Karate Masters Portrait Project, Photography
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Karate Masters Portrait Project

NEWS!!!!   Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1 now on sale via Blurb

Yoshitaka Taira, 10th dan World Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu)

Yoshitaka Taira, 10th dan World Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu)

The Karate Masters Portrait Project began in March 2012. Its goal is to document karate and kobudo masters teaching in Okinawa at the start of the 21st Century. Their unparalleled knowledge of martial arts makes them of great cultural importance both in Japan and worldwide.



Morio Higaonna, 10th dan Okinawa Goju-ryu karate.

Morio Higaonna, 10th dan Okinawa Goju-ryu karate.

In 2012, James Pankiewicz, owner of the DOJO Bar in Naha, discussed with photographer Chris Willson how there were few, if any, good photos of certain karate masters. There was also little consistency in the images available. Many were blurry, low resolution, noisy, or simply snapped from a distance at a competition or demonstration.

2012年、那覇市内にある DOJO Bar のオーナー、ジェームズ・パンキュビッチは、フォトグラファーのクリス・ウィルソンと空手指導者の良い肖像はないかと話し合いました。

それまでの使用可能なイメージはほとんど一貫性​​がなく、解像度が低くぼやけており、ノイズが多く、 遠い距離からのスナップ写真ばかりでした。

Tsuguo Sakumoto 9th dan Ryuei-ryu

Tsuguo Sakumoto 9th dan Ryuei-ryu

James and Chris began to take studio lighting, a black backdrop, and a high definition digital camera into the dojos of the karate masters. They hoped the portraits produced would become a historical record of the masters of Okinawan karate at the start of the 21st century.

ジェームズとクリスは 道場にスタジオの照明や、黒背景、高精細デジタルカメラを持ち込み、撮影を行い始めました。


Morinobu Maeshiro, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate

Morinobu Maeshiro, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate

Gear used:

Pentax 645D & 645Z cameras with Pentax 90mm f/2.8 D FA 645 Macro.

Profoto Pro-7a generator, ProHead with Softlight Refector White


Pentax 645D & 645Z カメラ、 Pentax 90mm f/2.8 D FA 645 Macro レンズ、

Profoto Pro-7a スタジオジェネレーター, Proヘッド、ソフトライトリフレクター ホワイト


Shooting at the Hokama Dojo.

The order in which they photographed the karate masters was not based on age, style or rank, but rather on slowly building up connections within the Okinawan karate community.

撮影の順序は、先生方の年齢、スタイルやランクに関係なく、 沖縄空手の方々との関係を少しずつ広げていき、築きあげながら撮影を取り行いました。

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Kiyomi Yogi, 6th Dan Matayoshi Kobudo

Images from the Karate Masters Portrait Project can be seen on the web at either Facebook or Flickr.  However, Karate masters and their students around the world began to ask if we could produce a print book of the project.  I decided to make the kind of book that I’d like to own myself. A large, high quality, coffee-table book with images of all 58 sensei that we’d photographed.

It quickly became clear that traditional publishers would want orders of several thousand books. Book production would simply be too expensive to undertake, and too risky if I couldn’t sell all of books. It might have even compromised the future of the project as I would have had to concentrate on being a bookseller rather than a photographer.

The solution was to use the U.S. print-on-demand publisher Blurb. I could create a large (11 inch x 13 inch) 122 page book and specify the use of high quality photo paper. Each of the 58 karate masters could have two pages of images along with their name, rank, and style in both English and Japanese.

2-page spread for Taira sensei.

2-page spread for Taira sensei.

I ordered a single test copy, it was shipped from the States to Okinawa. The test copy was then placed at the Dojo Bar where the karate masters were able to view it. A second test copy with higher quality paper was also ordered. This arrived and the “premium lustre” paper along with charcoal proline endpapers was a good improvement. Meanwhile James and I began contacting all the karate masters to double check the information in English and Japanese, and let them know about the progress we were making with the book.

Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1

Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1

After making the necessary changes to the text, I ordered another test copy. This arrived and a few more small changes were made along with the addition of a title page, copyright information etc. On November 29th the final version of the book was uploaded to Blurb, and it is now on sale!

You can buy your copy here!

After receiving your order Blurb will print your copy and can mail it worldwide. We do not plan to have a stock of books on sale in Okinawa.

The following page-by-page video allows you to check the exact photos in the book before purchase. You can also see a brief preview on the blurb website.

If a karate organization would like to gift a copy of the book to a particular master this is possible. We can order the copy, have it sent to Okinawa, sign it, and present it in person to the karate master from you. If you’d like to include a message with the book, then I can print out a message and place it inside the book.  Please contact me at chris@travel67.com if this is something we can help you with.


Each karate master photographed is given two prints for their own dojo as a thank you for taking part in the project. The pictures have been so gratefully received, and we’ve received  many thanks from the karate masters and their families.

Handing out prints at Naha's budokan.

Handing out fine art  prints as gifts to instructors at Naha’s budokan.

These prints of the karate masters are available to students and dojos around the world in two sizes.

11×16″ (A3) US$125                   16X22″ (A2) US$175

Prints are created using archival quality Hahnemühle cotton rag photo paper and pigment inks. It is possible to make prints cheaper using generic papers and dye inks that quickly fade, but I only want to produce the best possible product. This may seem obsessive, but striving to achieve perfection is not just my goal, but is perhaps at the heart of every stance or kata. My hope is that they will take pride of place in dojos around the world.

Prints are shipped flat rather than rolled, and are mailed using insured and traceable international express airmail shipping. Images are usually dispatched within one week of ordering and delivery takes around 4 to 7 days. Shipping is US$25 dollars per order. Prints may also be collected from The DOJO Bar in Naha, Okinawa. Please email chris@travel67.com to discuss which prints you would like to purchase. Payment is via Paypal.


At the request of some dojos, we now also offer the full resolution digital files of  a single image or the best shots of a particular shoot. Purchase of the digital files gives you permission to make  prints for personal usage. ( You can’t sell the digital files on to others, or use the images for purposes other than prints for yourself or your dojo. If you have questions regarding this please email and ask.) As the images are shot with medium format digital cameras (40MP & 53MP) it is possible to make very large prints.

Digital Download of Full Resolution Files

Single Image US $100

Set of Images of a Master US$500

Purchasing a print or digital files,  not only helps fund the Karate Masters Portriat Project, but a portion of the fee will be given to the karate master in the purchased image(s) to help maintain their dojo. 


If you are a magazine or organization interested in licensing the images please contact me at chris@travel67.com with your questions. Permission to use an image for non-editorial  purposes will not be given without the specific consent of the karate masters.



 Volume 1.

1 Yoshitaka Taira,Hanshi 10th-dan, Matsubayashi-ryu Karate (Shorin-ryu)

平良 慶孝 範士十段    松林流空手 (小林流)

2 Toshimitsu Arakaki, Hanshi 10th-dan, Matsubayashi-ryu Karate (Shorin-ryu)

新垣 敏光     範士十段   松林流空手 (少林流)

3 Masaji Taira, Hanshi 9th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate

平良 正次 範士九段  剛柔流空手

4 Katsuhiko Yogi, Kyoshi 8th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate

与儀 勝彦   教士八段      剛柔流空手

5 Tetsuhiro Hokama, Hanshi 10th-dan Goju-ryu KarateHanshi 10th-dan Hokama Kobudo

外間 哲弘 範士十段    剛柔流空手 範士十段    外間古武道

6 Takehiro Gaja, Hanshi 9th-dan, Uechi-ryu Karate and Kyoshi 7Th-dan Matayoshi Kobudo

我謝 孟弘 範九段  上地流空手 教士七段   又吉古武道

7 Hiroshi Akamine, Kyoshi 8th-dan, Shorin-ryu Karate & 8th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan

赤嶺 浩      教士八段   小林流 空手 教士八段 琉球古武道信武舘

8 Shigetoshi Senaha, Hanshi 9th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate

瀬名波 重敏 範士九段   剛柔流空手

9 Jyosei Yogi,Hanshi 9th-dan Kounan-ryu Karate Dojo & Hanshi 9th-dan Okinawa Kobudo Renseikai

與儀 助盛 範士九段 硬軟流空手道場    範士九段   沖縄古武道錬成会

10 Sokuichi Gibu, Hanshi 10th-dan, Shorin-ryu Karate

儀武 息一 範士十段    小林流空手

11 Masakazu Kinjo, Kyoshi 8th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate & Hanshi 9th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

金城 政和 教士八段 上地流空手  範士九段琉球古武道

12 Mitsutada Toue, Kyoshi 8th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate and Kyoshi 8Th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

東江三和    教士八段 上地流空手    教士八段 琉球古武道

13 Satoshi Kinjo, Kyoshi 7th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate and Kyoshi7th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

金城 憲    教士七段 上地流空手   教士七段 琉球古武道

14 Kenta Kinjo, Renshi 6th-dan,Uechi-ryu Karate and Renshi 6th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

金城 憲太 錬士六段 上地流空手    錬士六段 琉球古武道

15 Hidemi Tamayose, Hanshi 9th-dan, Ryukyu Kobudo Tesshinkan

玉寄 英美 範士九段  琉球古武道哲心館

16 Zenpo Shimabukuro, Hanshi 10th-dan, International Okinawa Shorin-ryu Seibukan Karate

島袋 善保 範士十段  国際沖縄少林流聖武館空手

17 Yoshio Kuba, Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate

久場良男  範士十段   沖縄 剛柔流空手 

18 Kensho Tokumura, Hanshi 9th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu Hozon Budo Kyokai

德村 賢昌  範士九段   琉球伝統古武術保存武道協会

19 Yuuko Tomimoto,Hanshi 10th-dan, Ryukyu Kobudo Maeda-ryu Bojutsu

富本 祐宏 範士十段    琉球古武道 前田流 棒術

20 Kiyoshi Yogi, Kyoshi 8th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo & Kyoshi 8th-dan Uechi-ryu Kei Yogi Ryu Yogi kaikan so honbu

與儀 清 教士八段   琉球古武道  教士八段 上地流系 與儀流 與儀会館総本部

21 Yoshiaki Gakiya, Kyoshi 8th-dan, Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei

我喜屋 良章          教士八段 全沖縄古武道連盟

22 Kiyohide Shinjo, Hanshi 9th-dan, Uechi-ryu Karate

新城 清秀   範士九段   上地流空手

23 Seiei Nakaza,     Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Shorin-ryu Kiyobukan

仲座 清栄 範士十段沖縄小林流 清武館

24 Tsuyoshi Uechi , Hanshi 9th-dan, Isshin-ryu Karate

上地 強    範士九段 一心流空手

25 Satoshi Toyama, 7th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate

當山 敏   七段  剛柔流空手

26 Zenshu Toyama, Hanshi 10th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate

當山 全秋   範士十段  剛柔流空手

27 Narihiro Shinjo, Kyoshi 7th-dan, Uechi-ryu Karate

新城 成博   教士七段 上地流空手

28 Meitetsu Yagi, Hanshi 10th-dan, Goju-ryu Meibukan Karate

八木 明哲   範士十段 剛柔流明武舘空手

29 Ippei Yagi, 6th-dan Okinawa Karate Do Gojyukai 5th-dan Zen Okinawa Karate Do Renmei

八木一平 六段 沖縄空手道剛柔会 五段 全沖縄空手道連盟

30 Yukio Kuniyoshi, Kaicho, Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai

国吉 幸雄 会長  琉球古武道保存振興会

31 Naonobu Ahagon, Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Shorin-ryu

阿波根 直信   範士十段  沖縄空手 古武道小林流

32 Seiyu Nakamura, Hanshi 10th-dan Okinawa Dento Shidokan Karate Kobujutsu Kokusai Renmei

中村 清祐   範士十段  沖縄伝統志道館空手古武術 国際連盟

33 Tetsu Gima, Hanshi 9th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate – Jundokan

儀間 哲 範士九段  沖縄剛柔流空手道総本部 順道館

34 Tsueno Kinjo, Hanshi 9th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate – Jundokan

金城 常雄 範士九段   沖縄剛柔流空手道総本部 順道館

35 Tetsunosuke Yasuda, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate Jundokan

安田 哲之助  範士十段 沖縄剛柔流空手道総本部 順道館 

36 Choko Kiyuna, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate

喜友名 朝孝  範士十段 沖縄少林流空手

37 Eishou Nakazato, Hanshi 10th Dan, Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate

仲里 栄昭   範士十段 沖縄少林流空手

38 Kazuo Uezato, Hanshi 10th-dan Okinawa Goju-ryu Tomari-te Karate do Kyoukai

上里 一雄 範士十段 沖縄剛柔流泊手 空手道協会

39 Eiki Kurashita , Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu International Karate Kobudo League

蔵下 英喜  範士十段 沖縄剛柔流国際空手古武道連盟

40 Minoru Higa, Hanshi 10th-dan, Shorin-ryu Kyudokan Karate

比嘉 稔    範士十段   小林流究道館空手

41 Koyu Higa, 4th-dan, Shorin-ryu Kyudokan Karate

比嘉 康雄 四段  少林流究道館空手

42 Masanobu Sakugawa, Hanshi 9th-dan, Shorinji-ryu Karate

佐久川 政信     範士九段    少林寺流空手

43 Takashi Okuma, Hanshi 9th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu Karatedo Kushinkan

奥間 隆   範士九段 沖縄剛柔流   空手道 空心館

44 Masaaki Ikemiyagi, Hanshi 9th-dan, Goju-ryu Okinawa Meibukan

池宮城 政明    範士九段   剛柔流沖縄明武館

45 Senkichi Oyakawa, Hanshi 9th-dan, Shorinji-ryu Karate

親川 仙吉 範士九段  少林寺流空手

46 Seisho Itokazu, Hanshi 9th-dan, Matayoshi Kobudo

糸数 盛昌  範士九段 又吉古武道

47 Kiyomi Yogi, 6th-dan, Matayoshi Kobudo

與儀 清美  六段 又吉古武道

48 Masahiro Nakamoto, Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

仲本 政博 範士十段   沖縄伝統古武道

49 Mamoru Nakamoto, Kyoshi 8th-dan, Okinawa Dentou Kobudo

仲本 守    教士八段  沖縄伝統古武道

50 Seiki Takushi, Hanshi 9th-dan, Goju-ryu Karate

沢岻 政輝 範士九段  剛柔流空手

51 Kotaro Iha, Hanshi 10th-dan, Ryukyu Kobudo Ryu Kon Kai

伊波 光太郎 範士十段  琉球古武道流棍会

52 Morinobu Maeshiro, Hanshi 9th-dan, Shorin-ryu

真栄城 守信 範士九段 小林流

53 Haruyoshi Shimabukuro, Kyoushi 8th-dan, Uechi-ryu Karate-do

島袋 春吉 教士八段  上地流空手道

54 Koei Teruya, Hanshi 10th-dan, Goju-ryu

照屋 幸栄範士十段  剛柔流

55 Tsuguo Sakumoto, Hanshi 9th-dan, Ryuei-ryu

佐久本 嗣男    範士九段 劉衛流

56 Hitoshi Oyakawa, Kyoshi 8th-dan, Shorinji-ryu

親川 仁志   教士八段 少林寺流

57 Morio Higaonna, Hanshi 10th-dan, Okinawa Goju-ryu

東恩納 盛男   範士十段 沖縄剛柔流

58 Tsutomu Nakahodo, Hanshi 10th-dan, Shohei-ryu (Uechi-ryu)

仲程 力      範士十段   昭平流(上地流系)

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