Sensei Tani began studying Goju Karate while at Junior High school. When he entered the Doshisha University, he began studying Shito Ryu Karate. Upon receiving his Menko (Teachers Certificate) from Kenwa Mabuni, Sensei Tani began teaching Tani-Ha Shito Ryu at his own Dojo in 1948. He proudly hung a wood carved sign above the entrance which said Shukokai. Sensei Tani sought to perfect his style by studying the mechanics of the human body and developed techniques which can be delivered with maximum efficiency.
Over a long period of time Sensei Tani evolved and developed Shukokai. He always laid stress on the importance of etiquette, discipline and mental control and was at pains constantly to promote the improvement of technique. When Sensei Tani retired as Chief Technical Director he appointed Shigeru Kimura (8th Dan) as his successor. Kimura Sensei had won the World All-Styles Championship when only 21 years of age and had twice been the All-Japan champion before retiring from active competition.
The word Shukokai is somewhat difficult to translate. It is easier to break the word down into it's components to obtain a better understanding of what it means. Shu can be translated to mean "Training". Ko can be translated to mean "Many people meeting", or "crossing", "intersection", or "come together". Kai can be translated to mean "Association" or "Train under one roof ."
Throughout the years Sensei Kimura encouraged all the senior students who visited from other countries as well as American students to come on that one special night which eventually became "Thursday Nights". Usually unpredictable, the training would range from a weekly adjustment of technique to all sparring sessions. It was well established that after the hard training all would eat and drink together usually in Myoshi's Japanese restaurant while in Hackensack Dojo and finally in an upstairs specially equipped room in the Tenafly dojo where he would on occasion make the world's best sukiyaki (Japanese beef stew) and share special Sake and tea.
Sensei discussed many philosophies with all who came out to share dinner. He also was not remiss to point out our weaknesses and to correct any deviation from the way of Bushido. He would not accept acquiescence. At these dinners he would insist on improvement, perseverance and commitment to the techniques and the way of Shukokai Karate. Very often he would consult his most senior students regarding any issues that may cause trouble to the building of his unique international family. If there was a person that did not have the honest character and commitment to his way then he would dismiss them from his organization.
Shukokai was perpetuated in the United States primarily by Sensei Kimura. However, other schools played an important part of what was to become ASKU, starting with Sensei Bressaw's school which has developed many students and black belts from 1971 to present and is the oldest group in America. There have been several other which contributed to the promotion of Shukokai in the United States that started approximately 1980 and some that are inactive.Kimura Shukokai International (KSI)
Sensei Kimura laid the foundation for what was to become Kimura Shukokai International during his lifetime. Upon his passing, the chief instructors of the countries Sensei Kimura taught in (America, England, South Africa, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe) banded together in March of 1996 to form Kimura Shukokai International (KSI). KSI is headed by the four most senior students of Sensei Kimura in the world, Sensei Lionel Marinus, and Sensei Chris Thompson of South Africa, Sensei Eddie Daniels of the United Kingdom, and Sensei Bill Bressaw of the United States, all 7th Dans with approximately 35 years of experience.
Sensei Bressaw, Sensei Daniels, Sensei Thompson, and Sensei Lionel
The mission of Kimura Shukokai International is the perpetuation of Kimura Shukokai Karate throughout the world. The Chief Instructors of the participating countries meet once every two years at the World Kimura Shukokai International Championships, and at the European Championships occurring on alternate years, to further strengthen the unity of KSI. Additionally, each country invites one of the 7th Dans to conduct training sessions on advanced technique once a year on a rotating basis. KSI is dedicated to understand the teachings of Master Kimura and to continue it in the direction and to the next level that Sensei Kimura was headed. The maintenance of quality, a deep understanding of Bushido and its etiquette, a lifetime of dedication to perfection of his technique, following through with Sensei Kimura's statement that it will take seven lifetimes to understand his teachings.
Characteristics of Shukokai Karate
Being a direct descendent of Shito-Ryu, Shukokai inherits the characteristics of both the Naha-te and Shuri-te styles of Okinawan Karate. Kenwa Mabuni merged the techniques and principles of the styles he learned from his teachers Kanryu Higaonna, and Anko Itosu to form his Shito-Ryu style of Karate. As such, Shukokai combines the circular breathing techniques from Naha-te and the quick linear movements of the Shuri-te styles. This is apparent in the katas performed within Shukokai. Katas like Sanchin, Tensho, and Suparunpei are handed down from the Naha-te traditions, while katas like Annanko, Matsukaze, and Bassai-Dai are handed down from the Shuri-te traditions.
Upon close examination, one can see the similarities between Tensho, Sanchin, and Suparunpei, and the similarities between Bassai-Dai, Annanko, and Matsukaze, and what makes the Naha-te katas different from the Shuri-te katas. Also notable is the relatively high number of katas within Shukokai. This is a direct result of Master Mabuni's experience with both the Naha-te and Shuri -te styles, and the reason why he was renowned throughout Japan an Okinawa as the foremost expert on kata.
Another attribute that distinguishes Shukokai Karate from other styles is the execution of techniques. While Shukokai shares many of the same punches, kicks, and blocks found in other popular styles of Karate, it is in how these are executed that sets Shukokai apart. Sensei Tani and Sensei Kimura made their greatest contributions to the style by continually refining each technique to the highest degree, essentially re-defining the basics that had been practiced for centuries. Both made the study of body mechanics their primary focus with the end result being the delivery of the greatest impact with the least amount of effort.
Another defining characteristic is that each technique must be combat effective. Sensei Kimura believed that a technique, no matter how powerful, was useless if it could not be delivered under combat situations. His philosophy was that the outcome of a confrontation should be decided in a single technique, "one hit one kill", as per the way of the samurais of old. This drove him to continually modify and test his technique throughout the course of his life with the end result being the traditional, yet combat effective style of Karate we call Kimura Shukokai. Every technique executed within Kimura Shukokai has these defining principles at it's very core.
The information presented is based on information found in:
Okinawan Karate; Mark Bishop, 1989;
The Bible of Karate, Bubishi; Patrick McCarthy, 1995;
Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate; Patrick McCarthy, 1987;
The Essence of Okinawan Karate; Shoshin Nagamine,1976;
Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters; Shoshin Nagamine, 2000;
Various articles in Fighting Arts; and
Interrnational Internet research.