Hanshi Shunji Watanabe - International Head Master
Hanshi Shunji Watanabe (born 1938) is the international head master of the Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe Ha World Federation, based in Baltimore, Maryland.
One of the chief proponents of Shorinjiryu Karate Do, and a leading disciple of Shinan Kori Hisataka, Hanshi Shunji Watanabe, 9th Dan was born in Japan in 1938, and began his martial arts instruction with Shinan Kori Hisataka in 1955 at the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Hombu dojo in Tokyo. He received his Shodan (1st Dan) black belt ranking from Shinan Hisataka in 1958.
In 1967, Hanshi Watanabe came to North America, by way of Canada, to demonstrate Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karate at the Montreal Expo. He made the journey along with Shihan Masayuki Hisataka, the son of Shinan Kori Hisataka. Hanshi Watanabe was asked by Shinan Kori Hisataka to remain in North America and help to develop Shorinjiryu Karatedo in the United States and Canada. Hanshi Watanabe made his home in Baltimore, Maryland and started the Japan Karate and Judo Center, which he maintains to this day.
Hanshi Watanabe has carefully preserved the styles and principles taught to him by Shinan Hisataka and maintains a traditional Japanese dojo; something rarely found in the United States today. Hanshi Watanabe makes no compromises in his ideas or methods of teaching for the sake of modern concerns. Hanshi Watanabe believes the most important goal in martial arts training is the continual effort towards self-improvement, not just the perfection of fighting techniques. He expects his students to demonstrate respect, responsibility, manners, effort and appreciation.
In 2004, Hanshi Watanabe was named as Honorary Technical Advisor to the Shorinjiryu Shinzen Kyokai, a sign of recognition of his many years of diligent study, promotion and loyalty to the Shorinjiryu Karate of Shinan Kori Hisataka.
In 2006, 6 members of the Shorinjiryu Karatedo Australia group travelled to Baltimore for a week of training with Hanshi Watanabe. Following several days of hard training and friendship building, we returned home, with a promise by Hanshi Watanabe for a return visit to Australia.
In 2007, Shorinjiryu Karatedo Australia hosted Hanshi Watanabe, along with Shihan Dan Hayes (7th Dan), Shihan Page Christis (7th Dan) and Sensei Richard Alicea (3rd Dan) on a 10 day visit to Australia. During this time, Hanshi Watanabe invited the Australian group to become his students, and to join the Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe Ha World Federation, an invitation that was accepted with enthusiasm.
Hanshi Watanabe has made return visits to Australia in 2008 and 2010.
In 2011, the chief instructors and executive of the Australian Shorinjiryu Karatedo Association decided that we would once again be an independent organisation, and in the process we formed a unique school - Shorinjiryu Koshinkai Karatedo. Although we are now separate from Hanshi Watanabe's federation, we continue to hold him in high esteem, and have great respect for his technical skill and his dedication to preserving the teachings of his instructor, Kaiso Kori Hisataka.