International Kenyukai Association

Seiryo Shinjo

Seiryo Shinjo

Seiyu Shinjo

Kiyohide Shinjo

Narahiro Shinjo


Condensed from " The Secrets of Uechi Ryu Karate and The Mysteries of Okinawa"


 The Shinjo family is one of the most dynamic and renowned names of traditional Okinawan karate. Three generations of Shinjo men have helped mold the history of this unique karate style. The history of this karate family parallels the growth of Pangainoon and Uechi ryu karate from the time Kanbun Uechi first taught martial arts outside China.


Seiryo Shinjo

Seiryo Shinjo (formerly called Seizan Shinjo) was born on Ie-Jima Island, June 10, 1908. His father, Seisan Shinjo, was a well-known bo expert on Ie-jima

Seiryo traveled to Wakayama seeking employment in 1923, one year before Kanbun Uechi. Seiryo found a job with the same company that Kanbun later would, the Himomaru Sangyo Kabushki Kaisha, a boseki factory. He eventually heard stories of Kanbun and that he was now teaching

Seiryo SHijo

Seiryo Shinjo entered the Shataku dojo of Kanbun Uechi early in 1927. He and his wife Tsuru, whom he had met in Wakayama, were married later the same year.

Seiryo Shino was a small agile man who became known for his incredibly fast kicks. Hisaguwa Seizen (fast kicker Seizen) was the nickname given to him by his peers. Seiryo was a quiet, gentle man who would not quarrel with anyone. Kanbun grew to like him very much and they became the best of friends. Kanbun felt comfortable with Seiryo and Tsuru. Their house was the only place he could relax and express himself. It became a gathering place for Seiryo's friends including Kanbun, who was present for the birth of their daughter, Sayako.

Seiyu Shinjo

Seiyu Shinjo, the Shinjo's first son, was Born July 10,1929. Kanbun became fond of the exuberant young Seiyu, who pleaded for years with his father to let him study karate. Seiyu became a student at Kanbun Uechi's Tebira dojo in 1939. He was ten years old. Seiyu and other new students performed cleanup and other duties around the dojo.


The first three months of training consisted of doing Sanchin steps across the dojo. Holding his arms in the proper position was added to the stepping, the following three months.

The rambunctious young man complained daily to his father that they had done the same thing in class again. Seiyu remained determined to learn karate. Eventually Seiryo began teaching his son at home, in addition to Kanbun's teachings. Seiyu Shinjo was exposed to an unprecedented learning opportunity for nine years.

The harsh conditions in Japan after the war facilitated the decision to return to Okinawa. The Shinjo family traveled with Seiko Toyama and Kanbun Uechi. Seiyu was leaving the only home he had every known.



The group was interred in a prison of war camp for six months, when they returned to Okinawa. To lift moral in the camp, Kanbun demonstrated karate. It was the only time his students saw him perform all the katas in their entirety. In Japan he always taught explosive individual moves from a kata, ikyodo, but never demonstrated the entire kata. After release from the camp the Shinjo family and Kanbun Uechi relocated on Ie-jima Island where he died on November 25, 1948. The Shinjo's were the only ones present.


Kiyohide Shinjo

On November 3,1951 Ie-jima Island produced a modern day karate legend name Kiyohide Shinjo. He began karate training, not by his own choice, when he was ten years old.

Seiyu was a hard man concerning karate. He maintained the uncompromising, sometimes inhuman, standard of training established by Kanbun Uechi.

Kiyohide Shinjo

Intoxicated servicemen often found their way into the dojo, challenging the Okinawans to fight, in those days. Seiyu Shinjo often ordered his son to fight the belligerent Americans. For many years the skinny young Okinawan was beaten by the challengers. As Kiyohide's size, strength, and karate ability increased, so did his dislike for American servicemen. In time Kiyohide won every fight with great pleasure


Tournament History

In 1968, The Uechi Ryu Karate Shubukai held the first annual Uechi ryu tournament. It included kata (forms) and kumite (sparring) competition for black belts. Seiyu Shinjo was the organizer and tournament director. His son Kiyohide, placed third in kata in the inaugural tournament.

At the third annual tournament in 1970, Kiyohide Shinjo won the championship in both kata and kumite. He continued to do so for a record nine years. He became a legend in Okinawa in the process and is often called "Okinawa's Superman"

In 1978, the eighth year of his championship reign, the first All Okinawa Championship Tournament was held. The champion of this historic sparring event, open to black belts of all karate styles, was Kiyohide Shinjo. He retired from competition after the 1980 Uechi ryu tournament, due to the ill health of his father.

The Uechi ryu tournament ran uninterrupted for twenty years until the break up of the Uechi Ryu Association in 1988. The Kadena dojo won the championship in fifteen of the twenty tournaments.

Narahiro Shinjo

Narahiro Shinjo, Seiyu's second son, is often lost in the shadow of his famous brother. Narahiro also inherited his father's vigor and relentless approach to karate and is every bit as accomplished as his older brother. He has also traveled internationally teaching and demonstrating Uechi ryu karate.


Narahiro Shinjo placed first in kata in five of the eight Uechi ryu tournaments following his brother's retirement. He placed 4th in the Okinawan world tournament in 1997.

The Shinjo Dojo of Kadena, Okinawa is often called upon by the Government to perform demonstrations in Okinawa and around the world. Seiko Toyoma and Kiyohide Shinjo were given the honor of performing karate for the President of the United States and other world leaders at the G-Eight Summit in Okinawa in June 2000

The Shinjo family is one of vigorous strength who live by the code of Gosatu Bokuto…

"Live life easy and peacefully, but when it is time to fight become ferocious."




In 1981, Kiyohide Shinjo started the Kenyukai fraternity within the Uechi Ryu Association in honor of his father who died that year. The new emblem was worn on the left sleeve of the gi by all black belts from the Kadena dojo. This innovation soon caught on in the Association and various dojo names began appearing on Uechi ryu gi's.

Kenyukai is the organization name for the black belts of Uechi Ryu Karate who were taught by Seiyu Shinjo.




Senior Black Belt of the Kadena Dojo


Seiko Toyoma

Seiko Toyama's father watched a training session at Kanbun's dojo and was so impressed with the strength and hardness of Uechi Ryu that he put his son's karate training in Kanbun's hands. Toyama and Seiyu Shinjo, who started training under Kanbun one year later, became friends for life. They both listened intently for years as Kanbun and Ryuyu Tomoyose talked.

Master Toyoma is a wellspring of information about the history of Uechi Ryu karate and a robust storyteller. He is the Senior Technical Advisor to the Kenyukai Association.

Seiko Toyama


Tsutomu Nakahodo

One of the most senior black belts of Seiyu Shinjo is Tsutomu Nakahodo, born November 25, 1933. He first started karate training under Seiko Toyama in 1955, and became a student of the Kadena dojo in 1960. Mr. Nakahodo is referred to as "Popeye," because of his massive forearms and brute strength.

In 1995, Master Nakahodo was awarded 9th Dan by the All Okinawan Karate Association.

Master Nakahodo made gave this stirring tribute about his Sensei, Seiryo Shinjo:

Tsutomu Nakahodo

"Seiyu Shinjo never compromised his teaching methods and technique. However in his personal life he was a gentle, helpful, respectful and open-minded person. Without his help and two different approaches (one was tough and strict as a teacher, the other was kind and open-minded as a friend), I do not think I could have kept my karate discipline. Moreover, I could not have deeply understood the meaning of karate do. It is too sad that I can no longer see the active and energetic Mr. Shinjo. I respectfully and sincerely thank Mr. Shinjo, who spent his life teaching and developing Okinawan Karate"

 Shinyu Gushi

Impressed by Mr. Shinjo's students and his goals of Uechi Ryu development, Mr. Gushi joined the Asato dojo in 1956. After Seiyu Shinjo moved to Kadena, Mr. Gushi trained in Wakasa under Seiko Itokazu.

Master Gushi and family moved to Southern California in 1989. He teaches his style of Uechi Ryu karate under his own association, Ryukokakuken.

Shinyu Gushi

 Shinyu Gushi  performing Sanchin kata with  Okinawan Kan

Shinyu Gushi performing Sanchin kata
with Okinawan Kan