Tribute to Nakazato Joen

Sad news out of Okinawa – Nakazato Joen Sensei has passed away. This information was revealed through the apt reporting of Mario McKenna who also provided a link back to the original Okinawan article.

nakazato joen

Nakazato Sensei was Hanshi Judan of Ryukyu Shorinji Ryu Karatedo. He was also one of the most prominent students of the renowned karate exponent Kyan Chotoku. Nakazato Sensei was a strong resource for traditional methods and was known to place great emphasis on passing kata they way they were handed down to him from Kyan Sensei.

Nakazato Sensei had many notable achievements in his lifetime, as reported by the article in Okinawa Times:

“In 1960 he became vice-president and head of the All Japan Karatedo Federation, Okinawa Division, in 1965 he was appointed vice-chairman of the Okinawa Karatedo League, and in 1983 he served as the president of the Okinawa Karatedo Federation. In 2000 he was designated an Intangible Cultural Asset, and in 2007 a Cultural Merit holder.  He authored one book on Karatedo, “Karatedo no Jidaiteki Soan”. He was the former mayor of Chinen,  elected in 1982 and served two  eight-year terms.”

Seen below is Nakazato Sensei performing the kata Tokumine No Kun:


Nakazato Sensei referred to his style as Shorinji Ryu to reflect his ties with Kyan Sensei’s karate, which was strongly influenced by Chinese elements. The word Shorinji itself is a variation of the word Shaolin, meaning “young forest”.

Here is a glimpse inside Nakazato Sensei’s dojo, provided by the Isshinryu Preservation Society Tour:


Nakazato Sensei’s influence will be missed by Shorinji Ryu practitioners and traditional artists worldwide. May this inspire us to learn as much as we can from the valuable teachers still with us!

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