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Hiroshi Akamine Eisuke Akamine Kobudo Grand Masters

Shinken (Maezato) Taira

(1897 - 1970)

Taira Shinken was born on June 12, 1897 in the Nakazato village on the tiny island of, Kumejima of the Okinawa Prefecture. Taira Shinken, born as Maezato Shinken, was the grandson of a famous weapon master named, Kanagawa Gibu. Kanagawa taught Taira the use of the Tinbe/Rochin, the Tekko, and the Suruchin and was most likely responsible for introducing the young Taira to weapons.

Like so many other martial arts masters, Taira’s beginning was a meek and sickly kid. Furthermore, he had broken his leg in a mining accident, resulting in a permanent limp, to add to his overall health concerns. As a result, he wanted to study Budo to improve his physical condition and travelled to Tokyo in search of the founder of Judo, Kano Jigoro.

However, he was befriended by Funakoshi Gichin, the founder of Shotokan Karate and in September 1922, Taira became an “Uchi-Deshi” (live in student) for the next eight years. In May of 1929, Taira began to study the art of Ryukyu Kobudo under Yabiku Moden. Yabiku was born in the town of Shuri in Okinawa. It is believed that he had received his Kobudo training under, Tawata Pechin and Chinen Sanda of Yamani Ryu.

In 1911, Yabiku moved to mainland Japan in search of better work and founded the Ryukyu Kobujutsu Kenkyu Kai (Research Association). It is believed that Taira learned the Bo, Sai, Tonfa and Eku from Yabiku between, 1929 to 1932. Taira received his Shihan Menjo (teaching certificate) in 1933 from Yabiku for the art of Kobudo. Taira opened his own dojo in the town of Ikahonenson in Gumma Prefecture where he taught both Karate and Kobudo. He also invited Mabuni Kenwa, the founder of Shito Ryu, to further Taira’s quench for knowledge in Karate and Kobudo from 1934 to 1940. It is believed that Taira learned additional kata and techniques in both the Bo and Sai during this time.

In 1948, Taira returned to Naha in Okinawa and founded the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai. By the 1960’s Taira had developed a strong following in both Okinawa and Mainland Japan. In Okinawa his prominent students were appointed to positions within the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai: Akamine Eisuke (Vice Chairman), Kinjo Kazufumi (Vice Chairman), Nakasone Koshin (Chief Director), Taira Toyohide (Director), Sunabe Mitsuteru (Director), Nagaishi Fumio (Director), Minowa Katsuhiko (Director), and Nakamoto Masahiro (Secretary).

In Mainland Japan, his prominent students were Tsuyoshi Chitose (Chito Ryu), Sakagami Ryusho (Shito Ryu Itosukai), Hayashi Teruo (Shito Ryu Hayashi Ha), Kuniba Shogo (Shito Ryu Seishinkan), and Inoue Motokatsu (Yuishinkai). In 1964, Taira was awarded his Hanshi title by the All Japan Kobudo Association in recognition of his commitment to the art of weapons.

Taira continued to learn more Kobudo in his later years from Kamiya Jinsei and developed three kata: Maezato no Nunchaku, Maezato no Tekko, and Kongo no Kon. On September 4, 1970, Taira lost his fight with cancer and left Akamine Eisuke as the Chairman for the Okinawa branch and Inoue Motokatsu as the Chairman for Mainland Japan branch of the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai.