Master Tatsuo Shimabuku

The Incredible Master Tatsuo Shimabuku

Master Tatsuo Shimabuku was a martial artist from a Japan born on September 19, 1908. Tatsuo Shimabuku founded the isshinryu (One heart style) of karate. His original name was Shinkichu, but he later changed to Tatsuo, which means the “Dragon man.”

Tatsuo Shimabuku began training karate with his uncle at the age of 12, and his main inspiration was that he could be able to fend off his older brother, who usually used to torment him. Well, that came to pass because, after a few months of Tatsuo’s training, his brother was no longer a threat to him.


Early Life

Tatsuo achieved a lot in his early life because, by the time he was a teenager, he had already attained a physical level of a person that was about six years his senior. The things that gave him so much strength were his karate training, working on their family farm and natural medicines.

Tatsuo was also able to excel in athletics, and by the time he was 17 years, he was winning in two of his favorite events, which included high jump and javelin throw. Tatsuo also began studying Shorin-Ryu when he was 19 years under a teacher known as Chotoku Kyan.



As Tatsuo grew and became good in karate, he began teaching. In the late ’40s, he began to experiment with several techniques, as well as kata from Goju-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu systems and Kobudo. The first style that he was teaching he named it Chan-migwa-te, which meant “Small-eyed-Chan.”

At around 1947, he renamed the style Chan-migwa-te to “Sun nu Su-te,” and by the early ’50s, Tatsuo began refining his karate teachings. He started combining what he felt was best in Shorin-Ryu and the Goju-Ryu style. He also incorporated the weapons formed as well as his very own techniques.

He formed the isshinryu karate style in 1956 after one night dreaming of the goddess Isshinryu no Megami one night back in 1955. Tatsuo felt that it was a symbol from the goddess, and this led him to announce that he was forming a new style. Although his decision to form a new karate style caused him to lose some of his students, including even his brother known as Eizo, Tatsuo stuck to his decision and continued to teach.

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