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1960 - 2023


As part of our plans to provide an historical narrative to each of our disciplines, Sensei Passmore sent over a Karate Genealogy spreadsheet to Renshi Bush, along with a request to see if he could do the research and build a story around the people responsible for creating the original Karate Kata, founded their different Ryu or styles and handed them down over time, so that we could enjoy practising and performing them today.

Karatedo Caligraphy







Okinawa, Ken Prefecture, Japan in the Pacific Ocean comprises roughly two-thirds of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. It is the smallest and least populated of the five main islands of Japan. Before Okinawa became a prefecture during the early part of the Meiji period (1868 -1912) it was a semi-independent kingdom under the influence of both China and Japan


In 1429, the three kingdoms on Okinawa unified to form the Kingdom of Ryukyu. In 1477 Shō Shi became king and banned the practice of Tō-te and Ryukyu kobudō (weaponry) however these continued to be taught in secret. The ban was continued even after Okinawa was invaded by the Satsuma Domain of Japan in 1609. The bans contributed to the development of kobudō which uses common household and farming implements as weaponry. The Okinawans combined Chinese martial arts with the existing local variants to form Tōde Tuudii, (China hand), sometimes called Okinawa-te


By the 18th century, different types of Te had developed in three different villages Shuri, Naha and Tomari. The styles were named Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te. Te often varied from one town to another, so to distinguish the various types of te, the area of origin was added, for example, Naha-te, Shuri-te, or Tomari-te.

Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te belong to a family of martial arts that were collectively defined as Tode-jutsu or To-de.


In 1879 The Ryukyu kingdom was annexed by Japan and was renamed the Okinawa Prefecture by the Meiji government. Naha is the capital city of Okinawa, Shuri is a district of Naha and Tomari is a neighbourhood where the Tomari terminal of the port of Naha is located. After 1926 Okinawa-te or Karate-jutsu was systematically taught in Japan


As you read this genealogy you will see that many of the styles of karate practised today inherited the characteristics of both the Naha-te and Shuri-te.


The reason for this is because the founding fathers of karate were either born in Naha or Shuri or were taught and practised these styles of martial arts. This paper focuses on the styles and teachers that influenced the way we practise karate in Budokan. There are other styles such as Shorin-Ryu (Choshin Chibana) and Wado-Ryu (Otsuka Hironori) which have connected genealogies. Although I include Gichin Funokoshi (Shotokan) it is because he trained under Yasutsune Anko Itosu whom I regard as the father of Karate although Funakoshi is sometimes referred to as the father of karate.


Born in 1773 in Akata, Shuri, Ryukyu Kingdom.

Died 1815 age 81/82

In 1750, Sakugawa trained under monk, Takahara for six years. At Takahara’s suggestion Sakugawa trained under Kusanku, a Chinese master in Ch'uan Fa. Sakugawa also spent six years training with Kusanku. He taught what he learned in Ryūkyū Kingdom in 1762.

He was considered to be such an expert that people gave him, as a nickname: "Tōde" (Chinese Hand).

His most famous student was Matsumura Sōkon, went on to develop the Shuri-te which later develop into Shōrin-ryū style of karate.  

The five Pinan forms were (allegedly) created by drawing from two older forms, kusanku and chiang nan.  Itosu is also credited with taking the large Naihanchi form and breaking it into the three well-known modern forms Tekki Shodan, Tekki Nidan and Tekki Sandan. In 1908, Itosu wrote the influential "Ten Precepts (Tode Jukun) of Karate, reaching beyond Okinawa to Japan. Itosu's style of karate, Shorin-ryu, came to be known as Itosu-ryu in recognition of his skill, mastery, and role as teacher to many. While Itosu did not invent karate himself, he modified the kata he learned from Matsumura, and taught many karate masters.


Itosu's students included Choyu Motobu (1857–1927), Choki Motobu (1870–1944), Kentsu Yabu (1866–1937), Chomo Hanashiro (1869–1945), Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957), Moden Yabiku (1880–1941), Kanken Toyama (1888–1966), Shinpan Shiroma (Gusukuma) (1890–1954),


Anbun Tokuda (1886–1945), Kenwa Mabuni (1887–1952), and Chōshin Chibana (1885–1969).


Itosu is credited with the creation of Pinan Shodan, Sandan, Yondan and Godan, Tekki Shodan Nidan and Sandan, Jion, Jitte, Jiin, Cinte, Rohai, Bassi Sho and Dai, Kanku Sho and Dai and Gojushi Ho


Born 10 March 1853

Nishimura, Naha, Ryukyu Kingdom

Died October 1915 Naha, Okinawa


Higoanna was introduced to the martial arts by Arakaki Seiisho, a Chinese monk. Arakaki is known for teaching the kata Unshu, Seisan, Shihohai, Sōchin, Niseishi, and Sanchin.

When in the 1880s Ryūkyū was annexed by Japan, Higoanna Kanryo returned to Okinawa where he taught the martial arts in and around Naha. He began by teaching the sons of Yoshimura Udun Chomei. His style of karate was called "Naha-te".

He taught Naha-te to the public in 1905 in the Naha Commercial School. Kanryo was noted for his powerful Sanchin. Several of Kanryo's students went on to become influential masters of what came to be called karate, amongst them Chōjun Miyagi, Kenwa Mabuni, Kyoda Shigehatsu, Koki Shiroma, Higa Seiko, Tsuyoshi Chtose and Shiroma Shinpan (Gusukuma).

In 1930, Funakoshi established the Dai-Nihon Karate-do Kenkyukai to promote communication and information exchange among people who study karate-dō. In 1936, Dai-Nippon Karate-do Kenkyukai changed its name to Dai-Nippon Karate-do Shoto-kai, which is known today as Shotokai, and is the official keeper of Funakoshi's karate heritage.


1949 Funakoshi's students created the Japan Karate Association (JKA), with Funakoshi as the honorary head of the organization. however, in practise this organization was led by Masatoshi Nakayama. The JKA formalized Funakoshi's teachings.

Jitsumi Gogen Yamaguchi 'The Cat'


Founder of Shukokai

Born 1921, Kobe Japan

Died 11 January 1998

Chojiro Tani started his formal karate training under Miyagi Chōjun, whilst a student at Doshisha University in Kyoto. When Miyagi Chōjun returned to Okinawa the founder of Shitō-ryū, Kenwa Mabuni took over the teaching. When he graduated from university, Tani began learning Shuri-te and then Shitō-ryū from Mabuni as well. After many years of training under Mabuni and becoming one of his most senior students, Tani received the certificate of succession from him and became the head of Shitō-ryū, enabling him to use the name Tani-ha Shitoryu.

In 1946 Chōjirō Tani began teaching Shūkōkai at a dojo in Kobe, Japan. Shūkōkai was designed around the study of body mechanics and is very fast due to its relatively high stance aiding mobility and is known for the double hip twist, which maximises the force of its strikes.

Being a direct descendent of Shito-Ryu, Shukokai inherits the characteristics of both the Naha-te and Shuri-te from Okinawa. Kenwa Mabuni merged the techniques and principles of the styles he learned from his teachers Kanryo Higaonna, and Anko Itosu to form his Shukokai style of Karate. Shukokai combines the circular breathing techniques from Naha-te and the quick linear movements of the Shuri-te styles.


Katas like Sanchin, Tensho, and Seienchin are handed down from the Naha-te traditions, while katas like Annanko, Matsukaze, and Bassai-Dai are handed down from the Shuri-te traditions. The similarities between Tensho, Sanchin, and Seienchin, and the similarities between Bassai-Dai, Annanko, and Matsukaze, reveals what makes the Naha-te katas different from the Shuri-te katas.


One of Tani's most senior students was Shigeru Kimura.

Shigeru Kimura
Gosen Kishio Yamaguchi

After the death of Gogen Yamaguchi, the brothers Gosen and Goshi Yamaguchi shared the task of organizing the Goju Kai. Gosen became president and Goshi became Saiko Shihan, which means the highest technical authority. Gosen like his Father believed that sparing (jyu-kumite) was an essential part of karate training.


Gosen Yamaguchi died only about a year after his father's death due to health reasons. He is remembered and greatly respected for his gentle unassuming nature, his wisdom, as well as his precise, effective yet beautiful flowing  and typical 'Goju ryu' technique style, and his enormously dedicated and hardworking attitude to his duties of the IKGA and his career with Japan Airlines.


After his death, the top instructors of the Japan Goju Kai Karate Federation appointed Goshi Yamaguchi as President and Saiko Shihan.

Doshu Richard Salmon


Born 28th November 1939

Durban – South Africa


Richard Salmon introduced to the Martial Arts by Pearson Widdicombe at the YMCA Kodokwan Dojo in Durban where he obtained his first dan. Richard Salmon opened his first dojo in the double garage of his home in Sarnia in 1960.  


In 1961 Richard Salmon was introduced to Akira Taniguchi, then 5th Dan Goju-Ryu with whom he trained whilst Taniguchi was in Durban.

Upon his departure, Taniguchi Sensei graded him to First Dan Goju-Ryu.


In 1962 at the invitation of Taniguchi Richard Salmon travelled to Brazil with Des Botes, of Shukokai, South Africa, Also, in 1962 Taiji Kase (6th Dan Shotokan) instructor visited South Africa when Richard Salmon, amongst many other JKA karateka were trained by him the YMCA Kodokwan dojo.

Raymond Ryan



Born 1 July 1936 Johannesburg – South Africa

Died 13th November 1989 – Durban - South Africa


Ray started his karate training with Shukokai where he teamed up with Richard Salmon. In 1963 Richard Salmon and Ray Ryan opened a dojo in Sarnia, Durban which was called Budokan.


They acquired a piece of land in Westville, South Africa and with the help of their students built a dojo there which was the first Budokan Honbu.  In 1965/66, Hanshi Chojiro Tani, came to South Africa and many of the Budokan karateka had the great fortune to be trained by him.


Okinawan martial arts - Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia.

Sakugawa Kanga - Author: Wikipedia contributors - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia. – Traditions of Shotokan

Matsumura Sōkon - Author: Wikipedia contributors - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia.

Ankō Itosu - Author: Wikipedia contributor - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia.

Gichin Funokoshi - Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia – The History of Fighting. - Karate do-My Way of Life-Gichin Funakoshi =- Karate Do Nyumon- Gichin Funakoshi

Kenwa Mabuni - Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia- Karate Kenpo (1934), Karate-Do Nyumon (1938) – Kenwa Mabuni – Ancient Okinawan Arts 1 – Koryu Uchinadi -Standing on the Shoulders of Giants-Patrick McCarthy

Chojun Miyagi - Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia. – International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate do Federation – Karate do Gaisetsu – An Outline of Karate Do – Chojun Miyagi–(1934)- Ancient Okinawan Arts 2 – Koryu Uchinadi

Gogen Yamaguchi – Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia – International Karatedo Gojukai Association. -

Higoanna Kanryo - Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia – International Karatedo Gojukai Association – Okinawan Karate

Chojiro Tani - Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia – Shukokai World Karate Federation

Shigeru Kimura- Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia - Shukokai World Karate Federation – Kimura Shukokai International

Gosei Yamaguchi – Black Belt Magazine

Gosen Yamaguchi – Black Belt Magazine

Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia –

Goshi Yamaguchi – Black Belt Magazine

Author: Wikipedia contributors Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia

Satunushi 'Tode' Sakugawa


Born in 1809 in Yamagawa Village, Shuri, Okinawa.  

Died in 1899 aged 89/90


Matsumura studied karate under Satunushi Sakukawa who is also referred to as Matsumura Kanga. Sakukawa was an old man at the time and reluctant to teach Matsumura, who was regarded as a troublemaker.

However, Sakukawa had promised Kaiyo Sōfuku, Matsumura Sōkon’s father, that he would teach the boy, and therefore he did. Matsumura spent five years studying under Sakukawa. 

Matsumura garnered a reputation as an expert in the martial arts. He was the first to introduce the principles of Satsuma's swordsmanship school, Jigen-ryū, into Ryukyu kobujutsu (Ryūkyūan traditional martial arts).

Matsumura 'Bushi' Sokon

His most famous students include Ankō Itosu, Asato and Itarashiki Chochu.


Matsumura is credited with creating and passing on kata known as naihanchi (Tekki), passai, seisan, Heian Nidan, chintō, gojūshiho, kanku (from kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and hakutsuru (Hangetsu).


Matsumura’s style of karate was known as Shuri-te which later develop into Shōrin-ryū style of karate.


Born in 1831 Gibo Village, Shuri, Ryukyu

Died in 1915. Shuri, Okinawa

Itosu started karate study under Nagahama. Following this he studied   under Matsumura Sokon

Itosu is credited with introducing karate into Okinawa's schools. In 1905, Itosu was a part-time teacher of To-de at Okinawa's First Junior Prefectural High School. Whilst there, he developed the systematic method of teaching karate techniques that are still in practice today.

He created and introduced the Pinan kata forms (Heian in some styles) as learning steps for students, because he felt the older forms (kata) were too difficult for schoolchildren to learn.

Yasutsune Anko Itosu
Higoanna Kanro


Founder of Shotokan

 Born 10 November 1868 Shuri, Okinawa Ryukyu Kingdom

Died 26 April 1957 Tokyo Japan. Aged 88 years

Funakoshi was a close friend of the son of Anko Asato a karate and Jigen-ryū master. He studied karate under Anko Asato and Yasutsune Ankō Itosu. Funakoshi had trained in both the styles of Okinawan martial arts of the time,  Shōrei-ryū and Shōrin-ryū. Shotokan is named after Funakoshi's pen name, Shōtō which means "waving pines". Kan means training hall or house. Shōtōkan referred to the "house of Shōtō".

This name was coined by Funakoshi's students when they posted a sign above the entrance of the hall at which Funakoshi taught.

Gichin Funakoshi


Founder of Shito Ryu

Born 14 November 1889 Shuri Okinawa

Died 23 May 1952 Tokyo Japan.

Mabuni started karate at the age of 13, training under Ankō Yasutsune Itosu. One of his close friends, Chōjun Miyagi who later became the founder of Gōjū-ryū introduced Mabuni to Higaonna Kanryō where he learned Naha-Te. Mabuni also trained under Seishō Aragaki, Tawada Shimboku, Sueyoshi Jino and Wu Xianhui (a Chinese master known as Go-Kenki). One of Mabuni’s most notable students was Chojiro Tani.  By the 1920s he was regarded as the foremost authority on Okinawan kata and their history.

It is alleged that Gichin Funakoshi learned kata from Kenwa Mabuni. Mabuni had several dojos in the Osaka area including one at Kansai University.

In 1929, Mabuni moved to Osaka to become a full-time instructor of Hanko-ryū. Around this time karate became known as “open hand” as opposed to Chinese hand and Mabuni changed his style from Hanko Ryu to Shitō-ryū. This name was derived from the on'yomi readings of the first Kanji character of I(to)su (Anko) and  Higa(shi)onna (Higaonna). Shitō-ryū focuses on both hard and soft techniques to this day. Mabuni's experience with both the Naha-te and Shuri -te styles made him renowned throughout Japan and Okinawa as the foremost expert on kata.


Founder of Goju Ryu

Born 25 April 1888, Naha, Okinawa

Died 8 October 1953 aged 65.

Miyagi began studying Karate at the age of nine under Ryuko Aragaki. When aged 14 Aragaki introduced him to Kanryo Higashionna (Higaonna). His training with Higaonna was interrupted from 1910 to 1912 whilst Miyagi completed his military service.

In October 1915 Miyagi travelled to Foochow where he studied some local Chinese martial arts. It was on this second trip that he observed the Rokkishu (a set of hand exercises which emphasizes the rotation of the forearms and wrists to execute offensive and defensive techniques), which he then adapted into the Tensho Kata.

Chojun Miyagi

From the blending of these systems, and his native Naha-Te a new system emerged. In 1929 Chōjun Miyagi named the style Gōjū-ryū, meaning "hard soft style". 

After several months in China, Miyagi returned to Naha where he opened a dojo. In recognition of his leadership in spreading karate in Japan, Goju-Ryu, became the first style to be officially recognized by the Dai Nippon Butokukai.

He revised and further developed Sanchin the hard aspect of Goju, and created Tensho the soft aspect.

These kata are considered to contain the essence of the Goju-ryu. The kata, Suparinpei, is said to contain the full syllabus of Goju-ryu. Shisochin was Miyagi's favourite kata at the end of his years. With the goal of unification of various karate styles which was in fashion at that time, he also created more Shurite-like katas Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni in 1940.

Miyagi’s students included Gogen Yamaguchi, Seiko Higa, Seikichi Toguchi, Tatsuo Shimabuku, Erichi Miyazato, Meitoku Yagi, Seigo Tada and Anichi Miyagi.


Born 20 January 1909 Miyakonojō, Shonai, Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan, near Kagoshima City

Died on 20 May 1989.

Gōgen was in the 5th grade when he began studying karate under Takeo Maruta in Okinawa. Maruta was a Gōjū-ryū practitioner. Maruta was himself a student of Chōjun Miyagi. At Yamaguchi’s invitation in 1929 Chōjun Miyagi visited Kansai, University Osaka, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, and Doshisha University.

Yamagutchi was attending Ritsumeikan University at that time studying Law.

In 1930 Yamagutchi and Jitsuei Yogi together founded the Ritsumeikan daigaku karate kenkyū-kai

(Ritsumeikan University Karate Research Association), the first karate club at Ritsumeikan University. The Ritsumeikan Karate-dō Kenkyū-kai was the first university karate club in western Japan.

Chōjun Miyagi gave Gōgen Yamaguchi the responsibility of spreading Gōjū-ryū in mainland Japan. In the early 1930s, Gōgen designed the Gōjū-ryū fist badge, which It is said is modelled on Chōjun Miyagi’s right fist.


Gōgen Yamaguchi's contributions to Gōjū-ryū karate-dō and to karate-dō in general have been enormous.


He developed and guided the International Karate-dō Gōjū-kai Association (I.K.G.A). It is popular in both Japan and other Asian and Western countries throughout the world.


By 2008 there were approximately 60-70 countries teaching the Gōjū-kai karate-dō.


Gōgen Yamaguchi succeeded in unifying all the karate schools in Japan into a single union which resulted in the formation of The Federation of All Japan Karate-dō Organization (F.A.J.K.O.)


In 1964. The Kokusai Budō Renmei -(The International Martial Arts Federation) appointed Yamaguchi as a Shihan of that organisation's karate-dō division.


Yamaguchi added the Taikyoku katas to the Goju- training methods for the beginner students to prepare them for the more advanced kata.

Chojiro Tani


Born 2 March 1941 Kobe Japan

Died 7 July 1995 New Jersey USA

Shigeru Kimura began his karate training with Sensei Chojiro Tani at the age of 16. At the age of 21 he won the All Japan Championships.

In 1965 left Japan in to teach Shūkōkai in Africa. He developed Shukokai emphasizing its power and strength and was regarded as an expert in the style.

He later travelled to Europe and where he continued to teach. In 1970 at the age of 29 he moved to the United States, where he taught at Yonezuka's Cranford dojo for two years. He created the first Shukokai World Tournament in 1981. Chojiro Tani and Shigeru Kimura both made their greatest contributions to the style by continually refining each technique essentially re-defining the basics.

Kimura made the study of body mechanics his primary focus. He taught that each technique was to deliver the greatest impact with the least amount of effort. He believed that each technique must be combat-effective. Kimura believed that a technique, no matter how powerful, was useless if it could not be delivered under combat situations.

Kimura taught that as with the way of the samurai the outcome of a confrontation should be decided in a single technique. The result of his efforts is the combat-effective style of Shukokai.

Shigeru Kimura died of a heart attack at the age of 54.


Born Manchuria 1940

Died 20th May 1989

The US Goju Kai has existed since 1963 as a significant group of the International Karate Do Goju Kai. Gosen Yamaguchi was the second son of Gogen Yamaguchi and he was the first instructor to publicize the entire Goju Ryu system in the United States. During his time as chief instructor, Gosen established the first Goju Kai Karate School in San Francisco at State College in the summer of 1963. After a while, Gosen Yamaguchi returned home to Japan to assist his father with teaching at the Hombu Dojo (central school).

In 1966 he travelled to San Francisco with his wife, just married. From 1968 - 1971 Gosen worked for the airline Japan Air Line (JAL) in Frankfurt. In addition to his work, he continued to teach Goju Ryu Karate. After these three years, Gosen returned to Japan and was soon appointed Vice President of Japan Air Line. It is thanks to him that the Goju Kai was supported by JAL sponsorship in the 1970s.

Kenwa Maburi
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