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Shito-kai & World Shitoryu karatedo Federation

Kenwa Mabuni

In March, 1934 founder, Kenwa Mabuni established his Dojo, ‘You-Syu Kan’ in Osaka, Japan. He named his style, ‘Shito-Ryu’ in honour of his two greatest influences, Itosu Sensei and Higaonna Sensei. In March, 1939 Shito-Kai was registered at the headquarters of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. In July of that year the Dai Nippon Karate-Do Kai started, later changing its name to Japan Karate-Do Kai.

On the 23rd of May, 1952, Kenwa Mabuni passed away, and as is tradition, his eldest son, Kenei Mabuni (b.1918-), succeeded as the second head (Soke) of Shito-Ryu. In November, 1960, a senior student of the late Kenwa Mabuni, Shihan (Master) Manzo Iwata, was elected President of Japan Karate-Do Kai Eastern Japan headquarters, and Kenei Mabuni became president of the Western Japan headquarters.

Manzo IwataOn the 13th anniversary of the death of Kenwa Mabuni in 1964, the All Japan Karate-Do Shito-Ryu Championship was held, uniting both Eastern and Western branch headquarters. In the same year, the All Japan Karate-Do Federation (JKF) was established and Shito-Ryu joined the organization. On establishment of the All Japan Karate-Do Federation, Shito-Kai, Eiichi Tanaka became its president, and Manzo Iwata and Kenei Mabuni both became vice-presidents. On President Eiichi Tanaka's death in February, 1980, the organization changed and Kenei Mabuni became honorary president, Manzo Iwata (1924-1993), president and Sadachika Tsujikawa (1916-2012), vice-president.

In March 1993 the World Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Federation (WSKF) was established, and the 1st Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Championship was held at the Tokyo Budo Kan. On April 12th, 1997 the Shito-Ryu Honbu (headquarters) Dojo was completed in Asaka, Saitama. Sadly, Manzo Iwata passed away on June 4th, that same year, and Master Ken Sakio (1922-1912) was elected president, followed by Master Tokio Hisatomi (b.1927-). Currently Master Hiroshi Murata (b.1936) is Shito-kai president and Genzo Iwata Shihan, son of the late Manzo Iwata, is the Honbu dojo’s Chief Instructor.

Kunio Murayama

Master Kunio Murayama

Outside Japan, Shito-kai is represented by a number of prominent masters including Shito-kai England’s chief technical director, Shihan Kunio Murayama. Born in Miyagi prefecture, Japan in 1944, Shihan Murayama began his formal training in Shitoryu in 1962 after enrolling into Toyo University. A direct student and ‘uchi-dashi’ (live in disciple) of the great master and former president of Shito-kai, Shihan Manzo Iwata, Murayama sensei was exposed to a great deal of knowledge and information and excelled in his study of karatedo.

Even after graduating with a degree in economics, Murayama stayed at the university to coach and captain his university team, gaining a number of national awards in various tournaments. Wishing to become a professional karate instructor, and on being offered a chance to pioneer karate outside Japan, in 1970 Murayama Sensei moved with his wife and young family to Monterrey in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. There, over the decades that followed, Murayama Sensei would coach the Mexican national team that competed in the 3rd world karate championships in Long Beach, California; establish his own dojo, teach countless students to black belt; mentor many champions, and become a respected World Karate Federation Referee and Kata judge.

His contribution to karate’s development in Central America and beyond is without doubt. Master Kunio Murayama 8th Dan, WSKF, now in his 5th decade of karate, continues to work tirelessly to ensure the information learned from his teacher, Manzo Iwata, continues to be passed on to future generations as accurately and faithfully as possible. A quiet and unassuming man, generous and modest by nature, patient and understanding, Murayama Sensei has proved to be a stalwart of traditional Shito-ryu karate-do, epitomising what a master of karatedo should be, as embodied in the phrase, ‘Kunshi no Ken’, a ‘gentleman of karate’.

By Brian Jarvis
Shito-kai England

L-R: Kunio Murayama, Kenei Mabuni, Manzo Iwata & Iwaki Hashimoto

Master Murayama (back row, 3rd from left) with members of the Mexican National Team, mid 1970's

A young Manzo Iwata (left) featured in a karatedo magazine with his master, Kenwa Mabuni. 'Gentleman of Karate'

Shito-kai Honbu Dojo Chief Instructor

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