The History of Isshinryu Karate


A Brief History of Isshinryu Karate, as I Understand It:

The following history has information obtained from different sources. 

This is a partial list of some of these sources:

-Isshin-Ryu Karate The Ultimate Fighting Art by: Harold Long & Tim McGhee

-The Secrets of Isshinryu Karate by: Joel Chandler

-History and Philosophy of Isshinryu Karate-Do by: Michael J. Dobyns

-Oral tradition past down to me by the ones who came before me also shaped the history written below.

Please remember, I don't claim to be the Ultimate Authority on Isshinryu Karate history.
 One thing I have learned from all my years of Karate training is that no one is perfect, 

everyone  makes mistakes.  If I have made mistakes please forgive me and feel  free to contact me and I will attempt to remedy any mistakes I  have made.

Thank you for your interest in Isshinryu Karate, Our Dojo, and in our website. 

The Birth of Isshinryu

  Isshinryu  Karate was founded in 1954.  Its founder was Chief Grand Master Tatsuo  Shimabuku.  Master Shimabuku was born with the name Shinkichi Shimabuku  in Chun Village, Okinawa on September 19, 1906.  He began his Karate  training with his uncle, Urshu Matsumura (Kamasu Chan).  His uncle was a  Shuri-te instructor.  In 1929, Shimabuku began training with Chotoku  Kyan.  Kyan was a legendary master of Shuri-te (Shorin-Ryu).  He trained  with Master Kyan until Kyan's death in 1945.

   During the early 1930's, he began training with Choki Motobu, another  Shorin-Ryu instructor, while still training with Master Kyan.  Motobu  was known for his advanced fighting ability, and as his student  Shimabuku advanced his skill as a fighter.

   Master Shimabuku always wanted to learn Naha-te (Goju-Ryu).  He began  training under Master Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-Ryu, after the  death of Master Kyan in 1945.  He went on to become Master Miyagi's best  student.  He studied with Master Miyagi until Miyagi passed away in  1953.

     After mastering both Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu, Master Shimabuku sought  out the best weapons (Kabudo) instructor on Okinawa, Master Moden  Yabiku.  He went on to train with Yabiku's best student, Shinken Taira.

    In the early 1950's, Shimabuku began experimenting with combining the best of Shorin-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, and  Kabudo.  

  One night in 1954, Master Shimabuku had a dream of a  beautiful woman of the sea.  She was half woman, half serpent, and her  name was "Mizu-Gami."  On January 15, 1954, Master Shimabuku announced  the official formation of his new style, and Isshin-Ryu Karate was  born. The Mizu-Gami  became the official patch of Isshinryu Karate.

     "In 1955, the 3rd U.S. Marine Division was stationed on Okinawa, and  the Marine Corps chose Master Shimabuku to provide instruction to  marines on the island.  As a result of this instruction, Isshin-Ryu was  to be spread throughout the United States by marines who returned  home."  

                            -Isshin-Ryu Karate The Ultimate Fighting Art: Long & McGee-

   "The first two Marines to bring Isshin-Ryu Karate to the United States  were Don Nagle and Harold Long.  Don Nagle opened his first dojo at Camp  Lejeune, North Carolina, while Harold Long's first dojo was in his back  yard at Twenty-Nine Palms, California.  Upon their discharge from  service, Nagle moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, and opened the  first Isshin-Ryu Dojo in the Northeast.  Long returned home to  Knoxville, Tennessee, and opened his first dojo at the Marine Reserve  Training Center.

     Returning later were Harold Mitchum, Steve Armstrong, Clarence Ewing,  Jim Advincula, Bill Gardo, and Harry Smith as well as others.  All these  men had an impact on the spread of Isshin-Ryu Karate in North America."

                            -Isshin-Ryu Karate The Ultimate Fighting Art: Long & McGee-