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History of our style

Shitō-Ryū Karate Do

Shitō-Ryū Karate, was founded by Kenwa Mabuni Sensei (1889-1952)

Kenwa Mabuni Sensei began his training at the age of 13, in Shorin Ryu with Anko Itosu Sensei, a noted Karate master, in the Shuri area of Okinawa. Itosu Sensei was not only highly skilled in Budo but also a great innovator in teaching the martial arts. 

Around 1905, Itosu Sensei introduced Karate into the Okinawan public school system. Among other accomplishments, Itosu Sensei created the Pinan Kata, which are still practised today as introductory or intermediate forms in many schools. 

Itosu Sensei had an important effect on Karate in the 20th Century.  Evidence of this can be found in the number of Karate styles that trace their lineage back to him.

In about 1909, through an introduction by his friend Chojun Miyagi Sensei (Founder of Goju-Ryu) Mabuni Sensei started to train with Kanryo Higaonna, in Shorei Ryu. Higaonna Sensei was a great expert from the Naha region of Okinawa.


In 1915, both Itosu Sensei and Higaonna Sensei passed away within a short time of each other. Mabuni Sensei continued his training. 

Ultimately, he and Miyagi Sensei joined with other students of Karate to start a research group aimed at practising and spreading Karate.

In 1929, Mabuni Sensei moved his entire family to Osaka. There he established a small dojo and began teaching his unique art, which was an eclectic mix of Shorin Ryu (Itosu) and Shorei Ryu (Higaonna), with some Kata from the White Crane that were taught to him by the legendary Go Kenki, a Chinese tea merchant who would visit Okinawa on business.


Mabuni Sensei ultimately decided to name his art 'SHI TO' which was formed by taking the first two characters (kanji) from the names of his two primary teachers, Itosu and Higaonna. Thus, the name Shitō-Ryū has no literal meaning but rather honours the two main teachers in Mabuni Sensei's life.


Mabuni Sensei worked tirelessly to teach Karate throughout Japan, and the impact that he had on the development of Japanese Karate was tremendous. Many groups trace an element of their lineage back to him. Kenwa Mabuni died on 23rd May 1952.


Shūkōkai Karate Do

The Shūkōkai school of Karate was founded by Soke Chojiro Tani (1921-1998).

Tani Sensei began his study of Karate at junior high school, in the Go-Ju school of Karate. He then entered Doshisha University Kyoto and continued to study Go-Ju under the great Karate master and founder of Go-Ju Chojun Miyagi.

After some years, Miyagi returned to Okinawa and asked his good friend Kenwa Mabuni to take over the university class where he continued to teach Go-ju ryu (Shorei-Ryu) as taught to him by Higaonna Sensei.

After Tani Sensei graduated from university, he continued to train under Mabuni Sensei in the Shorin Ryu and the Shorei Ryu system and ultimately Shitō-Ryū. After the war, Tani Sensei started to teach Karate in an open-air car park in the centre of Kobe.

His group (Shūkōkai) soon grew and one year later, he built his own Dojo attached to his house. In 1946, Tani Sensei was presented with the scroll of succession from Master Mabuni and was given permission to start up his own sect, Tani-Ha Shitō-Ryū.

Master Tani passed away on Sunday 11th January 1998.

He was succeeded by one of his most senior students,
Haruyoshi Yamada 10th Dan Soke.


Haruyoshi Yamada (1938 - 2018)

President Shitō-Ryū Shūkōkai Union 10th Dan Soke

Born 1938 in Akita prefecture, Master Yamada began his martial arts study in Judo before becoming involved in Karate. In 1956, he became a disciple of Master Tani and was one of Master Tani's top ranking pupils.

Master Yamada inherited the Presidency upon the passing away of Master Tani, and is also the Chief Executive of Gishinkan, a Shukokai drill hall based in Amagasaki City, with approximately 3000 followers nation-wide; mainly in the Kyoto/Kobe/Osaka districts. Master Yamada runs a renowned bone settling clinic.

Further activities:
8th Dan Hanshi Japan Karate-Do Federation Supreme Judge Japan Karate-Do Federation
President West Japan Workers Karate-Do Federation
Game Director, Japan Society for Physical Culture
Japanese Olympic Committee representative for Inagawa


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