Taira Shinken Hanshi
1897 – 1970
Taira Shinken left Okinawa for Tokyo in 1922. While there he would learn karate from Funakoshi and kobudo from Yabiku Moden (1882-1945). In 1942, he returned to the Ryukyu Islands and studied the various Ryukyuan weapons techniques and forms slowly being lost with the passing of each teacher. In 1945, Taira began teaching kobudo in various dojo across Okinawa.
About this time, he also formed the Ryukyu Kobudo Kenkyukai, (The Society for the Research of the Ancient Martial Ways of the Ryukyu Islands) to carry on the teachings of Moden Yabiku and other teachers who had since passed away. During these early days, he researched and developed thirty kata while devising a solid, comprehensive curriculum that would become the foundation of the dojo he opened in 1959 in Naha Shi.
In 1964, he published Ryukyu Kobudo Taikan (The Encyclopedia of Ryukyu Kobudo); the first comprehensive book about Ryukyu Kobudo written in Japanese. Currently, no official translation is available to the public in any other language.
In failing health in 1970, Taira did not want his life’s work to disappear. So, he changed the name of the organization to Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai, awarded Akamine Eisuke his Shihan (full teacher’s license) certificate and appointed him the second president of the organization. Later that year, about fifty of his students were at his bedside when, at the age of seventy-three, Taira Shinken died of cancer.