Shotokan Family Tree

Gichin Funakoshi 

Masatoshi Nakayama

Hidetaka Nishiyama

Vincent Cruz

Ricardo Llewelyn

Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957)

Is the founder of Shotokan karate-Do, perhaps the most widely known style of karate and is attributed as being the "father of modern karate". In 1922, Funakoshi introduced Shotokan Karate to Japan and the world, standardizing many of the forms that we practice today for teaching in elementary school, high school, and college levels.

Masatoshi Nakayama (1913-1987)

One of the Founders of the Japanese Karate Association, holding the position of Chief instructor for many years. Formed the JKA Instructor Trainee Program which has created some of the finest Karate Instructors in the world. he was an internationally famous japanese master of Shotokan karate, wrote many textbooks on karate, which served to popularize this martial art. For 40 years he worked to spread Shotokan Karate around the world. He was the first master in Shotokan history to attain the rank of 9th dan while still alive and was posthumously awarded the rank of 10th dan.

Notable Students: Keigo Abe, Tetsuhiko Asai, Keinosuke Enoeda, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Takayuki Mikami, Teruyuki Okazaki, Hidetaka Nishiyama, Taiji Kase, Hiroshi Shirai, Shojiro Sugiyama, Tatsuya Naka, and many others.

Hidetaka Nishiyama (1928-2008)

Student of Funakoshi and Nakayama, and a prominent Japanese master of Shotokan karate. he was an internationally recognized instructor, author and administrator. Was one of the original students of the JKA, Nishiyama helped establish the Japanese karate Association. He was also one of several JKA Instructors to found Karate Associations in the United States and around the world. (ITKF) He was one of the last surviving students of Gichin Funakoshi until his death in 2008. He was a pioneer of karate in the US and was posthumously awarded the rank of 10th dan in Shotokan. 

Vincent A. Cruz (1937-2015)

Founder of the International San Ten Karate Association (ISKA). Student of Hidetaka Nishiyama, Kaigate, Isao Obata, Kyuzo Mifune, H. Kotani, T. Tomiki, M. Hosakawa, and many others.

Notable students: Rick Johns (Panama), Ricardo Llewelyn (Panama and USA), and many others.

Ricardo Llewelyn

Sensei Ricardo Llewelyn has been practicing Shotokan Karate since 1970. He holds a Kyu-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt) in Shotokan Karate and has been granted titles of Shihan, Kyoshi and Hanshi with the International San Ten Karate Association (ISKA). Hanshi Llewelyn is the President of ISKA, founded by Sensei Vincent Cruz in 1979. Sensei Llewelyn is also ranked with the Dai-Ichi Shotokan Karate Association (DSKA), headed by Sensei Ricardo Johns and the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF), headed by the late great Master Hidetaka Nishiyama. He was also inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of fame in 2019.

Q: Why is lineage important?

A: When you, a beginning student, walks into a martial arts school that claims to be offering "karate" then you should be learning it properly. If the sensei doesn't have verifiable lineage, then they don't have a sensei teaching them, reviewing them and they can pretty much teach whatever they feel. This means that you, the student who thinks you are learning the art properly, is actually being trained in a watered down version of said art. While this doesn't seem important at the time since you are a beginner, if you make it to black belt ranks, it will. If you become a sensei, it will REALLY matter and if you make a claim to teach an art that has verifiable lineage, everything you do should be recognizable to others in that art form. It also adds true value to the black belt you will be earning because your rank can be verified. While that is one of the last concerns of a beginner, it becomes important as you progress up the ranks, especially if you make a decision to travel to the home country of that art and train.

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