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Tatsuo Shimabuku

Isshinryu Karate History

Tatsuo Shimabuku

Tatsuo Shimabuku Tatsuo Shimabuku was born on September 19, 1908 in Chan Village, Okinawa. This was Meiji 41 (the 41st year under the Japanese Emperor Mutsuhito). It was also the year of the Monkey. Master Shimabuku spent many years studying the Shorin-Ryu system under Master Kyan Chotoku and the Goju-Ryu system under Master Miyagi Chojun. Shimabuku also studied Shorin-Ryu and kumite under Motobu Choki and kobudo (Okinawan weapons) under Shinken Taira. On January 15, 1956, Tatsuo Shimabuku called his students together to announce the naming of Isshinryu Karate. One of his senior students, Kaneshi Eiko, asked him, "Why such a funny name" and Tatsuo replied, " Because all things begin with one." The word Isshin-Ryu means ”one heart way” (Is = One, Shin = Heart, Ryu = Way). Shimabuku developed his powerful, lightning-fast system by combining what he considered to be the best attributes of Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu. Shimabuku made three major changes from traditional Okinawa styles. The first is the use of a vertical fist as opposed to the traditional twist punch. The second is placing the thumb on top as opposed to on the side of the fist. The third is the execution of blocks using the muscular part of the forearm as opposed to the bone. Tatsuo Shimabuku taught Isshinryu to United Stated Marines that were stationed in Okinawa in the late 1950's and 1960's. Tatsuo Shimabuku wanted Americans not only to learn the physical aspects of Isshinryu but wanted them to understand Okinawan culture, customs, history and traditions. Shimabuku was quoted in the March 30, 1960 edition of the OKINAWAN TIMES as saying "Even if we cannot promote friendship between Okinawa and America through karate, my true hope is that if karate becomes popular in the United States and Hawaii, then Okinawa would also become more well understood." Isshin-Ryu was brought back to the United States by these U.S. Marines.

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