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Yasuhiro Konishi: A Pioneer of Karate

Yasuhiro Konishi was born in 1893, in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture. He began training in Takenouchi-Ryu Koshi-No-Mawari, Muso-Ryu, both styles of jujitsu and Jikishikage-Ryu Kenjutsu as a child. When he turned 13 Konishi began his study of judo and kendo, kendo being an art he was an active member of the dojo during his time at university.

In July 1922 he was awarded his 5th dan in judo and 2 years later he opened his dojo in Tokyo. In its early years judo, jujitsu and kendo were taught at the Ryobukan Dojo. It was also in 1924 that, Gichin Funakoshi and Hironori Ohtsuka (founder of Wado Ryu) came to Konishi’s dojo with a letter from Keio University asking to let the dojo be used Ryukyu Kempo To-Te Jitsu (Okinawan Boxing; To-Te/Tode is a collective name for the styles taught in Okinawa) when it wasn’t used for kendo. Konishi not only agreed to this but asked Funakoshi to teach him karate. At the time this would have been seen as a challenge to the dojo, however Konishi saw the benefits in cross training.

Konishi was one for the first students to be awarded a dan grade in karate from Gichin Funakoshi. At this time Konishi knew that if karate was going to be respected in the budo community it needed to be a part of the Dai Nippon Butokukai. Using his political influence and seniority in kendo so, the Butokukai would recognise karate and would give official ranking certificates. In 1935 karate was first recognised and ranks/titles were given to Konishi, Gichin and Gigo Funakoshi, Mabuni, Miyagi and Ohtsuka. The Butokukai insisted on styles having names so Konishi encouraged the other masters of the time to name their styles.

Shindo Jinen Ryu Style

Konishi Sensei trained with Funakoshi as mentioned previously but, he also trained in karate under Chojun Miyagi (founder of Goju Ryu), Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shito Ryu) and Choki Motobu. In addition to these he studied aikido/daito ryu aikijujitsu under Morihei Ueshiba (founder of aikido).

Konishi Sensei believed that if you walk a morally correct path in this life, then you are naturally following the divine way. If you train in karate in a natural way and master your body, you will expand your knowledge and experience, and establish a solid foundation for naturally living a morally correct life. And so his style, on the recommendation of Morihei Ueshiba (the founder of Aikido), came to be Shindo Jinen-Ryu Karate-Jutsu ("godly, natural style, complete empty-handed way").

Ueshiba Sensei’s influence played a big part in the style Konishi was developing after his remarks towards Heian Nidan. Despite this blow, Konishi still saw the value in karate and believed in it but, also respected Ueshiba’s opinion. He then saw it as his responsibility to develop karate and went away and devised the Tai Sabaki trilogy of kata, unique to Shindo Jinen Ryu along with the kata Seiryu.

Konish Sensei passed away in 1983, passing the lineage of the style onto his son, Takehiro.

A western student of Konishi Sensei, is Sensei Simon Oliver who a number of CFTS dan grades have had the recent pleasure of training with. Sensei Oliver often tells us stories of his time training under Konishi Sensei in Japan and these are very interesting, enlightening as to the history of karate and often funny such was Konishi’s reputation for jokes.


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