Founder and First President
(12 June 1897 – 3 December 1970)
Taira (Maezato) Shinken Sensei was born in 1897 on Kumejima, an island in the Ryukyu Archipelago in the village of Nakazato. Second son in the family. He was adopted as a child, (not an uncommon practice in old Japan). He started using is mother’s maiden name, Taira.
As a young man, working in the Sulphur mines at Minamijima, Taira Sensei was injured in a mining accident when a mineshaft collapsed. He suffered a badly broken leg and was left with a limp.
In 1922, Taira Shinken left Okinawa and travelled to Tokyo in search of work like many other Okinawans, he was introduced to Funakoshi Ginchin, a fellow Okinawan and Karate instructor. Taira Sensei became a deshi (student) of Funakoshi Gichin in an effort to learn Karate do. In 1929, Taira Sensei began his studies of Ryukyu Kobudo under Yabiku Moden Sensei.
In 1932, after studying Kobudo for three years and Karate do for 10 years he received permission from his Sensei to open his own Dojo. Taira Sensei began to teach Karate do and Kobudo in the quaint hot springs resort town of Ikaho, Gunma Prefecture.
Taira Sensei had and insatiable appetite for Budo knowledge. He continuously researched and assimilated his findings into a Kobudo system that remains to this day. It was because of this constant search for knowledge that in 1933, Taira Sensei was introduced by Funakoshi Sensei to Mabuni Kenwa. In 1934, Taira Sensei became deshi of Mabuni.
In 1940 Master Taira Shinken opened a Kobudo Dojo in Naha, Okinawa. He also opened Dojo in Kanto and Kansai, two major districts of central Japan. In 1955 he established the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai, to promote the Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts as passed down to him by so many great masters.
Taira Shinken Sensei is credited with bringing together many of the Okinawa’s oldest and most prominent weapons traditions into one comprehensive system of weaponry training. He will always be remembered as an Innovator, Inventor and Brilliant Martial Artist.