The History of Shukokai Karate

Shukokai Karate, the “Way for All”, is a traditional system of Okinawan Karate, which has evolved from careful analysis of the dynamics and principles of traditional karate. The lineage of Shukokai can be considered a direct descendant of it’s parent style, Shito Ryu. Shito Ryu Karate is accredited to Soke Kenwa Mabuni (1890-1952).

history of karate

Mabuni, like many of the old karate masters, was descended from the Okinawan warrior class. At 13, Mabuni became a student of Yasutsune “Ankou” Itosu (1830-1915). Itosu taught Okinawan Shuri-Te and was credited as the master who developed the Pinan Kata and was instrumental in organising early karate into the Okinawan school system. During his teens, Mabuni also studied under Kanryo Higa(ashi)onna (1853-1915), a teacher of Naha-Te, a particularly chinese influenced karate style. Mabuni devoted his life to promoting his Shito-Ryu Karate. One of his students, Chojiro Tani was to further refine the style, into Shukokai Karate. Chojiro Tani was born in Kobe, Japan in 1921 and began studying the art of Karate during Junior High School. After receiving his Teachers Certificate from Sensei Mabuni, Sensei Tani began teaching Tani-Ha Shito Ryu at his own Dojo. He proudly hung a wood carved sign above the entrance which said Shukokai – “Way for All”. Outside of Japan, Tani’s style spread mainly in Europe Shigeru Kimura, one of the students of Chojiro Tani then took Shukokai to Africa and the United States. When Sensei Tani retired as Chief Technical Director he appointed Shigeru Kimura, 9th Dan, (1941-1995)

Sensei Kimura established a reputation of master level Shukokai Karate worldwide. Being a direct descendent of Shito-Ryu, Shukokai inherits the characteristics of both the Naha-te and Shuri-te styles of Okinawan Karate. While Shukokai shares many of the same punches, kicks, and blocks found in other popular styles of Karate, it is in how these are executed that sets Shukokai apart. Sensei Tani and Sensei Kimura made their maximum contributions to the style by continually refining each technique to the highest degree, essentially re-defining the basics that had been practiced for centuries. Both made the study of body mechanics their primary focus with the end result being the delivery of the greatest impact with the least amount of effort. Another significant characteristic is that each technique must be combat effective. Sensei Kimura believed.that a technique, no matter how powerful, was useless if it could not be delivered under combat situations. His philosophy was that the outcome of a confrontation should be decided in a single technique, one hit one kill, which was the traditional way of the Samurai. This drove him to continually modify and test his technique throughout the course of his life with the end result being the traditional, yet combat effective style of Karate we call Shukokai.