History of Karate-Do

Okinawa is a small island south of main land Japan.  Due to its geographical location, the Okinawan people had always been under threat of invasion.  This constant fear of invasion brought about the development of (手)=Tei=Te, meaning “hand”, as an Okinawan form of self-defense.  Te became the foundation of modern karate as we know it today.

Developmental History of Kenshin-Kai (click for detail)

During the 14th century Okinawa and China became allies.  Chinese officials, well versed in the skills of Chinese martial arts, came to Okinawa and began practicing their style of defense.  The merging of the two forms, Okinawan self-defense and Chinese martial arts, resulted in a new style which came to be known as “Karate”.

The word karate originated from kara=To(唐) meaning “China” and Te(手) meaning “hand”.  This new name honors  both styles of martial arts.  At this point, karate developed into two basic styles; Shorin-Ryu (Shuri-Te) and Shorei-Ryu (Naha-te).  These names originated from the cities of Shuri and Naha in Okinawa.

In 1609, Okinawa was invaded and defeated by a force from main land Japan.  The king of Satsuma took control.  He confiscated and banned all martial arts weapons.  This forced the Okinawans to fight with their hands, feet, fishing and farming tools.  During this century karate was practiced and used with deadly intent, meaning, practiced for actual combat and life and death situations.

In 1905 a famous master, Anko Itosu of Okinawa, brought karate back to the more modern style.  He developed the Pinan Katas, shodan through godan (five series), for the purpose of physical education with the removal of deadly techniques.


Now karate is written with (空手) which means “empty hand”, is focused on the concept of the “empty mind” and taught this mainly for the purpose of using karate for sport.  This developed new traditional styles of karate known as Shotokan, Wado-Ryu, Shito-Ryu and others.

Kenshin-Kaikan karate is Okinawan Shorin-Ryu.  Our system developed by one of the top students of Itosu, Master Chosin Chibana.

Master Chibana attempted to remain in the more classical style taught by Itosu.  He remained very strict with his movements.  After Master Itosu’s death, Master Chibana developed the Okinawan Shorin-Ryu karate.  It was at this time that he corrected several of the katas.

These katas are those we practice today and date back for many generations.

Kazumasa Yokoyama, founder of Kenshin Kaikan, is a well-known Shorin-Ryu master and weapons experts in the world.  He has published many articles, DVDs, books and has appeared in TV shows.


The Roots Of Kenshin-Kaikan

Where did Kenshin-Kaikan karate come from?

Karate has a very long and sometimes obscure history.  The first clear records start with Tode Sakugawa in 1733.  Karate later divided into the two styles, Shuri-te and Naha-te.  Shuri and Naha refer to the geographic location and “te” means hand.

These are the styles that most modern styles such as Shotokan, Wado-Ryu, Shito-Ryu and Goju-Ryu originate from.

In Kenshin-Kaikan we stay true to the classic forms, weapons and training methods which are from Shuri-te = Shorin-Ryu.  Kenshin-Kaikan also has influence from 8-step praying mantis with Master Wei Shao Tang.

We have 16 empty hand katas, and they remain unchanged.

There is meaning and purpose within the katas.  Some are obvious while others are not.  Master Kazumasa Yokoyama has revealed these in his books, DVDs, and TV interviews.

“Form becomes formless. It returns to simplicity.  The principle is the way.”
By Kazumasa Yokoyam