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Genseiryu (玄制流 Genseiryū) is a karate style with roots in Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te, two of the three original karate styles on Okinawa (a Japanese island). It was developed by Seiken Shukumine (1925-2001) who combined classic (Ko-ryu) techniques with his own thus developing special characteristics of Genseiryu. Sensei Shukumine had two known teachers, Anko Sadoyama and Soko Kishimoto. The name of Genseiryu was first used in 1953. In Japanese the name consists of three different characters (Kanji):玄制流. The first one is Gen (玄), the second one is Sei (制) and the third is Ryu (流). The combination of Genseiryu (玄制流) translates into: "To pursue the deep truth and making it clear through the form".

Inherited by Kunihiko Tosa[edit]

Kunihiko Tosa received permission from his teacher, the founder of Genseiryu, Seiken Shukumine, to take over Genseiryu, as Seiken Shukumine in 1962 made a choice to dedicate himself to his new martial art called Taido, which is very different from karate. Hence, Kunihiko Tosa worked hard on the expansion of Genseiryu his entire life. When Kunihiko Tosa started his own dojo in 1959, at that time named Nippon Karate-do Genseiryu Butokukai (now Genseiryu Karate-do International Federation), an annual New Years party was held with Seiken Shukumine attending every year. As it is well known, at this event, Seiken Shukumine announced that Genseiryu would be taken over by Kunihiko Tosa[1].


Genseiryu has its roots in an old karate style called Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te being the source. In the 1920s and 1930s there were three major karate styles on Okinawa. They were all named after the cities where they were developed: Naha, Tomari and Shuri. These three styles (Naha-Te, Tomari-Te and Shuri-Te) are sometimes called more generally Okinawa-Te, especially at that time among people not native to Okinawa.

Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura (1809-1898) was a master of Shuri-Te. He gave lessons to people such as Gichin Funakoshi (the creator of Shotokan-ryu) and Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu. A lesser known student was Bushi Takemura. One of Bushi Takemura's students were Soko Kishimoto (1862-1945), some sources speak of 1868 as the birth year). He later became the teacher of Seiken Shukumine.

The young Seiken Shukumine, born 9 December 1925 in Nago-shi on the Japanese island Okinawa, started at the age of 8 with lessons from Anko Sadoyama, a grandmaster of Ko-ryu ("Old-Style"). He taught him for four years. When Seiken Shukumine was about 14 years old, he was accepted as a student of Soko Kishimoto. Kishimoto was very selective, he had only nine students throughout his life. The last two students of Kishimoto actually were Seiken Shukumine and Seitoku Higa (born 1920).

During World War II, the 18-year-old Shukumine was drafted into the Navy and stationed in the Japanese Kamikaze Corps where he was trained as a kaiten pilot, a one-man submarine or more of a manned torpedo, which was used as a kamikaze against American warships. Seiken Shukumine was trained to pass his small craft through a steel network that had been constructed in the water around the ships to protect against underwater attacks. He thought about how best to maneuver in a martial arts way and he tried to come up with techniques to avoid enemy torpedoes. Shukumine was never deployed for such a suicide attack hence he survived the war.

His teacher, Soko Kishomoto, was killed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

In 1949, Seiken Shukumine demonstrated his karate for the first time in front of the public, in the city of Ito (Shizuoka prefecture, Japan). In October 1950, he took part in a karate demonstration arranged by Nippon TV. Other grandmasters also took part in this demonstration, such as Hidetaka Nishiyama (from the Japan Karate Association, JKA), Yasuhiro Konishi (Ryobukai) Ryusho Sakagami (Itosukai), H. Kenjo (Kenshukai), Kanki Izumikawa and Shikan Akamine (both from Goju-ryu). Shukumine demonstrated, among other things, the kata Koshokun (dai).

During High Jump compititions in 1952, he met a young men, namely Kunihiko Tosa. After these compititions Kunihiko Tosa became one of the first students of Seiken Shukumine.

In 1953 Seiken Shukumine began giving lessons on the Tachikawa Self Defense Forces base. It was in 1953, that Seiken Shukumine officially announced his organization as Genseiryu.

In 1962 Sensei Shukumine introduced a further development of Genseiryu which he named Taido. Taido is not to be regarded as Karate, but as an entirely new martial art. From that point on, Shukumine was involved only with Taido and most of his pupils started to train Taido as well. Seiken Shukumine was from then on never again officially involved in Genseiryu. Shukumine wrote two books about Ko-ryu karate (1964 and mid 1970s) and he occasionally gave lessons in Taido to his former students of Genseiryu as he wanted to convince his former students to join him in Taido instead of continuing the lineage of Genseiryu. Seiken Shukumine mentioned in a meeting held in August 2001 shortly before his death on Okinawa, that he never held any examinations nor appointed anyone in the name of Genseiryu since the mid/early 1960's. Kunihiko Tosa, the first student of Seiken Shukumine dating back to 1952 was announced as the successor of Genseiryu.

In 1964 Shukumine published his book Shin Karate-do Kyohan in which he describes the techniques and kata. Some of the kata in the book are explained thoroughly, together with pictures.

  • Ten-i no Kata
  • Chi-i no Kata
  • Jin-i no Kata
  • Sansai
  • Ko-ryu Naihanchi
  • Ko-ryu Bassai
  • Ko-ryu Kusanku

There are many more kata mentioned in this book (however without pictures), a total of about 44 kata, including Taikyoku-Shodan, Tensho-no-Kata, Wankan, etc. In the book he mentions the name Genseiryu a few times. He refer to the contents of the book as being Ko-ryu (古流), which is considered as 'old tradition' or 'old school'. In the book he added some kata that he created himself: Ten-i Chi-i Jin-i and Sansai. In the book Shin Karate-do Kyohan many kata and techniques and training materials are described. The book implies that Genseiryu is based on a combination of this 'old school' or classique karate (with the kata Naihanchi, Bassai and Kusanku) with new techniques and the kata Ten-i, Chi-i, Jin-i and Sansai.

From the 1960s Genseiryu started to spread also outside Japan.

In the mid 1970s, Seiken Shukumine wrote another book, which is now very rare and much less known to most people. The title of this book is (translated into English): "The Karate training by Complete Drawing" and has about 200 pages where he describes karate techniques but also the differences between karate and judo, karate and Aikido, karate and Taido, etc.

In 1988 Seiken Shukumine published another book, this time about Taido. In this book "Taido Gairon" he describes the basic principles and techniques of Taido. In the book he also states that people interested in Genseiryu would find important information in his first book "Shin Karate-do Kyohan".

On 26 November 2001 Seiken Shukumine died of cardiac arrest, after a long sickbed. He was 75 years old and left a wife, son and two daughters behind.

Characteristics of Genseiryu[edit]

Seiken Shukumine was also known as a philosopher and during the war he learned that to do something unanticipated or unexpected is the secret to victory, even in a war between two nations or in a mere personal conflict. In other words: the basic philosophy of Genseiryu pursues this idea which is that how to do unexpected things.

Basic principles of movements[edit]

Shukumine studied long on this idea to apply this not only to life but also to Genseiryu and it's kata. Eventually he created the basic theory "Sen, Un, Hen, Nen and Ten". These are the basic principles that make of Genseiryu a three-dimensional karate style:

  • Sen (whirlwind): vertical circular movement of the body axis (rotating, turning);
  • Un (waves): elegant up and down movement in the directions of front and back;
  • Hen (clouds): falling movement in front and back, right and left by your own will;
  • Nen (maelstrom, whirlpool): twisted hand and arm techniques, mainly executed on the spot;
  • Ten (luminous): a technique in an unexpected situation created by front turn, back turn and side turn.

It is "Sansai" that is known widely as a typical kata of Genseiryu. Sansai, as performed by the Genseiryu Karate-do International Federation, is by the All Japan Karate-do Federation recognized as the only official version. Other genuine techniques of Genseiryu are for example the kicks Ebi-geri (back kick with both hands on the ground) and Manji-geri (also with both hands on the ground). Besides kata, Genseiryu also has a training system called Kihon Gyogi, which includes Shihō. Shihō (四方) translates into 'four directions' and comprises excercises in which a combination of techniques is repeated once for every direction, front, back, left and right. The training system also includes Happo (Nuki). Happo can be translated as 'eight directions' and exactly as shiho, it comprises exercises in which a combination of techniques is repeated once for every direction. But this time in eight directions.


There are two postures within the style of Genseiryu. These are Hotate-Gamae and Nukite Gamae.

  • Hotate-Gamae. It means 'raising a sail', referring to the front hand, which is perpendicularly against the ground.
  • Nukite-Gamae. In this posture both your (nukite) hands are pointing towards the eyes of your opponent.


The distance between you and your enemy is called the maai. Within Genseiryu, the maai is categorized into three kinds:

  • So-ou Ma-ai
  • Yudo Ma-ai
  • Genkai Ma-ai


The kata trained in Genseiryu are:


Genseiryu Karate-do Kyohan 2 is a book published by Kunihiko Tosa in 1984 published by Tokyo Shureido. The book can be obtained by contacting the Tokyo Shureido company, or by contacting Peter Lee, who is the head of Genseiryu in Denmark and Europe. More information about the book can be read here.

Derivative schools[edit]

As Seiken Shukumine went further with his newly thought out budo, Taido, other students decided not to follow Seiken Shukumine and went on with karate. But as their former sensei left the world of karate, these students were on their own to further develop their own path which eventually led to the creation of styles by their schools respectively. This is the case for the following former students of Seiken Shukumine, who which eventually made the schools their own styles:

Tsugumasa Nangou named his teachings Genwakai. Norio Kayama, who first was with Genwakai, eventually set out to continue his own perspective on bogu kumite, which he called Ryounkai. In both the creation of Genwakai as well as Ryounkai, Saitama University played a big roll as well as the alumni karate student union called Seiunkai.

Another former student of Seiken Shukumine, Setsuzo Kuruji, created the school Seidokai. Sadao Ayase who was also a former student of Shukumine, joined Kuruji first and later followed his own path and learned the teachings of Nakayama (Shotokan), which Ayase later combined and called his school Keneikai. After the passing of Ayase, a student of Ayase called Tetsuo Narikawa formulated his own school called Seidokai. These teachings also passed down to Mamoru Wakiya who set up his school, Genshukai. Also a former senior student of Ayase, called Hiromichi Kohata who seems to be senior to Tetsuo Narikawa, went to Spain after the passing of his teacher.

External Links[edit]


  1. "土佐邦彦は師・祝嶺正献より直々に許しを得て、現在まで普及に当る。当時、名称が日本空手道玄制流武徳会であった時代に、武徳会新年会に祝嶺正献先生をお招きし、毎年いらしていたのは有名な話である。 また、その席上、「玄制流は土佐、お前に任せる」と発言されたことは、同席した日本空手道糸東流真武館祖父江利久氏 が耳にしている。", "Genseiryu is Tosa, I'll entrust it to you", Seiken Shukumine said, overheard by Japan Karate-do Itosu-ryu Shinbukan Grandfather Toshihisa who was in attendance.