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Born in 1647 and having died in 1721, Matsu Higa is a legendary martial artist in Okinawan history who was a direct influence on the development of karate and Kobudo, especially with respect to Bojutsu. A resident of the island of Hama Higa, he was perhaps a student of the Chinese emissaries Zhang Xue Li and later Wanshu, who would have taught him techniques of Chu'an fa.
Okinawan history relied mainly on oral tradition prior to the 20th century, so it is difficult to separate fact and fiction (or embellishment). It is said that Matsu Higa had forearms like tree trunks and that he could crush a coconut in his bare hands, though he stood only 5 feet 2 inches (157 cm) tall and weighed about 140 pounds (64 kg). Legends state that Matsu Higa with his bo stood up to the head-hunters of Formosa and to Japanese pirates from the north and never lost a battle.What is known, however, is that Matsu Higa was the teacher of Peichjin Takahara, who in turn taught Sakugawa Satonushi. Matsu Higa was one of the first to codify a system of Kata and techniques. His contributions live on in several weapons katas, especially for tonfa, sai, and bo.
Takahara Peichin (1683-1760), was a Buddhist monk, mapmaker and astronomer. Takahara had learned kobudo and empty-handed martial arts from Matsu Higa. He was revered as a great warrior and is attributed to have been the first to explain the aspects or principles of the word do ("way"). These principals are:
1) ijo, the way-compassion, humility and love.
2) katsu, the laws-complete understanding of all techniques and forms of karate, and
3) fo, dedication seriousness of karate that must be understood not only in practice, but in actual combat. The collective translation is: "One’s duty to himself and his fellow man." Most importantly, he was the first teacher of SAKUGAWA, Kanga "Tode" who was to become known as the "father of Okinawan karate."
"Tode" Sakugawa was born in 1733 in Shuri, Okinawa. He is considered a pioneer in the development of Karate. He studied under Peichin Takahara and Kusanku who was a Chinese military attaché stationed in Okinawa. Sakugawa is known to have made several trips to China where he combined Chinese kenpo techniques with Okinawa-te.
Through Sakugawa, the kata Kusanku was introduced. Also, important innovations were the Sakugawa Bo Form and dojo kun (dojo etiquette). Sakugawa is known to have studied the staff in China and later lived in the Akata village, Shuri. He taught the use of the staff to his most significant student Sokon Matsumura.
Sokon Matsumura (1796 - 1893) was one of the original karateka's of Okinawa. He studied Chuan Fe in China as well as other martial arts and brought what he learned back to Okinawa, where he taught a select few students and became a well known master. He was assigned as an instructor and a protectorate to the king of the Ryukyu islands. After Japan assumed control of Okinawa 40 years later, Matsumura Sensei moved to Tokyo where he taught and developed Karate for the rest of his life.
Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Sho family (Royal family of Okinawa) and eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King. At some point in his career, approximately 1830, he went to China and studied the Shaolin style of Chinese Kenpo (fist method) and weaponry. It is also known that he traveled to Foochow in Fukien province and China on numerous occasions as an envoy for the Okinawan King. After his return from China he organized and refined the Shorin Ryu system of Okinawan Karate.
Matsumura is credited with passing on the kata or formal exercises of Shorin Ryu Karate known as Naifanchi I & II, Bassai Dai, Seisan, Chinto, Gojushiho (fifty-four steps of the Black Tiger), Kusanku (the embodiment of Kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and Hakutsuru (white crane). The Hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the white crane system taught within the Shaolin system of Chinese Kenpo. Another set of kata, known as Chanan in Matsumura's time, is said to have been devised by Matsumura himself and was the basis for Pinan I and II. Matsumura's Ryu has endured to the present day and the above mentioned kata are the core of Shorin Ryu Karate today.
Matsumura was given the title "Bushi" meaning warrior by the Okinawan King in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. In fact, Matsumura fought many times but was never defeated. His martial arts endeavors has been the progenitor of many contemporary karate styles, Shorin Ryu, Shotokan Ryu, and Shito Ryu, for example. Ultimately all modern styles of karate that evolved from the Shuri-Te lineage can be traced back to the teachings of Bushi Matsumura.
Born in Shuri, Okinawa, Itosu trained under karate greats Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura and Kosaku Matsumora. His good friend Yasutsune Azato recommended him to the position of secretary to the king of the Ryukyu Islands. He was famous for the superior strength of his arms, legs and hands. Itosu was said to have even walked in the horse stance (from which he received his nickname, Anko). Itosu supposedly was easily able to defeat Azato in arm wrestling. Itosu had very strong hands and could crush a thick stalk of bamboo with his vice-like grip. It is said that he walked past the imperial tombs everyday and would practice his punches against the stonewalls that lined the road. Itosu believed that the body should be trained to withstand the hardest of blows. Under Itosu's direction, Gichin Funakoshi, (Shotokan founder) spent ten years mastering three basic kata.
Describing the art in his own words: "Karate means not only to develop one's physical strength but to learn how to defend oneself. Be helpful to all people and never fight against one person. Never try to strike if possible. Even when taken by surprise, as perhaps meeting a robber or a deranged person. Never face others with fists and feet. As you practice karate, try to open your eyes brightly and keep your shoulders down, stiffen your body as if you are on the battleground. Imagine that you are facing the enemy when you practice the punching or blocking techniques. Soon you will find your own striking performance. Always concentrate attention around you. A man of character will avoid any quarrels and loves peace. Thus the more a karateka practices the more modest he should be with others. This is the true karateka."
Below is a letter written by Itosu Sensei in October of 1908. This letter preceded the introduction of karate to Okinawan schools and eventually to the Japanese mainland.
Tode did not develop from the way of Buddhism or Confucianism. In the recent past Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu were brought over from China. They both have similar strong points, so, before there are too many changes, I should like to write these down.
1. Tode is primarily for the benefit of health. In order to protect one's parents or one's master, it is proper to attack a foe regardless of one's own life. Never attack a lone adversary. If one meets a villain or a ruffian one should not use tode but simply parry and step aside.
2. The purpose of tode is to make the body hard like stones and iron; hands and feet should be used like the points of arrows, hearts should be strong and brave. If children were to practice tode from their elementary-school days, they would be well prepared for military service. When Wellington and Napoleon met they discussed the point that tomorrow's victory will come from today's playground'.
3. Tode cannot be learned quickly. Like a slow moving bull, that eventually walks a thousand miles, if one studies seriously every day, in three or four years one will understand what tode is about. The very shape of one's bones will change.
Those who study as follows will discover the essence of tode:
4. In tode the hands and feet are important so they should be trained thoroughly on the makiwara. In so doing drop your shoulders, open your lungs, take hold of your strength, grip the floor with your feet and sink your intrinsic energy to your lower abdomen. Practice with each arm one or two hundred times.
5. When practicing tode stances make sure your back is straight, drop your shoulders, take your strength and put it in your legs, stand firmly and put the intrinsic energy in your lower abdomen, the top and bottom of which must be held together tightly.
6. The external techniques of tode should be practiced, one by one, many times. Because these techniques are passed on by word of mouth, take the trouble to learn the explanations and decide when and in what context it would be possible to use them. Go in, counter, release; is the rule of torite.
7. You must decide whether tode is for cultivating a healthy body or for enhancing your duty.
8. During practice you should imagine you are on the battlefield. When blocking and striking make the eyes glare, drop the shoulders and harden the body. Now block the enemy's punch and strike! Always practice with this spirit so that, when on the real battlefield, you will naturally be prepared.
9. Do not overexert yourself during practice because the intrinsic energy will rise up, your face and eyes will turn red and your body will be harmed. Be careful.
10. In the past many of those who have mastered tode have lived to an old age. This is because tode aids the development of the bones and sinews, it helps the digestive organs and is good for the circulation of the blood.
Therefore, from now on, tode should become the foundation of all sports lessons from elementary schools onward. If this is put into practice there will, I think, be many men who can win against ten aggressors.
The reason for stating all this is that it is my opinion that all students at the Okinawa Prefectural Teachers' Training College should practice tode, so that when they graduate from here they can teach the children in the schools exactly as I have taught them. Within ten years tode will spread all over Okinawa and to the Japanese mainland. This will be a great asset to our militaristic society. I hope you will carefully study the words I have written here.
Anko Itosu. Meiji 41, Year of the Monkey (October 1908).
Kanken Toyama, the late great martial arts grandmaster, was born in Shuri, Okinawa the 21st year of Meiji on September 24, 1888. His given name was Kanken Oyadamari and he was born into a noble family.
Toyama Kanken began his formal training in karate-do under Master Itarashiki in 1897. Later, he apprenticed himself to Anko Itosu, who then became his primary teacher and inspirational guide. He continued studying under Itosu until the master's death in 1915.
A school teacher by profession, Toyama's chosen field was the instruction of karate-do. In 1907 Toyama was named Shihandai (assistant) to Itosu at the Okinawa Teacher's College in Shuri City, and in 1914 he held a high office at the Shuri First Elementary School. Toyama was one of only two students to be granted the title of Shihanshi (protege); Funakoshi Ginchin was the other to receive this title from Itosu.
In 1924 Toyama Kanken moved his family to Taiwan where he taught elementary school and studied related systems of Chinese Ch'uan Fa ( kempo/kwan-bop ), which included Taku (Hakuda in Japanese language ), Makaitan, Rutaobai, and Ubo. Taku is one of central China's Hotsupu (northern school). Ch'uan Fa is further classified as Neikung Ch'uan Fa (Shorei Kempo), that is, an internal method. Makaitan and Rutaobai, which the techniques of nukite (spear hand) and Ubo develop, all belong to the Nampa (southern school) Ch'uan Fa is an external method of Waikung Ch'uan Fa (Shorei Kempo). These later three styles hail primarily from Taiwan and Fukuden, China. Toyama sensei was also known to have studied and taught Tai Chi Ch'uan Fa. Koyasu sensei studied t'ai chi from Toyama.
Early in 1930 Toyama moved again from Taiwan to mainland Japan and on 20 March 1930 he opened his first dojo in Tokyo. He called his dojo Shu Do Kan meaning "The Hall for the Study of the Way" (in this case the karate-way). Toyama sensei did not claim to originate a new style, system or school of thought, nor did he combine the different styles he had learned. Those who studied under him basically learned basically Itosu's Shorin Ryu and the related ch'uan fa.
Toyama Kanken, now a Dai Shihan, founded the All Japan Karate-Do Federation (AJKF) in 1946. There is some evidence that the AJKF actually got its start in 1930's, however the federation did not evolve into full fledged organization until it was officially documented and sanctioned in 1946. By establishing an organization such as the AJKF, Toyama's intention was to unify the karates of Japan and Okinawa into one governing organization, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and technique. The federation became an authority for rank homologation and advancement issuing rank certification, and also created a forum for competition. This competition group later pioneered full contact sparring which used modified ken-do protective equipment (bogu). The AJKF was successful in attracting important outside notable people such as Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, the founder of Chito Ryu Karate-Do. Dr. Chitose served in several senior positions in the federation including president and vice-president.
Toyama's specialties in karate-do were strong gripping methods (Useishi No Kata and the Aku Ryoku Ho) of Itosu and Itarashiki and similar Chinese methods of finger and hand strengthening. He was the author of books Karate-do Taihokan and Karate-do. In 1949 Toyama was awarded a special title of honor by the Governor of Okinawa, Mr. Shikioku Koshin. Aside from learning Shorin-Ryu from Itosu, Toyama studied and mastered other styles of karate from other notable masters of Naha-te and Tomari-te which also included Okinawan Kobu-do. A few of his other teachers were Aragaki, Azato, Chibana, Oshiro, Tana, and Yabu.
It is also thought that when the Korean (Ch'uan fa) master, Yoon Byung-In came to train at his gymnasium, he also studied Northern Manchurian Kwan-bop with him. It is alleged that Toyama Kanken said that he and Yoon Byung-In should share techniques. Later Yoon Byung-In returned to Korea as a shihan of the Shudokan and taught that style there.
Although Toyama Kanken produced many capable instructors trained in his Shudokan style, he really did not view the Shu Do Kan as a style of karate-do, merely a place for training. Consequently, he did appoint a successor or Shudokan style head to succeed him and as a result the Toyama system fragmented after his death in 1966.
Master Onishi, a senior student, founded Koei Kan Ryu in 1952. Because of political differences in the national Japanese politics, Toyama gave him permission and full blessing to proceed on his own. Why he did this is not clear as he departed long before his teacher died and was apparently deprived of a very close relationship with Toyama.
After Toyama sensei's death other senior students established their own styles: Toshi Hanaue maintained the original Shu Do Kan; Ichikawa Iso founded Do Shin Kan Ryu (The Heart of the Way Style) in 1969; Michio Koyasu founded Soryu (The All or Complete Style) in 1967. Another notable student was Byong In Yoon- the only Korean listed in Toyama's book, the 1959 "AJKF/ Shu Do Kan register" as a 5th Dan Shihan located in Toyama's book. Byong In Yoon disappeared during the Korean war in the 1950's only to resurface in North Korea in 1995's. Two of his students went on to founded two of Koreas most important Kwans. Lee Nam-suk founded the Changmookwan (Hall for the Propagation of Military Training) and Park Chull-hee founded the Kang Duk Won (Training Hall for the Teaching of Virtue).
Hanshi Isao Ichikawa was the founder of Doshinkan Karate do. The school headquarters are in Vienna Austria. Doshinkan means the school in which the way of the heart is taught.
He moved to Vienna in 1967 after the death of his teacher Kanken Toyama. Before Toyama passed away he granted Ichikawa the 10 Dan (the highest degree) and the title of Hanshi (the highest title).
Hanshi Toyama did not want anybody to re-use the name of his school “shudokan” after his death and that is why Ichikawa had to found his own school.
Daishihan Kanken Toyama was the first person that brought karate to the mainland Japan. He established his school Shudokan "school of the studies of the way" in 1930 in Tokyo.
The idea of Hanshi Isao Ichikawa was to create a style that will change with time. He did not want to have a rigid and obsolete style. He wanted to grow up with the needs of the new generations, and new ways of fighting.
Hanshi Ichikawa was one of the first teachers that brought a new, fresh and original style of karate outside of Japan, in Europe and Mexico. He taught that karate is to train the human spirit and strength of character and physic.
One of his most advanced students in Mexico and who gave the most support to Ichikawas teachings was Luis Zavalza Reyes. Ichikawa had unusually good view ability and memory which brought a rich treasure in kata tradition and techniques into the new school. He knew personally all members, their names and their level of development.
The system of Karatedo Doshinkan in historical perspective.
The master trains with all pupils, also with the beginners, and it always implements all components of the training as a training leader example-giving. In this point Karatedo Doshinkan differs from the older Japanese instructional system. So all members can learn directly from Hanshi. And if Hanshi implements all movements, also, that stresses the simplest techniques the special meaning, which is attached to the basic techniques and their continual recess. The meaning of the apparently simplest one does not become smaller, if width and complexity of the knowledge increase.
The switching of Karatedo Doshinkan was always based on the relationship between master and pupil and pupil to pupil. However this how the school spread over countries and continents.
All members are in contact with Hanshi. The individual Dojos had leaders or chiefs, that arrange training in Hanshis absence.
The authorization for the graduation is reserved to Hanshi alone.
If a combat art in the original sense of a way ("DO") is operated, everyone and everyone can develop individually, without having to measure with others. A comparative performance review is possible only within the development of a personality: between his earlier "I" and their "current".
Karatedo Doshinkan remains always open in its development, remains a way for the particulars and as an entire system, training organization and objective of the particulars are marked neither by universally valid test modalities nor by match rules (there are not matches at all). The Kata however keeps its original function in this system as pivot between tradition and open development. Katas keep the rich inheritance from the past, but do not specifically form the basics of training. They can be interpreted uniquely in the execution of the Katas themselves and as starting point for new organizations of the training.
Hanshi Luis Zavalza Reyes (A mixed martial arts genius) was born on August 4, 1934 in Mexico City, Mexico. He started his martial arts career training Ju-Jutsu, Greco Roman, Free Style and Catch-Can-Wrestling in 1962 with Master Daniel Hernandez. In 1967 he started learning Tegumi, Full Contact karate and Kobu-Do under Hanshi Isao Ichikawa. After 6 years of wrestling and Ju-Jutsu he graduate as a black belt in 1964 and after 6 years of Tegumi, Full Contact Karate and Kobu-Do training he graduated as a black belt in 1973. Hanshi Luis Zavalza became the top student and teacher in Mexico under Hanshi Isao Ichikawa. On May 12, 1988 Public Accountant Luis Zavalza Reyes, Doctor Guillermo Reza Trocino, Doctor Ottmar Gosebruch Herdocia, Attorney Salvador Peña Zavala and Master Sergio Diaz del Rio founded Sei-Shin-Kan a martial arts institute dedicated to teach and learn all aspects of martial arts and weapons training from the Asian fighting systems including Judo, Ju-jutsu, Tegumi, Full Contact Karate, Muay thai, Kobudo, kyusho-jutsu, Kali (sectoring, trapping, nerve hitting), Wing-chung, Aikido, Kendo, just to name a few, to the Western disciplines including Boxing, Greco, free style and catch-can-wrestling. French Savate, kettlebells, Tactical gun fighting, Tactical Knife fighting, and Impact Weapons was also thought. From all his martial arts knowledge and the blending of the arts to make them become one and the same, Hanshi Luis Zavalza developed the Counter Assault Tactical System and was voted president and representative of Sei-Shin-Kan for life. He was promoted to Shihan 8th dan in Mexico City at the age of 69, and on April 12, 2008 he was promoted Hanshi 10th degree red belt in Mexico City, the highest rank our association honors.
He has trained thousands of Mexicans and hundreds of them have become Black belts graduating with honors under his tutelage. Some of his students are top secret service agents, bodyguards, professional soldiers and some of his non-military students have become national champions in Judo and Full Contact Karate. He has even trained some Olympic athletes in Judo, Greco Roman and Free Style Wrestling.
For all of his effort and hard work through out the years, we as his students want to dedicate this website to him and his legacy. Thank you for all your care, love, patience, honesty and bravery. Hanshi Luis Zavalza we love you, admire you, and respect you.
He is the keeper and guardian of the knowledge of a 350 year old lineage. He is a 9 generation Sensei in the Stand up fighting arts and now he is the owner and head coach of MMA UNDERGROUND
WE ARE JUST COOL