What is Shukokai?

Shukokai is derived from one of the original styles of Karate, Shito Ryu, with roots that date back over three hundred years to Okinawa. Using Shito Ryu as a foundation for his style, Sensei Kimura spent the last forty years of his life developing a technique that was second to none, and he perfected  the ability to attack with devastating power and speed. Students of Kimura Shukokai learn how to use the biggest muscles of the body to generate this power and speed, and when the technique is mastered, they will be able to overcome their opponents with what Sensei Kimura referred to as “One hit, one kill.” Fist PatchAlong with this tremendous ability comes the responsibility of control: students must practice with control in mind, and safety is paramount in the practice, both in and out of the dojo.

Shukokai, above all, is an education in body mechanics, and students find their ability in other sports improves greatly through this practice. Whether it is golf, soccer, tennis or gymnastics, understanding how to use the entire body to create force is the core of all athletic endeavors, and nowhere is this point more dramatically revealed than when learning the proper technique to throw a punch or kick. Anyone can fight, but fighting efficiently is the groundwork on which Kimura Shukokai is based. As students learn how to use the body with this efficiency and understand the importance of self-control, they have gained invaluable  knowledge that can be applied to every aspect of their lives.


The Meaning Of Shukokai

Over the years I have heard many different meanings for the name Shukokai. The most common translation you hear is, “Loosely translated it means Way for all”. This would have to be a very loose translation.

Many years ago I had a Japanese gentleman come up to me at a demonstration and look at the patch on my Gi, he said, ” Ah – Training, Friends, Place”, as he read the three Kanji symbols under the fist. This made me think, so I decided to ask Sensei Kimura what Shukokai really meant. Usually when someone asked him what a name meant he would get aggravated at the redundancy of the question and say ” a name is a name, what does Joe mean or Bob”. To him the name wasn’t important. Asking the meaning, meant that you didn’t get what he was all about. He would have preferred that you ask him a question about technique, than the meaning of the name. This time I was in luck, he started to break down the word into three parts.

Depending on the context, each symbol had a different meaning. In a martial arts context, it is as follows:


SHU – The study of the martial arts.

KO – People with a common cause, coming together.


– Association.


Basically it means:


He went on to explain that in the 1950’s his teacher, Sensei Tani, had wanted to create an association where the heads of all styles of Karate could come together to pool their ideas and create a standard of technique so that everyone was on the same page, instead of the variation which we see today (this could be where the “Way for all” translation may have come from). However his plan didn’t work, probably due to the fact that everyone thought as they do today, that they had all the answers and they weren’t going to share. So, Sensei Tani who was teaching Shito Ryu kept the name Shukokai as the name of his association.

When Sensei Kimura began traveling overseas to teach he called the style Shukokai, before that it was not a style name. As time passed Sensei Kimura had developed his technique to a point where it was technically different to Tani Ha Shito Ryu although he never forgot his connections to Mr Tani and still supported him in any way he could.

by Gavin Armstrong


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