Taira Shinken was the best known student of Yabiku Moden. Yabiku was also a karate student of Itosu, and may have learned some rudimentary kobujustsu from him. Taira Shinken was born in 1898 on the small island Kukijima. Taira first learned karate from Funakoshi, before the latter left Okinawa for Japan proper. He then entered Yabiku's dojo, and devoted himself to learning all the weapons arts he could.

Besides Yabiku, Taira trained with whoever would teach him. This led to an amassing of kata knowledge unequaled at the time. Taira also devised several forms of his own.

He was a great inovator, and he devised many new ways to practice the art. Practical-minded, Taira experimented with full contact gear, much as the early karate-ka in Tokyo had with karate sparring. Taira also tried several weapons improvisations, with the aim of making safer models, just for sparring practice.

Taira Shinken

Taira Shinken

Later, Taira moved to Japan proper, himself. There he helped a number of Okinawan karate men to get established (while working with them in kobujutsu). His original intention on moving to mainland Japan was much the same as that of many Okinawan's during those days - to find a new, or better, life.

In 1922 he moved to Tokyo where he was spurred towards self-improvement and became a student of Funakoshi Gichin. Through Funakoshi, Taira met Mubuni Kenwa, and from the founder of Shito-Ryu he learned karate and kobudo.

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Courtesy of RKAGB

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