Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei
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
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
have their roots in the I Ching , but each take
different paths. Confucianism is conformity and Taoism is
Soft and hard; Naihanchi and Sanchin kata; Two
Isshin-ryu Kihon charts, Upper and Lower Isshin-ryu
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,
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.
In Isshin-ryu, Shimabuku had Six articles of Isshin-ryu (Dojo
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
Article 2. Devote one's mental concentration and
practice sincerely during the course of training.
Article 3. Smoking and drinking are prohibited while
Article 4. Take good care of equipment used in
Article 5. Students be respectful to their teachers
and teachers be courteous to the students and guide them
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
Kusanku Sai created by Shimabuku Tatsuo from Kusanku
Sai. Part of Kyan No Sai is if found at the end of this
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
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
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
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
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
To Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei, The Dragon man of Isshin-ryu