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Grand Master Shian Toma

Grand Master Shian Toma

Master Sian Toma was born in 1929. He began his study of Karate at the age of sixteen. From that time on he has dedicated his life to the study of Okinawan Martial Arts. On Okinawa he began his training with Shinato Sokishi, a student of Chojun Miyagi and Tatsuo Shimabuku. Sokishi only taught four kata, which he had learned from his Goju Ryu Instructor, Chojun Miyagi, but trained his students on them religiously. To this day Shian Toma maintains strict standards of kata performance for his students, because of his orginal training from Shinjato Sokishi. Later in his Karate Development, Toma had the priveledge of studying under Zenryo Shimabuku and Shigeru-Ryu (currently known a Chubu Shorin-Ryu) and Okinawa Kempo Kai, respectively. Especially from Shimabuku, he learned the kata of Shorin Branch, which he teaches today.

Shian Toma was a dedicated Karate Practioner, but he sought to understand the greater depths of the Okinawan Martial Arts, which he achieved by seeking instruction in the oldest extant art on the Island. This was achieved when he began his training with Seikichi Uehara in 1968. Uehara teaches the System named Motobu UdunDi Kobujutsu.

Motobu UdunDi Kobujutsu is the art founded by Uehara in 1947. It preserves the ancient art of the Motobu Family which is also known as Go Ten Te. The art was founded in the seventeenth century, by Sho Koshin, the sixth son of Okinawan King Sho Shitsu. Having learned his family's martial art, and not being the eldest son, Sho Shitsu changed his name to Chohe Motobu and established his own family. He created his own particular martial art, which he called Go Ten Te, and passed on from father to eldest son Choyu Motobu. This was the beginning of the modern era, so that the feudal age was over and the restriction to teach only the eldest son was over. Choyu Motobu accepted Seikichi Uehara as his student, hoping that it would encourage his son Chomo to train. Uehara and Chomo, whose name of youth was Toraju, were close friends, thus Seikichi was allowed to learn the complete, heretofore secret system. While Choyu Motobu founded the Okinawan Karate Kenkyu Kai "Research Society", where he trained many of the leading martial arts Masters of the day, it was only to Seikichi Uehara that he taught the entire system.

When Choyu died in 1926, and Chomo refused to learn the system, and then passed on himself, it left Seikichi Uehara as the last Master of Motobu Go Ten Te. What is considered by many the main principle of Go Ten Te, and what separates it from modern Karate, is Toide. Thus the secret is the "Taking Hand" skill which is very similar to Aikijujutsu, but with a unique Okinawan application. The interpretation of movement, which leads to typical Karate techniques having concealed within them aspects of body manipulation. this is why the throwing techniques of Toide are nearly limitless.

Motobu UdunDi Kobujutsu, as taught by Seikichi Uehara to Shian Toma, includes not only Toide, but the familiar striking art, which is practiced in the ancient manner without prearranged forms. Also taught are the full range of weaponry, contained in the Motobu UdunDi curriculum, which includes: Katana, Wakizashi, Nicho Tanbo, Yari, Naginata, Rokushaku Bo, Goshaku Bo, Uchi Bo, Jo, Nunchaku, Tonfa, Kai, Sai, Choto, and Tanto.

Out of respect for his original teachers, Shian Toma requested permission from Uehara, to add the practice of prearranged Kata to his martial arts. While Uehara maintains the purity of the Motobu family art, he does allow outlying schools to incorporate the formal kata into their individual schools. Shian Toma calls his school and system of Martial Arts "SEIDOKAN". He teaches a curriculum which includes Shorin-Ryu, Shorinji-Ryu kata and most especially Motobu UdunDi Kobujutsu, which includes Toide, ancient striking skills, and ancient weaponry.

by William Durbin

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