SOKE KENZO MABUNI is the son of the founder of SHITO-RYU KARATE-DO,
the late KENWA MABUNI.
KENZO MABUNI was born on May 30, 1927 at Akahira-Machi, Shuri City,
in Okinawa. His family moved to Osaka City in 1929, when he was
2 years old, and he remained in his father's house until now. He
obtained permission from his father to join his school when he was
13 years old and therefore has studied SHITO-RYU KARATE-DO for
over 60 years. He first obtained his SHODAN (1st Dan) on August 1,
1943 and presently holds the rank of JYUDAN (10th Dan) and is a well
respected master not only in Japan but also throughout the world.
His organization, NIPPON KARATE DO KAI (formerly known as DAI
NIPPON KARATE DO KAI), was founded by his father in 1939. After his
father's death in 1952, his mother, Mrs. KAME MABUNI, came to Kenzo
Mabuni and requested that he take over the style. Kenzo Mabuni could
not decide at that time and went into seclusion for two years to
contemplate this great responsibility. Of course, as we all know, he
decided to accept this responsibility and is the inheritor of his
father's lineage, making him the 2nd Governor of SHITO-RYU and
successor to this organization. His father left him the SHITO-RYU
name, his complete syllabus, and the DOJO with the Association name
NIPPON KARATE DO KAI. All these remain intact to this day. He
followed his father's syllabus exactly the way it was written down
in 1929 and that's why he called it SEITO SHITO-RYU, or PURE, TRUE
From that time, Kenzo Mabuni dedicated his life to preserving the
true lineage of his father's karate. He was not concerned with
politics or image and remained unknown to the outside world while
his older brother and others were spreading their influence in the
name of Shito Ryu Karate. In 1993, upon the request of his good
friend Osamu Ozawa (Shotokan master), Kenzo Mabuni travelled to Las
Vegas and exposed the world to Seito (pure) Shito Ryu, the true
karate of his father, Kenwa Mabuni. In April of 1994, Kenzo Mabuni
conducted seminars in Albany, New York and Phoenix, Arizona.
Subsequent to these seminars, Kenzo Mabuni established the Shito Ryu
Karate Do Kai of America (now called Shito-Ryu USA Karate Do Kai),
comprised of Dojos that had requested of him consideration as his
direct students and received formal acceptance by his senior
instructors, the Nippon Karate Do Kai Shihan Kai.
Kenzo Mabuni's organization, Shito-Ryu International Karate Do Kai,
now has branches in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the
Oceania regions. He serves as the President (KAICHO) and
Governor / Grandmaster (SOKE).
Kenzo Mabuni emphasizes the training of Karate based on his
father's PRINCIPLE, "Kata (form) is KARATE". KATA is the essence of
Karate and in training, one should follow his policy: 75% Kata
training and 25% Kumite (free or organized sparring) training,
besides doing the regular KIHON (Basics) and exercises. He trained
under the watchful eye of his father and would practice hundreds of
times for a period of 3 months or more just to understand and
perfect ONE single KATA.
He advises that one should take note of the following points when
- KATA should start and end with REI (bow)
- Correct Basic Techniques
- Dachi (Stances)
- HAPPO TENSHIN (8 Directions)
- CHAKUGAN (Focusing)
- BUNKAI (Meaning and Application)
- ZANSHIN (Awareness)
- Repetition - to perfect the KATA
His vision is that he will continue his father's work in promoting
this TRADITIONAL MARTIAL ART and teach only the TRUE and ORIGINAL
form of SHITO-RYU KARATE-DO.
Grandmaster Kenzo Mabuni 10th Dan, the Soke of Shito-Ryu, passed
away at 2:45pm on 26 June 2005.
Kenzo Mabuni Soke
in the 1990's
Kenzo Mabuni Soke performs
'shuto uke' in 'neko ashi dachi'
Kenzo Mabuni Soke
with Mrs. Mabuni (May 2004)
All photographs of Soke
courtesy of Steve Elers