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The Teachers Of Karate

Their Lives and History

Shukokai Wolrd Karate Union HomeShitoryu Karate Introduction
History of karate
Teachers of karate
Shitoryu Shukokai South Africa Family tree
Karate Association Shukokai South Africa members
Kumite explaned with WKF tournament rules
Kata and WKF tournament rules explained
What do you have to know for gradings?WKF tournament referee and rulesJapanese terminology used in Karate
Karate and children
Some fun and free stuff
Karate and nutrition
News of Karate Association Shukokai South Africa
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Todi Sakugawa (1733-1815)
He is believed to have received his instruction from Peichin Takahara and from a great Chinese master, a military attaché known as 'KU-SAN-KU', who was an expert in the art of 'Chinese-Boxing' and spent 6 years in Okinawa around 1761. Tode Sakugawa's most prominent student was SOKON MATSUMURA (1809-1894) who was also Yasutsune 'Ankoh' Itosu's teacher.           
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Very early karate teacher

Kosaku Matsumora (1797-1898)
He was taught by Kokan Oyadomari and in turn taught Ankoh Itosu

Very strong
Sokon Matsumura (1809-1894)
He was taught by Sakugawa and also taught Ankoh Itosu
Todi Sakagawa

Ankoh Itosu (1830 - 1915)
He was born in Shuri and became one of the most respected martial artists in Okinawa during the 19th century.

He trained a great number of eminent karatemen, including Kentsu Yabu (1863-1937), Chomo Hanashiro (1869-1945), Gichin Funakoshi (1867-1957), Moden Yabiku (1880-1941), Kanken Toyama (1888-1966),Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945), Shinpan Shiroma (1890-1954), Anbun Tokuda (1886-1945) and Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952). Kanryo Higashionna (alternate reading as HIGAONNA) was born in Naha in 1853.
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Father of Karate
Ankoh Itosu

Master Ankoh Itosu's Precepts
(10 Rules of Karate Practice) October, 1908

In 1901 Ankoh Itosu sensei introduced Okinawan Karate into the Shuri Elementary School System as part of the physical education training program. This became the root by which Okinawan Karate began to gain popularity. By 1905 Itosu sensei was the first to teach Okinawan Karate at the Dai Ichi College and the Teacher's Training College. In 1908 he wrote a letter to the Prefectural Educational Department encouraging the introduction of Karate to all Okinawan schools including those on the Japanese mainland. He wrote (paraphrased):

  • Karate practice should be used as a means of self-defence and in order to protect one's parents and loved ones. It should be used to improve your health and should not be used for your own selfish interests or to deliberately hurt someone.
  • The purpose of Karate is to train the human body to become as hard as rock and as strong as iron (steel). To effectively develop the hands and feet to be used as spears or arrows, and to develop a strong spirit and brave heart through continuous practice. If Karate were introduced at the elementary school level, the children would be well prepared for the military in the future. Both the First Duke of Wellington and Napoleon I discussed the concept of "tomorrow's victory can come from today's playgrounds".
  • Karate is not learned over a brief period of time. To understand Karate more fully, one should practice seriously everyday for at least three or four years.
  • In Karate the hands and feet should be trained on the 'makiwara' by striking it about one or two hundred times. This can be achieved by dropping or relaxing (without tension) the shoulders. Open your lungs (inhale deeply) without raising the shoulders, take hold of your strength (hold your breath briefly), grip the ground with your feet and sink your intrinsic energy (Ki, Chi, Internal Life Force) to your lower abdomen (Tanden).
  • Karate should be practised with the proper stances executed by keeping the back straight, lowering the shoulders, allowing the strength to develop in the legs, positioning the feet firmly on the ground and delivering the Ki through the tanden, while keeping the upper and lower parts connected throughout the movement.
  • Karate techniques should be practised repeatedly over and over a great number of times. The correct explanation (Bunkai) of the techniques should be learned and then properly applied to the given circumstances.
  • Karate practitioners should decide whether the emphasis is on purely physical fitness training or only the practical use of the body.
  • Karate should be practised with great intensity and the concept of always being prepared to defend your self, as if on the field of battle.
  • Karate should be practised correctly and to develop the proper strength of technique. Do not over exert your self or over do it.
  • Those who have previously mastered Karate have lived to an old age. This was achieved because Karate helps in the development of muscles and bones, helps the digestive organs, and improves the circulation of blood. Therefore, Karate should be introduced into the physical education classes and practised from the elementary school level onwards                                                                            Back to Top
Kokan Oyadomari (1831-1905)
He taught Chotoku Kyan and Kosaku Matsumora
Ancient warriors considered the techniques of the short stick(Jo) and the long stick (BO) to be of secondary importance but they still learnt the method and the practice. The Katori Ryu raised the staff to the dignity of a true fighting weapon. The monk warriors of the 16th century made it their chosen weapon because they said that the staff's humility could make it powerful and so conquer the enemy, or even break the famous sword in two.
Seisho Arakaki (1840-1918)
Master Arakaki was an accomplished Kobujutsu teacher and taught Kenwa Mabuni BO and SAI techniques, including various weapons forms.                                       
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Master Higaonna

Higaonna (1853-1915)

Master Kanryo Higashionna began training in the martial arts with a Chinese Kempo stylist when he was around 16 years old. His fascination for this Chinese fighting-art form, lead him to train in Foochow, China for approximately 15 years. After returning to Okinawa, he was eventually convinced to teach his system of martial arts. It was during this period that he introduced the 'HARD' and 'SOFT' methods of training.

He was renown for his great physical strength and his performance of the 'SANCHIN' kata. Kanryo Higashionna was also considered to be one of the most highly respected martial artists in Okinawa during the 19th century. Master Higashionna had many disciples among whom were his most dedicated, Chojun Miyagi (founder of GOJU-RYU), Juhatsu Kiyoda (founder of TOON-RYU), Kanken Toyama, and Kenwa Mabuni (founder of SHITO-RYU).                                                                           Back to Top

Gishen Funakoshi
Kentsu Yabu (1863-1937)
Funakoshi (1868-1915)
The founder of Shotokan Karate-Do               
Chomo Hanashiro (1869-1945                   
Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945)
He was taught Tomari - Te by Kokan Oyadomari                             
Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953)
The founder of 'GOJU-RYU'                                                                           Back to Top


Father of Shitoryu Karate

Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952)

He was born in Shuri, the 17th generation descendant of one of the bravest warriors of Okinawan nobility.His family members had served Okinawan lords for hundreds of years. As a child, Kenwa Mabuni wanted so very much to be like his great ancestors, but unfortunately he was very sickly and weak. In 1902, at the age of 13, Kenwa Mabuni was taken to the most famous martial artist in Shuri, master Ankoh Itosu, to improve his health. From that day forward, he never missed a day of training until he was approximately 20 years old. It is said that Itosu developed a strong bond with young Mabuni, passing on his knowledge of 23 kata.
Kenwa Mabuni
During his teens, in 1909, encouraged by master Itosu to further expand his knowledge of the martial arts, Mabuni also studied under Kanryo Higa(ashi)onna (1853-1915), a teacher of Naha-Te, a particularly chinese influenced karate style, until the great master's death in 1915. Mabuni was introduced to Higaonna, by his friend, Chojun Miyagi (who went on to become the founder of Goju-Ryu karate). Interestingly, during the 1920s, Mabuni participated with Miyagi in a Karate Club at a dojo known as Ryukyu Tode Kenkyu Kai, the "Okinawan Karate Research Club". This dojo saw many masters from a diversity of backgrounds train together, and whilst there Mabuni learned some Fukien Province White Crane Kung Fu, from the legendary Woo Yin Gue, a Chinese tea merchant living on Okinawa. These teachings have survived through the kata Rohai (Crane on the Rock) and Nipaipo.
Founder of Shitoryu Karate - Mabuni
During this period, Kenwa Mabuni was also receiving instruction from master Seisho Arakaki of Naha, who taught a similar style to master Higashionna. He was also being influenced by a Fukien, 'White-Crane-Fist' master named WU XIAN GUI (pronounced GO KENKI in Japanese) at the time.

As a result of Itosu's death in 1915,Mabuni became the second master of the Itosu school, building a shrine in front of his master's grave where he lived nearby for a year, following the daily ritual of refining his kata performance and to pay respect and honour to the great master.
Completing the required military service after graduating from high school, Kenwa Mabuni eventually became a policeman. By 1918, Kenwa Mabuni had become an important figure in the martial arts community and was respected by his peers. Around this time, he established a research and study group at his home. Various participating members included Chosin Chibana, Gichin Funakoshi, Anbun Tokuda, Shinpan Shiroma, Choju Oshiro, Seicho Tokumura and Hoko Ishikawa.

During 1918, Kenwa Mabuni's first son, Ken-ei, was born. Mabuni trained in Kobudo, with the most important master on the isle, Sensei Sakumoto, and then with Master Aragaki expertise in the use of the Bo and the Sai; accomplishing mastery in the usage of the Bo, Sai, Tonfa, Kama y Nunchaku.

He published lots of articles in specialized magazines and some technical books: "Seipai No Kenkyu", "Yosi-Goshin-Jutsu", and "Kobu-Juzai-Goshin-Jutsu Karate Kempo".

In 1924, Kenwa Mabuni and Chojun Miyagi were asked to take charge of the training sessions, even though they were still fairly young. During these sessions, actual kumite was stressed to increase their physical techniques and strength. It is said that, when a student wanted to learn more from a master, the master would simply invite the student to attack him freely, all the while, blocking and shifting his body while constantly asking the student, " now, do you understand?" and encouraging them to attack, again and again.

Kenwa Mabuni originally named his system 'HANKO RYU' (Half-Hard style), but later changed it to reflect the deep respect he felt towards his two great masters, ITOSU and HIGAONNA. Using the alternative reading of the Kanji for 'ITO' from master ITOSU's name, (which can also be read as 'SHI'), and 'HIGA' from master HIGAONNA's name, (which can be interpreted as 'TO' ), Kenwa Mabuni created the new name, 'SHITO' for his style of Karatedo. It was during this time 1927-1928, that Kenwa Mabuni moved to Osaka permanently, to teach Shito Ryu Karatedo
Mabuni Scoll
Around 1929, master Moden Yabiku was also teaching Karatedo and Kobudo in Japan. His most famous student was master Shinken Taira (1897-1970) who also trained under master Mabuni during the late 1930's. Ryusho Sakagami (1915-1993), founder of the NIHON KARATEDO ITOSU KAI, began training under master Moden Yabiku in 1934, and then in 1937, became a student of master Kenwa Mabuni. Sakagami sensei also received a teaching certificate in Kobudo, from master Shinken Taira. Over the next few years, master Mabuni dedicated himself to the further development and promotion of SHITO RYU karatedo in the Osaka area. He was faced with an extremely difficult task due to the unwillingness of the population to accept him or this strange looking system of self-defence, resembling an ancient 'Okinawan-Fist Dance'.

In order to bring Shito Ryu to the general public's attention, master Mabuni would perform many demonstrations where he would break bricks and boards to show the power of karate. Continually trying to gain acceptance of his art, master Kenwa Mabuni would give free instruction at various police stations across western Japan. Eventually his enormous efforts began to finally payoff with the establishment of the DAI NIHON KARATEDO KAI, in 1931. This original group later was the forerunner of the present World Shito-Kai Karatedo Federation.

Group photo Shito Ryu Karatedo became more accepted after this time, and master Mabuni began to teach many students at his home and at many Universities that were forming clubs. Among his many students included were his two sons, Kenei Mabuni and Kenzo Mabuni, Chojiro Tani (founder of Tani-ha SHUKOKAI, "The way for All"), Ryusho Sakagami, Yoshiaki Tsujikawa, Ken Sakio, Jun-ichi Inoue, Manzo Iwata, Toshiyuki Imanishi, Kazuo Kokuba, Tokio Hisatomi and Ryusei Tomoyori. During the Pacific War, many promising young karateka from the four major styles lost their lives, including from the Shito Ryu group. Master Mabuni barely survived the post-war turmoil, contending with great poverty but, he persevered and continued to devote himself unselfishly to the further development of Shito Ryu Karatedo. After the war, many of the previously established Shito Ryu Karate clubs in the universities and colleges began to reopen. By this time, the future of Shito Ryu Karatedo was assured by many of his surviving students the majority of which could be found on the East coast of Japan in the Kanto district.

When Shihan Mabuni died, in May of 1957, at 64, several variants of his style were founded, adopting each Master their own technical criteria, being possible to mention:
Some of Mabuni' Students

School Name
Chojiru Tani SHUKOKAI
Ryushu Sakagami ITOSU-KAI
Shiken Tiara KOBUDO
Kanei Uechi (not Kambun Eishi's son) SHITORYU KEMPO KARATE-DO KAI
Yoshiaki Tsujikawa SHITO-KAI

In 1993 the World Shitoryu Karate-Do Federation was created so as to unify the style. Master Manzo Iwata was designated as President. After his death, Master Ken Sakyo (8th. Dan) signs as the new President. When this was done, continental federations were created.                                                      Back to Top

Mabuni with Motobu and Konishi Sensei
Ryusho Sakagami

Ryusho Sakagami (1915-1993)

Founder of the Nihon Karatedo Itosu Kai was one of Mabuni's early
students. Sadaaki, his son, now oversees the Itosu-Kai organization from Yokohama, Japan.   

Shinken Taira (1897-1970)         
The main Dojo now is in Nesabu, Tomigusuku, Okinawa.
This is the area Taira Sensei practiced for many years and the home of the late Eisuke Akamine. Shinken Taira was the founder of Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai, one of the first and main Kobudo Ryua in Okinawa.
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Shinken Taira

Chojiro Tani (1921-1998)

He was born in Kobe, Japan. In 1921 at the age of 6 began studying the art of Karate during Junior High School at the Gojo School of Karate. He entered Doshisha University, Kyoto in 1940 and furthered his studies of karate under the direction of Kenwa Mabuni.

On graduation from University, Sensei Tani followed Mabuni, learning first the Shuri-te system and then ultimately the developing Shitoryu system that Mabuni Kenwa founded. After many years of training under Mabuni Sensei as one of his most senior students, Sensei Tani received the certificate of succession entitling him to use the name Tani-Ha Shitoryu, the Tani sect of Shitoryu In 1948, whilst still a high school teacher, Sensei Tani founded his own school, which he called Shukokai.

Sensei Tani sought to perfect his style by studying the mechanics of the human body and developed techniques which can be delivered with maximum efficiency. Over a long period of time, Tani evolved and developed Shukokai. He always laid stress on the importance of etiquette, discipline and mental control, and was at pains constantly to promote the improvement of technique.

On the death of his teacher Mabuni Kenwa in 1952, many of the senior students went their own ways and at this time, Tani Sensei adopted the name bestowed by Mabuni: Tani-Ha Shitoryu He also organized clubs in Kyoto University and Osaka College of Economics, Tottiro University and Kobe University Medical School. Outside of Japan, Tani's style spread mainly in Europe (Kofukan International). Shigeru Kimura, one of the students of Chojiro Tani then promulgated Shukokai to the United States, whilst Yoshinao Nambu continued to teach in Europe, He called his style Nambudo.

At 5.00am on Sunday January 11th 1998, just ten days before his 79th birthday, Sensei Chojiro Tani, passed away in a hospital in Kobe, Japan.
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Founder of Shukokai Karate Tani Sensei and Kimura Sensei

Sensei Kimura-Left Shukokai USA
Sensei Tani-Right Shukokai Japan

Shukokai World Karate Union Ryushin-kan President Kancyo Masuyama
Hanshi Takeshi Masuyama

Takeshi Masuyama

Sensei Takeshi started karate in April 1965. He trained under Sensei Tani. He received Shodan (1st Dan) 21 April 1973. He is currently a 9th Dan and hold the degree of Hanshi, being the president of Skukokai World Karate Union, with headquarters in Kobe, Japan. He is also the Soke of Ryushinkan International Karate-Do Federation.

After the death of Tani Sensei, his son Mr. Hiroshi Tani, and many Senseis and instructors from other countries announced themselves as top of their respective Shukokai groups.

All the Shukokai Headquarters Instructors got together and founded the Shukokai World Karate Union (Ryushin-Kan), with Takeshi Masuyama as Kancho, he was chosen for this position because he was Tani sensei's personal assistant and supervisor since 1975. S.W.K.U. Ryushin-Kan is a group of Instructors from former S.W.K.U. Headquarters and our intention is the same as original S.W.K.U.

When Kimura-sensei, from United States passed away, his ash was divided half for America and half for Japan. The relationship between Kimura-sensei and Takeshi-sensei was like brothers. Takeshi was privileged to be appointed as the chief of the funeral committee. During Kimura - sensei's lifetime, he often talked about the organization of Kimura karate with Masuyama and he decided and confirmed that Takeshi Masuyama would be a successor and counsellor to the Kimura Karate. He had also decided Alex, Orlando and Armstrong would be messengers for Japan. He took this decision back to America but unfortunately there were ambitious people who did not want to accept Kimura-sensei's decision. They forced Kimura Karate to collapse.

We would like to join all the world Shukokai groups from our Ryushin-kan World Headquarters.
S.W.K.U. has members world wide of which Ryushinkan International Karate-Do of South Africa is one.

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