Learn about Shudokan Karate - Katas, Techniques, etc.

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Learn about Shudokan Karate - Katas, Techniques, etc.

Shudokan is one of the traditional sub-styles of Karate. It was officially formed in the 1930s by Kanken Toyama. Shudokan is known for its unique unique katas as well as Shudokan katas that have originated from other sources such as Goju-Ryu katas and Kung Fu.

Beyond learning unarmed self-defense techniques, Shudokan students also train with traditional martial arts weapons such as the Bo staff, Tonfa and Kama.

History of Shudokan

According to the Yakima School of Karate, "With the advent of Gichin Funakoshi's introduction of Okinawan Karate 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. One 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 protege, 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 masters of Naha-te and Tomari-te, which included weapons arts. A few of his other teachers were, Aragaki, Azato. Chibana, Higaonna, 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.

Given this diverse martial arts background, the Japanese government soon recognized Toyama's prowess, and awarded him the right to promote to any rank in any style of Okinawan karate. An official gave Toyama the title of master instructor. 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).

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."


  1. Yakima School of Karate, A Brief History of Shudokan Karate-Do, http://www.yakimakarate.com/history.php, Added - 07/09/14

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