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1sshinryu Numbers
A Tribute to Shimabuku Tatsuo on his 97th birthday

Submitted by: A.J. Advincula

"All things begin with one "
~Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei Explaining to
Kaneshi Eiko why he named his style Isshin-ryu


Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei
Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei

Numbers play an important part in Oriental Fortune telling and Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei was a Sumuchi (Fortune teller) who used the ancient Chinese book I Ching (Book of changes) in everyday affairs in his life. The I Ching is the greatest foundation of Chinese philosophy and sets the stage of basic Chinese philosophy that provides philosophical perspective to give insight on situations and problems in different situations in life. As a Sumuchi, the I Ching along with other ancient books used in divining played a great part in Shimabuku's thoughts and influenced his thoughts when creating Isshin-ryu karate-do. The Chinese characters for I Ching is made from two Chinese characters. The first character (I) means change and the second (Ching), "book" or "classics". The ancient character used for "change" is a pictograph with a symbol of the "sun" on top and the "moon" on the bottom symbolizing cycle of the sun and moon and change. Just as the sun and moon moves and cycles change, this change is constant and never ending and unchangeable.

1. All things begin with one: This is the reason Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei named his style Isshin-ryu or One heart/mind way (Wholehearted way). Shimabuku followed the Confucian teaching of "The Doctrine of the Mean"  which basic thought is the Way of Heaven and the nature of man living together as one. While there is a Yin and Yang, both
"represents the balance of opposites in the universe as one.

2. There are two opposites: The
Yin Yang symbol also sometimes called the Tai-Chi symbol is found in the I Ching the oldest book; There are two philosophies which stem from Chinese thought,
Confucianism and Taoism
and both have their roots in the I Ching , but each take different paths. Confucianism is conformity and Taoism is nonconformity. Soft and hard; Naihanchi and Sanchin kata; Two Isshin-ryu Kihon charts, Upper and Lower Isshin-ryu exercises.

3. There are three phases of Okinawan karate-do: Kihon, Kata and Kumite. Three target levels, upper, middle and lower; Three powers, Heaven, Earth and Man (A persons heart is the same as heaven and earth); Three stars (Shorin-ryu, Goju-ryu, Kobudo)); Three levels of teaching grades, Renshi, Kyoshi and Hanshi; Three conflicts, Mind, Body and Spirit found in Sanchin kata. The I Ching makes a distinction of
three kinds of change: non change, cyclic change (recurrence), and sequence change (non- recurrence).

4. Four stages of learning and practicing Isshin-ryu:
     1. Learn the basic techniques (kihon).
     2. Breathing (nogare and imbu ki).
     3. Chinkuchi or focus of strength and power.
     4. Technique or skill (waza).
There are Four primary directions, North, South, East and West; Four corners NE, NW, SE, SW.

5. As there are
"five stages of change" often called the Five Elements in Chinese thought (Metal, Fire, Earth, Wood, Water) and these elements are in constant movement and change. Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei had five Five teachers of Karate and Kobudo: Ganeku Shinko, Kyan Chotoku, Miyagi Chojun, Motobu Choki, and Taira Shinken; There are Five senses and Shimabuku created Sunsu to help bring out what he thought were techniques to assist these senses (sight, hearing, smell and taste);

6. The I Ching uses a Hexagram
which is made up of six lines;
each line being Yin (- -) or Yang (---):
For example, the three solid lines represent Earth, and the three broken lines Heaven.

I Ching, the Book of Changes --- Yi Jing I. 12. <-CLICK HERE

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In Isshin-ryu, Shimabuku had Six articles of Isshin-ryu (Dojo Kun):

Article 1. The dojo is where the individual's physical and mental condition is trained.

     A. Believe that there is a God and human beings are his children. (*Believe in your own faith, but respect others.)

     B. Military art (budo) begins with a salute and ends with the same.

     C. Teachers and students bow to the protecting Goddess of Isshin-ryu (Isshin-ryu No Megami) and be nice to each other.

Article 2. Devote one's mental concentration and practice sincerely during the course of training.

Article 3. Smoking and drinking are prohibited while training.

Article 4. Take good care of equipment used in training.

Article 5. Students be respectful to their teachers and teachers be courteous to the students and guide them properly.

Article 6. Violators of the above codes will be dismissed from the dojo.

7. There are seven kobudo kata that Shimabuku taught:

     Tokumine No Kun from Kyan Chotoku.
     Urashi bo from Taira Shinken.
     Shishi No Kun from Taira Shinken.
     Kyan No Sai Tatsuo learned basic sai from Kyan Chotoku then created this sai kata and named it after Kyan to honor him.
     Kusanku Sai created by Shimabuku Tatsuo from Kusanku Sai. Part of Kyan No Sai is if found at the end of this kata.
     Chatan Yara No Sai from Taira Shinken.
     Hamahiga No Tuifa from Taira Shinken.

8. There are Eight Trigrams in the I Ching, Eight directions, Eight
Precepts in the Kenpo Gokui, and Eight empty hand kata of Isshin-ryu:

     Seisan kata from Shorin-ryu karate Kyan Chotoku.
     Seiunchin from Goju-ryu karate Miyagi Chojun.
     Naihanchi from Shorin-ryu karate Kyan Chotoku..
     Wansu from Shorin-ryu karate Kyan Chotoku.
     Chinto from Shorin-ryu karate Kyan Chotoku.
     Kusanku from Shorin-ryu karate Kyan Chotoku.
     Sunsu created by Shimabuku Tatsuo.
     Sanchin (Miyagi sanchin) from Goju-ryu karate Miyagi Chojun.

Shimabuku Tatsuo was born September 19, 1908. He would have been 97 years old had he lived. He was an innovator and believed that human beings could plan their future destiny by following a correct course of action. He said that health and wealth were most important for one's family. The bread winner must be healthy so he can provide for his family instead of the family providing for the bread winner. Just as an airline stewardess explains the importance of adult passengers donning the Oxygen face mast first in an emergency before placing one on an infant or small child. Looking out for the caretaker adult first, ensures they will be able to help and assist placing other face masks on their children.

When he mentioned wealth, he was talking about being able to provide for one's family to be comfortable. Shimabuku was a humble person who did live modestly yet provided his two sons, Kichiro and Shinsho to go and complete college. While Shimabuku lived will within his means, he provided new homes for his family members while he stayed in the old home in Agena where he had his dojo home.

Today we are told to plan for retirement and not to plan just on Social Security benefits. Financial planners tell us to set aside funds in an IRA, SEP-IRA or 401(k).

Shimabuku had told me when he translated the Kenpo Gokui that I should start keeping a reserve for any occasion and practice karate for health. While he had
asthma, we all can get different diseases or illness no matter what.

He often said that karate was not for fighting but was a path to correct living. That is what karate-do is. A way of life through the practice and living through karate-do.

To me, Shimabuku's advice was the was the greatest thing he ever taught me. Karate is not about sport or fighting, it is about living through the practice of karate, using mind, body and spirit in unity as one.

While all things begin with one, they also end as one. This completes the cycle and starts it over just as the sun and moon rise each day and sets each night each and every single cycle.

To Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei, The Dragon man of Isshin-ryu



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