Kanken Toyama was one of the greatest Karate masters of the early 20th century. One of his students named Takamizawa was a teacher of the great Malaysian Karate pioneer Chew Choo Soot. In the 1970s Budokan Karate was introduced to England and many Shotokan seniors enjoyed the more Chinese softer method. The group had Mike Newton (Yoseikan Karate) as president of Karate Budokan International in the UK and Phil Handyside (Shotokan Karate) as vice president. My first formal Karate teacher Steve Bullough (under whom I graded to 1st Dan) began training in Mike Newton’s Budokan in the late 1970s as did my former Tai Chi teacher. In 2001 I trained with Shihan Newton briefly and also began ten years of training with Bob Carruthers who introduced me to his teacher Shihan Handyside in 2003. In 2012 Shihan Handyside graded me 5th Dan in the same Dojo where Chew Choo Soot taught him. Here are some biographies:
Kanken Toyama: Tomari Te master
The late great martial arts grandmaster, Kanken Toyama, was born in Shuri, Okinawa on the 21st year of Meiji, September 24, 1888. His given name was Kanken Oyadamari and he born into to a noble family.
In 1897 Toyama Kanken began his formal training in Toshukuken (Karate) under Master Itarashiki. Later, he apprenticed himself to Anko Itosu, who then became his primary teacher and was his inspirational guide. He continued studying under Itosu until Itosu’s death in 1915.
Toyama was a school teacher by profession, and his chosen field of instruction was karate-do. In 1907 Toyama was named Shihandai (assistant) to Itosu at the Okinawa Teacher’s College in Shuri City, and in 1914 he held a high office at the Shuri First Elementary School. Toyama was one of only two students to be granted the title of Shihanshi (protege); Gichin Funakoshi was the other to receive this title from Itosu.
In 1924 Toyama Kanken moved his family to Taiwan where he taught elementary school and studied related systems of Chinese Ch’uan Fa (Kempo). This included Taku (Hakuda in Japanese language ), Makaitan, Rutaobai, and Ubo. Taku is one of central China’s Hotsupu (northern school) Ch’uan Fa and is further classified as Neikung Ch’uan Fa (Shorei Kempo), that is, an internal method. Makaitan and Rutaobai, which the techniques of nukite (spear hand) came, and Ubo, all belong to the Nampa (southern school) Ch’uan Fa and are external methods or Waikung Ch’uan Fa (Shorei Kempo). These later three styles hail primarily from Taiwan and Fukuden, China. Toyama sensei was also known to have studied and taught Tai Chi. Koyasu sensei learned Tai Chi from Toyama.
Early in 1930 Toyama moved again from Taiwan to mainland Japan and on 20 March 1930 he opened his first dojo in Tokyo. He called his dojo Shu Do Kan meaning “The Hall for the Study of the Way” (in this case the karate-way). Toyama sensei did not claim to originate a new style, system or school of thought, nor did he combine the different styles he had learned. Those who studied under him basically learned Itosu’s Shorin Ryu and the related ch’uan fa.
In 1946, Toyama Kanken, now a Dai Shihan, founded the All Japan Karate-Do Federation (AJKF). There is some evidence that the AJKF actually got its start in 1930’s, however the federation evolved into a full fledged organization when it was officially documented and sanctioned in 1946. Toyama’s intention when establishing the AJKF organization was to unify the karates of Japan and Okinawa into one governing organization, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and technique.
Toyama’s specialties in karate-do were strong gripping methods (Useishi No Kata and the Aku Ryoku Ho) of Itosu and Itarashiki and similar Chinese methods of finger and hand strengthening. He was the author of books Karate-do Taihokan and Karate-do. In 1949 Toyama was awarded a special title of honor by the Governor of Okinawa, Mr. Shikioku Koshin. Aside from learning Shorin-Ryu from Itosu, Toyama studied and mastered other styles of karate from other notable masters of Naha-te and Tomari-te which also included Okinawan Kobu-do. A few of his other teachers were Aragaki, Azato, Chibana, Oshiro, Tana, and Yabu.
It is also thought that when the Korean (Ch’uan fa) master, Yoon Byung-In came to train at his gymnasium, he also studied Northern Manchurian Kwan-bop with him. It is alleged that Toyama Kanken said that he and Yoon Byung-In should share techniques.
Chew Choo Soot 10th Dan: Budokan Karate
Chew Choo Soot was born in Alor Star, a Northern State of Peninsula, Malaysia, on February 7, 1922. As an infant, his father died and so he was brought up under the strict discipline of his grand father, an elderly Confucian scholar of the old school of China, who believed in education through books and not in martial arts.
At 15 years of age, Chew became very interested in weight lifting and enrolled for training at a small body building club in Epoh. Due to his dedication and training, he became the national Malaysian weight lifting champion in both the feather weight and the light weight classes in 1939, 1941 and 1942. During those years he also acquired an interest in martial arts and took up judo, jujitsu and wrestling.
It was not until he was 20 that Chew was introduced to Karate-Do, during the Japanese occupation of Malaya. He was then contracted by a Japanese military officer, who had seen him in health and strength magazines, to become a personal fitness and weight lifting coach. During one of his scheduled visits, the young Chew discovered the officer practicing movements which we now know to be karate ‘Kata’. The styles of karate practiced by the officer were Keishinkan (Kanken Toyama) and Shotokan. Chew was impressed and asked for tuition, which the officer agreed to. For more than 2 years afterwards, they spent the evenings training together in karate, jujitsu, judo and weight lifting until the Japanese Army officer left for Okinawa in 1945.
After the end of the Second World War, Chew went to Japan and Okinawa to further his karate training training with Takamazawa (student of Toyama), as well as several trips to Taiwan to learn kung-fu and oriental weapons from a number of old kung-fu Masters of China.
In 1966 at the request of his friends, Chew then decided to start a dojo at Petaling Jaya with a small number of students and Karate Budokan International was first founded as a lesser organisation. There was a large amount of interest shown by people who wanted to learn karate, which became so great that he found it impossible to cope with the classes without seeking assistant instructors. As there were no other karate instructors in Malaysia, he then made two further trips to Tokyo and Osaka and employed 7 Japanese instructors to assist him to conduct the karate classes. These classes had then spread the art to the North and South of the Peninsula within 2 years.
Chew’s ambition was to be able to travel to different countries and conduct karate classes when he reached the age of 80. Unfortunately, he fell ill by a paralytic attack on 4 February 1995 and died, in Malaysia, on 18 July 1997 at the age of 76 years.
Shihan Handyside 8th Dan Shobukan Karate
Shihan Handyside is the founder of a traditional school of Karate called Shobukan which combines his half a century of studies in Shotokan, Budokan and Jujutsu, grading under some of the world’s most renowned grandmasters. What makes Shobukan unique is that it teaches strong Shotokan, but through the influence of Malaysian Budokan has a softer Chinese influence.
Mr Handyside has celebrated 50 years in the martial arts. He began in 1963 with Judo and Jujutsu, studying under Sensei Richard Butterworth before moving into Karate after seeing a demonstration by Sadashige Kato who became his first Karate teacher. He took his Kyu grades under Sensei Cyril Cummins of Karate Union Great Britain and began teaching Karate in 1973.
Mr Handyside left the Karate Union Great Britain in 1975 and was examined for 1st Dan by the man he regards as his greatest influence, Hirokazu Kanazawa.
Kanazawa Sensei is not only a master of Shotokan Karate (10th Dan IMAF) but also studied Yang style Tai Chi and trained in Okinawa in Shorin Ryu with masters Chibana and Higa.
He then received an Invite from Grandmaster Chew Choo Soot to escort him around the North West to promote Budokan Karate from Malaysia and was awarded his 2nd Dan. Mr Handyside organised the KBI World Open Championships in 1979 at the Preston Guild Hall. Mr Handyside combined his knowledge of Shotokan and Budokan to form the school we now know as Shobukan, and has taught in his hometown of Preston for the last 40 years. Mr Handyside is graded 8th Dan and is a member of the Shikon organisation.