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Okinawan Karate Shorin-ryu

Shorin-ryu History

The History of Shorin-Ryu

By Katsuya Miyahira
Chairman, Okinawa Shorin Ryu Karate Association

As martial arts instructor and advisor to the last King of the Ryukyuan Dynasty, Master Sokun Matsumura, often called "Matsumura the Warrior" was the preeminent martial artist of his era. Matsumura Sensei developed and trained many disciples, one of whom was Anko Itosu.

Anko Itosu (1830 - 1915) incorporated the closed, hidden arts of karate into the physical education given at schools, and worked for broader, further dissemination of the arts. His disciples, Gichin Funakoshi, Kenwa Mabuni, and Kanken Toyama carried the arts to mainland Japan while Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Choki Motobu, Mouden Yabiku, Choshin Chibana, Anbun Tokuda, Choujyo Oshiro and Shinpan Shiroma disseminated Itosu's teachings throughout Okinawa.

Choshin Chibana, to better distinguish the style from other forms of karate, and to preserve the tenets that had been passed down from his teacher, Anko Itosu, renamed the form Okinawa Shorin Ryu. While the basic kata of Okinawa Shorin Ryu is Naihanchi, Anko Itosu modified the traditional kata and incorporated them into the First Dan, devised new Second and Third Dan, and amalgamated five new patterns of kata collectively known as Pinan into the Fukyu kata.

Shorin Ryu is a natural flow, devoid of unbalanced stances or unnatural breathing patterns. It has unique patterns of coiling and of relaxing power, allowing easier concentration of force and the attainment of speedy actions. To best develop the skills involved in the art of the single, deadly blow, training is targeted at tightly bound bales of straw. Nor is the art limited to passive modes of defense: the ability to release an effective counterattack in defense is a crucial element, summarized as "Offense is an effective form of Defense."

The All Japan Karate Federation seeks to spread Karate as a sport form. Simply put, this divergence is vast and serious. Winners in combative sports such as boxing may be seen wildly rejoicing with the announcement of a win, but this is not acceptable in martial arts such as sumo, judo or karate. A victor restrains his joy out of consideration for the vanquished. Such is the difference between sport and a martial art.

Today, 25 dojos are registered with the Okinawa Shorin Ryu Association (Chairman Katsuya Miyahira). The many more outside Okinawa and overseas demonstrate the growing presence of Okinawa Shorin Ryu in the world.

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