Kanken Toyama 寛著遠山 was born of noble birth in Shuri, Okinawa on 24 September 1888 (Meiji 明治21). His name at birth was Kanken Oyadamari 寛著親泊. It is purported that later in his life while employed as manager of the Hatoyama Kindergarten he became enamored with the philosopher Mitsuru Toyama. In honor of the philosopher he adopted Toyama as his family name. At a young age he began his formal training and study in Karate-Do with Choiku Itarashiki 朝郁板良敷 Sensei in the year 1897 and in the same year started his training with Anko Itosu 安恒糸洲, who became his main teacher and inspiration while also studying with Kanryo Higaonna 寛量東恩納 of Naha Te. He studied under Itosu Sensei until Itosu died in 1916 and Higaonna Sensei until he died in 1915.
Toyama trained and worked as a teacher however his chosen avocation was instructor of Karate-Do. He enrolled into Okinawa Ken Shihan Gakko 沖縄県師範学校 Okinawa Prefecture Teachers School in 1906. In 1907 Toyama Sensei was appointed Shihandai 師範大 assistant to Itosu Sensei at that school in Shuri City. Ultimately in 1914 he held high office at Shuri Dai-Ichi Shogaku 首里第一小学 Shuri First Elementary School. Toyama became one of only two Itosu students to be granted the title of Shihanshi protégé. Funakoshi Sensei was the other to receive this title from Itosu. Toyama, Anbun Tokuda and Chotoku Kyan 朝徳喜屋武 are also referred to as ‘the three famous retainers of Anko Itosu.’ During this time while he worked for Chosho Chibana 朝章知花 the first generation Shuri Mayor (Choshin Chibana’s 朝信知花 uncle), Toyama Sensei learned Chibana Kushanku No Kata. He learned the Kata of Tomari-Te from Ankichi Aragaki 安吉新垣 and learned Okinawan Kobu-Do from Chosho Chibana and Chojo Oshiro 朝恕大城 Sensei’s. In 1924 Toyama Sensei moved his family to Taiwan where he taught Chinese classics in the elementary school where he taught. While in Taiwan, being an avid martial artist, he studied the following systems of Zhong Guo Quan Fa 中国拳法 Chu Koku Kempo, Chinese fist method: Taku (Hakuda in Japanese language) Kempo, Makaitan Kempo, Rutaobai Kempo, and Ubo. Taku is one of central China’s Beipo northern school Quan Fa and is further classified as Nei Gong internal Quan Fa 拳法 (Shorei Kempo). Makaitan Kempo and Rutaobai Kempo, which specialize in the techniques of Nukite spear hand, and Ubo Kempo all belong to the Nampo southern school Quan Fa 拳法 and are Wai Gong external Quan Fa 拳法 (Shorin Kempo). These later three styles hail primarily from Taiwan and Fukuden, China. Toyama Sensei was also known to have studied and taught Tai Ji Quan Fa 太極拳法 Tai Kyoku Kempo in Japanese. Koyasu Sensei studied Tai Ji Quan Fa from Toyama.
Early in 1930 Toyama moved again from Taiwan to mainland Japan and on 20 March 1930 he opened his first Dojo in Ishihama Machi, Asakusa, Taito Ku, Tokyo. His Dojo was named Shu Do Kan 修道館 The Hall for the Study of the Way. After World War II, Toyama Sensei donated several hundred books to help the impoverished schools to the Okinawa Prefecture. Consequently, for his meritorious service, he was awarded the title Karate-Do Dai Shihan from the first post war prefecture governor Mr.Shikiya Koshin. Toyama Sensei did not claim to originate a new style, system or school of thought, nor did he combine the different styles he learned. Most of the people who studied under him learned basically Itosu’s Shorin Ryu or as Toyama Sensei claimed Seito Okinawa Karate-Do. Many of the descendants of Toyama’s Karate-Do claim that their style is Shudokan named after his school name despite his misgivings about style names.
Dai Shihan Toyama founded the All Japan Karate-Do Federation 全日本空手道連盟 (AJKF) in 1946. There is some evidence that the AJKF actually got its start in 1930’s however the federation did not evolve into full-fledged organization until it was officially documented and sanctioned in 1946. By establishing an organization such as the AJKF Toyama had hopes of unifying Karate-Do in Japan and Okinawa into one governing organization. This organization provided a forum for the exchange of ideas and technique. The federation eventually became an authority for rank homologation and advancement issuing rank certification. The AJKF established a forum for competition pioneering full contact sparring using Bogu (modified Ken-Do protective equipment). The AJKF was successful in attracting some outside notable people such as Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose 强直千歳the founder of Chito Ryu 千唐流 The Thousand Year Old Chinese (Tang Dynasty) Style Karate-Do. Dr. Chitose served in several senior positions in the federation including president and vice-president. Dr. Chitose’s Chito Ryu organization continues to use a variation of the AJKF symbol to represent their organization today.
Toyama’s specialties in Karate-Do were Koryu Useishi No Kata 古流五十四の形 old style fifty-four form (which is referred to as Goju Shi Ho 五十四歩 fifty four methods in Toyama’s Karate-Do Taihokan) and the Aku Ryoku Ho 握強法 strong gripping methods of Itosu and Itarashiki and similar Chinese methods of finger and hand strengthening. He was the author of books such as Karate-Do Taihokan 空手道大定鑑 Karate-Do The Great Treasure Trove published in 1959, Karate-Do Okuji Hi-Jutsu 空手道奥技秘術 Karate-Do:The Inter-most Skills and Mysteries of the Art published in 1956 and Karate-Do Nyumon 空手道入門 Karate-Do:The Introduction To published in 1959. In his book Karate-Do Taihokan, Toyama Sensei only presented Kata that were passed on to him by Itosu Sensei. In 1949 Toyama was awarded a special title of honor, Okinawa Bushi Okinawa Warrior, by the Governor of Okinawa, Mr. Koshin Shikiya. Aside from learning Shuri-Te Seito Okinawan Karate-Do from Itosu, Toyama studied and mastered other styles of Karate from other notable masters of Naha-Te and Tomari-Te, which also included Okinawan Kobu-Do. A few of his other teachers were Ankichi Aragaki, Anko Azato, Chosin Chibana, Chojo Oshiro, Soregashi Tana and Kentsu Yabu. Although he studied and learned from several noted Sensei’s Toyama always claimed Itosu as his primary teacher as noted in his book. Because Toyama Sensei had studied and was mentored by so many different teachers such as Higaonna he was known to have taught Kata of other styles to students that joined the AJKF from other systems. He stayed true to his Itosu orthodox system for his direct students.
Toyama Sensei was responsible for producing some innovative instructors before he died in 1966. Due to the fact that he did not select or appoint a successor to the Shu Do Kan and really did not view the Shu Do Kan as a style of Karate-Do Toyama system fragmented in different styles. For this reason the AJKF was created. Toyama Sensei always claimed to have studied and taught Seito 正統 orthodox Okinawan Karate-Do and rejected the idea there should be styles. Sometime after 1962 to 1965 Toyama Sensei stopped issuing rank directly deferring ranking to the AJKF. According to Michio Koyasu, prior to his death, Toyama Sensei was not known to have issued any rank above Hachi Dan 8th degree directly. One of Toyama’s senior students, Eizo Onishi, founded Koei Kan Ryu in 1952. Because of political differences in the national Japanese politics Toyama gave permission to and fully blessed Onishi to break away and go on his own. After Toyama Sensei’s death other senior students established their own styles, Toshio Hanaue’s Dojo founded the Ko Do Kan 公道館 The Public Way Building, Isao Ichikawa founded Do Shin Kan Ryu 道心館流 The Heart Of The Way Building Style in 1969 and Mikio Tanaka founded Toyama Kai 遠山会 in 1995. Michio Koyasu founded Soryu 総流 the Complete Style in 1967. Some instructors such as Ishikawa and Tanaka received their Shihan after 1959 and were not included on the Karate-Do Taihokan list. Another notable student was Byung In Yun 炳仁尹who was one of two Koreans listed in the 1959 Karate-Do Taihokan Shu Do Kan register. Byung In Yun disappeared during the Korean War in the early 1950’s. Kim Soo a student of Cho Lee Park and the founder of Chayon Ryu 自然流 The Natural Way Style of Houston, Texas located relatives of Grand Master Yun on a visit to South Korea in 2005. He was contacted in 2006 from Sensei Yun’s son in North Korea that Byon In Yun had died of lung cancer 3 April 1983. Two of Yun’s students went on to found two of Korea’s notable Kwons. Nam Suk Lee founded the Chung Mu Kwan 彰武館 Propagation of the Military Training Hall in 1946 and Cho Lee Park founded the Kang Duk Won 講徳院 Arena for the Teaching of Virtue Training Hall in 1956. A third of Yun Sensei’s students, Jon Pyo Han, founded the Heung Mu Kwon 興武館 Prosperous Martial Hall in 1966.
 Information for the Kanken Toyama biography was obtained via personal interviews with Michio Koyasu by James A. Caldwell, Soryu Karate-Do Federation training materials, Toyama’s Karate-Do Taihokan, various AJKF newsletters, various miscellaneous articles and a 1965 Ernest Estrada Interview.