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Passing of Isshin Ryu’s Dragon Man


Isshin Ryu Karate’s founder Shimabuku 島袋 was born in Chan village on September 19,1908, Meiji 41 – year of the “Monkey”.  His given Okinawan name was “Kana” and his given Japanese name was “Shinkichi“.  As an adult, he chose the name “Tatsuo” – 龍夫 Dragon Man. He studied Karate under Okinawan Masters Kyan Chotoku 喜屋武 朝徳, Miyagi Chojun 宮城 長順 and Motobu Choki 本部 朝基. He further pursued Kobudo training with Master Taira Shinken 平 信賢. Shimabuku combined their teachings with his insights to form his own style. On January 15th, 1956, he announced the name of his style as Isshin Ryu 一心流, One-Heart Way. Isshin Ryu’s Dragon Man passed away on May 30th, 1975. His Karate lives on.

Karate Kid 35th Anniversary Event

Special theatrical showing at the UEC 12 (near the Nittany Mall) at 1PM on Sunday, March 31st.

Karate Kid Trivia: Pat Morita’s character Mr. Miyagi was named after Okinawan Karate Master Chojun Miyagi 宮城 長順, founder of Goju Ryu. Chojun Miyagi was a teacher of Tatsuo Shimabuku 島袋 龍夫, the founder of Isshin Ryu Karate

Happy Little New Year!

The Soguwachiguwa was a 3 day celebration beginning with the full moon in January.  Okinawans would pay tribute to Toshitokujin, a Shinto Kami of agriculture, seeking good fortune for their crops in the coming year. When the Gregorian Calendar was adopted, January 15th became the day that Soguwachiguwa was observed.

In 1956 on the occasion of Soguwachiguwa (Okinawan dialect) / Koshogatsu (Japanese), the Little New Year, Master Shimabuku called a special meeting at his home & dojo in Chan village to announce a new name for his unique style of Okinawan Karate. Previously, his style had been called as Chan Migwa Te (in the late 40s) and later Su Nu Su (early 50s).  He chose “Isshin Ryu” because “all things begin with one.

Traditionally, the Coming Of Age Day, Seijin-no-Hi, was also celebrated on January 15th. It’s the mark of entering adulthood. You could say that Master Shimabuku’s Karate entered its adulthood at this time and emerged as Isshin Ryu Karate.

Like an Okinawan Hibiscus, Master Shimabuku’s Karate bloomed as “Isshin Ryu” on that January day in 1956.  Seeds of Isshin Ryu have since been carried on the winds across the oceans and around the globe.  In January of 1972, Sensei Sutton planted one of those seeds at Penn State and established the Penn State Karate Club.  With help from Sensei Dorow & Sensei Liskai, PSKC developed strong roots.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tatsuo Shimabuku broke with age old traditions and would openly teach his Karate to anyone of good character that demonstrated a true desire to learn, regardless of heritage or gender.