Soon, Karate West will be hosting a Japanese Shudokan Masters Seminar event, during which 10th degree black belt masters Ishida Hanshi and Miyachi Kenji Hanshi will be teaching two different kata. With that event in mind, we thought it would be an appropriate time to explore the historical development of our school of karate.

Kanken Toyama’s Okinawa Seitou Karate-Do, also known as ‘Shudokan’ in America, was originally developed by Kanken Toyama when he opened his first dojo in Tokyo on March 20th, 1930. When he established the school, it was called Shu Do Kan, which literally translates to “the hall for the study of the way of karate” or more figuratively translates to “an institution for cultivating the way.”  Thus, its establishment was to discover a more natural and right way to live through the methods taught in karate.

While Shudokan is commonly accepted to be its own school of karate today, Toyama-san never claimed to have invented something new. He was originally a student of Ankō Itosu, the man famed to be responsible for the development of modern karate. Toyama-san always felt that what he taught was merely an extension of Itosu-san’s original form of karate. He once wrote on the topic that “the exquisite skill of karate that is based on self-protection does not need to contain several different ‘styles,’ but a combination of what works or is effective.” As a result of this position, Toyama-san never appointed a successor when he passed away in 1966, ultimately causing the school to take many new forms.

Today, Shudokan karate has developed into a school primarily made up of two systems. First, it includes Kobudo, which is the ‘ancient art’ Okinawan practice of special weapons. It also includes Shorin-ryu, which is known as one of the oldest schools of karate. Although Shudokan borrows much from these schools, there are also many others that it shares similarities with. It was always Kanken Toyama’s intention that Shudokan remain a dynamic school, and its constant variation on other techniques has fulfilled that original desire.

In the United States, the establishment of Shudokan Karate is managed by the American Shudokan Association (ASA), which is based in Yakima, WA. Currently, the ASA boasts over 15,000 members in the Pacific Northwest alone. There is no doubt that the school’s rich history and strong sense of innovation promises that its future will continue to be bright and bold.

For more information on the Japanese Shudokan Masters Seminar, you may visit the registration page.


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