Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another Great Loss: Toma Shian shinshi

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Toma Shian shinshi on May 30 2013.

The last several years have taken a sad toll on the karate community, especially with respect to "old style" karate. Many of the masters who made it their mission to preserve nigh forgotten aspects of the art have passed away. Thankfully they were largely successful and left a legacy of competent practitioners to carry the torch forward.

Toma Shian shinshi was perhaps best known as one of the first Okinawan teachers to teach the Okinawan art of tuidi in real depth to Westerners. Tuidi, also spelled "tuite", but usually spelled "toide" in Seidokan, is the ancient Okinawan joint locking art. It probably traces back to 12th century Okinawa. Here is a playlist I created to highlight Toma Shian shinshi's interesting approach to this art.

From The Bubishi Karate Do Organization Newsletter edited by Katherine Loukopoulos

Toma Shian Sensei of Seidokan Karate Do passed away on May 30th, 2013

“Toma Shian sensei, Kancho of Zen Okinawa Seidokan passed away on May 30th, 2013. Born in 1929, Toma Sensei was an expert in Shorin Ryu, Okinawa Kenpo and Motobu Ryu, Toma Sensei was a charismatic teacher and mentor to students throughout the world. He will begreatly missed.”
Photo Courtesy and Text: Cezar Borkoski

“Dear Seidokan Members,
First, I would like to take this time to thank everyone who took the time to pay their respects to Sensei Toma “Head Master of Seidokan Karate.”

As I read through the comments it made me realize that it made no difference if you met Sensei only once or if you met him many times. For most, it was a surreal moment that people would never forget. It makes me so proud that Sensei Toma gave so much to the people he loved the most.

His guidance over the decades has helped everyone accomplish his or her dreams at one time or another. Each student requires different needs at different times. Sensei Toma knew that when many of us didn’t. In many cases the answers he provided wasn’t the same for all, which sometimes confused even the best students.

When I look back at the Gate 2 / Awase dojos… it all makes sense in how he taught his children. It was much like the same as we teach our own…. be flexible…. and knowing one size doesn’t fit all.

Again, I’m so glad Sensei Toma gave his children power, speed, skills but more
important “memories” to last a lifetime and beyond. ”
Contribution Story and Photo Courtesy: Ron Nix Sensei

“I first met Toma, Sensei, during the 1960s on Okinawa aboard Kadena Air Force Base where regular karate events were held. I also visited his Gate 2 Street dojo just outside Kadena AFB. He ran a very tough dojo and was a good friend of Shimabukuro, O Sensei. He was always a friendly gentleman and a superb karate master who became the head of Seidokan.”
William R. Hayes, Major, United States Marine Carps (Retired)


  1. Thanks for putting this together. I have not seen GM Shian Toma since 1969 but had always looked forward to seeing what he is contributing to the world as a martial artist and a wonderful person. He reminded me of GM Hohan Soken in character.

    John Peeler
    Matsumura Seito

  2. I studied under Sensei Toma, in 1962-63- & part of 64. I did have the pleasure of going back to Okinawa in 2002, and spending some time with him. We did have a lot of fun, and a lot of memories. Don Smith, Cincinnati, Ohio