The story of Modern Karate to those that study Shukokai is really the story of it's founder, Sensai Shigeru Kimura.
Shigeru Kimura was born in Kobe on March 2, 1941. Even as a child he was athletic, ambitious and talented. After having tried judo and kendo, he began karate at the age of 16 with Sensei Chojiro Tani (1921 - January, 1998). At the age of 21 he won the All Japan Championships. He was not to be beaten the following year either and won the title for the second time In spite of his success, Sensei doubted the effectiveness of his karate, so he decided to try full contact fighting with other students. The punches were fast enough but much less effective than he had expected, which frustrated him and he began his quest.
Without the slightest knowledge of English Sensei Kimura left Japan in 1965 for Africa, where he taught in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. The first country where he was to stay longer and have a considerable influence on karate was South Africa. Wherever the Master was at work, successful schools with well-trained instructors were the result.
His quest led him further to Europe, where he then settled in England. Ultimately, his journey ended in the USA where, thanks to Sensei Kidachi - a renowned Judoka, he settled and opened his first Dojo. This soon became too small and Sensei Kidachi was again at hand as they set about looking for a larger Dojo. The two masters remained close friends and visited one another often. Hackensack, NJ became the location for the Shukokai Headquarters and would remain so for 18 years. Sensei Kimura was then 37 years old and one of the youngest ever to have held the 7th Dan with an acknowledged style.
1980: Sensei Kimura married Kaoru. She lent more serenity to his life and gave him a solid foundation apart from his Karate Students.
1981: Sensei organised the first Shukokai World Tournament in the USA - an event that established itself and has since then taken place every two years. Shukokai Karatekas from all over the world were now visiting the headquarters regularly. Even Karatekas of other styles often sought advice from the Grand Master as well. Sensei Kimura regularly nurtured the seedlings of karate he had planted over the entire world and was to discover with pride that many of them had grown into sturdy trees.
He continued to develop the Tani-Shukokai further, something which constantly challenged, irritated, and frustrated but above all brought his students further. With the 'left gear' he revolutionised his entire Shukokai once again. The manner of practicing Shukokai now differed considerably from the Tani style, which is why the term Kimura's Shukokai is used today. In 1991 Kimura's Shukokai was being practiced world-wide by 20,000 students in 14 countries.
Even in his later years, Sensei remained innovative and open. Karatekas who were closed to developing further were out of place with him, proof of which were the numerous partings of ways. Sensei Kimura - a man of no compromise; his influence is still present in many large organisations of today, even though working together has ceased.
Time and again, Sensei took on private students (Uchi Dachi). The first ones had a very difficult time. However, as the Master developed himself further technically, he also became more approachable and had more understanding for his students' mistakes.
In 1987 Sensei Kimura had already begun contemplating the replacement of his Dojo, which was already too small and somewhat run-down. To everyone's delight, he was able to fulfil the dream of having his own new headquarters, this time in Tenafly, NJ. This Dojo was beautiful and professional, with a kitchen, recreation room, large training room and the option of overnight stays.
Still, Sensei did not shy away from the exertion of instructing at his schools overseas twice a year. His impressive teaching of Shukokai were the highlights of the year for us. At his last Gasshuku in May of 1995, we once again left the hall astonished - an aura of magic was in his technique. Inimitable and unequalled.
1994: Sensei called his students together. Kimura's Shukokai encountered its origins of Sensei Tani's style at the Shukokai-Tani Championship in Kobe. His group won almost all the awards - an achievement that made him very proud - and markedly proved his credo of POWER-SPEED-CONTROL in his native land.
Sensei Kimura, full of plans for the future, died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 54.