History of Kyushindo 

Basic Principles

Kenshiro Abbe Kyushindo Karate

Kyushindo is a relatively modern “freestyle” martial art originating in the UK during the mid-20th century principally developed by budō master Kenshiro Abbe . Kyushindo has taken influence from traditional Japanese styles of martial arts (such as Shotokan Karate and Judo), but also from the flowing forms of Chinese “soft” style arts (principally Tai Chi and Bagua).

Kyushindo is not based on physical strength or bulk, but on technique, balance and speed. It uses circular movement, harnessing an opponent’s force and using it against them.

Unlike some traditional schools, Kyushindo does not perform techniques that use unnatural movements, realizing this form of training will almost certainly lead to long-term joint damage.

The Meaning

Several interpretations of the Japanese terms “kyu”, “shin” and “do” have been proposed. Tomio Otani, a long-term student of Abbe, translated it thus:

  • Kyu: Sphere or Circle
  • Shin: Heart or Nexus point
  • Do: Way

At its most basic level, Kyushindo can be equated with centripetal force. Tomio Otani defined it as “the accumulation of effort in a steady motion about the radius and center of gravity”. Abbe had discovered the efficiency of using centripetal force to throw much larger opponents while a student at Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in the 1930s, and it is likely that this discovery led to his further development of Kyushindo.

As well as sphere/circle, “kyu” can also mean desire, yearn, search or study. Likewise, “shin” can also mean spirit or truth. This allows Kyushindo to be interpreted on a number of levels, also having the meaning of “the seeker’s way to the essence of things.”


Kenshiro Abbe and George Mayo


Kyushindo was the central statement for Abbe’s personal approach to martial arts. He felt that there were three fundamental principles within Kyushindo which should be reflected in the martial arts and in his outside life.

  • All things in the Universe are in a constant state of motion (Banbutsu Ruten).
  • This motion is rhythmic and flowing (Ritsu Do).
  • All things work and flow in perfect harmony (Chowa).

Because of Abbe’s fame as a Budo master, people have very naturally assumed Kyushindo to be a theory of martial discipline, but, in fact, martial discipline is only one application of Kyushindo. Martial disciplines allow the principle of Kyushindo to become clear and are the means employed to attain a higher goal. The theory of Kyushindo also has application in any study, or activity because it does not deal with the form and technique of anything, but with the fundamental principles which such forms and techniques represent.

Present Day

Today there are a number of organizations throughout the world who teach martial arts based on Abbe’s theories of Kyushindo. Our style traces it’s heritage through George Mayo and Ray Wood. Our teacher, Sensei Rick, was the second black belt to be made at the Bristol Club and has over forty years experience. He, along with his students, continue to practice and teach Kyushindo Karate to this day in UK, Australia, Italy and now the USA.