Shukokai

Shukokai (修交会) is a group of closely related styles of Karate, based on Tani-ha Shito-ryu, a branch of Shito-ryu developed by Chojiro Tani in the late 1940’s. The first dojo where Tani taught his style was opened in Kobe, Japan in 1946 and named Shuko Kai, meaning the “Way for All” Club. Shukokai was designed around the study of body mechanics, and is famed for its ‘double hip twist’ to maximise the force of its strikes. Due to this, Shukokai is known as one of the hardest-hitting Karate styles.

The style of Shukokai Shukokai Karate, “The Way for All” is a dynamic form of Karate, which has evolved from careful analysis of the dynamics and principles of traditional karate. The lineage of Shukokai is such that it can be considered a direct descendant of it’s parent style, Shito Ryu.

Thus in order to fully appreciate the evolution of Shukokai Karate from the original Okinawan Te schools, it is a valid exercise to first explore the development of Shito-Ryu Karate.

Shukokai is derived from one of the original styles of Karate, Shito Ryu, with roots that date back over three hundred years to Okinawa.

Using Shito Ryu as a foundation for his style, Sensei Kimura spent the last forty years of his life developing a technique that was second to none, and he perfected the ability to attack with devastating power and speed.

Students of Kimura Shukokai learn how to use the biggest muscles of the body to generate this power and speed, and when the technique is mastered, they will be able to overcome their opponents with what Sensei Kimura referred to as “One hit, one kill.”

Along with this tremendous ability comes the responsibility of control: students must practice with control in mind, and safety is paramount in the practice, both in and out of the dojo.

Shukokai, above all, is an education in body mechanics, and students find their ability in other sports improves greatly through this practice. Whether it is golf, soccer, tennis or gymnastics, understanding how to use the entire body to create force is the core of all athletic endeavors, and nowhere is this point more dramatically revealed than when learning the proper technique to throw a punch or kick.

Anyone can fight, but fighting efficiently is the groundwork on which Kimura Shukokai is based. As students learn how to use the body with this efficiency and understand the importance of self-control, they have gained invaluable knowledge that can be applied to every aspect of their lives.

The Meaning Of Shukokai: Over the years I have heard many different meanings for the name Shukokai. The most common translation you hear is, “Loosely translated it means Way for all”. This would have to be a very loose translation.

Many years ago I had a Japanese gentleman come up to me at a demonstration and look at the patch on my Gi, he said, ” Ah – Training, Friends, Place”, as he read the three Kanji symbols under the fist. This made me think, so I decided to ask Sensei Kimura what Shukokai really meant.

Usually when someone asked him what a name meant he would get aggravated at the redundancy of the question and say ” a name is a name, what does Joe mean or Bob”. To him the name wasn’t important. Asking the meaning, meant that you didn’t get what he was all about. He would have preferred that you ask him a question about technique, than the meaning of the name. This time I was in luck, he started to break down the word into three parts.

Depending on the context, each symbol had a different meaning. In a martial arts context, it is as follows:

SHU – The study of the martial arts.
KO – People with a common cause, coming together.
KAI – Association.

Even though the art was practised in great secrecy, in remote places, and largely at night or before dawn, the story of Okinawa described how 3 separate styles emerged. Shuri-te, the art that developed in Shuri, was practised by the Samurai of the court, while in the nearby port town of Naha, and in Tomari, the gate-town of Shuri, the people developed their own independent styles of te.

The differences between them probably arise from their having been influenced by different Chinese traditions. There is some evidence to suggest that Shuri-te derives from Shaolin Temple boxing, while Naha-te incorporates more of the soft, Taoist techniques, involving breathing and the control of Ki, the life force, called chi in Chinese. Tomari-te evidently drew from both traditions.

It is important to remember, however, that the towns of Shuri, Naha and Tomari are only a few miles apart, and that the differences between their arts are only of emphasis and not of real substance. Beneath these surface differences, both the methods and aims of all Okinawan karate are the same.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the names of the styles had changed again. The arts of Shuri and Tomari were subsumed under one name, shorin-ryu, meaning the ‘flexible pine school’. Naha-te became known as goju-ryu, the ‘hard and soft school’, and it was developed by the great master Higaonna Kanryo. Shorin-ryu is subdivided into several slightly different styles, but goju-ryu has remained largely unified stylistically. There has also grown up a tradition in Okinawa and Japan where both styles are fused together and taught as one. The largest school which does this is the Japanese shito-ryu, headed by Sensai Mabuni.

Traditionally, the shorin-ryu style is lighter and faster than goju-ryu, and the stances are generally higher. The kata of the 2 styles are slightly different: in goju-ryu the arm and leg motions are more bent and circular, and greater emphasis is paid to breathing.

In 1935, a multi-style committee of masters sat down together to decide on a single name for their art. They called it karate, which means ’empty-handed’ or ‘weaponless’ defence art. Some masters feel that the Japanese appendage of -do, ‘the way’, should also be added to the name.