Taido's Position in the History of Budo: From Okinawa karate to Taido
In this essay I will discuss the origins and development of Taido. I have used general Taido sources, and this has been complemented by my own 32 years experience of Taido. I have also benefited from discussions with other Taido colleges.
My story begins with Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura (1798-1890) he was one of the masters of Shuri-Te. He gave lessons to Gichin Funakoshi (creator of Shotokan Karate), Bushi Takemura , Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu and Yasutsune Azato. Of particular relevance here is Bushi Takemura who, for example, developed a version of the kata Kushanku. One of his students was Soko Kishimoto (1862-1945) who later became Seiken Shukumines teacher.
Seiken Shukumine was born in 9th of December 1925 in Nago-shi on the island Okinawa. He started training karate at the age of eight, when he was taught by Anko Sadoyama, a grandmaster in Koryu Karate ("Old style/school Chinese techniques"). Anko Sadoyama trained Seiken Shukumine for four years.
When Shukumine was 12 years old, he was accepted by sensei Soko Kishimoto. Kishimoto was very selective, he had only nine students throughout his life and Seiken Shukumine had to insist many times, before Kishimoto decided to teach him. The last two students of Kishimoto were Seiken Shukumine and Seitoku Higa (born 1920).
Soko Kishimoto and Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898) tried to go to Taiwan in 1890 on a boat, they had heard that Chinese kempo still existed there. That is the origin of toode. Soko Kishimoto was at that time 28 years old. They set out from Itoman, which is situated on the southernmost tip of the Okinawa main island, 12 kilometers south of Okinawa's capital city Naha. However, they ended up on the east coast of Ishigaki Island, in a place called Inoda.
When Seiken Shukumine’s was training under Soko Kishimoto the training method was Ichigiichiji (one technique, one thing) which means that you have to master one technique before you continue to the next step. Furthermore, the origin of unsoku, and the Gensei-ryu versions of Naifanchi , Kushanku and Koshookun can be traced back to the training under Kishomoto.
During the Second World War when Seiken Shukumine were 18 years old he was drafted into the navy and had to join the Japanese Kamikaze Corps where he became a "kaiten" pilot, on a one man submarine torpedo, used as kamikaze (suicide attack) against American warships.
When he came back home his master Sensei Soko Kishomoto had been killed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Shukumine retreated in solitude for a couple of years and started to develop his karate style. He combined his training as a kaiten pilot with the classique techniques he had learned from his masters Sadoyama and Kishimoto, thus developing the special characteristics of Taido.
Seiken Shukumine was also a philosopher and during the war he learned that to do something unanticipated or unexpected is the secret to victory. Seiken Shukumine studied long on this idea to apply this not only to life but also to Budo.
In 1945 Seiken Shukumine created the basic theory "Sen, Un, Hen, Nen
and Ten". These are the basic principles that make Taido a
three-dimensional style. Then, in 1949 he demonstrated his karate techniques for
the first time, in the town of Itō (Shizuoka prefecture, Japan). Later on,
Shukumine also participated in a karate exhibition arranged by Nippon TV
in October of 1954. It is said that the famous free wrestler Rikidoosan went in
front of Seiken Shukumine and told him that he could break 17 or 18 roof tiles
with one hand and then asked Seiken Shukumine how many he could break. Seiken
Shukumine answered: I don’t know, maybe around 35.
Shukumine then demonstrated Tameshiwari (=breaking technique) and broke 35 roof tiles with shuto, the edge of the open hand. Shukumine also demonstrated the kata Koshokun dai and Hachidan-tobi-geri (jumping kick with 8 kicks in one jump). In this demonstration other masters like Hidetaka Nishiyama (of the Japan Karate Association, JKA), Yasuhiro Konishi (Ryobukai) Ryusho Sakagami (Itosukai), H. Kenjo (Kenshukai), Kanki Izumikawa and Shikan Akamine (both of Goju-ryu) also participated.
In the early 1950's Seiken Shukumine created Sansai no kata, a well
known kata of Genseiryu, and later, in 1953, he officially announced that his
techniques were Genseiryu. The Genseiryu organisation was established in
the same year. At about this time Seiken Shukumine also started to give lessons
on the Tachikawa military base to the Self Defense Forces. The style has then
spread, since the beginning of the 1960s, to other countries such as USA, Spain,
Finland, Holland, Denmark, Australia, Brasil, India, etc.
Seiken Shukumine introduced a new martial art in 1962. This martial art was a further development of Genseiryu which he named Taido. From that point on, Seiken Shukumine was mainly involved with Taido and many of his pupils started to train Taido as well. However, some Taido people kept a friendly relationship with some Genseiryu people and Seiken Shukumine was still occasionally involved in Genseiryu karate. Some say he wanted to convince them to join him in Taido.
In 1962 Seiken Shukumine left the Karate-do in order to pursue his newest
creation Taido. He held occasionally examinations in Genseiryu but only in
Kunihiko Tosa (a student of Seiken Shukemine who started with Genseiryu in 1952) continued promoting Genseiryu. He named his dojo "Butokukai" and the name of this new style was called after his dojo Genseiryu-Butokukai.
Kunihiko Tosa established his own domestic organisation: The Nippon Karate-do Genseiryu Butokukai, at that time Seiken Shukumine started the Japan Taido Association.
When Seiken Shukumine started to focus mainly on Taido he appointed his successor to Genseiryu; Sensei Yamada, one of Seiken Shukumine's first students. Sensei Yamada started the organization called the Nippon Karatedo Budo Kyokai of which he became the first president. Later followed by sensei Saito and after his death, sensei Yasunori Kanai.
In 1963 Seiken Shukumine formulates a fundamental theory based on the correlation between the essential components of martial arts (Taiki, Doko, Seigyo) and the phenomena of human, society and nature.
In 1964 Seiken Shukumine published his book Shin Karatedo Kyohan in
which he describes the techniques and kata, which are being used in the World
Genseiryu Karatedo Federation.
There are many more kata mentioned in this book, a total of about 44 kata, including Taikyoku-Shodan, Tensho-no-Kata, Wankan, etc.
He refer to the contents of the book as being Koryu, which is considered as 'old tradition' or 'old school' karate. In the book Seiken Shukumine added some kata that he created himself: Ten-i no Kata Chi-i no Kata Jin-i no Kata and Sansai.
In the book Shin Karatedo Kyohan many kata and techniques and training materials are described. The book shows that Genseiryu is based on a combination of this 'old school' or classique karate (with the kata Naifanchi, Bassai and Kusanku (or Koshokun (Dai)) with new techniques and the typical Genseiryu kata Ten-i no Kata, Chi-i no Kata, Jin-i no Kata and Sansai.
In 1965 systemizes Taiki (Laws of breathing), Doko (Laws of body movements) and Seigyo (Laws of conflict), and the different principles and theories are united into "Taido".
23 January, 1965. The official birthday of Taido. Japanese Taido Association is established, and Seiken Shukumine assumes the positions of President and Saiko Shihan (Supreme Instructor) of the Association.
The first Japanese Championship were held in 1967 and the first Japanese student Championship
were held in 1968.
Seiken Shukumine created Sentai no hokei and Untai no hokei
around 1965-1967 and around 1969 he created Henta no hokei, Nenta no hokei,
and Tentai no hokei and there was a hokei called "Gen i no hokei"
which where finished in 1970.
At the same time in Tomomi Aoki temple in shibata close to Niigata in a particular room created Seiken Shukumine all "in-hokei".
In the mid 1970s, Seiken Shukumine wrote the book "The Karate training by
complete drawing" the title of this book is (translated into English) and
has about 200 pages where he describes karate techniques but also the
differences between karate and judo, karate and aikido, karate and Taido, etc.
Seiken Shukumine wrote also a book about his childhood "Kempo shukuya", which where finished in 1971.
The 15th of July in 1973 Tensei no hokei is presented and around 1973 Chisei no hokei where created and in 1974 on the 3 November Jinsei no hokei is presented.
The Taido hokei book were published in 1975 and at that time the ninth of All
Japan Championship is held on the 14th and 15th of July in Tokyo Taiikukan.
There were 515 participants, 6500 spectators, and 360 taidokas did a
The event soonen no hokei was held for the first time.
At that time Seiken Shukumine had created 16 hokeis so far. Kondo-sensei, Nakamura-sensei, and Ikeda-sensei demostrated Yogen no hokei.
Seimei no hokei was created in 1975. However, it seems to have existed before that under the name of Kokyuuseitaihoo. On 9th of October, Seiken Shukumine instucted 13 senseis in Seimei no hokei. Among them was Yamashita, Watanabe, Tanni, Nakajima, Nishigawa, Fujihara, Takamichi. Seiken Shukumine wife, Kazuko-sama, also participated.
Genkaku was introduced by Seiken Shukumine on a summer camp at the 26 of July 1979.
Seiken Shukumine establishes the World Taido Federation in 1983, and assumes the positions of President and Saiko Shihan (Supreme Instructor) of the Federation.
Kunihiko Tosa wrote/published a book on Genseiryu in 1984. The book's title is: Genseiryu Karate-do Kyohan 2 and contains a preface by Seiken Shukumine. This book contains pictures and detailed descriptions of the 9 advanced kata of Genseiryu (a total of 23 kata are taught and practiced in Genseiryu).
In 1988 Seiken Shukumine publishes Taido gairon, he describes the basic principles and techniques of Taido. In the book he also states that people interested in Genseiryu would find important information in his first book "Shin Karatedo Kyohan". Genseiryu guideline is the first book of Seiken Shukumine "Shin Karatedo Kyohan".
An agreement was signed and the World Genseiryu Karatedo Federation was established. Seiken Shukumine pointed out the importance of the Ten-I, Chi-I, Jin-i Tai-I and Sansai no Kata in an open letter (Greetings) he wrote not long before he died.
On 26 November 2001 Sensei Seiken Shukumine died of cardiac arrest, after a
Seiken Shukumine lived for many years in Itō that is a city located on the eastern shore of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka, Seiken Shukumine is now buried in that place.
In 2003 the World Genseiryu Karatedo Federation (WGKF) was established. Clubs
adhering to the agreement of the WGKF follow Seiken Shukumine's first book
'Shin Karatedo Kyohan'. Sensei Yasunori Kanai is the President of the WGKF.
The Japanese organization Japan Karate-do and Martial Arts Association (Japanese name Nippon Karate-do Budo Kyokai), of which sensei Kanai is President as well, also takes a part in this federation.
In January 2005 a joint celebration was held for 55 years of Genseiryu and 40 years of Taido in Tokyo, Japan, where also the wife, son and daughters of Seiken Shukumine were present.
Taido has its roots in the old Okinawakarate style called Shuri-Te. Some sources speak of Tomari-Te being the source, but the differences were minimal since both styles were derived from Shorin-Ryu.
Taido's Position in the History of Budo, if you are thinking about if Taido has any position in Budo with roots from the old OkinawaKarate then the answer is simply yes, Taido has a strong position in the History of Budo.
I started with Taido in1974 and I and my wife Karin went to Japan in 1984 for
the first time to practice Taido.
When we had been in Tokyo for a couple of weeks Seiken Shukumine went alone to our hotel and took us out for dinner.
On that occasion I asked Seiken Shukumine why did you stopped with Genseiryu and begin with Taido. Seiken Shukumine answered me that there is no future in Genseiryu but there is a great future in Taido.
I want to end my story with that Seiken Shukumine quite often explained in seminar, Taidoo wa unsoku ni hajimatte, unsoku ni owaru "Taidon starts and ends with unsoku".