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RYUSHO SAKAGAMI - ITOSU-KAI

Ryusho Sakagami (1915-1993) was born in Hyogo Prefecture, Kawanishi City of Japan, the son of a very prosperous "Saki" (rice wine) family businessman. He began practicing the martial art of 'Kendo' around the age of ten and in his later teen years began to study "IAIDO" (way of Samurai Sword Draw). Ryusho Sakagami continued to diligently practice these arts and by 1934/35, he was enrolled at the prestigious Tokyo University, the Kokushinkan, who's specialty was producing the top Kendo instructors in Japan. While attending university, he became interested in the art to Karate-Do and Kobudo and later began to receive instruction from the famous Okinawan master, Moden Yabiku.

Over the next few years Ryusho Sakagami continued his education and intense training in various martial arts and around 1937, after repeated visits to Okinawa to train in Karate-do and Kobudo, he was encouraged by some of the great masters to return to mainland Japan and continue his studies with the prominent Okinawan master Kenwa Mabuni in Osaka.

After graduating from university, Ryusho Sakagami returned to Osaka to become a dedicated disciple of Kenwa Mabuni. By 1941, he was successful in receiving the "Shihan" (master teacher) licence from Master Mabuni and a short while later returned to his home prefecture to establish the "Gembukan Karate-Do Dojo".

Ryusho Sakagami

As a result of his efforts to further promote the martial art to Karate-do, Ryusho Sakagami was awarded the honorary Karate-do title of "Renshi" (man of discipline) in 1942 from the Dai Nippon Butoku-Kai, the most prestigious martial arts organization in Japan at the time. Prior to the untimely death of Grandmaster Kenwa Mabuni on May 23rd. 1952, Ryusho Sakagami Sensei was directed by the Grandmaster to accept the honorific position of "Third Generation Leader of Itosu-ha" (Itosu's Orthodox Style) in early 1952.

After the Grandmaster's death, Sakagami Sensei moved to the Tokyo area where he taught for a short time in 1953, and then, finally settled in the town of Tsurumi located between the cities of Kawasaki and Yokohama. By 1955, Sakagami Sensei had firmly established the "Zen Nippon Karate-Do Itosu-Kai" headquarters for instruction in the martial arts of Kendo, Karate-Do, Kobudo, and Jodo (way of the short-staff). Over the next few years, Sakagami Sensei continued with the study of Ryukyu Kobudo under the direction of Grandmaster Shinken Taira who awarded him a Shihan licence in 1959, and later promoted him to the level of 8th Dan, Kobudo in 1963.

Master Sakagami's reputation as a highly qualified and well respected martial artist became legendary. Sakagami became famous for his knowledge of all Japanese Budo, and was regarded as a walking encyclopedia of styles, lineage, technique, and kata.

By this period in time, he had also distinguished himself to a level of 5th Dan in Aakido, 5th Dan in Judo, and 7th Dan in Jukendo (way of Rifle & Bayonet). During 1962, Sakagami Sensei was greatly honored by being awarded the 7th Dan, Kendo - "Kyoshi" (man of high attainment) level of distinction.

Among Master Sakagami's more notable disciples were his son Shihan Sadaake Sakagami (Chief Instructor, Japan Headquarters), Shihan Seiko Suzuki (Tokyo - founder of present Seiko-Kai Shito-Ryu), Shihan Fumio Demura, (1965 founder of Shito-Ryu Itosu-Kai U.S.A.), and Shihan Kei C. Tsumura (1969 Founder of Shito-Ryu Itosu-Kai, Canada).

In 1980, Master Sakagami was awarded the distinction of 8th Dan Karate-Do "Hanshi" (Superior level of attainment) by F.A.J.K.O.and by 1987, he had also reached the 8th Dan Iaido - "Hanshi" level in the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iai system.

One of the final honors received by Master Sakagami was to be elevated to the 10th Dan Karate-Do - "Hanshi" (Grandmaster) level by the Nippon Karatedo Rengokai (Japan karate-do All-Styles Organization).

Grandmaster Ryusho Sakagami died on December 28, 1993. JKF bestowed upon him Hanshi 9th Dan posthumously on June 22nd. 1994.

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