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Okinawa Ryuei Ryu History

1st Soke, Ryu Ryu Ko

Chief Instructor of Qing Dynasty’s Military Training School.

As a result of the start of “Opium War,” the members of the school, including young martial artists, were purged and Ryu Ryu Ko hid his whereabouts. Ryu Ryu Ko was named the 1st generation Soke of Ryuei Ryu out of respect for the first instructor who taught Norisato Nakaima.


2nd Soke, Norisato Nakaima

(12/11/1819 ~ 3/14/1897)


The person that brought back “Ryu no Waza” (Techniques of Ryu Ryu Ko) from China.  Born to a wealthy family in Naha City, Kume Mura.  Norisato excelled in Martial Arts and education also studied both Chinese and English.  However, he became engrossed in martial arts and poured all of the family’s fortune into the pursuit of it.


During the “Senkotsu” ceremony that took place 10-years after Norisato’s death, his bones indicated that he was over 180cm (6-ft tall) and was very gallant.


Unfortunately, no photographs of Norisato remain today.


3rd Soke, Kenchu Nakaima

(8/10/1856 ~ 9/20/1953)


Even though he was rather small, standing less than 160 cm high (about 5 ft 4 in tall), it was said that his physique was like that of an animal’s hide wrapped around a skeleton made of steel rebar.  He was known to be both courageous and fierce.


Until about the age of 30, he had an extremely bold streak.  Once After accepting a challenge from a famous Kama (sickle) master, a young Kenchu wrapped his Bo (staff) in a think sheet-metal before heading off to the match.


Because his father, Norisato, depleted the family fortune, Kenchu was unable to receive an education.  He worked diligently from dawn to dusk to earn a living to support his household, all the while training in Norisato’s martial arts.


Kenchu trained his son Kenkō rigorously, often telling him that, “All that was left for me is Ryuei Ryu Karate and its techniques.  I am unable to leave an inheritance for you.  All I can do is to keep and protect the skills that our ancestor brought back from China.”


4th Soke, Kenko Nakaima

(1911/12/23 ~ 1989/9/21)


Starting at a young age, Kenkō was trained rigorously by Kenchu, and was conferred a full mastership of Ryuei Ryu when he was 37 years old. Kenkō also studied Kendō while attending Okinawa Prefecture Teacher Training School (Okinawa ken Shihan Gakkō), and eventually earned a rank of 7th Dan Kyōshi.


He was a martial artist as well as an educator, serving as the school principal for elementary and middle schools.  Kenkō frequently said that “One becomes a martial artist by first understanding what it means to be a person.”   He also discussed the importance of commitment to courtesy, and on the nature of humanity.


In the 1970s, Kenkō broke with the tradition of one-child-conference and accepted students.  This action was not taken out of disrespect for family’s oath, but from an understanding that such customs of secrecy was no longer relevant in the present-day society.


5th Soke, Kenji Nakaima

(5/4/1934 ~ )

Kenji, like his predecessor, is a Martial Artist and an educator.  He has served as a professor at University Of the Ryukyus (Ryukyu Daigaku) and at other universities. He has attained 7th Dan Kyōshi in Iadiō as well as 7th Dan in Jōdō.


Kenji recalls when he was a young student, Kenkō correcting his posture, and only his posture, during his martial arts training; Kenkō would instruct by saying "Do not break your posture."

With Kenji, Kenkō didn’t focus too much on technicalities but very strict concerning Kamae (stances) and posture.


Today, Kenji philosophizes on how an Art (Karate) that was originally intended for fighting people, can be transformed into something that can reinvigorate people and contribute to society.  Kenji wishes for Ryuei Ryu to embody this philosophical approach.


5th Dōtō, Tsuguo Sakumoto

(12/13/1947 ~ )


An extraordinary martial artist who, starting with winning the championship at WKF8 Championship in the Netherlands at 37-years old, conquered three WKF championships titles, two World Games championships, and two World Cup championship all the while serving as the president of Okinawa-Ken-Ritsu Geijutu Daigaku (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts).


Today, he trains the new World Champions while tirelessly working to hone his mastery of Karate.


Pan-American Chief Instructor, Tomohiro Arashiro

(7/15/1954 ~ )


Arashiro sensei has been training Ryuei Ryu karate for over 50 years and teaching since 1979. He and his best friend Takeshi Matsuda sensei began their training with Okinawa Ryuei Ryu 4th Soke, Kenko Nakaima in Sumuide, Okinawa, Japan. During high school, he trained with the now Okinawa Ryuei Ryu Doto 5th, Tsuguo Sakumoto in the Nago High School Karate Club, while still training with Nakaima Soke after school.


In 1977, he graduated from Chukyou University in Aichi ken with a degree in Physical Education and was the captain of the Collegiate Karate Team. In 1979, he, along with his friend and fellow student Tsutomu Kuniyoshi, were chosen to bring Ryuei Ryu to the United States.


He continues to go back to Okinawa and train with Okinawa Ryuei Ryu 5th Soke, Kenji Nakaima and Sakumoto sensei.




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