Not just kata, not just kumite, both.Tomohiro Arashiro
An ambassador of the Okinawan Karate style of Ryuei-Ryu, Tomohiro Arashiho has helped build it from a family-style practised in Okinawa to a style practised internationally.
Tomohiro Arashiro was born on 15 July 1954 in Naga City, Okinawa. His father was a farmer. Growing up he was very much into sports like athletics and baseball.
In 1968, Arashiro began learning Karate with his best friend, Takeshi Matsuda. Matsuda’s father thought he would not persevere with the training so he suggested he take Arashiro along with him.
Arashiro and Matsuda trained with their elementary school Principle, Kenko Nakaima. No one knew Nakaima practised Karate. However, Matsuda’s father found out and begged him to teach his son. At the time Ryuei-Ryu was a Karate style only practised by Nakaima family.
The training was at Nakaima’s house, twice a week, typically from 8-10 pm. Arashiro remembers this time fondly. Nakaima believed that techniques must be learned through constant repetition, until a point where it requires very little consciousness.
When Arashiro and Masuda attended Nago High School they joined the school’s Karate club. They continued training with Nakaima. The Karate club was run by Tsuguo Sakumoto, another of Nakaima’s students.
By 1975 Arashiro had enrolled at Chukyo University in Nagoya City, Japan. He studied Physical Education. He joined the University’s Wado-Ryu Karate club. He eventually became the Captain of the team. On his break from university, he would return to Okinawa, where he resumed his training with Nakaima and Sakumoto.
Arashiro graduated from Chukyo University in 1979.
On 29 January 1979 Arashiro arrived in Los Angeles with his kohai, Kuniyoshi Tsutomu. Nakaima selected him to bring Ryuei-Ryu Karate to the United States. They travelled around for a while before settling in San Diego. They were assisted by former students who had trained with them in Okinawa. They gathered informally with others to train at a local park.
In July 1979 Arashiro began teaching Ryuei-Ryu Karate at a recreation centre, that he had obtained with the help of a Mesa College professor.
By 1985 Arashiro had begun to establish Ryuei-Ryu. In May of that year, he opened a permanent dojo in the San Diego area. Like his teacher Nakaima, he believed that Karate is learnt through constant repetition of techniques. He eventually became the Pan-American Chief Instructor for the Okinawa Ryuei Ryu Karate Kobudo Organisation (ORRKKO).
Arashiro returned to Okinawa in 1987 to take part in a big demonstration showcasing Ryuei-Ryu Karate. Unfortunately, this would be the last time he would see Nakaima, who was beginning to show signs of illness. Kenko Nakaima died in 1989. His son Kenji became the 5th Generation Soke of Ryuei-Ryu.
The Hokubei Karate-do Shihankai was established in 1994. The Japanese Karate Masters Association of North America is an organisation dedicated to promoting and maintaining the principles and philosophy of Japanese martial arts in the United States. Arashiro was one of the 36 founding members. Other the members included Fumio Demura, Morio Higaonna, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Takayuki Kubota, Takayuki Mikami, Yukiyoshi Marutani, Gosei Yamaguchi, Teruyuki Okazaki, to name a few.
Tomohiro Arashiro has helped increase the popularity of Ryuei-Ryu Karate. As the Pan-American Chief Instructor of the ORRKKO, he has helped spread Karate through the Americas. His ultimate aim is to see the style grow beyond him.
Arashiro is married with five children, 4 boys and 1 girl. His sons Brandon, Tony and Michael have continued his legacy of teaching. Always looking to improve his Karate, he still returns to Okinawa to train with Kenji Nakaima and Tsuguo Sakumoto.