After reading this article I went to Tatsuo Shimabuku
and asked him questions about it. One of the main reasons
was in this article I read for the first time the term
"Mizugami." I always heard Tatsuo call the Isshin-ryu
goddess Megami (goddess) or Kamisama (god).
Some mistakes are very obvious, for example where it says
"Shorin-Ryu features the Goju-Ryu system..."
Where I contributed to the mistake (Armstrong via me) I will
take the blame and put an (*) to show it was contributed
to me. I have no qualms admitting my mistakes only in
not correcting my mistakes.
Direct quotations from the article will be written and
mistakes lined through. I will also explain and give
the correct answer and underline correct dates, numbers
The following are some of the Known mistakes and corrections
"Master Shimabuku was born in Okinawa in
"He began his study of karate at the age of
13 when he walked some 12 miles to the
neighboring village of Shuri to learn karate from his
uncle." Tatsuo began training with
his uncle at around age 13 in Chan Village
where they both lived so he did not have to walk to
"His uncle sent him
home..." His uncle taught him to be a fortune
teller and a little karate. This is tradition so he
never sent him home. His uncle later sent him to study
with Chotoku Kyan to further
study karate because he thought Tatsuo's training
was incomplete. His uncle only had a little knowledge
of karate. His main concern was to pass on his knowledge
of the ancient Chinese books teaching Tatsuo
to be a sumuchi or fortune teller.
Tatsuo did not study Kobayashi-ryu, it was
Shorin-ryu.* Armstrong got this information from
me. I made the mistake because in 1961 when Harold
Mitchum was studying Shorin-ryu from one of
Tatsuo's senior students, Chinsaku Kinjo,
the writing on Kinjo's dojo had Kobayashi-ryu
written with kanji or Chinese characters.
Shigema another one of Tatsuo's senior
students also used the name kobayashi so I
made the mistake of thinking that Tatsuo had
used this term. The same is with Choki Motobu
who did not teach kobayashi-ryu.
Tatsuo did not study
with Moden Yabiku.* Again Armstrong got this
information from me and I was wrong.
Tatsuo studied from
Shinken Taira and did not study with Yaby
Ku Me Den or Moden Yabiku. From Shinken
Taira he learned the bo katas urashi
kun, shishi no kun and the sai kata
chatan yara no sai and the tuifa kata
hamahiga no tuifa.
From Chotoku Kyan, Tatsuo learned the
sai kata "Kyan no sai " and the
bo kata" tokumine no kun."
"Shimabuku's reputation throughout Okinawa
had reached its peak when World War II struck the island.
" This statement is false because Tatsuo did
not start to teach karate until 1947. Tatsuo's
reputation on Okinawa peaked around 1959-1963.
The information on Tatsuo escaping to the countryside
to escape conscription into the Japanese Army and teaching
Japanese soldiers karate in exchange for them to keep
his whereabouts secret is so ridiculous. Just for thought,
do you think that fanatical soldiers and especially
officers of the Japanese Army would have protected a
draft dodger! Come on. Tell this to the Marines and
if they say it is so then it is so but this Marine says
it ain't so. Tatsuo did not teach any of the
Japanese soldiers or Japanese Marines at anytime before
or during the war. This totally incorrect information
will be covered in another article.
"Throughout Okinawa, he was recognized as the island's
leading practitioner of both Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu
karate. " Sounds good but think about this statement.
Think about all the living great Okinawan karateka who
were teaching and practicing karate at that time. How
about Chojun Miyagi ( 1888-1953 ) for one and Chosin
Chibana (1885-1968 ) for another!
The article also states Tatsuo had knowledge in
Gung-fu. I asked Tatsuo about this
and he said no.
"Most of the hand and foot katas are named after great
Chinese karate masters. "Wrong. The only empty hand
katas to be known to have been named for Chinese Masters
are Wansu ( Wanshu ) and Kusanku.
This is one of the reasons many of the books on
Isshin-ryu pass on this misinformation.
"Sunsu,...is one of the most difficult in all
karate to perform..." Sunsu kata should be
the easiest to perform. All the techniques except a
palm heel thrust is new so how can it be the most difficult!
Sunsu does not mean " strong
man " it means " son of old man."
"...the sais (sai ) are used to defend oneself
against an imaginary samurai swordsman." Tatsuo
said that most of the techniques are against a bo.
"...Shimabuku broke tradition and brought the right side
into play." How can he break tradition when all he is
doing is use the bo the way he was taught. Remember,
he didn't make any of the bo kata we use in Isshin-ryu.
"Another bo kata of the system is Tokumine
no kun dai named after Tokumine Kun ...
" The name is Tokumine no kun. If we
had more than one bo kata named Tokumine
than we can call one sho (small) or dai
(big) . This kata was named after Mr. Tokumine.
The kun means bo and is not part of
Mr. Tokumine's name.
"...Kempo goki means "Kenpo secrets"
Ken means" fist". Po means law/method.
Gokui means "the secret or "the secret
principles." So kenpo gokui means "The secrets
principles of kenpo (karate).
"...Master Shimabuku's first name means "Dragon Boy." Tatsuo
means "Dragon man."
"Sensei Shimabuku has just named the goddess in the
emblem in deference to pressure brought about from disciples
of Isshin-ryu karate. He named her Mizu-Gami.
I asked about this and Tatsuo said that he
never called the goddess Mizugami.
Mizu means "water" and Gami means
"god." If it is a water goddess than it is protecting
the water from where the goddess is. For exampe; a river
goddess protects its river, a lake goddess protects
its lake, and an ocean goddess protects its ocean. The
Isshin-ryu Goddess is not protecting any body of water.
This goddess is the goddess of Isshin-ryu and or
Isshin-ryu no megami. Me means "woman'
and gami is means "god." How can this be wrong.
When I asked Tatsuo about mizugami
he replied "No,no; no mizugami, megami" he
said." This later was confirmed by Eiko Kaneshi
, Tatsuo's senior student and right hand
man and Shinsho Shimabuku , Tatsuo's second
son. Eiko Kaneshi was also a Shinto
priest and it was Eiko's brother who painted
the first megami for Tatsuo after
he had his vision.
1966 through 1968, Angi Uezu
was in the United States." Angi Uezu first
came to the states in 1967 because Tatsuo wouldn't.
Tatsuo was asked to come back to the states in
1967 but refused because he was mistreated in his two
visits to the states in 1964 and 1966. In 1967,
Kichiro Shimabuku, Tatsuo's first son was busy
running the administration of the AOKA on Okinawa, forging
his fathers signature on documents such as memberships
or ranking certificates to Tatsuo's organization without
his fathers knowledge and did not want to leave Okinawa
to come in his fathers place.
Angi Uezu volunteered and came to the states. Tatsuo
said Angi went in his place because he didn't
want to go. According to Tatsuo , when
Angi Uezu return to Okinawa, Uezu stated
that many of the senior Americans in the states did
not want to follow or listen to him because they were
senior to him but one of the main reasons that many
of the Americans did not listen to Angi Uezu
was that he was not teaching the way they had learned
Movies, taken with 8mm film during that time of
Angi Uezu demonstrating and doing Isshin-ryu show
this difference. Tatsuo's movements were fast,
fluid and natural while Angi's are stiff and
over exaggerated. Angi Uezu's teaching
of Isshin-ryu was very different from Tatsuo.
Angi's followers would say that Angi was powerful
but this is only an illusion of power. As already stated,
Tatsuo did feats of strength that few could
ever duplicate and that was his strength. According
to some of those who were present Angi would
say that Tatsuo changed and he was showing
the changes and would explain the differences by stating
"Tatsuo ,he only teach me" but this was not
This is one of the reasons that Angi Uezu first
claimed to have studied from Tatsuo in 1955
because many Americans were senior. Angi Uezu later
changed the dates to other years such as 1956, 1957
and finally produced a document forged by Kichiro
Shimabuku forging Tatsuo's name stating
he started in Feb. 17, 1958 (See:"Greed, Lies and Forgery,
it began at the top").
The name mizugami came from Angi Uezu
who visited with Bob Ozman in Los Angeles, California
before returning back to Okinawa on his first trip.
To give credence to the name mizugami, Angi Uezu
claimed that Tatsuo gave the name. To give further credence
to his information, Ozman said Tatsuo Shimabuku
gave the name as if he got it straight from Tatsuo.
In a later article Angi Uezu claims that Tatsuo
gave the name Mizugami because Americans weren't
smart enough to learn the real name. Yes there will
be an up coming article on this subject because many
still say mizugami. What did you expect,
Angi Uezu named it mizugami.
A following articles will follow showing more myths
of Isshin-ryu and how they were passed on.
The following books that still say Tatsuo means
"Dragon boy". As you can see, once a myth gets started
it is hard to correct.
Zensho by Dr.Jerry L.Aiello, l994
Isshinryu by David D.Evseeff & Milledge Murphey, ph.D.,1995
Isshinryu Karate by Joel Chandler, July 1996
Isshin-ryu Karate The Ultimate Fighting Art by Harold
Long and Tim McGhee, 1997
About the photos in the
article "The Isshin-ryu System, The story of Tatsuo
Shimabuku" and my comments.
Tatsuo photo caption: "Shimabuku in his youth.
"This photo was taken at Tairagawa, Village in 1947.
Tatsuo was already around 39 years old. Note he was
already making a Isshin-ryu fist. Long before Americans
ever started learning from him. Some writers such as
Byron Coleman in a recent article have stated Tatsuo
learned the vertical fist punch from Americans in the
late 1950's. Wrong, more misinformation to correct.
According to Eiko Kaneshi , Tatsuo's right
hand man who was also in this photo, Tatsuo
was experimenting with the various punches and fist
long before any American studied with him.
Four photos and caption: "A rare photo of Shimabuku's
second Sensei, Cho Jun [Chojun] Miyagi (left), Shimabuku
(center), and first Sensei Chotoku [Chotoku] Kyan."
Megami photo caption: "The original painting
of the Goddess [Goddess]."
Tatsuo photo at Agena and Tatsuo seat captions are
Tatsuo with tuifa/tonfa: "Shimabuku doing
Tuifa Kata with the Tonfa (tuifa)." Chiefa is
a mistake. I have answered this subject before.
Tatsuo photo with sai: "This photo was taken
by Dave Zaslow in 1963 at a Camp Hansen, Marine N.C.O.
Club. Dave Zaslow should be given credit for the photo.
In the background is Louis King, Jim Advincula (see
the glasses) and Bill Blond.