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Mr P
Mr P's picture
Mabuni - founder of Shotokan

Came across this article this morning and thought it might be of interest.


I like it as it gives nice background information on the development of karate in 1920's and 30's Japan. Shows cooperation between karateka at the time before the cementing of specific styles within the karate world.


AllyWhytock's picture

Hello, Interesting article. I'm wondering if person in the picture on Page 22 is Mabuni Kenei, son of Mabuni Kenwa.

Kindest Regards,


Mr P
Mr P's picture

Hi Ally,

Just been searching on Google and I think you are right. Don't know why they have picked a wrong photo - still at least they kept it in the family I suppose  :)


Chikara Andrew
Chikara Andrew's picture

I think that the article is a little biased, not least as it is written from a Shito Ryu organisation.

This article falls into the same that that many articles about karate styles do and that is to apply a modern view on early practices. Although it alludes to the "founding" of Shotokan school, something that Funakoshi himself was against, it neglects the fact that early karate was a real melting pot.

In the 1930's Mabuni himself describes himself as a Goju Ryu practitioner and yet he is today only attributed to his own Shito Ryu school. 

The "founding fathers" of modern karate, including the likes of Funakoshi, Mabuni, Miyagi, Chomo and many others all interacted, exchanged ideas, kata etc. The fundamentals of "styles" came much later, and as in the case of Shotokan in particular, after the death of it's founder.

Although not a practitioner of Shotokan from what I have seen and read much of what typifies "Shotokan" was developed after the deaths of both Funakoshi and Mabuni. So if you want a candidate for "founder" of Shotokan, which the article considers to be it's performance of kata, stances etc. perhaps you should look further ahead in it's history.

And yes, I agree the picture shown is Mabuni Kenei and not the father Mabuni Kenwa.


Kevin73's picture

I agree with Andrew.  I wouldn't say that Mabuni is the "founder" of Shotokan, he was influential but the changes that we think of in Shotokan were not made by him or Funakoshi.

I have always viewed (even if incorrectly) what Funakoshi/Mabuni did in some ways was trying to preserve Okinawan karate and pass it on.  Mabuni collected almost all of the known katas in Okinawa and put them in his system.  I have viewed this as cataloging them more than trying to create his own fighting system.