About us

Chotoku Kyan
“Never brag about your karate skills, for there is always someone who is better than you"
Zenryo Shimabukuro
"Never use your hands and feet when your mouth and mind wil do a better job"
Angel Lemus & Tim Rodgers
Preserving Kyan's Karate and the old ways

What is the Zentokukai?

The Zentokukai was formed out of a need to provide a home and a platform to continue the research and practice of Okinawan Tode (Karate-Do); not only the physical combative aspects, but also its philosophical and spiritual aspects, which are universal to all mankind, and represent the “Do” or “way of life”. The Zentokukai does not practice nor promote sport Karate and modern competition, it emphasizes the  Koryu “old-style” techniques which are solely for self-defense purposes.

The Zentokukai is made up of a number of dojos (schools) throughout the United States, Italy and South America. Most of these dojos were once members of the Seibukan Karate-Do Association. Although very traditional in practice, the Zentokukai is unique, for it allows individual expression and input by Senseis and students alike.

It is not interested in creating robotic practitioners but in helping individuals to discover themselves through hard work, discipline, and determination. The Zentokukai is a living, breathing entity which is in a constant state of self-evaluation, change, and growth.

 It emphasizes respect for all of its members regardless of sex and/or rank. It promotes open communications and dialogue and does not hold back any knowledge from its members.

The Zentokukai’s primary goals are not measured by ego, personality, sports and/or monetary achievements, but in helping each student to grow as a human being who is dignified, honorable, and truthful with him/herself, family and community. This is achieved through the physical training and promoting proper virtues and forging a strong body, fearless character, which in turn is checked by a humble spirit.

The Zentokukai is not interested in rapid growth, therefore it is very selective in the character of the individuals it chooses to allow penetrate its circle. The Zentokukai welcomes you into it’s family, and hopes that you will discover the hidden potential within yourself through the practice of Okinawan Karate-do!


There is no one in the Zentokukai that is above any one else, we have no throne nor king.
A new student is equal to our most senior members.

Chotoku Kyan

Origins and Lineage

The Zentokukai was created from a great tradition and lineage of Okinawan Karate. Its goal is to preserve the teachings passed down to us and at the same time allow and promote the natural evolution of any living art, which by nature has to evolve as it moves forward through time much like an individual going throught the stages of a beginner to an advanced practitioner.

The Zentokukai is very proud of it’s rich tradition which fosters the old world virtues which provide wisdom and knowledge. And at the same time, reconizes the need to adapt in order for these ancient teachings to fit into our modern world and culture.

Our lineage is clear and provides a direct path back some of the great karatemen of old Okinawa. There is a richness and beauty in knowing who you are and where you came from. The Zentokukai traces its lienage back to 6 great Okinawan martial artists who taught Chotoku Kyan and whos life spanned the ancient world and the modern world.

Kyan was born into the upper royalty class of ancient Okinawa and because of his birth had access to many great martial artsits of Okinawa. Kyan’s legacy to us is a unique body of knowledge from six great masters which he then molded into a comprehensive style called Sukunaihayashi-Ryu (or Small Pine Forest style).

The Zentokukai is not a typical Karate association with one head master or chief instructor, it was founded by 4 men, Tim Rodgers, Angel Lemus, Jim Pizii, and Walter Dailey. From the beginning it is run by a board of directors and now has 5 members, the four mentioned above and Larry Hall. Collectively the body of knowlege brought forth by the senior board brings a a great variety of knowledge that is shared and benefits all members.

Below is our lineage chart, updated Saturday October 13th 2012.

Zenryo Shimabukuro

Meaning of Patch

What does the purple Zentokukai patch represent?

The Zentokukai patch is a representation of the Kyan (pronounced “Chan” in old Okinawan language Hogen) family crest as shown here by Kyan’s father Chofu, wearing a traditional coat bearing 1/2 of the crest on either side. This symbol is worm with pride and respect as it represents Kyan’s Karate.

The color purple is the chosen color for the Kyan family crest. In ancient Okinawa it represented royalty and a high status in the court of the Shuri castle. The crosshatching bars represent the frame (wooden structure) of an old water well. The Kyan’s were 11th generation descendants to King Shosei of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Kyan’s father Chofu, was the steward to the last living king of Okinawa, King Shotai.

Meaning of the Kanji

What does the Kanji (Japanese characters) for Zentokukai mean?

The Zentokukai is a combination of two Okinawan names, the Zen comes from “Zen”ryo (Shimabukuro Zenryo) and the Toku comes from Cho“toku” (Kyan Chotoku). This combining of names is an old and common practice adopted by martial arts groups and organizations who wish to follow the teachings of more than one teacher. The “Kai” means “association”.