Tadashi Yamashita

Way of the Water Fist

There is a separate section about Tadashi Yamashita. Sensei Yamashita was the head of my style when I first began learning Karate-Do. I was fortunate enough to be part of his organization at the time he began making serious changes. One of the biggest was the introduction of his own personal style that he dubbed, “SuiKenDo”. This translates to “The way of the fist that flows like water.” Having gotten to spar with him many years ago, I can attest that this is no exaggeration. Sensei Yamashita teaches that by blocking and striking in rapid succession, almost simultaneously, a karateka can gain a serious advantage over his opponent.


There was a recent trend of many of his schools to change their name to include the word “Suibukan” (School/House of the Martial Arts that are [like] Water). I understood this to mean that he was declaring his style “Suibukan Shorin-ryu” similar to his teachers’ Shorinkan Shorin-ryu, but was later corrected by a karateka that lives near Sensei Yamashita in Los Angeles. He informed me that Sensei Yamashita is simply referring to his style as “Yamashita Shorin-ryu”, in the same manner that he teaches “Yamashita-Matayoshi Kobudo”. In addition to explaining his new fighting style, while at the Okinawan Masters Seminar (Sensei Yamashita’s annual seminar in Milwaukee Wisconsin), he began teaching us complexes to demonstrate his philosophy on Karate-Do. One of those complexes we learned has gone by many names since it was first taught. I have heard it called “Yamashita Dai Ichi”, “Suikendo Dai Ichi”, and “Yamashita Dai Ni”. I am simply going to refer to it as “Suikendo Waza No Yamashita Dai Ichi” (Suikendo Techniques of Yamashita [Set] One).


In the complex, you can see that most moves “flow” right into the next. One block slides into another block. A punch transitions into a block. A block immediately leads to a kick. This is what Suikendo is all about. While I do not contend that I know much about this style of Karate, I wanted to offer a glimpse of it to everyone. It is a great example of a Karateka taking something he knows, applying a methodology that works to it, and then teaching it to their students. It encourages us all to experiment and find the methodology that works best for our body type and ability, and then pass that on to others who may gain from it.

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Theodore Kruczek is the founder and head writer of the Okinawan Karate-do Institute. He is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Okinawan Shorin-ryu with more than 14 years of experience. This site was created as his way of both teaching his own Karate and learning about others.

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