Obata was a pioneering Japanese master of Shotokan karate. He was a senior student of Gichin Funakoshi. Obata helped introduced karate to the United States of America through his demonstrations of the art to the United States Air Force personnel. Obata trained in judo, kendo (swordsmanship) and kyudo (archery). Upon entering studies at Keio University, he was one of the first students in line to study under Funakoshi, who had accepted a position teaching karate at the university. Walter Todd Sensei also trained under Obata Sensei, who was reported as being so impressed with Todd Sensei’s karatedo skills that he arranged for Funakoshi to issue Todd Sensei with a Shodan (1st Dan). Obata Sensei later wrote to Todd Sensei to tell him that he was the first foreigner to receive a black belt in Shotokan Karate.