Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1928, Nishiyama began his karate training in 1943 under Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of modern karate.
In 1951, he became co-founder of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) and was elected to the JKA Board of Directors.
In 1961, Nishiyama organized the All America Karate Federation (today the American Amateur Karate Federation, or AAKF) as a Nationally based amateur Karate organization, and in 1974 founded the International Amateur Karate Federation (IAKF). In 1985, the IAKF changed its name to the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF).
In 2000, he was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette by the Emperor of Japan for his promotion of Japanese culture through his lifelong teaching of traditional karate.
In 2001, the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland was bestowed upon him.
NIshiyama passed away on November 7, 2008 at the age of 80, survived by his wife and 3 daughters.