Whidbey karate students meet the supreme instructor

Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro shows a book he spent years writing that will help with the training of a traditional style of karate.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro shows a book he spent years writing that will help with the training of a traditional style of karate.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

A group of dedicated martial artists is working to see substance trumps style.

Thirty or so students practicing Shorin-Ryu Seibukan karate gathered at the Coupeville Recreation Hall recently to attended a seminar that featured a supreme instructor who flew in from Okinawa. Students attending the three-day long event came as far away as Alaska and South Dakota.

Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro visited Whidbey Island as part of a three-stop visit across the United States. On June 15, a dozen or so black belts were on hand to fine-tune their forms, or katas, with someone who has been the a supreme instructor of the school of karate since 1969.

Chris Peabody, sensei of a dojo based in Oak Harbor, said Seikuban promotes a traditional style of karate originating in Okinawa. He described the style as grounded in katas, or pre-arranged fighting sequences.

Members practicing the Seibukan, which is celebrating its 50th year, are also working to ensure the style grows.

“Our goal is to make sure traditional karate is taught,” Shimabukuro said before starting a training session with students. He argued that a more sport-oriented version of karate is too flashy and lacks a lot of theory about technique, while Seibukan focuses more on a healthy body.

Shimabukuro holds a 10th degree black belt and is a supreme instructor of a style of karate that was founded by his father. He is noted as being one of the first Okinawan sensei to teach karate in the United States, according to the Alaska Seibukan Karate Do, which is the website of the organization that oversees the two dojos operating on Whidbey Island. One is located in Oak Harbor while the other one is located in Langley.

Last weekend’s visit marked the third trip Shimabukuro has made to Whidbey Island. He said he enjoys visiting the area and enjoying the weather, trees and nature the island offers.

Whidbey Island was the second stop on his tour. He started in Portland last month and he visited Mississippi before heading back home next week.

He also showed a book he created. The photo-intensive publication took him two years to complete and will help sensei teach their students.

To celebrate the style’s 50th year, Peabody said a group of people will  visit Okinawa in October. Approximately two dozen people have signed up to join the celebration that will include practitioners from other countries including Russia, Finland, South Africa and Dubai.


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