Those who made the road
> Tatsuo Shimabukuro
Sensei Shinken Taira (Maezato) was born June 12,
1897 on Kumejima, an island in the Ryukyu Archipelago in the village
of Nakazato. Second son in the family. He was adopted as a child,
(not an uncommon practice in old Japan) and started using his
motherís maiden name, Taira.
As a young man, working in the Sulphur mines at
Minamijima, Taira Sensei was injured in a mining accident when a
mineshaft collapsed. He suffered a badly broken leg and was left
with a limp.
In 1922, Taira Shinken left Okinawa and travelled to Tokyo in search
of work like many other Okinawans, he was introduced to Gichin
Funakosh, a fellow Okinawan and Karate instructor. Taira became a
deshi (student) of Gichin Funakoshi in an effort to learn Karate do.
In 1929, Sensei Taira began his studies of Ryukyu Kobudo under
Sensei Moden Yabiku.
In 1932, after studying Kobudo for three years and
Karate do for 10 years he received permission from his Sensei to
open his own Dojo. Sensei Taira began to teach Karate do and Kobudo
in the quaint hot springs resort town of Ikaho, Gunma Prefecture.
Taira had and insatiable appetite for Budo
knowledge. He continuously researched and assimilated his findings
into a Kobudo system that remains to this day. It was because of
this constant search for knowledge that in 1933, Taira was
introduced by Funakoshi to Kenwa Mabuni. In 1934, Taira became deshi
In 1940 Master Taira opened a Kobudo Dojo in Naha,
Okinawa. He also opened Dojo in Kanto and Kansai, two major
districts of central Japan.
In 1955 he established the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon
Shinkokai, to promote the Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts as passed
down to him by so many great masters.
Master Taira is credited with bringing together
many of the Okinawa's oldest and most prominent weapons traditions
into one comprehensive system of weaponry training. He will always
be remembered as an Innovator, Inventor and Brilliant Martial
Shinken Taira died at December 3, 1970.