The Father of Shito Ryu
"Those who master Karate understand the importance of cooperating
with the infinite rather than continuing to resist the inevitable."
Kenwa Mabuni (1889 - 1952) was born in Shuri, Okinawa and was
a weak, frail child. Considered by many to be the "guru" of Karate,
he originated the Shito Ryu style, which combines the influences
of Shorei Ryu and Shorin Ryu.
When Kenwa Mabuni moved to Osaka, his style was called Hanko Ryu (half-soft
style), before he officially founded Shito Ryu (Funakoshi = Shotokan; Mabuni
= Shito; Miyagi = Goju; Ohtsuka = Wado) when the 4 main styles of karate were
introduced to the Dai Nippon Butokukai. The word Shito was Mabuni's way of
honoring his two greatest teachers: Higashioona [shi], who taught Naha-te style,
and Itosu [to], who taught Shuri-te style.
Mabuni first trained with Itosu, from age 13 to 27, with whom he became proficient
with such weapons as the bo and sai. At 20, Mabuni began to train with Higashioona
of Naha, a shorei-ryu master who brought from China most of the Naha-Te kata
(kururunfa, seiun chin, so chin.) popularized by Goju Ryu. Kiyoda Juhatsu,
a student of Miyayi's, was one of 3 men in history to train with two leading
masters of the art at their time. The other to men to train with these masters
were Toyama (1888-1966) and Gusukuma Shimpan (1890-1954).
Mabuni also trained under Arakaki. In 1913, at the age of 23, he joined civil
law enforcement and became a detective. Then he met Arakaki Seisho, who did
a lot of traveling as an interpreter for the Government, and his student Tuuji
Pechin (1840-1920), who taught Higaonna. During his travels Arakaki learned
Niseishi and Unsu from the Fuzhou Province and brought them over with him.
Pechin first taught Higaonna before he moved to Kojo. (Kojo family - Matsuhiga).
Kenwa Mabuni also studied with Suishi and Tawada.
In 1927, Mabuni demonstrates karate for Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. The
ranks in karate came from kendo and the belts ranking system and gi (uniform)
came from Jigoro Kano.
At 37 years of age, Mabuni opens his first dojo. He founded it with Choyun
Miyagi, and called it the Chinese Martial Arts Research Society of Okinawa.
His home was considered a mecca for karate. Choyun Miyagi was the founder of
Kenwa Mabuni's synthesis of the teachings of many of the greatest martial artists
of his time resulted in an extraordinarily extensive system of 54 kata. His
system was passed to Kuniba Sr., who taught Kuniba Jr., who taught Chuzo Kotaka,
who taught Sensei Castilonia, the founder of our Aoinagi School.
Fumio Demura-Sakagami Ha, Minobu Miki-Hayashi Ha and Mabuni's two sons Kanei
and Kenzo among others, carry other branches of Shito Ryu forward. These compose
the branches of Shito-Ryu today. Mabuni studied and analyzed many, many kata
and he wrote many books on kata (in Japanese).
Mabuni's Five principles of strategy
1. Rakka (Dropping Flower): power is generated by sudden impact
2. Ryu Shui (Running water): blending (be like water)
3. Kusshin: vertical maneuvering (up and down)
4. Teni (change): by initiating, manipulating mai (critical distance), or tai
sabaki (body shifting) [ten = change; teni = changing]
5. Han Geki: countering
Kenwa Mabuni is quoted as saying, "Those who master Karate understand the importance
of cooperating with the infinite rather than continuing to resist the inevitable."