Koei-Kan Karate-dō is a karate style that was developed by Onishi Eizo in 1952. Koei-Kan can be translated from Japanese as "Prosper with Happiness." Onishi Eizo was the pupil of two famous Okinawan karateka, Kanken Tōyama (1888-1966) and Kyoda Juhatsu (1887-1968). Onishi opened his first dojo on April 2, 1954 in Kanagawa Prefecture. Koei-Kan has a form of full contact fighting called Bogu Kumite (sparring with armor protection). The armor consists of a mask to protect the face anda construction to link the movement of the head to the movement of the shoulders. It was developed to allow the practitioner to strike an opponent with full contact without fear of serious injury. Another aspect of Koei-Kan training is its systematic method of body transfer called Tenshin Waza, which incorporates methods of body transfer, dodging, evasion, footwork, rolling and breakfalls. Onishi was also an expert in Naha-te and Shuri-te. The Koei-Kan kata syllabus includes 5 Pinan Kata, 3 Naihanchin, Sanchin, Sanseiru, Seisan, Chintō, 4 Kushanku Kata, 2 Passai Kata, Sepai, Gojūshiho, Suparinpei, Jaken Ichiro and Renchiken Ichiro. Kobudō kata (Okinawan Weapons) are also practiced, including the bō, nunchaku, sai, kama and tonfa. The primary foundational techniques are strikes, punches, blocks and kicks. Secondary techniques are throws, escapes, joint locks, chokes, grappling, ground fighting. Methods of application of techniques are kata (forms), waza (technique) and kumite (sparring). Chuck Liddell, a former UFC champion, started his training at the age of 12 in Koei-Kan Karate-do.


Daruma Tashi: The origin and development of Karate is intimately tied to the history of the Okinawan people who brought it to its present form and preserved its traditions for centuries. A major root of the discipline, however, can be traced to ancient China. Approximately 483 AD, Daruma Tashi a prince of a warrior sect, left his home and journeyed into the mountains of China in search for enlightenment. It is said that Tashi used his warrior training to help him to meditate for amazing durations of time. While on his quest Tashi was discovered by monks of the Shaolin (Small Forrest) Temple. The monks, impressed by Tashi’s focus in meditation pleaded with Daruma to teach them his ways. Tashi taught the monk’s a series of exercises that aimed to afford them mastery of the body, mind and soul. The exercises, often regarded as the 18 hands of the Lo Han, immolated the movements of nature and would evolve mimicked the instinctive movements of animals.

Kūsankū (クーサンクー、公相君) or Kūshankū (クーシャンクー) : (????-1762) Also known as Kwang Shang Fu was a Chinese martial artist who lived during the 18th century. He is credited as having an influence on virtually all karate-derived martial arts. Kūsankū learned the art of Ch'uan Fa in China from a Shaolin monk. He was thought to have resided (and possibly studied martial arts) in the Fukien province for much of his life. Around 1756, Kūsankū was sent to Okinawa as an ambassador of the Qing Dynasty. He resided in the village of Kanemura, near Naha City. During his stay in Okinawa, Kūsankū instructed Kanga Sakukawa. Sakugawa trained under Kūsankū for six years. After Kūsankū's death (around 1762), Sakugawa developed and named the Kusanku kata in honor of his teacher. Kusanku's name is associated with several katas in the Shorin-Ryu styles.

Takahara, Peichin (1683-1760): Was revered as a great warrior and is attributed to have been the first to explain the aspects or principles of the word do ("way"). These principals are: 1) ijo, the way-compassion, humility and love. 2) Katsu, the laws-complete understanding of all techniques and forms of karate, and 3) Fo dedication seriousness of karate that must be understood not only in practice, but in actual combat. The collective translation is: "One's duty to himself and his fellow man." Most importantly, he was the first teacher of SAKUGAWA, Kanga "Tode" who was to become known as the "father of Okinawan karate.

"SAKUGAWA, Kanga (1733-1815): "Tode" meaning "karate," was a nickname given to him by his eminent instructor TAKAHARA. Known as the "father of Okinawan karate," SAKUGAWA traveled to China to study the fighting arts. During this time he is attributed for combining the Chinese art of ch-uan fa and the Okinawan art of tode ("Chinese hand or empty hand"), forming Okinawa-te ("Okinawa hand") which would become the foundation for Shuri-te. He passed down Kusanku, which is said to be one of Okinawa's oldest katas. Furthermore, he developed a Bo kata, Sakugawa no Kon.

Ruruko, (died before 1915): Ryū Ryū Ko (ルールーコウ Rū Rū Kou?, died before 1915), also known as Ryuko, Ryuru Ko, Liu Liu Gung, Liu Liu Ko, To Ru Ko, was a teacher of a style possibly Fujian White Crane, notable for instructing many of the founders of Okinawan martial arts which later produced Karate. The kata Sanchin, taught in Gōjū-ryū and most other styles of Karate, was originally taught by Ryū Ryū Ko. Although Ryū Ryū Ko is mostly known from the accounts of his Okinawan students, he is sometimes known, based on the research of Tokashiki Iken, as Xie Zhongxiang, born in Changle, Fujian,. Xie Zhongxiang (謝宗祥)was also known as Xia YiYi (謝如如)in local Fukian Dialect, or Xie RuRu in modern Mandarin. Those who believe that Ryu Ryu Ko is Xie Zhongxiang refer to his alias Xie Ru Ru, whereby as a term of endearment amongst friends, he was often referred to as Ru Ru Ko,the suffix”Ko“(哥)meaning "Brother", and hence, Ru Ru Ko was a nickname for Xie Zhong Xiang which meant Brother RuRu. By some accounts he was one of the first generation masters of Míng hè quán (鳴鶴拳, Whooping Crane Fist), which he either learned from his teacher Kwan Pang Yuiba (who was a student of Fāng Qīniáng, the originator of the first White Crane martial art), or created himself, based on more general White Crane style of his teacher. He had to conceal his name and aristocratic lineage and took on the name Ryu Ryu Ko, under which he worked, making household goods from bamboo and cane. He has been teaching martial arts at his home to a very small group of students, which included Higaonna Kanryō, who stayed with Ryu Ryu Ko from 1867 to 1881. Ryu Ryu Ko expanded his class to an actual public school in 1883, running it with his assistant, Wai Shinzan (Wai Xinxian). If Ryu Ryu Ko was indeed Xie Zhongxiang, then it is also possible that he had a son named Xie Tsuxiang. If Ryu Ryu Ko and Xie Zhongxiang was the same person, then his currently living direct descendant is his great-grandson, Xie Wenliang. Historical records provided by the Fuzhou Wushu Association show that Xie Zhong Xiang was not of aristocratic birth and never had to hide his identity. Xie Zhong Xiang worked as an apprentice shoe-maker in Fuzhou until he was 30 when he started his own martial art school, whereas accounts in the Okinawan Ryu Ryu Ko oral tradition stated that he worked as a brick-layer and basket-weaver in his later years. Karate historians do not agree with the Xie Zhongxiang identification, it's been suggested that Ryu Ryu Ko taught other styles of southern Chinese martial arts, or even that Ryu Ryu Ko was the name of the place, rather than a person. Karate historians from the Ryuei-Ryu and Goju-Ryu lineage have cited the visit by Miyagi Chojun to Fuzhou to seek Ryu Ryu Ko after Miyagi's teacher, Kanryo Higaonna died in Oct, 1915. Miyagi Chojun travelled to Fuzhou in May 1915 and again 1916, with Eisho Nakamoto (in 1915) and Gokenki (吴賢贵, in 1916). There he was met by Ryu Ryu Ko's students, presumably someone who knew Higaonna Kanryo. Based on the oral tradition passed on by Miyagi Chojun, he was brought before Ryu Ryu Ko's grave to pay his respects. Unless Miyagi Chojun's oral history is to be disregarded, then Ryu Ryu Ko who died before 1916 and Xie Zhongxiang who died in 1930 was not the same person. Since the name "Ryu Ryu Ko" really existed in Okinawan tradition through the references provided by his students, any research into the identity of Ryu Ryu Ko should be based on these references. Norisato Nakaima (1819-1879 the founder of Ryūei-ryū, based the first character in the name of his style on Ryu Ryu Ko's surname. The character Norisato Nakaima used was "劉" which in Fuzhou dialect sounded like Liu/Ryu. Historians cite this as another piece of evidence to suggest that Xie Zhong Xiang was not Ryu Ryu Ko. (Note that prior to 1948 the vast majority of the population in Fujian Province spoke Fujian and not Mandarin, and Xie Zhongxiang's alias Xie Ruru as pronounced today would have been pronounced Xia Yiyi in late 19th Century Fujian.) According to the Ryuei Ryu Tradition, Norisato Nakaima began studying under Ryu Ryu Ko when he was 19 years old, circa 1838 to 1839 and spent 7 years learning martial arts as well as knowledge in Chinese herbal medicine from Ryu Ryu Ko. Those who dispute the claims that Xie Zhong Xiang was Ryu Ryu Ko cite the fact that Xie Zhongxiang's nickname would have been pronounced "YiYi Go" in Fujianese Dialect, and not "Ru Ru Ko", the latter being a modern Mandarin pronunciation of his nickname. Taking into consideration the formality involved in a teacher's acceptance of a student into his martial arts school in those days, as it was apparent in the manner in which Kanryo Higaonna chose his own students in later years, it was deemed unlikely that Ryu Ryu Ko’s students would have referred to him by any title other than his formal name. Historical records from Fuzhou Martial Arts Association show that Xie Zhong Xiang was referred to either by his full-name or known as Yi-Shi (如师) which means Yi-Sensei in Fujianese Dialect. Those who dispute claims that Xie Zhong Xiang is Ru Ru Ko say that it is highly unlikely for Okinawan students to refer to their teacher of martial arts by his nickname "Brother Yiyi", and Ryu Ryu Ko's student Norisato Nakaima's claim that his Sensei's surname was "Ryu" (劉)is more plausible. The Okinawan martial artists who are believed to have studied in Ryu Ryu Ko's school were Higaonna Kanryō (founder of Naha-te), Arakaki Seishō, Norisato Nakaima (1819-1879) (founder of Ryūei-ryū), Sakiyama Kitoku (1830–1914), Kojo Taitei (1837–1915), Maezato Ranpo (1838–1904), Matsuda Tokusaburo (1877–1931).

Matsumura Sokon (1796-1893): "Bushi" ("Warrior") it is acknowledged, began his training at an early age under the tutelage of Sakugawa, "Tode" and made several trips to China to further study the fighting arts. He is credited, by several sources, for making the most singular contribution, katas, to the development of Okinawan karate. The Shuri-te systems of katas that are still practiced today in the Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu system are Naihanchi I-III, Passai Dai, Chinto & Gojushiho.

Itosu Yasutsune, Ankō Itosu (糸洲 安恒 Okinawan: Ichiji Ankō?, Japanese:Itosu Ankō, (1830-1915): "Anko" ("Iron Horse") trained under MATSUMURA, Sokon and is credited for introducing the Pinans ("Peaceful Mind") I-V Katas to the Okinawan public schools in 1901. He is also credited for Kusanku Sho and Passai Sho. Some of the most important modern day instructors that trained directly under him were: Chibana, Chosin, FUNAKOSHI, Gichin, KYAN, Chotoku, MABUNI, and Kenwa to name just a few.

Higaonna (Higashionna) (東恩納 寛量 Higaonna Kanryō, (March 10, 1853 - October 1915): Also known as "Higashionna West", was a native of Nishi-shin-machi, Naha, and Okinawa. He was born in Nishimura, Naha to a merchant family, whose business was selling goods to the north of Okinawa and shipping firewood back to Naha. Firewood was an expensive commodity in the Ryukyu Islands. His family belonged to the lower Shizoku class known as the Chikudun Peichin. He founded the fighting style later to be known as Gōjū ryū karate. In 1867 he began to study Monk Fist Boxing (Luohan Quan) from Aragaki Tsuji Pechin Seisho who was a fluent Chinese speaker and interpreter for the Ryukyu court. At that time the word karate was not in common use, and the martial arts were often referred to simply as Te ("hand"), sometimes prefaced by the area of origin, as Naha-te, Shuri-te, or simply Okinawa-te. In September 1870, with the help of Yoshimura Udun Chomei (an Aji or prince), Higaonna gained the travel permit necessary to travel to Fuzhou, on the pretext of going to Beijing as a translator for Okinawan officials. There are records which show that in March 1873 he sailed to Fuzhou in the Fukien province of China. Although this may have been a later trip to Fuzhou because accounts passed on by Chojun Miyagi refer to an earlier year of departure in 1870. Aragaki had given Higaonna an introduction to the martial arts master Kojo Taitei whose dojo was in Fuzhou. Higaonna spent his time studying with various teachers of the Chinese martial arts, the first four years he probably studied with Wai Xinxian, Kojo Tatai and or Iwah at the Kojo Dojo. Kanryo then trained under Ru Ru Ko (a.k.a. Ruru Ko, Ryu Ryu Ko, To Ru Ko, or Lu Lu Ko, his name was never recorded as Kanryo Higaonna was illiterate. According to oral account, Kanryo spent years doing household chores for Master Ru Ru Ko, until he saved his daughter from drowning during a heavy flood and begged the master to teach Kung-fu as a reward. In the 1880s Kanryo returned to Okinawa and continued the family business. He also began to teach the martial arts in and around Naha. He began by teaching the sons of Yoshimura Udun Chomei. His style was distinguished by its integration of both go-no (hard) and ju-no (soft) techniques in one system. He became so prominent that the name "Naha-te" became identified with Higaonna Kanryo's system. He travelled to China several times thereafter. His last visit was in 1898 when he escorted Yoshimura Chomei and two of his sons to Fuzhou. History records that they were blown off-course to Zhejiang and travelled by land to Fuzhou with an escort provided by the local Zhejiang authorities. He began to teach karate to the public in 1905 in the Naha Commercial School. Kanryo was noted for his powerful Sanchin kata, or form. Students reported that the wooden floor would be hot from the gripping of his feet.

Toyama Kanken, Kanken Tōyama (遠山寛賢 Tōyama Kanken, 24 September 1888 – 24 November 1966): Was a Japanese schoolteacher and karate master, who developed the foundation for the Shūdōkan karate style. Born into a noble family in Shuri, Okinawa, Japan, he was given the name Oyadameri Kanken. He trained under: Itosu Anko and Itarashiki primarily, and under Ankichi Aragaki, Azato Anko, Choshin Chibana, Oshiro, Tana, Yabu Kentsu, Yasutsune Itosu and Kanryo Higashionna. Nine years old, he began his karate (Shuri-te) training under Ankō Itosu, and remained a student there until Itosu died in 1915. He also studied Naha-te under Kanryō Higaonna and Tomari-te under Ankichi Aragaki. In 1924 Toyama moved his family to Taiwan where he taught in an elementary school and studied Chinese Ch'uan Fa, which included Taku, Makaitan, Rutaobai, and Ubo. Given this diverse martial arts background, the Japanese government soon recognized Toyama's prowess, and awarded him the right to promote to any rank in any style of Okinawan karate. An official gave Toyama the title of master instructor. In early 1930 he returned to Japan and on March 20, 1930, he opened his first dojo in Tokyo. He named his dojo Shu Do Kan meaning "the hall for the study of the karate way." Toyama taught what he had learned from Itosu and the Ch'uan Fa and did not claim to have originated a new style of karate. In 1946, Toyama founded the All Japan Karate-Do Federation (AJKF) with the intention of unifying the various forms of karate of Japan and Okinawa under one governing organization.

Kyoda Juhatsu (許田 重発 Kyoda Juhatsu, December 5, 1887–August 31, 1968): Kyo Kochi Tōon-ryū (東恩流 Tōu'on-ryū?) is a style of Okinawan Karate founded by Juhatsu Kyoda. Entered the dojo of Higaonna Kanryō in 1902 and continued studying with him until Kanryō's death in 1915. One month after Kyoda started, Miyagi Chōjun (co-founder of Gōjū-ryū) entered the dojo. In 1908, Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shitō-ryū) also joined the dojo of Higaonna Kanryō. In 1934 Kyoda received his Kyoshi license from the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. The Tōon-ryū kata and training drills consist of: Ten-I-Happo, Tsuki-Uke (Shiho-Uke), Kiso I & II, Sanchin, Sesan, Sanseru, Pechurin, Jion, & Nepai. Apparently Kyoda knew two versions of Seisan: one from Higaonna Kanryō and one from Higaonna Kanryu, but only passed on the Kanyu version. He learned Jion from Kentsū Yabu. By far Higaonna Kanryō had the most profound impact on him as Kyoda devoted well over a decade of his life to learning Kanryō’s karate. He ultimately named his style after him: Tō-on-ryū (literally ‘Higaon [na] style’). Kyoda's tradition was carried on by Iraha Choko, Kyoda Juko (3rd son), and Kanzaki Shigekazu. The current Sōke of Tōon-ryū today is Kanzaki Shigekazu, and the chief instructor is Ikeda Shigenori.

Eizo Onishi: Koei-Kan Karate-dō