A Brief History: Grand Master Hoshu Ikeda

Shorin Ryu is one of the oldest styles of Okinawan Karate.  Occasionally, the name of the village, or town of a particular master was added to the name of the style, or system.  Joshinmon Shorin Ryu was named based on Grand Master Hoshu Ikeda’s philosophy that, “You cannot teach karate as a means for harming another man.  This would be out of harmony with Nature.  But you can teach karate as a way to stop men from harming you, or each other, thereby restoring harmony to Nature.”  “Joshin”, translates to “peace”, or “tranquility;” “mon” translates to “gate”, or “pathway.”  Joshinmon, then is “The Gateway to Tranquility.”  Naming the system involved Master Ikeda’s considerations of the Zen philosophies.  Master Ikeda’s deeply religious beliefs lead him to the conclusion that for any endeavor to succeed, including teaching karate, one must be completely in tune with all living things around them.  In short, one must be in harmony with the universe.   

Grand Master Hoshu Ikeda was born in China to Japanese parents.  When he was twelve years old, the family returned to Japan, where Mr. Ikeda began his study of Shorin Ryu Karate.  His training led him to Okinawa where he learned Matsumura Shorin Ryu (Tomari-te).  He studied Okinawan Shorin Ryu and Shorinji Ryu and his lineage can be traced to Shorinji Ryu Karate-Do founder Soke Isamu Tamotsu (1919-2000), President of Renshinkan Karate in Kagoshima, Japan and to the Okinawan Master Chotoku Kyan, one of the greatest and father of most of the existing karate styles.   

As a young man, Mr. Ikeda devoted himself to his art.  When practice was over for the rest of the class, Mr. Ikeda stayed behind, working on kata, or punching the Makiwara.  Although his zeal and enthusiasm impressed his sensei at the time, Mr. Ikeda was often asked politely to leave the dojo in the late hours of the night.  He began training back when the dojo was usually just a barren room at the sensei’s home.  Even when he was not at the dojo, Mr. Ikeda could be found punching and kicking away anywhere he went.  It soon became obvious to his family, friends and sensei that Mr. Ikeda would someday be a leader in the world of Karate.  Today, Grand Master Hoshu Ikeda has one of the top Karate systems in the world.  

Grand Master Ikeda went on to establish the Joshinmon Federation in 1969.  It is now an international organization with branches in Armania, Belarus, Canada, Costa Rica, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, East Russia, Estonia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Kyrgystan, Mauritius, Moldova, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Srilanka, Tartarstan, Ukraine, United States of America and West Russia.  He has also written various books on karate, which have become best sellers.  They are among the most comprehensive books written on the history and origin of karate.  The books also illustrate kata and technique, but it is the research into and explanation of all aspects of karate, which have made these books so popular.  In addition, he has published teaching and training karate videos. “There is so much more to karate living than mere punching and kicking.” 

Perhaps it is this attitude toward teaching that has endeared Grand Master Ikeda to the karate’s female population.  It is estimated that he has the largest female following in karate.  During the 14th Annual Karate Championships, Grand Master Ikeda was represented by over 600 contestants.  In and of itself, this is not a great number, until you consider that all of the contestants were women participating in a women only tournament.   In a land where women are not yet encouraged to exhibit talent in many ways, Grand Master Ikeda’s all-women tournaments provide an excellent outlet for women, offering sparring, kata, self-defense demonstrations and performing with weapons (Kobudo).  

Grand Master Ikeda has tailored Joshinmon to suit all ages and both genders.  He is deeply in tune with the different motivations in learning karate.  He feels that while young people want to be involved in the sporting aspect, a much larger group is interested in the physical self-improvement.  To Grand Master Ikeda all aspects are important, “You cannot practice kata without basics, basics without sparring and so on.  It’s like the sun and the moon.  Both are needed just as you have the front of your body and the back of your body.”  

Nested within the Joshinmon Organization there exists an elite international group called the Jikiden-kai members.  These accomplished members (3rd Dan, or higher) are profoundly guided by Grand Master Hoshu Ikeda with special knowledge and skills, in all aspects of Martial Arts.    

As a mark of his accomplishments, Grand Master Ikeda also served on the Promotions Committee of the International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF).  Grand Master Ikeda has unified the old traditional karate with the modern karate, in order to evolve the Joshinmon style; maintaining alive and improving the old Kobudo techniques.  He is currently 9th Dan in Karate and concurrently, President of the International Joshinmon Shorin Ryu Federation and President of the International Seitai-do Organization.