Karate Masters

Sokon Matsumura

Kosaku Matsumora

Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu

Kanryu Higa'shi'onna

Gichin Funakoshi

Choki Motobu

Kenwa Mabuni

Chojun Miagi

Hironori Ohtsuka

Ryusho Sakagami

Kosei Kokuba (Kuniba)

Shogo Kuniba

Fumio Demura

Sokon 'Bushi' Matsumura

Sokon Matsumura (1792-1887) was the forefather of Shorin Ryu..

Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Sho family (Royal family of Okinawa) and eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King. At some point in his career, approximately 1830,  he went to China and studied the Shaolin style of Chinese Kenpo (fist method) and weaponry. It is also known that he traveled to Foochow in Fukien province, China on numerous occasions as an envoy for the Okinawan King. After his return from China he organized and refined the Shorin Ryu system of Okinawan Karate.

Matsumura is credited with passing on the kata or formal exercises of Shorin Ryu Karate known as Naifanchi I & II, Bassai Dai, Seisan, Chinto,  Gojushiho (fifty-four steps of the Black Tiger),  Kusanku (the embodiment of Kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and Hakutsuru (white crane). The Hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the white crane system taught within the Shaolin system of Chinese Kenpo. Another set of kata, known as Chanan in Matsumura's time,  is said to have been devised by Matsumura himself and was the basis for Pinan I and II. Matsumura's Ryu has endured to the present day and the above mentioned kata are the core of Shorin Ryu Karate today.

Matsumura was given the title  "Bushi"  meaning warrior by the Okinawan King in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. In fact,  Matsumura fought many times but was never defeated.  His martial arts endeavors has been the progenitor of many contemporary karate styles, Shorin Ryu,  Shotokan Ryu,  and Shito Ryu,  for example. Ultimately all modern styles of karate that evolved from the Shuri-Te lineage can be traced back to the teachings of Bushi Matsumura. This includes Taekwon Do (Korean Karate).

  Kosaku Matsumora

Kosaku Matsumora (1829 - 1898) was born in Tomari village, on Okinawa Island. At the age of 15, when in those days boys began to be treated as adults, he started to learn karate from Master Teruya of Tomari. The young Matsumora became one of Master Teruya's main students, even though he had many followers. 

Master Teruya taught Katas which were only practiced in Tomari, namely "Rohai", "Wanshu" and "Wankan" (sometimes known as "Okan"). He also placed a great deal of emphasis on good behaviour, citing "Karate-ni- Sente-Nashi" ("there is no first attack in karate").

In those days, karate was usually practiced in the garden or at the cemetery of the master's family, as it was the most convenient place. One evening, when Master Matsumora and others were practicing at Master Teruya's family cemetery he noticed an outcast watching his moves intently. Master Matsumora approached him. The man apologised for disturbing Matsumora's training and commended him on his level of skills. He handed Matsumora a piece of paper but, before Matsumora could finish reading the inscription, the recluse had disappeared. Matsumora showed the note to Master Teruya, to which he responded "exactly!". Some time later, Kosaku Matsumora had a flash of inspiration and, in a moment, understood the deeper meaning of the message;

"The essence of bu(do) is to denounce immoral consideration, understand humanity, follow a virtuous path, and devote your life to cultivating peace in Okinawa."

Master Matsumora had several students including Master Choki Motobu, who became renowned for his great fighting skill. Choki Motobu was reputed to have learned only Naifanchi Kata from Master Matsumora, but this is not true, although he did like the kata and so perhaps practiced it more than others. This Kata has been handed down and practiced in Wado-Ryu because Hironori Ohtsuka, the founder, learned it from Choki Motobu.

  Yasutsune 'Anko' Itosu

Yasutsune 'Ankoh' Itosu (1830-1915) was born in Shuri and became one of the most respected martial artists in Okinawa during the 19th century. Master Itosu was a student of  Sokon Matsumura and Kosaku Matsumora. One of his great contributions to the art of "To-De" or karate, was the firm belief of the importance of the development of person's character through the concentration on 'Kata', form patterns, and 'Bunkai', application practice. Master Itosu,  is quite possibly the most influential teacher in Shorin-Ryu,  expanded Shorin-Ryu by adding the Pinan katas' as well as Naifanchis' Nidan and Sandan. 

When he first began teaching in the school system, the introduction of the kata Naihanchin was his preferred way to teach. He soon realized that this kata was far too advanced for the beginner, which lead to master Itosu creating a group of new kata, the Pinans. The creation of 5 Pinan (alternate read as HEIAN) kata was based on the kata called Kusanku and some other significant techniques. He also split both the Kusanku and Bassai katas' into the Sho and Dai versions.

In circa. 1901, master Itosu was the first person to introduce 'To-De" into the Okinawa Dai Ichi Jr. High School and the Okinawa Teachers Jr. College school system. This was a critical step in the expansion of the martial arts since prior to this,  the art of  "To-De" was considered a "secret" art. This introduction into the mainstream quite possibly may have paved the way for the availability for ALL styles of the martial arts to reach the general public. Master Itosu also organized and systemized "To-De" into a standard method of practice.  Master Itosu trained a great number of eminent karate men, including Kentsu Yabu (1863-1937), Chomo Hanashiro (1869-1945), Gichin Funakoshi (1886-1957), Moden Yabiku (1880-1941), Kanken Toyama (1888-1966),Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945), Shinpan Shiroma (1890-1954), Anbun Tokuda (1886-1945) and Kenwa Mabuni (1887-1952).

  Kanryu Higa'shi'onna

Kanryo Higa'shi'onna (1851-1915) was born in Naha, Okinawa on March 10, 1851. Despite being born as a descendant of a prominent family line, his family was impoverished. They earned their meager living transporting firewood from the Kerama Islands in a small junk.

He was small for his age, but very quick and nimble, and showed a keen interest in the fighting arts at an early age. At the age of 14, he began his formal training in Chinese Kempo from a local who had studied the Fukien style. He longed to travel to China and study there, and eventually achieved that aim in 1866, when he convinced the owner of a ship bound for China to grant him passage.

After a year in residence at the Okinawan settlement in Foochow, he was introduced to Ryu Ryuko. He was not allowed to train right away, and had to follow the age-old custom of personal service to his master by attending the garden, cleaning and doing odd chores. After he had satisfied his master's expectations, he was accepted as a disciple.

He assisted him at his trade as a bamboo craftsman by day and trained in the evenings. Training, as was the norm at that time, was very severe. He trained in Sanchin kata and developed his musculature through weight training with the traditional implements we see today in Okinawan styles. The training took it's toll, but he was to gain a reputation among the locals as one of Ryu Ryuko's most skilled students.

After 13 years of training, he left Foochow and returned to Okinawa, and began private lessons to the sons of the man who had granted him passage to China. He went back to his old job as a merchant, but his reputation was growing. Sailors and travelers from China brought back stories of his prowess that they had heard there, and before long, many would seek to become his disciples. Training was severe, as he had learned, and only a few who began would continue for long.

Higashionna began to teach both hard (go) and soft (ju) versions of kempo. He further combined these techniques with the style of his homeland,  Naha-te,  and many of his students went on to form their own systems based on his teachings.  One of his students, Kenwa Mabuni  would blend Higashionna's teachings with those of his other instructor, Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu  founding Shito Ryu. Another of his students,  Chojun Miyagi, would further refine Naha-te,  founding  the Goju-ryu karate system.

He died on December 23, 1915 at the age of 63.   

Gichin Funakoshi

Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) was the founder of the Shotokan-ryu style.  Funakoshi was born in the Okinawan capital of Shuri into a family of the Shizoku class (upper class). Master Gichin Funakoshi was instructed by Yasutsune Azato and Yasutsune Itosu. He was responsible for introducing Karate to Japan in the 1920's. He was also responsible for changing (or defining, depending how you look at it) the meaning of the word Karate-do.

He changed the 'kara' symbol in Karate from the old symbol, meaning 'China', to the new symbol, meaning 'empty'. In his book Karate-Do Nyumon, he writes: "Just as an empty valley can carry a resounding voice, so must the person who follows the Way of Karate make himself void or empty by ridding himself or all self-centeredness and greed. Make yourself empty within, but upright without. This is the real meaning of the 'empty' in Karate.

"...Once one has perceived the infinity of forms and elements in the universe,  one returns to emptiness,  to the void. In other words,  emptiness is none other than the true form of the universe. There are various fighting techniques - yarijutsu ['spear techniques'] and bojitsu ['stick techniques'],  for example - and forms of martial arts,  such as judo and kendo. All share an essential principle with Karate,  but Karate alone explicitly states the basis of all martial arts. Form equals emptiness; emptiness equals form. The use of the character [for 'empty'] in Karate is indeed based on this principle."

The result of this change is that Karate-do, which formerly translated loosely to 'Chinese hand', now translates to '[the way of the] empty hand'.  

Choki Motobu

Choki Motobu (1871-1944) was born in 1871 in Akahira village in the Shuri region of Okinawa. He was the third son of Motobu “Udun”, a high ranking aji or lord. The Motobu family were skilled at the art of Ti (a grappling art of the Okinawan nobility). Motobu did learn some of the techniques of his family’s fighting system, but because of Okinawan tradition, only the first son, Choyu, was educated and choose to carry on the family’s martial tradition. Because of this situation, he went looking for instruction elsewhere.

Choki began training extensively with makiwara and lifted heavy rocks to gain strength. He endeavored to become as strong as possible and trained with ferocity. He became known as “Motobu zaru” or Motobu the monkey because of his agility and speed. Eventually, Motobu became the student of Anko Itosu (one of Mabuni’s sensei). Now a young man, Choki spent a lot of time seeking out strong looking men to challenge on the street. He won most of his fights and learned much from these encounters. Itosu sensei was not impressed by the young man’s bullying and promptly expelled him form the dojo.

Motobu’s aggressive behavior soon earned him a bad reputation and many sensei would not teach him. Once man, however, liked the spirit he showed and accepted him as a student of karate. This man was Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari. It was from Matsumora that Choki learned many Kata. Motobu still challenged others to fights often and was eager to develop and improve his fighting skills. He eventually asked Matsumora to teach him kumite, but Matsumora told him to continue to learn on his own. Motobu, however, was persevering and is said to have watched the kumite training through holes in the fence around Matsumora’s dojo.

Motobu’s street fighting served him well (to the detriment of many). He formulated his own formidable style of kumite and began to get much attention in Okinawa and in Japan on his trips to the islands. One day while in Kyoto he witnessed a contest where people were asked to match skills with a foreign boxer. A friend coaxed Motobu to give it a try.

The boxer was arrogant and goaded Motobu constantly. For two rounds Motobu just avoided the boxer’s attacks. In the third round he had enough. He used a practiced technique and promptly knocked the boxer out. The crowd was quite taken aback. They had never seen this kind of fighting. Motobu had simply struck his opponent with a fore knuckle in the temple; a basic technique. Needless to say, Motobu quickly gained a reputation as a master and many curious people came to learn this mysterious new art. Soon, Motobu became a full time teacher.

During this time, Motobu gained great respect for his fighting ability. He was hailed as the greatest fighter in Japan. Many sensei advised their students to go and train with Motobu and learn his kumite techniques ( for obvious reasons). He was also asked to teach at several universities. Because of this, many of today’s great instructors of various styles had the benefit of his instruction, so it is clear that his was a large influence in karate.

Motobu usually only taught naihanchi kata to his students and it was his own version with many Ti-like grappling and throwing techniques. However, it was his kumite that had the greatest impact on karate. Oddly enough, there is a story of Choki, full of confidence, challenging his brother Choyu to a fight. It is said that Choyu threw Choki around like a rag doll. After the experience, Choki is said to have humbled himself and adopted more of his family’s Ti forms. In 1922, Master Motobu helped Master Funakoshi start the teaching of Karate to the Japanese. Filled with a new outlook on his life, Master Motobu returned to Okinawa in 1936 and began training with Master Kentsu Yabu. Master Yabu was only man to have ever defeated Master Motobu.

Later in life, Motobu seemed to stress the importance of tradition in training. He strongly stressed the importance of makiwara training and became as enthusiastic about kata as he had always been about kumite. In 1936, at the age of 65, Motobu left Tokyo and went back to Okinawa to visit his instructors to talk about the state of karate in Japan and to make sure that he was teaching the kata and techniques in their originally, unaltered form. Subsequently, he returned and continued teaching in Tokyo. Shortly before World War II, he returned to Okinawa and died in 1944 of a stomach disease at the age of 73.

It is obvious that Choki Motobu was very instrumental in the development of karate and that he was the inspiration for many who trained in the art. It is good to see that, today, millions of people still keep the art alive and strive to keep the fighting spirit of karate which Sensei Motobu so dearly loved.

From The Coslet's Karate Newsletter September, 1992 

Kenwa Mabuni

Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952) is the founder of the Shito-ryu style of Karate. Mabuni was born in Shuri, Okinawa, the son of a 17th generation Samurai called the Bushi (warrior) class. Members of his family served Okinawan lords for hundreds of years. During his time, the martial arts (Okinawa-te) was known according to the village where it was practiced:  Shuri-te (the hand of Shuri),  Naha-te and Tomari-te. Mabuni learned Shuri-te from Yasutsune Itosu,  who was a student of Sokon Matsumura,  and Naha-te from Kanryu Higashionna. Mabuni learned some 23 kata from Yasutsune Itosu.  Mabuni also learned several empty hand katas and Kobudo (weapon) katas from Seisho Arakaki (1840-1918), and some white crane Kung Fu forms from Woo Yin Gue, a Chinese tea merchant in Okinawa. 

During the 1920ís the insatiable Mabuni participated in a karate club operated by Miyagi and Choyu Motobu, with help from Chomo Hanashiro and Juhatsu Kiyoda. Choyu Motobu was a master of Shuri-te (the antecedent of Shorin-ryu) and gotende, the secret grappling art of the Okinawan royal court. Hanashiro was also a Shuri-te expert, while Kiyoda came from the same Naha-te background as Miyagi. Known as the Ryukyu Tode Kenkyu-kai (Okinawa Karate Research Club), this dojo (training hall) was one of historyís gems. Experts from diverse backgrounds trained and taught there, and it was there that Mabuni learned some Fukien white crane kung fu from the legendary Woo Yin Gue.

By this time, Mabuni had become a highly respected police officer and made several trips to Japan after Gichin Funakoshi introduced "Karate" in Japan in 1922,  Finally he moved to Osaka,  Japan in 1928 and started to teach Karate. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese martial arts sanctioning body, the Butokukai, (then the governing body for martial arts in Japan) started registration for all Karate school and Master Mabuni named his style as  Hanko-ryu  (half-hard style) which later in 1930's changed to "Shito-ryu" in honor of his two foremost teachers Yasutsune Itosu and Kanryu Higashionna  (the first kanzi character in 'Itosu' sounds like 'Shi' and that in 'Higashionna' sounds like 'to',  'ryu' stands for 'style' or 'school').. Not everyone agreed with separating Okinawan karate into factions through the use of style names. In fact, Shutokan headmaster Toyama questioned Mabuni and others about their use of what he called ďfunny-sounding names.Ē Mabuni countered that giving the style a name would not only satisfy the Butokukai, but would give people something they could identify with and feel a part of.

Among Mabuniís earliest students was Kanei Uechi (not to be confused with Kambum Uechiís son of the same name), who by 1935 was also teaching in Osaka. In 1950, Uechi returned to Okinawa and established the Shito-ryu Kempo Karate-do Kai. On Okinawa, Uechi is considered the true successor to Mabuniís art, but internationally, Mabuniís eldest son, Kanei, is acknowledged as the head of Shito-Ryu and runs the Shito-kai. Younger brother Kenzo Mabuni also acknowledged as the head of Shito-ryu was asked by his mother to take over the style. Kenzo Mabuni was unsure and could not decide at the time what to do. So he went into seclusion and at the end of what became a two year retreat, Kenzo Mabuni decided to accept this great responsibility and hence became the inheritor of his fatherís lineage. Kenzo Mabuni lives in the original family home in Osaka, where he headquarters his organization the Nippon Karate-Do Kai.

 Kanei Mabuni and his younger brother Kenzo head the karate programs at several universities, a task inherited from their father. Still other early students of Mabuni have their own distinct organizations and followings. Ryusho Sakagami, a contemporary of Kanei Mabuni, established the Itosu-kai just after Mabuniís death. Sakagamiís son, Sadaaki, now oversees the Itosu-kai from the Yokohama area. In 1948, Chojiro Tani organized the Shuko-kai, where he taught Tani-ha Shito-ryu. Ever innovative, the Shuko-kai, under the present leadership of Shigeru Kimura in the United States, appears somewhat different in technique from the other Shito-ryu groups.

Master Mabuni,  the founder of Shito-ryu Karate, died in Osaka, Japan in May, 1952 at age 64 leaving his name and art in every heart of each Shito-ryu Karate-ka. 

  Chojun Miagi

Chojun Miagi (1888-1953) was the founder of the Goju-ryu style, "The way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness." Go means hard and Ju means soft. Since his style was a combination of these ideals it became known as Goju Ryu 'hard soft way'.  In Goju-ryu much emphasis is placed on combining soft circular blocking techniques with quick strong counter attacks delivered in rapid succession

Chojun Miyagi was born in Naha City, Okinawa on April 25th, 1888. He began training in karate under Kanryo Higa'shi'onna in 1902. Because of his great natural talent and fierce determination, he progressed very rapidly. Training was very severe, with a lot of running and strength exercises. It is said that he sometimes passed out performing Sanchin kata, so demanding was Sensei Higaonna on his student's performance. He studied with his teacher for 14 years before his teacher’s death in 1915.

In 1915 he journeyed to Fuzhou, China, the city where his teacher had studied the martial arts, to further his own research. This was one of three trips he made to China during his lifetime. On his return to Okinawa, he began to teach the martial arts at his home in Naha. Later, he also taught at the Okinawan Prefecture Police Training Center, at the Okinawan Master’s Training College, and at the Naha Commercial High School.

In 1921, he was chosen to represent Naha-te in a presentation to the visiting crown prince Hirohito, and gave an impressive performance. He repeated this in 1925 for prince Chichibu. He began to visualize the future of the Okinawan fighting arts, and in 1926, at the age of 38, set up the Karate Research Club, along with Chomo Hanashiro (Shuri-te), Kenwa Mabuni (Shito Ryu) and Choki Motobu, spending the next 3 years training in basics, kata, fitness and philosophy. Chojun Miyagi dedicated his whole life to karate. Every waking moment was spent in pursuit of the art, always remaining vigilante to his surroundings, always planning and ready for whatever might occur.

The teaching system, which he formulated, enabled karate to be taught in schools for the benefit of the young people, and to reach vast numbers of people throughout the world. However, his private teaching at his home remained strictly in adherence to the principles and traditions of the teacher, Kanryo Higa'shi'onna, and his teacher before him Ryu Ryu Ko.

In 1931, Goju-ryu Karate-Do was officially registered in the Butokukai, the center for all martial arts of Japan. This was a milestone for karate as it meant that it was recognized on a level with the highly respected martial arts of Japan. Chojun Miyagi died on October 8th, 1953, of either a heart attack or a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 65.

Hironori Ohtsuka

Hironori Ohtsuka (1892 - 1982) was the founder of the Wado-ryu style, and studied Shotokan under Gichin Funakoshi. Wado Ryu karate was founded by Hironori Ohtsuka during the 1920s and 1930s.

Ohtsuka was born on 1st June 1892 in Shimodate City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. At the age of 6 years he began to study jiu Jutsu with his Grand Uncle. At the age of 13 he started to study Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jiu Jutsu under a teacher named Tatsusabaro Nakayama. Ohtsuka continued his studies whilst at Waseda University. He received the award of Menkyo-Kaiden in 1921 (successor as master of this style)

Ohtsuka heard about a new style of unarmed combat from Okinawa that had been introduced by Gichin Funakoshi. That art was known as Karate. In 1922, Ohtsuka went to visit Funakoshi in Tokyo to study karate. He also trained with other great Karate masters such as Kenwa Mabuni  and Choki Motobu.

His prowess in the Martial Arts had led him to be the Chief Instructor of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu and an assistant instructor at Funakoshi Sensei's dojo. By the year 1929 Ohtsuka was a registered member of the Japan Martial Arts Federation

During his time training, Ohtsuka developed the concept of pre-arranged sparring in which both participants know in advance what attacks and defences are to be carried out. The exercise could be considered to be a small two person kata for developing skills and learning certain concepts - it is half way between basics and applications.

At this time Ohtsuka experimented with incorporating all his martial art skills into a new form of Karate. Part of this experimentation was the introduction of free-fighting practice. This conflicted with Funakoshi's view of Karate and they parted company.

In 1938, Ohtsuka's new style was accepted by the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai under the name of Wado Ryu. Ohtsuka was also awarded the title of "Renshi-go".

Development of Wado Ryu continued after the Second World War, and in 1966 Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded 'Kun-Goto-Soukuo-Kyo-Kuju-jutsu-Sho' (similar to the OBE in Great Britain) from Emperor Hirohito for his dedication to Karate. In 1972 he was awarded the title of Meijin from Higashino-Kunino-Miya (a member of the Japanese royal family) President of the International Martial-arts Federation the 'Kokusai-Budo-Renmei'. Ohtsuka Sensei was the first man in history to receive this the highest honour in martial-arts. For his services to Martial-arts, and to honour his new position as the highest Karate Authority in Japan, he was awarded the Shiju-Hoosho medal from the Japanese Government, the only man in the history of Karate to be so honoured. 

On the 29th of January 1982 Ohtsuka-Hironori Meijin died shortly before his 90th birthday, he had practiced martial-arts for 85 years. "Buno-michi-wa Tada-aragoto-na-to-omohiso Wa-no-michi-kiwa-me Wa-o-motomu-michi; The way to practise martial-arts is not for fighting. Always look for your own inner peace and harmony, search for it." Ohtsuka-Hironori.  

  Ryusho Sakagami

Ryusho Sakagami  (1915-1993)  was born in Hyogo Prefecture, Kawanishi City of Japan, the son of a very prosperous "Saki" (rice wine) family businessman. He began practicing the martial art of ĎKendo" around the age of ten and in his later teen years began to study "IAIDO" (way of Samurai Sword Draw). Ryusho Sakagami continued to diligently practice these arts and by 1934/35, he was enrolled at the prestigious Tokyo University, the Kokushinkan, who's specialty was producing the top Kendo instructors in Japan. While attending university, he became interested in the art to Karate-Do and Kobudo and later began to receive instruction from the famous Okinawan master, Moden Yabiku.

Over the next few years Ryusho Sakagami continued his education and intense training in various martial arts and around 1937, after repeated visits to Okinawa to train in Karate-do and Kobudo, he was encouraged by some of the great masters to return to mainland Japan and continue his studies with the prominent Okinawan master Kenwa Mabuni in Osaka.

After graduating from university, Ryusho Sakagami returned to Osaka to become a dedicated disciple of Kenwa Mabuni. By 1941, he was successful in receiving the "Shihan" (master teacher) licence from Master Mabuni and a short while later returned to his home prefecture to establish the "Gembukan Karate-Do Dojo".

As a result of his efforts to further promote the martial art to Karate-do, Ryusho Sakagami was awarded the honorary Karate-do title of "Renshi" (man of discipline) in 1942 from the Dai Nippon Butoku-Kai, the most prestigious martial arts organization in Japan at the time. Prior to the untimely death of Grandmaster Kenwa Mabuni on May 23rd. 1952, Ryusho Sakagami Sensei was directed by the Grandmaster to accept the honorific position of "Third Generation Leader of Itosu-ha" (Itosu's Orthodox Style) in early 1952.

After the Grandmaster's death, Sakagami Sensei moved to the Tokyo area where he taught for a short time in 1953, and then, finally settled in the town of Tsurumi located between the cities of Kawasaki and Yokohama. By 1955, Sakagami Sensei had firmly established the "Zen Nippon Karate-Do Itosu-Kai" headquarters for instruction in the martial arts of Kendo, Karate-Do, Kobudo, and Jodo (way of the short-staff). Over the next few years, Sakagami Sensei continued with the study of Ryukyu Kobudo under the direction of Grandmaster Shinken Taira who awarded him a Shihan licence in 1959, and later promoted him to the level of 8th Dan, Kobudo in 1963.

Master Sakagami's reputation as a highly qualified and well respected martial artist became legendary. Sakagami became famous for his knowledge of all Japanese Budo, and was regarded as a walking encyclopedia of styles, lineage, technique, and kata.

By this period in time, he had also distinguished himself to a level of 5th Dan in Aakido, 5th Dan in Judo, and 7th Dan in Jukendo (way of Rifle & Bayonet). During 1962, Sakagami Sensei was greatly honored by being awarded the 7th Dan, Kendo - "Kyoshi" (man of high attainment) level of distinction.

Among Master Sakagami's more notable disciples were his son Shihan Sadaake Sakagami (Chief Instructor, Japan Headquarters), Shihan Seiko Suzuki (Tokyo - founder of present Seiko-Kai Shito-Ryu), Shihan Fumio Demura, (1965 founder of Shito-Ryu Itosu-Kai U.S.A.), and Shihan Kei C. Tsumura (1969 Founder of Shito-Ryu Itosu-Kai, Canada).

In 1980, Master Sakagami was awarded the distinction of 8th Dan Karate-Do "Hanshi" (Superior level of attainment) by F.A.J.K.O.and by 1987, he had also reached the 8th Dan Iaido - "Hanshi" level in the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai system.

One of the final honors received by Master Sakagami was to be elevated to the 10th Dan Karate-Do - "Hanshi" (Grandmaster) level by the Nippon Karatedo Rengokai (Japan karate-do All-Styles Organization).

Grandmaster Ryusho Sakagami died on December 28, 1993.

JKF bestowed upon him Hanshi 9th Dan posthumously on June 22nd. 1994.

Kosei Kokuba

Kosei Kokuba (1901 - 1959 ) the father of Shogo Kuniba, was the founder of Motobu-ha Shito-ryu. Motobu’s teaching had a great impact on karate and especially on Kosei Kokuba. Kokuba combined his learning from Mabuni and Motobu and created Motobu-ha Shito-ryu karate. 

(In Okinawa the Kanji characters for Kokuba are pronounced as Kokuba but in Japan, the same characters are pronounced as Kuniba. To avoid confusion he changed the pronunciation of the family name to Kuniba.)

Kosei Kokuba was born in Naha City, Okinawa in 1901 the youngest son of a samurai family descended from the Sho-Shi royal family of Okinawa. At the age of 14, he began karate training in the dojo of Master Choki Motobu. In 1924 he moved to Tokyo, Japan and in 1940 he settled in Osaka where he began training students in the Okinawan style which he had studied. On June 6, 1943 Kokuba founded Seishin Kan Dojo.

Later, when his friends from Okinawa, Motobu and Mabuni came to Osaka, he gave them room and board in exchange for their teaching at the Seishin Kan Dojo. He received training in Shito-ryu karate from its founder Kenwa Mabuni.  Kokuba’s other instructor was Choki Motobu.  Kokuba taught the Motobu style of Karate and upon Motobu’s death in 1944, he became the Soke or family head of Motobu-Ha Karate-Do.

Shogo 'Soke' Kuniba

Shogo Kuniba (1935 - ) the son of master Kosei Kuniba was born on February 5, 1935  in Yamanashi prefecture near Mt. Fuji in the city of Fuji-Yoshida-Shi. The son began his karate training at the age of 5 in his father’s dojo. At the age of eight he was sent to study with Tomoyori Ryusei of Kenyu Ryu. Master Kuniba wanted his son to be a true samurai as were his ancestors and, as a true samurai, at 8, Shogo also began to study judo in an Osaka Dojo. He continued his training in Judo for ten years and earned a sandan rank.

In 1947 at the age of 12, he bagan training with Master Mabuni in Shito-Ryu and was soon promoted by Mabuni Sensei to Shodan in Karate. In 1950 he was promoted to Nidan by Master Mabuni and Master Tomoyori and in 1952 earned a Sandan rank.

As a high school student, Shogo was president of his karate club. At the age of seventeen, he began teaching karate at Osaka Prefecture University and there is still a branch dojo of Seishin Kai there today. After high school, he trained in Karate at Keio University and later trained at Doshisha University while he was a student there.

In 1955 Shogo was promoted to Yondan by Tomoyori Sensei. During that year he was also promoted to Sandan in Iaiso and Yondan in Kobudo. In 1956 he traveled to his father’s homeland of Okinawa where he trained with Master Nagamine Shojin in this style of Shorin-Ryu. While in Okinawa, he studied Kobudo with Taira Shinken and Nakaima Kenko of Ryuei Ryu. With Yamaguchi Junko, he studied the use of the tonfa.

In 1983 he opened a Hombu Dojo in the USA in Portsmouth, Va. He then concentrated his efforts on teaching his style of karate-do to the world. The Seishin Kai is growing in the USA and is now beginning to growing in the USA and is now beginning to grow in Europe, Mexico, Israel, Sweden, South America and the West Indies.

Soke Kuniba adhered to the teaching and the philosophies of the Okinawan masters from who he is descended. He believed and taught that the true goals of karate-do are the development of patience, self-discipline, humility and inner strength (ki). 

Fumio Demura

Fumio Demura (1938--) was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1938. He started practicing karate at the age of 8 and started studying Kendo and Karate under Ryusho Sakagami at the age of 12. 

In 1961 Shihan Demura won the National Kumite title of Japan and retired from competition in 1963. He was now teaching karate in Tokyo, but had the desire to come to the United States. His opportunity presented itself when martial arts historian Donn Draeger introduced him to the American karate pioneer Dan Ivan who was in Japan looking for a talented instructor to assist him with his dojos in southern California. In 1965, Shihan Demura moved to the United States.  He quickly became a prominent figure in the American karate world through his teachings and his highly skillful and entertaining demonstrations.

Over the years that followed Shihan Demura and his students introduced thousands of people to the martial arts through their colorful displays in the southern California area.

Today Shihan Demura serves as director and Chief Instructor for the Japan Karate-Do Itosu-Kai Karate-do (USA). He still teaches at his Santa Ana, California dojo and most weekends are spent giving seminars or assisting at tournaments literally throughout the world. 

Besides teaching Karate,  Mr. Demura is the stunt man for Pat Morita in the Karate Kid series of motion pictures,  as well in the O'Hara television series. His other film credits include,  Island of Dr. MoreauBring 'Em back alive,  and most recently Rising Sun and Mortal Kombat. These are just a few of the numerous films in which Mr. Demura has performed. For years he was featured at the Japanese Village in Buena Park and in Las Vegas. Today,  he spends the brief time away that he takes from his Dojo to demonstrate at Tournaments and Charity events. Demura has been featured in many Martial Arts publications.


It may be noted that Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu and Kanryu Higa'shi'onna are the two most important name in the history of modern Karate-do.
The four major style of Modern Japanese Karate:- Shito-RyuShotokan,  Goju-Ryu,  and Wado-Ryu,  can be traced to them .

Kenwa Mabuni (1887-1952),  the Shito-Ryu  founder,  was a student of both Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu & Kanryu Higashionna.

Gichin Funakoshi (1886-1957),  the Shotokan  founder,  was a student of Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu (also of Azato).

Chojun Miagi (1888-1953),  the Goju-Ryu  founder,  was a student of Kanryu Higashionna.

Hironori Ohtsuka (1892-1982),  the Wado-Ryu  founder, was a student of Gichin Funakoshi, shotokan.

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