Motobu Ha Seishin-Kai and Tani-Ha History

Motobu Ha Seishin-Kai  is a sub-style of Japanese Shitō-ryū Karate-Do.

Seishinkai started as a dojo (training area) called Seishin-Kan, founded by (Kuniba) Kokuba Kosei in 1943,  in Osaka, Japan.  He believed that true Karate-dō comes from the heart so he called his dojo Seishin or "pure heart" dojo.

During World War II, the Seishin-Kan dojo became a well-known meeting place, and many of the founders of other different styles of Karate trained and taught there.

(Kuniba) Kokuba Kosei was a devoted student of Choki Motobu, and upon Motobu's death in 1947,  Kuniba became the second Sōke of Motobu's branch of karate, known as Motobu-ha Karate-dō, and Seishin-kan became the center of the new organization,  Kuniba then renamed the style as Motuba-Ha Seishin-Kai, and began promoting this style.

In 1959, after the death of (Kuniba) Kokuba Kosei, his only son Shogo Kuniba (Kosho) became the third Sōke of Motobu-Ha Seishinkai Karate-Do.  Shogo Kuniba however, was only 29 years old, so Teruo Hayashi was appointed as technical advisor and president of Motubu Ha Seishin-kai from 1959 until 1970.

In 1983 Sōke Kuniba left Japan and moved the center of operation for Motobu-ha Seishinkai Shitō-ryū Karate-do to Portsmouth, Virginia.  After Kuniba’s death in 1992, Kunio Tatsuno emerged as the Kaicho of Seishinkai. Kuniba's dojo in the U.S. separated from Seishinkai and became independent.  Kunio Tatsuno died suddenly in May, 1999, and Seishinkai soon dissolved as an organization in Japan.

In the same year the sons of Shogo Kuniba, (Kosuke Kuniba and Kozo Kuniba), formed Nihon Karate-do Kuniba-kai, which is currently operating in Japan, as the home of Motobu-ha Shito-ryu.

 Shukokai -aka-Tani-Ha Shitō-ryū: founded by Chōjirō Tani, student of Mabuni Kenwa, in 1949. This style represents the Tani-ha version of Shitō-ryū.  Tani's most senior student, Shigeru Kimura, left Japan in 1965 to teach Shūkōkai in Africa. Kimura continued to teach after travelling to Europe, before settling in the United States in 1970 at the age of 29.  Sensei Kimura taught Shukokai Shito Ryu also known as Tani-Ha in America.  He passed away in 1998.


Irvin Shelton (1936-1999)  studied Motobu Ha Seishinkai Karate in Japan, beginning in the late 1960’s.  Shelton Sensei also studied Tani-Ha Shito-Ryu Karate in the United States, in the 1970’s.  Our organization is committed and dedicated to carrying on the vast knowledge, the traditions, and the  teachings of Shelton Sensei.