Shorinjiryu and the Legacy of Kori Hisataka
Shinan Masayoshi Kori Hisataka (Seiki Kudaka in Okinawa) was born on April 22, 1907 in Naha City, (Shuri) Okinawa and died on August 13, 1988 in Tokyo, Japan. He was born of lesser nobility and his family was awarded an island off Okinawa.
As a youth, he began his studies with Ankoh Asato. Shortly, thereafter, he studied weaponry with Ufuchiku Kanegushiku (Sanda Kinjo)- a rather interesting personality in Okinawa. His main instructor, however, was Chotoku Kyan (Kitake in Japanese), one of the greatest Okinawan masters whose favorite techniques included a side step or forward in movement followed by an immediate counter-attack all executed with great speed and body shifting. This very basic theory of taisabaki is a cornerstone of all the Shorinjiryu schools of karatedo.
In 1929, he toured Taiwan for almost a year with Master Kyan where legend recorded he never lost a match. Shortly, thereafter, he went to Tokyo and studied judo under Master Sampo Toku at the Kodokan. Interestingly, he attained the rank of fourth degree black belt in a single year. During this period of time he also studied Kendo. Wishing to improve his skills, he returned to China where he mastered Shorinjiryu-Kempo and delved into Pa Kua Chuan.
During the 1930's, he traveled throughout Thailand, Korea, Burma, Afghanistan, Russia, and Mongolia. While in the armed forces, he trained extensively and demonstrated his skills of karate-do at various tournaments and exhibitions.
With the news that his instructor Master Kyan passed away, Kori Hisataka had the alternative to establish a new school in Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyushu or remain with other dojo mates (it is reported that he was even asked to become one of Miyagi's dojo instructors). What he chose to do was to form the Kenkokan School of Shorinjiryu of Karatedo. Acknowledging and reflecting his two main sources of knowledge - Shorinryu and Shorinjiryu Kempo. An interesting bit of information is that Shinan Kori Hisataka was invited to demonstrate his style in Japan in the same manner of Funakoshi.
As a result of the knowledge which he gained through years of practice and practical application, Kori Hisataka realized that individualism must be acknowledged in the dojo. Stress was placed upon the full follow through of techniques, thereby creating greater torque. The use of the heel and the tate ken or vertical fist for added strength, safety, and natural movement was instituted - the vertical fist first being was used in China, and then, in Tomari, Okinawa.
Yakusoku kumite or prearranged fighting forms proved 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. Most schools dropped such equipment during World War II, as the costs were extremely prohibitive. Yet, Shinan Kori Hisataka insisted upon this effective training tool when he introduced his new system in 1946. The anzen bogu or safety armor 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 held in Flushing Meadow Park. Shortly thereafter, many of the various Japanese Shorinjiryu instructors opened schools on the east coast and Canada. In the early and mid-70's after the Shinan retired virtually every one of the schools separated from the original school forming their own associations and federations. None of these attempts were successful in bringing back together the various schools.