Shinan Kori Hisataka & Shihan Shunji Watanabe
Shinan Masayoshi Kori Hisataka (1907-1988) was born on April 22, 1907 in Shuri, Okinawa. At an early age, Shinan Hisataka was introduced to Karatedo and other forms of Okinawan bujutsu. His first instructors were his father, grandfather and uncle who introduced him to the family art. An early instructor of Shinan Kori Hisataka was the reclusive weapons master and former Okinawan police commissioner, Sanda Ufuchiku Kanagusuku. Shinan Hisataka’s main instructor, however, was Master Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945), one of the greatest Okinawan masters whose was known for introducing such innovations as the vertical fist, the extended use of the hips in punching and kicking, and angular movement for evasion and defense. Master Kyan was also the originator of the tate ken (vertical fist) that is the trademark of Shorinjiryu Karate to this day.
In 1929, Shinan Hisataka toured Taiwan for almost a year with Master Kyan and Master Ryosei Kuwae (a leading disciple of the legendary master Sokon Bushi Matsumura) where oral history recorded he never lost a match. As Taiwan was occupied by the Japanese at that time, Shinan Hisataka had the opportunity to study a variety of Martial arts under both local Chinese masters, Japanese and Okinawan practitioners resident on the island at the time.
Later, he traveled throughout Japan. For one year, he studied judo at the Kodokan (the Mecca of Judo) under the watchful eye of Master Sanpo Toku (the Devil of the Kodokan), attaining the rank of 4th Dan in a single year. During this period he also studied Kendo and gave numerous demonstrations of karate and Okinawan weaponry.
As a result of the knowledge which he gained through years of study and practical application, Shinan Hisataka realized that individualism must be recognized in the dojo. Stress was placed upon the full follow through of techniques, thereby creating greater torque. The use of the heel and vertical fist for added strength, safety, and natural movement was instituted.
One of the chief proponents of Shorinjiryu Karate-Do, and a leading disciple of Shinan Kori Hisataka, is Shihan Shunji Watanabe (9th Degree). Shihan Watanabe was born in Japan in 1938, and began his Martial arts instruction with Shinan Kori Hisataka in 1955 at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo and he was promoted to Shodan in 1958.
In 1967, Shihan Hanshi Watanabe came to North America, by way of Canada, to demonstrate Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karate at the Montreal Expo. He made the journey along with Shihan Masayuki Hisataka, the son of Shinan Kori Hisataka. Shihan Watanabe was asked by Shinan Hisataka to remain in North America and help to develop Shorinjiryu Karatedo in the United States and Canada. Shihan Watanabe made his home in Baltimore, Maryland and started the Japan Karate and Judo Center, which he maintains to this day.
Shihan Hanshi Watanabe has carefully preserved ideals and principles cultivated by the founder of Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Karatedo, Shinan Kori Hisataka, making no compromises in the traditional philosophies or methods of training. Shihan Hanshi Watanabe believes the most essential goal in Martial arts training is the continual effort towards self-improvement, not just the perfection of fighting techniques, as he expects his students to demonstrate respect, responsibility, manners, appreciation and effort.