- Gen can be translated into mysteriousness, occult, or as "finding a subtle truth."
- Wa can be translated into harmony, gentleness, peace, or total.
- Kai can be translated into association, meeting, gathering, etc.
Therefore, Genwakai can be translated as "The Association that seeks the Highest Subtle Truth."
Genwakai was a development of Genseiryu, so naturally, the two are very similar. In or around 1962, Yoichi Takahashi（高橋洋一, who renamed himself as Tsugumasa Nangou 南郷,継正), started calling the style of Karate-do he practiced Genwakai. Genwakai has since spread to the US and Europe.
In North America
In 1973, Hiroshi Tajima traveled to North America. He visited various cities in Canada, Michigan, California, and Ohio. A close training associate, Robert Clary (Sho Dan) was returning to the United States from Japan. He and Robert Fryer (a former soldier stationed in Japan who studied Genwakai) invited Hiroshi Tajima to come and live in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Tajima eventually settled in Dayton, Ohio and achieved the rank of Shihan. Subsequently, he became the director of Nippon Karate-do Genwakai-US.
At the peak of Genwakai training in North America, there were three dojo in Dayton, OH, one in West Milton, OH, and dojo in Michigan, California, Florida, and Toronto, Canada.
In 1995, Tajima traveled to the Genwakai headquarters to discuss some concerns he had. Due to disagreements over these changes, Tajima returned to the United States and stepped down from his position of Shihan and director of Genwakai-US, and founded a newer style of Karate-do, Taiyo Washin Ryu.
The title of Shihan and position of director of Genwakai America (formerly Genwakai-US) subsequently passed to one of Tajima's senior students, James Italico Rodriguez. Currently, Genwakai America is an independent organization and has assumed responsibility for oversight of all Genwakai in North and South America. Nippon Karate-do Genwakai is currently being practiced at Ohio Budokan, located in Dayton, Ohio. There are other Genwakai America dojo in Cincinnati, Ohio; Saginaw, Michigan; and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Where Genwakai Came From
There are some differences in the accounts of which style name came first. It was either Shuri-te or Shorin-ryu. Either way, it is commonly accepted that Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura, who studied Tode under Bon “Tode” Sakugawa and Chinese boxing from Kong Su Kung (also known as Kusanku) was the originator of Shuri-te. Among his students were such men as Gichin Funakoshi (Shotokan) and Yasutsune Itosu sometimes called Anko. Another of his students was Soko Kishimoto who lived from 1862 to 1945 and trained primarily under another of Matsumura’s instructors, “Bushi” Takemura.
Genwakai in Netherlands
Genwakai was first brought over to Holland by Tadayoshi Masuko in 1968. Other instructors followed, including Akio Kobayashi in the 1970s. In 1970, Masuko left Holland to move to Toronto, Canada where he opened a small dojo there. Kobayashi is currently the Shihan of Nippon Karate-do Genwakai Netherlands.