Japan American Butokukan Karate Association

Soke Bob Hill
Shihan Chris Olson

The History of JABKA

Butokukan Karate, since its inception in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1950s, has evolved from a traditional Japanese “hard” style to a martial art that has many flowing but powerful techniques. Our instructors focus on character development and life skills for our students. They also promote self-confidence and well being by teaching a solid style that is practical and effective for real life self-defense and competition sparring and forms.

The history of martial arts can be traced back thousands of years. Butokukan Karate traces its roots to Okinawa. In about 1846 Anko Itosu began studying karate from Soshu “Bushi” Matsumura. Later Itosu became the teacher and his style was Itosu-ryu. Okinawan karate came to Japan through Gichin Funakoshi, a student of Itosu. Funakoshi is often referred to as the father of modern karate. He founded the Shotokan system. He began teaching at the Butokukai Military Arts Academy in Kyoto in 1922. Other instructors from Okinawa were also invited to teach at the Butokukai including Kenwa Mabuni.

Mabuni, a student under Itosu and Matsumura, was teaching in Kyoto and Osaka, Japan, by 1929. He was the founder of the Shito-ryu style. Mabuni was the primary instructor of Yun Pon Gun. In the early 1940s, Yun Pon Gun took over a group near Kushimoto, Japan, called Shimpu-ren. Yoichi Nakachi became a student of Shimpu-ren and at the age of 16 (1948) he was promoted to Nidan (second degree).

In 1950, Yun Pon Gun left Kushimoto and left Sensei Nakachi in charge of Shimpu-ren. In 1959, Nakachi moved to Seattle, WA, and attended the University of Washington. He started a Shimpu-ren dojo in the University District of Seattle.

In 1961, Nakachi transferred to Olympic College in Bremerton, WA. His Seattle dojo had moved to the downtown YMCA and he started a second dojo at a health club. Nakachi was asked to teach karate at Olympic College.

Robert Hill began studying under Nakachi at Olympic College. Nakachi taught for about two more years in Seattle. Robert Hill was promoted to Shodan (first degree) in June 1963. That same year, Master Nakachi renamed Shimpu-ren to Butokukan, changed the crest, and changed the katas (forms). The name Butokukan was chosen to honor the former school in Kyoto. It was Master Nakachi’s desire to incorporate some of the fluid movements of the Chinese styles, softening the traditional hard style of the Okinawans.

In 1965, Master Nakachi returned to Japan. He promoted Sensei Hill to Nidan and left him in charge of the newly-formed Butokukan Karate.

After returning to Japan, Master Nakachi worked full time teaching swimming in Tokyo. He never returned to the States because he was full time caregiver for his wife who was very ill. Master Nakachi died in October 1998 and is interned in Kushimoto, his boyhood home.

Robert Hill is now Judan (tenth degree) and is the Grandmaster (Soke) of the Japan American Butokukan Karate Association. He currently resides in Gig Harbor, WA.

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2505 Olympic Hwy N. #160

Shelton, WA 98584

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 211

Phone Number

360 427 0374

text us at 253 297 2947