top of page



A Brief Biography:


He was born September 24,1888 into a noble family in Shuri Okinawa. By the age of 9 years old he began his karate training under the well known Shuri-te instructor Anko Itosu until Itosu's death in 1915. Toyama also trained under the notable Naha-te instructor, Kanryo Higaonna, and Tomari-te with Ankichi Aragaki. Okinawa martial arts was divided into 3 different types respectfully named after each of the villages it originated.





In 1924 Toyama left Japan with his family and began teaching elementary school in Taiwan. It was here that Toyama began to study different  martial arts style based out of China like Ch'uan Fa (a form of Chinese Kempo) and various other forms similar to what most call Kung Fu. These teaching reverberated with Toyama and his prowess was apparent to the Japanese government. Toyama was recognized and awarded the right to promote to any rank in any style of Okinawan karate. He was thus given the title of master instructor.


Master Toyama opened his first school in Tokyo, Japan in 1930.  He named it Shudokan, meaning "the hall to study the way of karate". He did not claim to have established a new form of karate at this time but mearly taught what he had learned from Itosu Sensei and Ch'uan fa kempo. It was not until 1946 that Toyama founded the All Japan Karate-do Federation (AJKF) and intended to unify the many forms of karate throughout Japan and Okinawa.


At a similar time, in 1936, Gichin Funakoshi opened his first karate school and named it Shotokan. There are many similarities between Toyama's Shudokan and Funakoshi's Shotokan since both practitioners previously trained with many of the same instructors. The kata system that most Shotokan schools teach is very similar to those kata we practice at our school here in Fairbanks. One of the most noticable differences is the subtle Chinese influences in some of our movements.


Kanken Toyama 1888-1966 Creator of Shutokan Karate and Founder of All Japan Karate Federation

Itosu's 'Pinan' katas were renamed 'Heian' by Gitchin Funakoshi during the introduction of karate to mainland Japan.


The following is an article written by Toyama addressing how he views the different styles of karate and where he trained.

How many styles does Karate have? I have been asked this question numerous times but usually by those that really do not understand the essential elements of a martial art.

If one seriously thinks about these essential elements that make up a martial art, one then can easily understand the reasoning that Karate does not have any one style. Karate molds an individual to be the only object of defense or offense and, through this, it teaches the basic concept of self-protection.

The exquisite skill of Karate that is based on self-protection does not need to contain several different “styles,” but a combination of what works or is effective. In other words, Sumo wrestlers, boxers and airplane pilots do not have any one special style and neither does Karate. The methods of training, techniques and successes can only be achieved through sheer ability!

The orthodox Karate has, in reality, only one style but what does the word “style” mean? Your methods of etiquette and formality or the various methods of flower arrangement have several different “styles” but they are reasonably the same. People set forth a criteria on how to create a beautiful flower arrangement using the same material or how to show respect to one another as a method of etiquette.

It is understandable that people in Japan show respect by bowing and people of Europe and America show the same respect by shaking hands or saluting. As far as etiquette and formality goes, there are several styles from different points of view, ideology and social standing but they accomplish the same purpose.

So, one can now understand that although there maybe a number of ways of doing things, they all accomplish the same end and purpose.

And that is what counts.

Now, let us discuss Karate styles. One of the major styles that come to our attention is Shorin-ryu (ryu meaning a way or style that was created from an individual’s point of view, belief or ideology). Shorei-ryu, Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu are other styles that are very closely related and this will be discussed.


Disclaimer: The following is a list of Kata's that we practice regularly at our dojo.


Taikioku Shodan

Taikioku Nidan

Taikioku Sandan

Pinan Shodan  

Pinan Nidan

Pinan Sandan

Pinan Yondan

Pinan Godan

Nifanchi Ichi

Nifanchi Ni


Kanku dai

Kanku sho


Wankan Ichi

Wankan Ni

Gojushiho sho

Gojushiho dai





The Japanese name 'Heian' translates to "Peace & Tranquility" where the Chinese name 'Pinan' translates to "Stay Safe"--a wonderful token to remember to all karate-ka on their journey through life.


          -KarateNERD Jesse Enkamp

They say that Shorin-ryu came from the Shorin-ji Kenpo system and Shorei-ryu came from the Shorei-ji Kenpo system. These ancient styles of Shorin-ji Kenpo and Shorei-ji Kenpo are usually described as if they were still in existence, but there is no firm fact or evidence to substantiate this.

They say that Dharma [Daruma/Bodhidharma] built the foundation of the Shorin-ji [more commonly known as the Shaolin] temple about one thousand years ago when Buddhism was introduced into China and a number of Buddhist scriptures were written describing their martial art. There is also a Shorei-ji temple but the location and history of the temple is presently unknown.

The above mentioned traditions [Shorin-ji ryu and Shorei-ji ryu] have no relation in the present day in either form or substance. Further, the result of study and analysis concerning the fistic and kicking techniques revealed that the above methods were basically the same! There is very little difference in the position of the open hand or fist in the above mentioned methods. This difference can also be considered natural, based on the methods of training and of the steady progress one makes during training. In brief, all Kenpo [methods of the fist] have almost the same “form” and purpose as does modern day Karate.

The next styles that we will discuss will be the Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu, but they are almost the same. In the strictest classification of these styles, Goju-ryu is included in Shito-ryu. It can also be said that the name Shito-ryu was devised by using the combination of the initials of Anko Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna who were Shuri-te and Naha-te experts, respectively, and are considered as the ones who brought Karate out of its veil of secrecy and into the modern light.

(I, the author, must state that both Shishu Sensei [Itosu] and Toona Sensei [Higaonna] were my master teachers). Goju-ryu came from the combination of Go-jutsu (using the [hard] techniques of thrusting, piercing, chopping and kicking) and Ju-jutsu (using the [soft] techniques of knocking down, pushing, twisting and arresting).

About ten years ago, I spoke with Mr. Kenwa Mabuni [founder of Shito-ryu] who identified his Karate-style as Shito-ryu. I then asked him about his ideology concerning the meaning of Shito-ryu. His answer was very simple and he stated two reasons. He stated that:

  • People need and want the feeling of belonging or identifying with something and;

  • That by having a special name of such and such style met that need.


Mr. Mabuni further identified his style as a mixture of Shuri-te and Naha-te and is almost the same as mine. My method of karate is the consolidation of the following experts’ karate styles: Sokon Matsumura the Bushi [warrior], Ankoh Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna. In other words, it is the real, orthodox Karate of Okinawa.

In conclusion, let me explain about Goju-ryu. My good friend, Mr. Chojun Miyagi [founder of Goju-ryu] is the same age as I am. He is a real man of character and his martial art is excellent. He was cut out to be a Karate-man. He was an outstanding trainee of Mr. Kanryo Higaonna and mastered the Naha-te style of Karate. I asked him about his ideology concerning the meaning of Goju-ryu when I spoke with him at the Naha Commercial School in October of 1936. He explained to me that he wanted to express the whole nature of Karate in as simple terms as possible for those people who had no true knowledge or understanding of karate.

Mr. Miyagi stated that all techniques of karate consisted of two methods such as Go-jutsu and Ju-jutsu (explained in the preceding paragraphs). Boxing is a kind of Go-jutsu and Judo is a kind of Ju-jutsu. Some people think that Karate consists of only Go-jutsu techniques but this way of thinking is incorrect. The name Goju-ryu of Mr. Chojun Miyagi tells its own story.

You may state with a real understanding that there is no “ryu” [styles] in Karate but that everything can be united into the orthodox Karate (orthodox Karate is the Karate based on self-perfection while traditional Karate is based on self-protection).

Recently, some Karate-men have used funny and strange sounding names for their own styles of Karate. A Karate-man of this kind does not have a real understanding or knowledge of the orthodox Karate, or he has no confidence in his ability as a Karate-man. He uses these funny sounding names for his own style of Karate as an evasive answer when he has a hard time demonstrating a very difficult technique or even an incomplete one.


I (Kanken Toyama, the author of this article) have been teaching all the “styles” of the orthodox Karate which has already been explained in the preceding paragraphs. I have also been teaching Ubo-kenpo and Ruda-kenpo from Taiwan and China, techniques of Self-Defense for females, Bo-jutsu, Sai-jutsu, Nunchaku-jutsu and Tuifa-jutsu at my Shudokan training hall. In other words, I have been teaching all the techniques of the orthodox Karate of Okinawa.

bottom of page