Shogo Kuniba was born near Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi-Shi, Japan, February 5, 1935 and is the son of Kosei Kokuba. Shogo Kuniba's family descended from the Okinawan Sho Shi Royal family line. Kuniba began his martial arts training in 1940 at the age of five under his father, Kosei Kokuba, who in 1947 had become the Soke (being translated as the Family Head) of Motubu-Ha Shito-Ryu.
In 1943 Kosei Kokuba, Sensei founded the Seishin-Kan (Pure Heart Dojo) which was to become Kuniba's Legacy. After a lot of interest this organization was later changed to seishin-Kai (Pure Heart Organization).
Upon his death on October 17, 1959, Kosie Kokuba passed leadership of Motobu-Ha Karate-Do on to his son Shogo Kuniba. This appointment was made “official” by the Shihan Board of Seishan-Kai that Shogo Kuniba would become the 3rd Soke for Motubu-ha and the first Soke of Motobu-ha Shito-ryu which is his own creation from a blending of the styles which he was taught. At the age 24 he became the youngest person to ever hold the title of “Soke” (the Family Head), for a Karate style, a distinction which remains true even today. Today in Japan there are only five, maybe six, elderly gentleman who hold the position of Soke and are ranked as such by the Zen Nippon Karate-Do Renmei (JFK). Upon becoming “Soke,” Kosho Kokuba had his Okinawan name changed to “Shogo” whose Japanese Kanji characters mean “strong warrior.” In Japan the Kanji characters for Kokuba, is pronounced as Kuniba.
In 1968, Shogo Kuniba, Soke became Seishin-Kai Kaicho (President), relieving Teruo Hayashi, Shihan.
In 1970, Shogo Kuniba, Soke was selected by the Nippon Karate-Do Rengo Kai, as the only representative of Japanese Karate-Do at the Second World War Karate-Do Championships Tournament held in Paris, France. Kuniba, Soke Gave a demonstration at the tournament.
In 1983, Kuniba, Soke opened the USA Hombu Dojo in Portsmouth, Virginia, and made the USA his primary home and base of operations. From Portsmouth, Soke concentrated his efforts on teaching his style of Karate to the world and traveled to many other countries to do so.
Shogo Kuniba Soke adhered to the teachings and philosophies of the Okinawan masters from whom he was descended. He believed and taught that the true goals of Karate-Do are the development of Patience, Self-discipline, Humanity and Inner Strength (Qi).
On July 14, 1992 at approximately 2:05 a.m., Shogo Kuniba, Soke passed away after a long, hard battle with stomach caner. It is the only battle he ever lost! Soke Shogo Kuniba is missed greatly an remembered daily. Shogo Kuniba was awarded Judan, (10th Dan) posthumously by the Japan Karate Federation (JKF). He is one of only maybe 5 Karateka, from Okinawa and Japan to receive this rank.
Trainers and Teachers
Kosei Kokuba, Soke of Motubu-Ha Shito Ryu
Mabuni Kenwa, Sensei of Shito-Ryu
Shinken Taira, Sensei of Taira Kobudu
Nagamine Shoshi, Sensei of Shorin-Ryu
Itoh Asakichi, Sensei of Judo
Shioda Goza, Sensei of Aikido
Ishii Gogetsu, Soke of Mugai-Ryu Iaido
Promotion and Training Progress
1947 – Promoted to Shodan (1st degree Black belt) by Mabuni, Sensei.
1950 – Promoted to Nidan (2nd) by Mabuni, Sensei.
1952 – Promoted to Sandan (3rd) by Mabuni, Sensei
Kuniba also began training in Mugai-ryu Iaido, the way of the Sword, with Ishii Gogetsu, Soke at Sakai City.
1955 – Promoted to Yondan (4th) by Mabuni, Sensei
Kuniba also began additional Karate training in Naha City, Okinawa, with Nagamine Shoshin, Sensei.
While in Okinawa Shogo Kuniba also studied Kobudo (weapons) with the infamous Taira Shinken, Sensei, and Nakaima Kenko, Sensei. He learned to use the Bo (6ft staff) and the “Nunchaku” (joined sticks) under Kosha Shojin, Sensei. With Yamaguchi Junko, Sensei he studied the “tonfa” (spinning sticks). Shogo Kuniba, Soke was the first Karateka to demonstrate Okinawan Kobudo technique in Japan.
1956 – Shogo Kuniba returned to his father's homeland of Okinawa where he trained in Shorin-ryu style by Nagamine Shojin, Sensei.
1958 – Promoted to the rand of Godan, in Motobu-ha Karate-do; Yondan in Iaido and Rokudan, in Kobudo. During this time Shogo Kuniba became the first office manager (Shodai Jimu Kyokucho) for the Nippon Karate-do Rengo-Kai (Federation of All Japan Karate-do Organizations (FAJKO).
1962 – Promoted by the Nippon Karate-do Rengo Kai, to the rank of Rokudan, (6th), in Karate-do. He was also promoted to Rokudan, in Iaido, and Nanadan, (7th Dan) in Kobudo.
1966 – Promoted by the Nippon Karate-do Rengo Kai, to the rank of Nanadan in Karate.
1973 – Shogo Kuniba, Soke was promoted to the rank of Hachidan, (8th Dan), in Karate-Do, Iaido, Kobudo and Goshin Budo. Goshin Budo is a combination of all the arts that Kuniba, Soke has trained in, for example, Karate-Do, Judo, Aikido and Jiu Jitsu.
1984 – Shogo Kuniba, Soke was promoted to the rank of Kudan, (9th Dan) in Karate-Do and Goshin-Do by the Rengo-Kai. At that time he held the highest rank with the JKF of any Japanese martial artist living outside the country of Japan.
1992 – Shogo Kuniba was awarded Judan, (10th Dan) posthumously by the Japan Karate Federation (JKF). He is one of only maybe 5 Karateka, from Okinawa and Japan to receive this rank.
1957 – Shogo Kuniba published his first book on Karate, “Karate-Do Bin Ran.”
Shogo Kuniba was instrumental in the formation of this organization and in developing criteria used for ranking all Karateka and for helping to develop tournament rules for competition. Shogo Kuniba, Soke remained a special advisor to Rengo Kai until his passing away in 1992.
1964 – Kuniba, Soke was featured in the encyclopedia Japonica in an article concerning Karate-do and Kobudo.
1970 – Shogo Kuniba, Soke was selected by the Nippon Karate-Do Rengo Kai, as the only representative of Japanese Karate-Do at the Second World War Karate-Do Championships Tournament held in Paris, France. Kuniba, Soke Gave a demonstration at the tournament.
1976 – Kuniba, Soke appeared in the Japanese documentary movie “Eien Narubudo” (Eternal Martial Arts). This film was shown on USA Cinemax TV in 1983, under the title, “Budo: Great Masters of the Martial Arts,” and is available on video tape in most video stores under the title, “Budo: Great Masters of the Universe.” In 1979, the Miami Film Festival Award went to “Eien Narubudo,” for the Best Documentarty Film of 1978. In addition to Karate work, Kuniba Soke was the first in Japan to choreograph fighting scenes at the famous Toei as a talent scout for actors for martial arts movies. Many of his students found their way into the movies (Sonny Chiba, Hiroshi Miyauchi and Yasunori Kurata).
1985 – Kuniba, Soke was featured in Who's Who in American Marital Arts, Founding Fathers of American Martial Arts and Shogo Kuniba: The Limitless Art of Goshin Budo.
After 1985 – Shogo Kuniba, Soke was appointed to the technical committee of P.U.K.O., which is the part of W.U.K.O., that includes North, South, and Central America. Each year after, he taught at clinics and gave demonstrations at Ozawa, Sensei's Traditional Karate Tournament held in Las Vegas. Ozawa, Sensei's Tournament may be the largest Karate tournament held in the U.S.A. Kuniba, Soke was featured in several magazine articles in the USA and also targeted in the French magazine, Karate. In Europe he was a member and technical advisor to the UNAAK, French Martial Arts Association.