The origin of Shorinjiryu Karate Do is in 18th century Okinawa, which is located on the Ryuku Island chain, South East of mainland China. The Kenkokan school of Shorinjiryu Karate Do was founded by Shinan Masayoshi Kori Hisataka in 1946 on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Shinan Hisataka was born on April 22, 1907, in Naha City, Shuri, Okinawa and died on August 14, 1988 in Tokyo, Japan. He was born a noble and direct descendant of Seiwa, the 56th Emperor of Japan. His family name, Kudaka, refers to the legendary 'island of the gods' in Ryukyuan mythology and culture. Kudaka island was given to his great grandfather, Seison Toguchi, an 18th Century government official who served the Okinawan royal court. Toguchi changed his family name to Kudaka, to reflect his new land title. His family has been known by that name ever since.
The Kenkokan School of Shorinjiryu Karate Do reflected Kori Hisataka's studies of Okinawan Karate under some of the most noted Grandmasters in Okinawa such as Ankoh Asato, Chotoku Kyan, and Sanda Kanagusuku. He was trained in the Kudaka family traditional martial arts, in Judo, boxing and weapons arts. Hisataka's studies of Shaolin Chuan-fa (Shorinji Kempo) had a major influence on the development of his own style of Karate Do. Chotoku Kyan was a great Okinawan master whose favorite techniques included a side step followed by an immediate counter-attack, executed with great speed. This basic concept of tai sabaki is a cornerstone of all Shorinjiryu schools of karatedo. Shinan Hisataka traveled throughout Asia and Russia, training, competing and demonstrating. As part of his military service he was stationed in Mongolia, where he trained extensively with Minoru Mochizuki, a student of Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo and Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido'.
The three major sources of inspiration for the founding of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karate Do were Okinawan Shorinjiryu Karate, Shorinji Kempo of China, and Kudaka Family traditional martial arts. Shinan Hisataka modified basic punching and kicking techniques to achieve maximum power and maximum efficiency. Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karate Do teaches one to escape from attacks, as opposed to blocking an attack with force against force. Blocks are secondary to body movement, tai sabaki, which is the primary defensive ideal. 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.
Kumite or prearranged 2-person fighting forms were used as an effective training tool allowing for delivery of techniques, evasive moves and body control while maintaining safety. And, finally, he insisted upon the use of bogu or armor. The use of protective equipment proved to be an excellent method of preventing injury while allowing for full contact. The anzen bogu used today is used by all Shorinjiryu schools.
In 1964, by special invitation of the Japanese Government, Shorinjiryu was introduced to the United States at the New York World's Fair and shortly afterwards at the World Expo in Canada. Shinan Hisataka's son, Hanshi Masayuki Hisataka, spent some years teaching in Montreal, Canada. Two of Hanshi Hisataka's senior students were Hanshi Doug Roberts and Hanshi Brian Aarons who went on to found the Kudaka school after Kori Hisataka retired.
Acknowledgements: Hisataka, M. Scientific Karatedo. Tuttle Publishing.