Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo at Arizona Hombu, Mesa, Arizona
Although, most think of karate as Japanese, this is misleading. Karate originated on Okinawa when the island chain was independent from Japan. It later became Japanese, long after karate had already been created, because Japanese samurai conquered Okinawa in the 17th century. Even so, karate was kept secret from the Japanese people until 1922. Okinawa remained a separate nation until 1879. Many karate techniques, traditions, forms & weapons are indigenous to Okinawa or borrowed from China or other southeast Asia nations. The Japanese had little influence on karate until it branched from a combat system to competitive sport art. Still, the original Okinawa karate, such as Shorin-Ryu remain mostly sport-free. The Japanese hybrid (sport) karate has taken a separate path, even though both have similarities.
Legend states a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma traveled from India to northern Henan province of China where he taught Zen at the Shaolin Temple around 525 AD. When Bodhidharma arrived at Shaolin-si (small forest temple), he began lectures but found most monks unfit & lazy. If you examine the kanji in our copyrighted icon on the above left side of the title at the top of this page, the 3rd and 4th kanji from the top refer to the 'small forest temple' or 'Shaolin Si' to indicate Shorin-Ryu has roots at the Shaolin Temple. Bodhidharma realized the solution was to improve physical conditioning of the monks in order to improve their minds; thus, he began teaching physical exercises with meditation known as 'Shi Po Lohan Sho' (18 hands of Lohan) reputed to be a fighting system. The blending of Lohan with Zen evolved into the first martial art. To be a martial 'art' there must be intrinsic value for the spirit, body and soul.