History of Genwakai Karate
There are some differences in the accounts of which style name came first. It was either Shuri-te or Shorin-ryu. Either way, it is commonly accepted that Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura, who studied Tode under Bon “Tode” Sakugawa and Chinese boxing from Kong Su Kung (also known as Kusanku) was the originator of Shuri-te. Among his students were such men as Gichin Funakoshi (Shotokan) and Yasutsune Itosu sometimes called Anko. Another of his students was Soko Kishimoto who lived from 1862 to 1945 and trained primarily under another of Matsumura’s instructors, “Bushi” Takemura. (“Bushi” Takemura must have been a very good student to inherit the martial arts name “Bushi” from Matsumura).
Seiken Shukumine (1925 to 2001) was a student of Soko Kishimoto starting when he was the age of 14. Prior to this he studied for 4 years under Anko Sadoyama, a grandmaster of Koryu Karate. At the age of 18, World War II ended his formal training in Karate. After the war he returned to Okinawa and developed his own style of Karate naming it Genseiryu. Genseiryu can be translated as “Deep truth expressed through form.” He went public with his art in 1949 but did not officially name it until 1953. He taught this art for at least 10 years until 1962.
In 1962 Seiken Shukumine created another style of Martial Art that he named Taido. This art was very different from mainstream karate and some of his students separated from him. Genseiryu continued under one or more of his senior students.
One of the spin-off groups of Genseiryu was Nippon Karatedo Genwakai. Nango Tsugumasa (nee Yoichi Takahashi), Tadaya Iwaya and others started their own style borrowing part of the name from Genseiryu, some of the training techniques and many of the kata. Genwakai felt Taido did not offer the traditional karate techniques and went their own way. Genwakai is known for it’s powerful techniques and uncompromising attitude toward training and perfecting of technique.
One of the students of Nango Tsugumasa named Hiroshi Tajima asked to be sent to the United States to start U.S. Genwakai. A close training associate, Robert Clary (Sho Dan) was returning to the United States from Japan. He and Robert Fryer (a former soldier stationed in Japan who studied Genwakai) invited Hiroshi Tajima to come and live in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Tajima visited the US and stayed in Florida for awhile then settled in Dayton. He taught Genwakai in Dayton for about 20 years and had branch dôjô in Michigan and Florida. In 1997 Tajima resigned from Genwakai and started his own style naming it Taiyo Washin Ryu.
In 1991 James I. Rodriguez visited the hombu dôjô of Genwakai in Japan and received instruction from Nango Tsugumasa. During that trip Rodriguez established himself as a serious student of Genwakai.
Upon Tajima’s resignation, Japan Genwakai appointed James I. Rodriguez, Yon Dan and a licensed instructor, to lead Genwakai America. He was instructed to recruit Genwakai Canada whose Japanese leader had passed away, and to bring all of North and South America under one organizational umbrella.
In 1999, for unclear reasons, Genwakai Japan withdrew support of all dôjô outside Japan. Despite those unknown circumstances, Rodriguez continued training, and leading Genwakai America in the pursuit of the highest goals of Genwakai. He unified the Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Canadian dôjô under his leadership. Presently, there are dôjô in Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Saginaw, Michigan. There are Genwakai America representatives in Tallahassee, Florida and Gainesville, Florida.
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