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Chotoku Kyan

Chotoku Kyan

Master Chotoku Kyan was born in 1870, to a very wealthy family in Shuri, Okinawa, the cradle of Karate. At the tender age of five he was taught the empty hand art of self-defense from his father Chofu Kyan and his grandfather. Every morning Kyan was required to perform specific exercises by his grandfather, who had a very discerning eye and required nothing less than perfection. Being born into a rich family he was able to devote all of his time studying the martial arts and was sent to the best Okinawan Karate teachers available.

In those days, a Karate Sensei had only three or four Kata, therefore Master Kyan went to many teachers in hope of gaining a well rounded view of the art. Kyan's father was an official of the King, and because of this Kyan was able to gain instruction from many of the great Teachers in Okinawa. Sokon Matsumura of Shuri was at that time the Karate Teacher of the King. Matsumura taught Master Kyan the Kata, "Seisan" and "Gojushiho". Kyan learned the most from Matsumora (Shorin-Ryu teacher of Tomari) including the kata "Chinto". Another great teacher of Tomari was Pechin Maeda. Kyan studied quite a while under Maeda Sensei and learned the Kata "Wansu". He learned the Kata, "Passai", under Pechin Oyadomari Kokan of Tomari. Pechin was a title, given to someone in employment of the King. The next teacher Kyan studied with was the small 4ft, 10 inches tall, Yara of Chatan, a power packed dynamite of a man. Chatan Yara Sensei taught Kyan the longest and most beautiful Kata "Kusanku". Some times known as "Yara no Kusanku". His last teacher was Tokumine, who was reputed to be the best Bo, (Staff) man on Okinawa. Sensei Kyan traveled to the island of Yaeyama and studied the Bo and the Bo-Kata "Tokumine no Kun".

After completing his apprenticeship under the six famous Okinawan Shorin-Ryu masters, Kyan started to teach the art at his home. In the 1920's Kyan traveled to mainland Japan to promote the art. On his return he visited Taiwan on a martial arts exchange tour of Okinawan and Chinese Martial Arts. Being proficient in both arts, Kyan invented his own Kata "Ananku". In the late 1920's Kyan moved to the village of Kadena due to personal and financial problems. There he taught a small number of devoted students who were introduced by friends and city officials. One student, Zenryo Shimabukuro of Chatan was introduced by a school headmaster and accepted as a student. Zenryo Shimabukuro studied 10 years under the tutelage of Master Kyan until Kyan's death. Food was scarce during WWII and whatever food master Kyan obtained, he gave to the children. He felt it was his duty to take care of those who could not take care of themselves. In 1945 at the age of 75 grandmaster Kyan passed away from hunger.

Zenryo Shimabukuro

Zenryo Shimabukuro

Master Zenryo Shimabukuro, 10th Dan Red Belt, the foremost disciple of Sensei Chotoku Kyan. Master Zenryo Shimabukuro, a baker by trade, was only 5 feet, 2 inches tall, but he was a very strong man. After completing 10 years of Karate as a private student under the great Master Chotoku Kyan, he began teaching.

During World War II all karate instruction had ceased. With the end of the war he resumed active teaching. Early in his career as a karate teacher Shimabukuro Sensei had no Dojo (training hall). All his instruction was conducted outside of his home, with a small group of students, one being his son Zenpo (presently Supreme Sensei of this style) and his nephew Zenji Shimabukuro.

In 1962 he built his own Dojo and named it Seibukan. Seibukan radiates Sensei Shimabukuro's philosophy of Karate. He was a highly respected member of his community and received many certificates of appreciation from city officials for his work for the betterment of the Okinawan people.

In 1964 he was awarded the highest rank in Karate by the All Okinawan Karate-do Federation, the 10th Dan Red Belt. Master Zenryo Shimabukuro developed Karate to a very high level in Okinawa. He was also one of the founding members of the Chubu Shorin Ryu, which was a very strong association. During the American occupation of Okinawa, he was persuaded to teach American service men stationed in Okinawa karate and thus spreading the art to the United States and other countries. A small man, but a giant in the world of Karate, Master Zenyro Shimabukuro died in 1969 at the age of 61 of appendicitis. Today his son Sensei Zenpo Shimabukuro continues where his father left off.

Zenpo Shimabukuro

Zenpo Shimabukuro

Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro, 9th Degree Black Belt and Supreme Instructor of the International Seibukan Shorin Ryu Karate Association was born in Chatan Cho, Okinawa, on October 11, 1943. He was the fourth of five children of Master Zenryo Shimabukuro. His father was the student of Master Chotoku Kyan, and founded the Seibukan Shorin Ryu (Sukunaihayashi) School in July of 1962 in Jagaru, Okinawa.

Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro was born during a period in history when the island of Okinawa was preparing for W.W.II. One of his sisters died as the war was beginning and a younger brother died shortly after the war ended. During the course of the war, the Shimabukuro family lost everything they owned.

As the attack on Okinawa began, the family moved to the northern area of the island and did not return to the central part until after the war. Before W.W.II, Master Zenryo Shimabukuro was a baker and tatami maker by trade. For a short time after the war he worked for the United States military, then resumed his profession as a baker, and also as a city government official. Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro assisted his father with the teaching of Seibukan karate on US military bases and helped construct the Seibukan Dojo in Jagaru.

Hanshi Shimabukuro graduated from Futema High School in March of 1962, and in September 1963, upon request of his father, left to go to the United States to teach Sukunaihayashi karate-do to Seibukan students. He lived and taught karate in Philadelphia, Pa. and is noted in Okinawan karate history as one of the very first Okinawan Sensei to teach karate-do in America.

During his three and one-half year stay in the Pennsylvania area, Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro entered and won first place in kata competition at the Jhoon Rhee International Tournament, and finished second in kumite. He also won the Canadian National Championships Kumite competition in 1964, along with the Pennsylvania State Championships kumite division. Hanshi Shimabukuro not only was one of the first Okinawan/Japanese to teach in America but was the first to compete in the tournaments and win convincingly.

In 1966, Hanshi Shimabukuro returned to Okinawa to help his father with the Seibukan honbu dojo, and became Supreme Instructor over the Seibukan Karate-do System upon his father's death in October of 1969.

In 1975, the International Seibukan Karate-do Association was formed. Sensei Shimabukuro returned to America that year for a three month stay in the Mississippi area to meet with prominent United States Seibukan Sensei and begin the formalities of organizing International Seibukan. During this time Seibukan students in America, Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Poland, South America, the Middle East, and India realized the need for his regular visits to update and standardize their karate techniques and katas. Because of his ability to speak and write English, he used his skills to share with English speaking karate-ka around the world, his great knowledge of karate-do.

Since Hanshi Shimabukuro's initial visit to the United States, he has returned nine times, with the most recent being his demonstration at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The demonstration was followed by a historic seminar conducted by Hanshi Shimabukuro and four other Hanshi from Okinawa, representing different Okinawan disciplines, to over 260 black belts. This trip and seminar laid the foundation for Okinawan karate-ka to work together for a common goal, to spread Okinawan Karate throughout the world.

Hanshi Shimabukuro is married, and now has a family of five children, three girls and two boys. He is very successful real estate developer, and along with his wife own a restaurant and have various other business interests. He continues to teach karate and holds offices in three different Okinawan karate associations, and serves on the board of directors of the Nago Crippled Children's Home. Hanshi Shimabukuro gives freely of his time and resources to help his community. He also encourgaes those who lack strong bodies to practice the art of Karate-do.

Hanshi Shimabukuro has branch schools in sixteen foreign countries dedicated to the preservation of Seibukan Karate-do, and his goal is the continuation of the Association's international growth, and the expansion of his father's teachings.



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