Soke Teruo HAYASHI

10. Dan

(21. Oktober 1924 - 24. September 2004)

Teruo Hayashi is the founder and active headmaster of Hayashi-Ha Shito-Ryu. His style is the result of over fifty years of research into and refining of the numerous Okinawan and Japanese Karate styles Hayashi Soke has studied over his amazing lifetime.

Starting in Osaka, Japan, the birthplace of Shito-Ryu, Hayashi Soke studied under Kosei Kuniba, a chief disciple of Shito-Ryu's founder, Kenwa Mabuni. Hayashi Soke did study briefly with Mabuni, but his daily instruction came from Kuniba, at least at first. It was not long, however, before the young Hayashi outgrew the experience Osaka had to offer.

Certainly, there were many kata to learn, and technique can never be perfected, but what the young Hayashi wanted most was new challenges,

Soke Teruo Hayashi new faces to kumite with. Also, he knew Karate's history. Karate came from Okinawa. His teacher came from Okinawa. His teacher's teacher came from Okinawa. He must go to Okinawa! So it was that Hayashi Teruo, a young man with much ambition, set out to master the world, his opponents, and himself.

Hayashi took what may seem to Westerner's as an insane approach to choosing the Dojo at which to study. He would walk into the Dojo and challenge the Sensei to a fight. This, of course, incensed any students present at the time and they would insist on a chance to teach the chap a lesson themselves before their beloved Sensei would reduce himself to accepting a challenge from an upstart. This practice, some might say brave, others foolish, is actually a time honored tradition in Japanese and Okinawan cultures. It is known as Dojo Yaburi (challenge). While not practiced frequently these days, it was actually a common protocol when Hayashi was a young man. The way it

Soke Teruo Hayashi worked was simple. The man that issued the challenge must first fight the lowest ranking man at the Dojo. If the challenger defeats the man then he is granted the right to fight the next lowest ranking man, and so on until the challenger is defeated or has himself defeated the Dojo's Senpai(number one student). Then and only then is he allowed to challenge the Sensei himself, but is usually given the right to choose time and place as a reward for his previous efforts.

Hayashi became infamous for this practice, and resultingly, very good at kumite. So much so that many Dojo refused his challenges outright and would not let them inside their doors. There were, of course, those that accepted. If Hayashi was beat at one of these schools he would stay and ask for training. After all, what did he have to learn from those he himself had beaten! It was in this way that Hayashi sought not only knowledge, but respect from the Okinawans.

As a result of his tenacity Hayashi was able to garner much experience while on Okinawa. His primary teachers while on Okinawa were Nagamine Shoshin and Nakaima Kenko. From Nagamine Sensei he learned both the Shuri and Tomari lineages of kata. These kata tend to emphasize long linear stances and quick motion between stances. It was from this man that Hayashi learned the white crane form, Hakkaku.

From Nakaima Sensei, Hayashi learned a obscure family art called Ryuei-Ryu. This style is a southern tiger style imported from China four generations prior to Hayashi's arrival on Okinawa. After a year of proving himself to the revered Nakaima, Hayashi was the first non-family member allowed to study the style. Hayashi incorporates much of Ryuei-Ryu's theory into his own system.

Upon returning to Japan, Hayashi continued his study with Kuniba Kosei. From Kuniba, Hayashi learned the bulk of the Shito-Ryu syllabus, and as such it was the Shito-ryu versions of the Naha kata that Hayashi was taught and still teaches. Hayashi was Kuniba's number one student, and it was on his deathbed that Kuniba asked Hayashi to run his organization until his young son, Shogo, reached a level of maturity to assume leadership of the organization. Honoring his Sensei's wishes, Hayashi became President of the Seishin-Kai until 1970 at which time Hayashi handed the mantle of leadership to the style's rightful heir, Kuniba Shogo, and founded his own style called Hayashi-Ha Shito-Ryu.

Soke Teruo Hayashi, age 84, passed away on September 24 in Osaka, Japan. He had been ill for several months with lung cancer, and despite a miraculously successful surgery about 6 months before, died with complications from cancer. Master Hayashi is truly the last of the great Japanese martial artists with a history dating back to the beginning of Japanese martial arts.

An excerpt about Soke Hayashi from the legendary book of Donn F. Draeger:

One of the most brilliant exponents of karate-do on the modern Japanese scene is Hayashi Teruo, founder of a style called Kenshin Ryu. Hayashi is a disciple of Kokuba Kasei, Mabuni's apt and vigorous exponent of the Shito Ryu. Hayashi also studied under the supervision of Nagamine Shojin of the Shorin Ryu, and Higa Seko of the Okinawa Goju Ryu. A thorough expert technician of Shito Ryu karate-do in his own right, Hayashi nevertheless decries the lack of combative realism in modern karate-do. The overemphasis on the use of empty-hand techniques is, for Hayashi, a serious mistake that keeps karate-do from being fully a form of combat.
Fascinated by the primitve weapons of Okinawa, Hayashi was led to study with Okinawan te master Nakaima Kenko of the Ryuei Ryu. Under Nakaima's expert guidance Hayashi mastered the use of the bo (six-foot hardwood staff), sai (double-forked iron truncheon), nunchaku (wooden flail), kama (sickle), and tui-fa (wooden handle).
Hayashi's intensive study of primitive Okinawan weapons has had a profound effect on karate-do. Ironically, Hayashi has been responsible for a renewal of the interest on Okinawa itself in what was a dying art just a few years ago. This in turn reestablishes the fact that weapons are an essential part of Okinawan karate systems. In Japan, Hayashi's efforts to popularize the use of Okinawan weapons in karate-do have caused various sects that were once devoted entirely to the study of empty-hand techniques to begin a study of such weapons. One innovation in the study of weapons that Hayashi has made is proving to be popular: the conducting of kumite, or sparring, with weapons. This new feature of Japanese karate-do will help to bring a feeling of true fighting into what has been primarily a sport.
(Draeger, Donn F.: Modern Bujutsu & Budo. The martial arts and ways of Japan. Weatherhill Inc., New York, 1974)

The above text of Soke Hayashi is taken from the homepage of Shuriway Karate & Kobudo Resource Website (