of Beikoku Shido-kan Karate
Okinawa is the birthplace
of the arts of karate-do - a cultural treasure and oral tradition that
has spread throughout the world and is practiced by millions. The North
American Beikoku Shido-kan story is only one of the many threads within
the diverse and rich living tapestry of traditions encompassed by Okinawan
karate-do. The following timeline chronicles some of the teachers and
events that have played significant roles in the development and spread
into North America of the Shido-kan branch of Okinawan Shorin-ryu led
by senior master, Katsuya Miyahira.
states of Okinawa were unified into the Ryukyu Kingdom by King Sho
Hashi of Chuzan. Three styles eventually developed which, much later
in the 1900's, became known by the names: "Sui-tee" (also called "Shuri-te"
or "Sui-di"-from Shuri, the capitol); "Nafa-tee" (also called "Naha-te"
or "Nafa-di" - from Naha City); "Tumaii-tee" (also called "Tomari-te"
or "Tumai-di" - from Tomari Village). The 14th to 16th centuries are
often referred to as the "Golden Age of Trade" with much commerce
between Okinawa and China. Okinawan "te" (also referred to as "ti,"
"to-di," and "to-ti") practitioners learned and incorporated techniques
from Chinese, and other South East Asian fighting arts.
1, 3, 15
Sho Shin made the wearing of swords and possession of large quantities
of weapons illegal throughout the Ryukyu Kingdom.
invaded by the Satsuma Clan of Kyushu, Japan. In years following the
invasion, the previous ban on import, possession and use of weapons
became reinforced. Karate "kobudo" became a secret taught to members
of the ruling class for 250 years. 1, 3
Matsumura born in Yamagawa Village (Yamagawa-cho), Shuri. During his
lifetime, Matsumura worked as a martial arts instructor for the kingdom
and bodyguard to the last three Ryukyuan kings. 1,4
Itosu born in Gibo Village, Shuri. Learned sui-tee from Matsumura
while a clerk of the royal family. Studied under two Chinese attachés.
Kingdom was dissolved and Okinawa annexed as a prefecture of Japan.1
Chibana born, June 5, Torihori Village (Tottori-cho), Shuri.
1, 3, 4, 13
Gusukuma (Shiroma) born, Taira Village (Taira-cho), Shuri. 1,
13 Military draft system imposed on Okinawa. 13
of Meiji era.
Matsumura died. 1
Chibana studied under Anko Itosu. 4, 3
Itosu taught karate at the Shuri Jinjo Elementary School as an extra-curricular
activity. 4, 7, 13
Gusukuma began study with Anko Itosu in Kubagawa. He studied Sanchin
kata at Kanryo Higaonna's dojo and also studied with many other masters
under all of the major styles. He selected Shorin-ryu as his main
concentration. 4, 14
Itosu taught karate at the Okinawa Prefectural Middle School (later
called the Okinawa Prefecture Dai-ichi Middle School) where Chomo
Hanashiro was the chief instructor. Itosu also taught at the Okinawa
Prefectural Men's Teacher's Training College where Kentsu Yabu was
the chief instructor. Itosu began the development of the five pinan
kata for beginning students to learn the fundamentals of technique.
4, 11, 12, 13 The characters translating as "empty hand" were
first used for the word "karate." 1
Itosu petitioned to introduce karate into public school curriculum.
The "10 articles" ("Ten lessons of to-te") document was written to
report on the results of his teaching in the schools and to petition
for its dissemination in more schools. 4, 11, 13 Shinpan
Gusukuma was drafted into the Japanese army. After service, he continued
training under Anko Itosu. Later, Gusukuma became a school teacher
at Dai Ichi Elementary School in Shuri and taught karate. He opened
a dojo at Taira Village, Shuri. 4
of theTaisho era. Karate demonstrated in mainland Japan 1
Itosu died on March 26 in Yamakawa Village. 1, 13
Preservation Association" founded. Katsuya Miyahira born on August
8 in Kaneku Village, Nishihara. 2
Chibana began teaching at Tottori-bori. Later opened 2nd dojo in Kumoji
Village, Naha. 4,.5
Funakoshi demonstrated in Tokyo at Japanese Sport Show (Taikutenraikai).
of Showa era. "Okinawa Karate Club" founded. Karate and kobudo spread
Chibana taught at a dojo located in Gibo Village, Shuri, at Nakijin
Goten, of Yoshitsuga Teishi, (also called "Nakijin Gima" by local
residents at that time); the courtyard of Baron Nakijin and a famous
location of past karate practitioners.4, 8, 14
Iha born, Tanahara Village, Nishihara on July 9.
Athletic Association officially recognized by the Dai Nippon Butoku
Kai. Katsuya Miyahira began study in April with Choshin Chibana at
Okinawa Prefecture Number 1 School (now Shuri High School). On the
same day, Choshin Chibana changed the kanji for "Shorei-ryu" to "Shorin-ryu"
to try to avoid confusion with the Chinese shaolin name and to give
the style an Okinawan name. 7, 14. Miyahira
also studied with Anbun Tokuda (another student of Itosu) in September.
Prefectural Karate-do Promotion Society" founded. Shinpan Gusukuma
was instructor at the Shuri City Dai Ichi Elementary School. 1 Katsuya
Miyahira studied with Choki Motobu in January. 2, 4
Early 1940's WW II: Karate activity suspended. Katsuya Miyahira
worked as a school teacher in Manchuria and taught self- defense.
1 - August 15: WW II Battle of Okinawa. Many important members in
the karate society lost their lives along with hundreds of thousands
of Okinawans. Shuri city destroyed. Choshin Chibana narrowly escaped
to Chinen Village. 4 Late 1940's Karate divided
into four major ryuhas (Shorin-ryu, Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu and Matsubayashi-ryu).
Choshin Chibana taught karate from 1945 to 1948 on the Chinen Peninsula,
later opening several dojos in Naha and Shuri. 4
Miyahira received Shihan Certificate from Choshin Chibana. In October,
opened a dojo in Kanehisa, Nishihara. Miyahira named his dojo "Shido-kan."
Iha began study with Shinpan Gusukuma in Gibo-cho, Shuri.
Gusukuma moved dojo to Naminoue-gu, Naha. Seikichi Iha continued studies
with Gusukuma there. 14 Katsuya Miyahira moved
to Naha City in September.
Miyahira became karate teacher at Ryukyu University in October.
Gusukuma died. 1 Choshin Chibana served as Karate Advisor and Senior
Instructor for the Shuri City Police Precinct (until 1958.) 4
Seikichi Iha began study with Katsuya Miyahira in Naha after being
introduced by Shoei Miyazato. 3, 8, 14
Chibana was appointed first president of the newly formed Okinawa
Karate-do League in May. 4, 5, 6, 7 Katsuya
Miyahira built the Shido-kan dojo behind his house at Tsuboya. 4
1958 Katsuya Miyahira received Kyoshi title from Dainippon
Butokukai in April. 2, 6
rank system introduced by the Okinawan Karate-do League. Choshin Chibana
received 1st Award for Distinguished Public Service in Physical Education
by the Okinawa Times newspaper. 4 Choshin Chibana
formed the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do Association on April 15th.
Iha promoted to 5th Dan, Shihan 6
August 30, 1964, Choshin Chibana erected a monument for Anko Itosu
beside the master's gravesite in the forest of Furushima in Mawashi
to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Itosu's death. 6,
8, 13 A memorial celebration featured 4 students (Iko Oshiro,
a student of Higa; Katsuyuki Shimabukuro, a student of Chibana; Takeshi
Miyagi, a student of Miyahira; Seikichi Iha, a student of Miyahira)
who were selected to perform a kata demonstration in Itosu's memory.
14 Choshin Chibana diagnosed with terminal throat cancer.
Iha served as advisor to Latino Gonzales dojo in Manila, Philippines
for 11 months. (Ferdinand Marcos became president of the Philippines
during that time.) 14 Returned to Okinawa afterwards
and taught karate to Marines in Futenma. Promoted to 6th Dan. Opened
dojo in hometown of Nishihara. 6
Miyahira visited and taught karate in Manila, the Philippines. 10
Miyahira received 9th Dan (kudan) Hanshi (master) title in February
2 Seikichi Iha was promoted
to 7th Dan, Kyoshi, and sent to Los Angeles with Seizun ("Santos")
Kina and Kensai Taba. Taught at the American Okinawan Club for 5 months
then opened the Shureikan dojo. 6
Chibana awarded 4th Degree of Merit Zuiho. Decorated by Emperor of
Interview with Seikichi Iha, Seizun Kina and Kensai Taba published
in April issue of "Black Belt" magazine.
Chibana died on February 26. Katsuya Miyahira became President of
the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate-do Association. 2, 8
Seikichi Iha visited Guam with Seigi Shiroma. Shiroma began his Guam
dojo. 14 Seikichi Iha opened Shido-kan dojo
in Los Angeles. 6
Iha featured in June, "Karate Illustrated" magazine. While instructing
in the Los Angeles dojos, met and was invited to come to Lansing,
Michigan by visiting senior students of Tadashi Yamashita.
Miyahira participated in 1st Karate World Championship and received
Distinguished Service Award 2 In the fall, Seikichi
Iha moved to Lansing, Michigan with Toshiyuki Itokazu (Uechi-ryu).
Harold Armour, a senior student in Tadashi Yamashita's Lansing branch
dojo and founder of the Michigan State University Shorin-ryu karate
club, invited Iha to lead the East Lansing dojo. Iha renamed the dojo
"Original Okinawa Karate" to include the two styles (Shorin-ryu and
Uechi-ryu) of the senior instructors. 14
Iha moved dojo to current Lansing location and formed the Beikoku
Shido-kan Association. (Formally recognized by Katsuya Miyahira in
July 1996.) 14
Miyahira received title of 10th Dan, Hanshi on September 2 from the
Shorin-ryu Kyokai (Association). 14 Seikichi
Iha promoted to 8th Dan, Kyoshi in September. 14
Miyahira became Counselor of Japan Karate Federation 2
Miyahira took office as President of the Okinawa Prefecture Karate
of the Heisei Era. Katsuya Miyahira given the Martial Arts Distinguished
Service Award (the highest honor of its kind in the world of Japanese
martial arts) by Shigeyoshi, president of the Japan Martial Arts Council
in recognition of his long years of distinguished service in the advancement
and expansion of karate-do. 2, 3 Seikichi Iha
received title of 9th Dan, Hanshi (master) on March 12 from Katsuya
Miyahira and the Okinawa Prefecture Karate Federation.
Miyahira celebrated 40th Dojo Anniversary, Okinawa Shorin-ryu Shido-kan
Demonstration, Naha. 8
Shido-kan Karate-do 20th Anniversary Celebration in East Lansing,
Michigan during March. Katsuya Miyahira visited Michigan to participate.
Beikoku Shido-kan Karate-do 25th Anniversary Celebration, East Lansing,
Seikichi Iha received title of 10th Dan, Hanshi, March 25, from Katsuya
Miyahira, President of the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do Association.
of Historical Information
1. "Okinawa Karate Kobudo Graph," Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education,1995.
2. Article by Morinobu Maeshiro commemorating Katsuya Miyahira's receipt
of the 1989 Award for Distinguished Services from the Japan Martial Arts
Council. Published in 1990 Masters Demonstration Program, "3rd Karate-do
3. Okinawa Karatedo History article by Seikichi Iha, published in the
"20th Anniversary Beikoku Shidokan Shorin-ryu Celebration Program," 1996.
4. "Okinawan Karate," by Mark Bishop, Tuttle Publishing, 1999.
5. Katsuya Miyahira article, 1972.*
6. Interviews and research by Ernest Estrada, 1985 - 1992.*
7. "Karate-do History and Philosophy," by Takao Nakaya, 1986.
8. "40th Anniversary Shido-kan Dojo, Okinawa Shorin-ryu Demonstration
9. "All Okinawa Karate Federation," Website: http://188.8.131.52/zokr/timeline.htm,
To-de Communications, 1997. 10. "The Techniques of Okinawa, Shorin-ryu
Karate," by Latino H. Gonzales, 1965.
11. "Kuden no Waza ni Semare," Gekkan Karatedo, June 2000, Tokyo: Fukushodo,
pp. 3-7, 20-37.
12. "The First Appearance of Karate in Okinawa's School System," Michihara
S. and Yen Y., originally presented at the International Seminar of Physical
Education and Sports History, 26-30 September, 1978 in Tokyo.
13. "Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters," by Shoshin Nagamine, Tuttle Publishing,
14. Interviews with Seikichi Iha by Mark McCloud and Marian Reiter, October
2000 to May 2001.
15. "Koden Ryukyu Karatejutsu," by Iwai T., 1992, Tokyo: Airyudo. *Published
on Iha Dojo Web site: http://www.ihadojo.com
This historical timeline was published in the North American Beikoku Shido-kan
Association's "25th Anniversary Celebration Commemorative Journal," July,
2001. Copies of this 128 page publication including historical photos,
worldwide Shido-kan dojo listings and other relevant material can be ordered
from the Activewear/Catalog section of this website. See item number AC-38.
Our grateful thanks to the many people who reviewed and provided comments
and corrections on this history section. The knowledge and patient assistance
of Sensei Seikichi Iha in reviewing historical details and providing personal
photos and references was essential and without which this project could
not have been completed. Special thanks also to Sensei Koichi Nakasone
for his expert review. We sincerely appreciate the contributions and reviews
provided by: Mark McCloud, Ken Carpenter, Jim Kass, Joe Swift, Joseph
Svinth (Electronic Journal of Martial Arts), Kirt Butler, Matthew Hubinger,
Preston Groleau, Gus Kouklis, Katsushi Okada and Lou Shoha. Note that
there may be differences in name spellings for individuals and places
(often due to variations in pronunciation between Okinawan and Japanese
language or varying English translations.) Historical references do not
always agree on dates or place names. We have included some of the variable
spellings in parenthesis whenever possible. The information presented
here is as accurate as possible. Additions or corrections to the historical
record are welcomed.
And most of all thanks
to Marian Reiter, who spent countless hours researching, interviewing,
and compiling this historical account.