.