Kenzo Mabuni Soke...

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 SHITO-RYU.

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 practicing KATA:

  1. KATA should start and end with REI (bow)
  2. Correct Basic Techniques
  3. Breathing
  4. Dachi (Stances)
  5. Posture
  6. HAPPO TENSHIN (8 Directions)
  7. CHAKUGAN (Focusing)
  8. BUNKAI (Meaning and Application)
  9. ZANSHIN (Awareness)
  10. 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
in the 1990's

Kenzo Mabuni Soke performing shuto-uke Kenzo Mabuni Soke performs
'shuto uke' in 'neko ashi dachi'

Kenzo Mabuni Soke with Mrs. Mabuni Kenzo Mabuni Soke
with Mrs. Mabuni (May 2004)

All photographs of Soke
courtesy of Steve Elers

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