What is Shukokai karate?
The two main strands of Karate in Okinawa consisted of the Shuri-te system and Naha-te system. The Shuri-te system, from where Shotokan Karate derived, was known for its long range techniques and lengthy stances, while the Naha-te system, from where Goju Karate derived, was known for its shorter technique and close-in fighting ability.
Kenwa Mabuni Sensei (1889-1952) trained under both systems, and from his studies, took the best aspects from each to form what is now known as the Shitoryu style of Karate. Shukokai Karate evolved from the Shitoryu style and was developed over a number of years by Chojiro Tani Sensei, a student of Kenwa Mabuni.
Shukokai, meaning the “Way for All”^ was designed around the study of body mechanics, and is famed for its ‘double hip twist’ to maximise the force of its strikes. Due to this, Shukokai is known as one of the hardest-hitting Karate styles and is probably the most popular of all the Shitoryu styles practiced throughout the world today.
Chojiro Tani ((谷 長治郎 Tani Chojiro) was born in 1921, and started his formal karate training under Miyagi Chojun, who founded the Goju-ryu style, while a student at the Doshisha University in Kyoto. After a few years, Miyagi Chojun returned to Okinawa and the founder of Shito-ryu, Kenwa Mabuni took over the teaching. Upon graduating from university, Tani began learning Shuri-te and then Shito-ryu from Mabuni as well. After many years of training under Mabuni and becoming one of his most senior students, Tani received the certificate of succession from him and became the head of Shito-ryu, enabling him to use the name Tani-ha Shitoryu.
Chojiro Tani began teaching the Karate style Shukokai (meaning the way for all) at a dojo in Kobe, Japan in 1946. Shukokai was designed around the study of body mechanics, is very fast due to its relatively high stance aiding mobility, and is known for the double hip twist, which maximises the force of its strikes; making it one of the hardest-hitting Karate styles.
Shukokai was established in Kobe in 1951. In occupied Japan immediately after the war the establishment of martial art organizations was not recognized by the GHQ, so Tani Sensei and several leaders founded Shukokai(修交会),`an organization(会)) to master (修)) the association of various things’ (交)). It was a time when commodities were scarce so training took place in underground dance-halls or within a ring of trucks lined up to form a circle. When the sanction on Japanese martial arts were finally lifed and it became possible to participate freely in these activities, a national martial arts event was held in Kobe, the Karate demonstration causing a great commotion amongst the many spectators.
^ – Feb 2018, Recent investigation into the proper translation of Shukokai has determined a more accurate translation is “Fellowship (Friends) Training together under the same roof”. Thanks goes to Dimitris Petrakis Sensei, 4th Dan, General Secretary & International Liaison Officer, Shito-ryu Shukokai Union for his tireless research in to the history & origins of Shukokai.