Samurai Dojo were first established by Shihan Chris Thompson (9th Dan), in Loop Street Cape Town, in 1967. Shihan Chris is a World Chief Instructor who trained with Shigeru Kimura for approximately 25 years and who continues to teach and develop the distinctive Kimura Shukokai technique today. He is a former South African Springbok and was nominated `Best Fighter and Best Kata` at the 1981 World Championships in the USA. With roughly 45 years of accumulated experience, Shihan Chris travels the world, addressing gatherings of students about his knowledge and understanding of Karate.
Now based in 22 countries and numerous Dojo in South Africa, the Samurai Dojo of Kimura Shukokai International continues to thrive on 40 years of experience. Qualified KSI Instructors, present techniques that are explosive, practical and natural for all to achieve. Students ranging from four years old and upwards attend classes, and Karate attracts students of both genders, those with combat experience and beginners.
Also on offer are fitness classes, uniquely designed for your personal needs; personal training, which helps individuals to achieve goals such as fitness and weight loss, and personal self defence, which involves high-cardio workout sessions led by qualified instructors. Contact a Dojo of Kimura Shukokai International in your area and train with us today.
Shukokai Karate, translated liberally means “Way for All”. A more literal translation breaks the name down to three parts which are: “Shu” meaning “Training”; “Ko” meaning “Many people meeting, a crossing or intersection, to come together”; and “Kai” meaning “Association, to train under one roof”. Shukokai is a traditional system of Okinawan Karate, which has evolved from careful analysis of the dynamics and principles of traditional karate. The lineage of Shukokai can be considered a direct descendant of its’ parent style, Shito Ryu.
Shito Ryu Karate is accredited to Soke Kenwa Mabuni (1890-1952). Mabuni, like many of the old karate masters, was descended from the Okinawan warrior class, or bushi. Mabuni family members had served Okinawan lords for hundreds of years. At age 13, Mabuni became a student of Yasutsune “Ankou” Itosu (1830-1915). Itosu taught Okinawan Shuri-Te and was credited as the master who developed the Pinan Kata and was instrumental in organizing early karate into the Okinawan school system. Itosu himself was a student of one of Okinawa’s most famous karate masters, Sokon Matsumura 1792-1887), the forefather of Shorin-Ryu.
During his teens, Mabuni also studied under Kanryo Higa(ashi)onna 1853-1915), a teacher of Naha-Te, a particularly Chinese influenced karate style. Mabuni was introduced to Higaonna by his friend, Chojun Miyagi (who went on to become the founder of Goju-Ryu karate). At this time, Mabuni was a highly respected police officer, and often visited Japan following Funakoshi’s introduction of karate there in 1922.
In 1929, Mabuni relocated permanently to Osaka. Just after he took up residence there, the governing body for martial arts in Japan, the Butokukai, enforced that all karate schools should officially register by their style name. Initially, Mabuni named his style Hanko, meaning “half-hard”, but by the early 1930s, he was using the name Shito-Ryu. Mabuni lived in Osaka until 1952, devoting his life to promoting his Shito-Ryu Karate. It was during this lifetime that one of his students, Chojiro Tani was to further refine the style, into Shukokai Karate.
Chojiro Tani was born in Kobe, Japan in 1921 and began studying the art of Karate during Junior High School at the Gojo School of Karate. He entered Doshisha University in 1940 and furthered his studies of karate under the direction of Ken-na Mabuni. Upon receiving his Menko (Teachers Certificate) from Kenwa Mabuni, Sensei Tani began teaching Tani-Ha Shito Ryu at his own Dojo. He proudly hung a wood carved sign above the entrance which said Shukokai -“Way for All”. He also organized clubs in Kyoto University and Osaka College of Economics, Tottiro University, and Kobe University Medical School.
Outside of Japan, Tani’s style spread mainly in Europe (Kofukan International). Shigeru Kimura, one of the students of Chojiro Tani then took Shukokai to Africa and the United States, while Yoshinao Nambu continued to teach in Europe. When Sensei Tani retired as Chief Technical Director he appointed Shigeru Kimura, 9th Dan, 1941—1995) as his successor.
Sensei Kimura had won the Japan All-Style Championship two years in a row. After retiring from active competition, Sensei Kimura established a reputation of master level Shukokai Karate throughout the world.
Being a direct descendant of Shito-Ryu, Shukokai inherits the characteristics of both the Naha-te and Shuri-te styles of Okinawan Karate. While Shukokai shares many of the same punches, kicks, and blocks found in other popular styles of Karate, it is in how these are executed that sets Shukokai apart.
Sensei Tani and Sensei Kimura made their greatest contributions to the style by continually refining each technique to the highest degree, essentially redefining the basics that had been practiced for centuries.
Both made the study of body mechanics their primary focus with the end result being the delivery of the greatest impact with the least amount of effort.
Another defining characteristic is that each technique must be combat effective. Sensei Kimura believed that a technique, no matter how powerful, was useless if it could not be delivered under combat situations. His philosophy was that the outcome of a confrontation should be decided in a single technique, one hit one kill, which was the traditional way of the Samurai. This drove him to continually modify and test his technique throughout the course of his life with the end result being the traditional, yet combat effective style of Karate we call Shukokai. Every technique executed within Shukokai has these principles at its’ core.
Used with permission from Kimura Shukokai International.
Shigeru Kimura was born in Kobe, Japan, on March 2, 1941. After having tried Judo and Kendo, at 16 years of age, he began learning karate with Sensei Chojiro Tani (1921 – 1998). At 21, he won the All Japan Championships and repeated the win the following year. Even though successful, Kimura doubted the effectiveness of his karate, so he decided to try full contact fighting with other students. The punches were fast, but much less effective than what he had expected. This frustrated him and he began his life-long search for greatness.
Without the slightest knowledge of English, Sensei Kimura left Japan in 1965 for Africa, where he taught in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. The first country where he was to stay longer – and have a considerable influence on karate – was South Africa. Wherever the Master was at work, successful schools with well-trained instructors were the result.
His search then led him to Europe, where he settled in England. Ultimately, his journey ended in the USA where, thanks to Sensei Kidachi – a renowned Judoka – he settled and opened his first dojo. The dojo soon became too small and Sensei Kidachi was again at hand, as they set about looking for a larger training establishment. The two masters remained close friends and visited one another often.
The Shukokai Headquarters were set up in Hackensack, New Jersey, and would remain so for 18 years. Sensei Kimura was then 37 years old and one of the youngest ever to have held the 7th Dan with an acknowledged style.
Sensei Kimura married Kaoruin in 1980. She lent more serenity to his life and gave him a solid foundation apart from his karate students.
Sensei organised the first Shukokai World Tournament in the USA in 1981 – an event that established itself and has since then taken place every two years. Shukokai Karateka from all over the world were now visiting the headquarters regularly. Even karateka of other styles often sought advice from Sensei Kimura as well.
He continued to develop the Tani-Shukokai further, something which constantly challenged, irritated, and frustrated him; but above all, brought his students further. He revolutionised his entire Shukokai once again. The manner of practicing Shukokai now differed considerably from the Tani style, which is why the term Kimura’s Shukokai is used today. In 1991, Kimura’s Shukokai was being practiced world-wide by 20,000 students in 14 countries.
Even in his later years, Sensei remained innovative and open. Students who were closed to developing further were out of place with him, proof of which were the numerous partings of ways. Sensei Kimura was a man of no compromise. His influence is still present and the newly formed Kimura Shukokai International organization comprises of 30 countries and thousands of participants.
In 1987, Sensei Kimura had already begun contemplating the replacement of his dojo, which was too small and somewhat rundown. To everyone’s delight, he was able to fulfil the dream of having his own new headquarters, this time in Tenafly, New Jersey. This dojo was beautiful and professional, with a kitchen, recreation room, large training room, and the option of overnight stays.
Sensei Kimura, full of plans for the future, died suddenly of a heart complications at the age of 54. At the time of his death, Sensei Kimura was 9th Dan in ranking. He has been posthumously promoted to 10th Dan and granted the title Soke (founder of a style) by his four principal 8th Dan students who are Shukokai’s current chief instructors. Shihans Bill Bressaw (USA), Eddie Daniels (UK), Lionel Marinus (South Africa), and Chris Thompson (South Africa) carry on the style and the techniques taught to them by Soke Kimura.
Many of the long-term students have opened dojo’s around the world. In the spirit of Soke Kimura’s dream, Shukokai continues to host world tournaments in different countries every two years and the chief instructors from around the world meet for training sessions regularly. In the spirit of budo we honor our master.
Used with permission from Kimura Shukokai International.