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 techniques with his own thus developing special characteristics of Genseiryu. Sensei Shukumine had two known teachers, Sadoyama and 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".
Genseiryu has its roots on 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 was a master of Shuri-Te. He gave lessons to people such as Gichin Funakoshi (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 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).
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, Sensei 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. Sensei Shukumine wrote two books about Koryu 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 sensei 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
- (Koryu) Naihanchi
- (Koryu) Bassai
- (Koryu) 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 know 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 publishes 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
Sensei 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
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 trainingssystem 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 directions, front, back, left and right. The trainingssystem 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:
- Taikyoku (太極)
- Heian Shodan (平安初段)
- Heian Nidan (平安二段)
- Heian Sandan (平安三段)
- Heian Yondan (平安四段)
- Heian Godan (平安五段)
- Naihanchi (ナイファンチ)
- Wankan (ワンカン)
- Shukumine no Bassai (祝嶺のバッサイ)
- Shukumine no Bassai Sho (祝嶺のバッサイ小)
- Sansai (三才)
- Rohai (ローハイ)
- Koshokun Dai (公相君大)
- Koshokun Sho (公相君小)
- Chinto (チントウ)
- Jion (Shitei Kata) as defined by the Japan Karate-do Federation
- Kanku Dai (Shitei Kata) as defined by the Japan Karate-do Federation
- Bassai Dai (Shitei Kata) as defined by the Japan Karate-do Federation
- Seienchin (Shitei Kata) as defined by the Japan Karate-do Federation
- Bo Jutsu Kihon Kata
- Bo Jutsu Kumite Kata
- Nunchaku Kihon Kata
- Nunchaku Kumite Kata
Genseiryu Karate-do Kyohan 2 is a book published by Kunihiko Tosa in 1984 published by Tokyo Shureido. The book can be obtained in 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.
Genseiryu Karate-do International Federation
Main article: Genseiryu Karate-do International Federation.
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 sensei (Shotokan), which Ayase later combined and called his school Keneikai. After the passing away 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 away of his teacher.