© Japan Shudokan Budo-Kai, LLC 2019

Hanshi Kanken Toyama

History of Shudokan

With    the    advent    of    Gichin    Funakoshi's    introduction    of Okinawan    Karate-Do    to    Japan    in    the    early    1920's,    the popularity   of   karate   began   to   grow.   Soon,   other   Okinawan masters    began    to    travel    to    Japan    to    proliferate    their    arts. Once   such   man   was   Kanken Toyama,   whose   Okinawan   name was    Kanken    Oyadamari.   A    school    teacher    by    profession, Toyama's   chosen   avocation   was   the   instruction   of   karate.   He started   his   karate   training   at   the   age   of   9   with   a   master   named Itarashiki.     His     major     teacher     was     the     famous     Itosu Yasutsune, with whom Toyama studied for 18 years. In    1907    Toyama    became    Itosu's    assistant    at    Shuri    dojo. Toyama   became   one   of   only   two   of   Itosu's   students   to   be granted   the   title   of   "Shihanchi",   or   protégé,   of   Itosu's   O   kuge (innermost secrets). Aside   from   learning   Shorin-ryu   from   Itosu,   Toyama   studied and   mastered   their   styles   of   karate   from   other   notable   master of Naha-te and Tomari-te, which included weapons arts.
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A   few   of   his   other   teachers   were,   Aragaki,   Azato.   Chibana, Higaona,   Oshiro,   and   Tana.   Toyama's   interest   in   martial   arts was    not    limited    to    karate.    He    was    considered    an    expert swordsman,   as   well.   While   on   a   six   year   assignment   to   teach elementary    school    in    Japanese    occupied    Taiwan    (1924- 1930),   he   studied   Chinese   martial   arts   with   masters   Chen Fong Tai in Taipei and Lim Fun Fong in Taichung. In   1895   the   Dai   Nippon   Butokukai   (Greater   Japan   Martial Virtue   Society)   was   established   by   the   Japanese   government (Japanese   Ministry   of   Education)   to   regulate   all   forms   of Japanese    Budo.    The    Dai    Nippon    Butokukai    recognized Sensei   Toyama’s   unique   training   and   mastership   of   all   forms of   Okinawan   Karate-do,   and   in   1937   gave   him   an   exclusive license    to    promote    to    any    rank    (Dan)    or    teacher’s    title (Shogo),   regardless   of   the   type   of   Karate-do   the   promoted individual   practiced.   He   was   the   only   Karate-do   teacher   in Japan or Okinawa to ever be given this kind of license.
Toyama's   first   dojo   was   opened   in   Tokyo   in   1930,   and   he quickly   became   famous   for   his   Aka   Ryoku   (strong   gripping methods    of    Itosu    and    Itarashiki).    Some    of    the    foremost Okinawan   and   Japanese   Karate-do   masters,   who   formed   their own   styles,   received   their   8th   9th   or   10th   Dan   degrees   or their    teacher’s    titles    of    Shihan    or    Hanshi    from    Kanken Toyama.   For   example,   Sensei   Eizo   Shimabukuro,   one   of   the most   respected   teachers   of   Shorin-ryu   Karatedo   in   Okinawa, received   his   Judan   (10th   degree)   from   Toyama,   as   did   Sensei Kanki   Izumigawa,   the   founder   of   one   of   the   largest   systems of Goju-ryu Karatedo in Japan. The   name   of   Toyama's   school   was   Shudokan,   which   means "Institute   for   the   cultivation   of   the   way."   Today,   this   term refers    not    only    to    his    school,    but    also    to    his    system. Shudokan    karate    is    a    composite    system,    encompassing Kobutjutsu   (Ancient   art,   referring   to   the   specialized   weapons practice   of   Okinawan   karate).   There   are   also   kata   (formal exercises)    that    are    unique    to    Shudokan    karate.    Shurite, sometimes   known   as   Shorin-ryu,   or   Itosu-ha   is   a   component of   Shudokan   karate.   Its   kata   represent   light,   quick   motions and a variety of power sources.
The   main   curriculum   at   Toyama’s   dojo   was   Itosu’s   Shuri-te type   of   training,   sometimes   called   Itosu-ha   (Itosu   lineage)   by historians.   Most   students   did   not   learn   the   Naha-te, Tomari-te or   Shina   Kempo   (Chinese   Chuan-fa)   unless   that   was   their original   training,   and   they   came   to   Toyama   to   further   their training in that form. Between   1930   and   1966,   Sensei   Toyama   raised   nearly   100 students   to   the   Shihan   level,   and   a   few   to   the   Hanshi   level. Most   were   taught   the   Itosu-ha.   The   Naha-te   system's   forms, sometimes   known   as   Goju-ryu,   Shorie-ryu,   or   Higashiona- ha,    represent    strong    rooted    motions    with    an    emphasis    on internal   breathing   power   sources   include   both   hard,   and   soft. The Tomari-te   style   is   generally   considered   an   extinct   system except in a few composite systems such as Shudokan. Tomari-te   is   characterized   by   the   speed   of   the   Shorin-ryu   and the   strength   of   the   Naha-te,   and   also   included   its   own   soft type     of     power.     Tomari-te     included     some     tight     yet sophisticated   motions;   and   in   appearance   it   is   both   graceful and   noble.   The   aspect   of   weapons   in   Shudokan   adds   to   its versatility   and   practicality.   Weapons   have   also   affected   the empty   hand   forms   in   that   the   motions   tend   to   be   larger,   often drawing   a   number   of   intersecting   circles,   with   different   parts of the body moving on different planes at the same time.
Shudokan   is   characterized   by   large   circular   motions   with   an emphasis    on    covering.    The    practice    of    extension    of    the motions   develops   power   and   physique.   Deep   narrow   stances give   the   ability   to   change   directions   quickly.   Soft   power   is taught   along   with   sophisticated   applications,   which   included throws,   blocks,   and   chokes.   Because   of   the   balance   between hard and soft power, this system promotes good heath. Shudokan,   because   of   its   physical   character,   has   developed its   own   unique   kata.   One   set   of   forms   that   were   developed within   the   system   is   the   Kyoku   forms.   There   are   seven   kata in   this   group,   starting   with   the   very   basic   techniques,   and building    into    long    complex    form,    in    a    set    progression. Originally    taught    only    at    the    Hombu    Dojo    (Headquarters School),   even   the   most   basic   of   these   kata   were   reserved   for members   who   held   a   third   degree   black   belt   or   higher.   These forms   were   developed   to   represent   the   fighting   techniques   of the system and were considered secret.
Another    unique    set    of    forms    created    by    Shudokan    are; Sonshin,   Kakashin,   and   Choshin.   These   forms   are   used   to develop and concentrate the potential of an individual. As    an    educator,    Toyama    believed    his    system    should    not stagnate. This   intention   was   built   into   the   system   to   allow   for its continued growth of both the individual and style. This   account   is   edited   information   that   has   been   provided   by Hanshi   Walter   Todd   (the   American   Shudokan   Association), and the East Asian Cultural Institute.
Masters of Karate in Tokyo (1930’s) (From Left) Toyama Kanken, Ohtsuka Hironori, Shimoda Takeshi, Funakoshi Gchin, Motobu Choki, Mabuni Kenwa, Nakasone Genwa and Taira Shinken.