Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai(TM)    

       

       

                 Traditional Okinawan Martial Arts

 

Traditional Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo

Traditional Okinawa Karate & kobudo (weapons) originated on Okinawa and was kept secret from all outsiders for hundreds of years. Those who trained in the Okinawa arts swore an oath of secrecy to preserve this martial 'art'. It is an 'art' and fighting system developed for self-defense and self-improvement intended to improve physical and spiritual self with distinct Zen association. Karate was not introduced to Japan until the early part of the 20th century because of secrecy.


When introduced, only omote techniques were taught (those visible and understandable), many secrets (kuden) related to karate continued to remain in Okinawan hands and still are practiced in secret including urate (not obvious), miegakure (intentionally hidden), ki (intermal energy & power), okurasu goroshi (delayed kill strikes), tien hsueh (vital point strikes), hitotsuki hitogeri (one strike knockouts), kotekitai (body hardening). These are still secret and taught only to a few trusted students in Shorin-Ryu.

Shorin-Ryu martial artists Hanshi Ron Smith (10th dan) left from Virginia and Soke Dan Hausel (12th dan) right from Arizona (originally from Wyoming) pose at JKI clinic in New Braunfels, Texas.

HISTORY of Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo

Legend describes a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma whose travels led from India to the northern Henan province of China where he sought to teach Zen philosophy to monks of the Shaolin Temple. The time of this event is unknown, but legend suggests it may have been about 525 AD.


The development of Kung Fu (and later karate) is thought to be related to this. When Bodhidharma arrived at Shaolin-si (small forest temple - translates as Shorin in Japanese), he began lectures, but soon found most monks were unfit & lazy: some fell asleep during mediation. Bodhidharma realized the solution was to improve the monks physical conditioning in order to imporve their minds; thus, he began teaching physical exercises along with meditation known as 'Shi Po Lohan Sho' (18 hands of Lohan) reputed to have been a fighting form or system. The blending of Lohan with Zen led to the development of the first martial art.

To be a martial 'art' there must be intrinsic value for a person's soul. Without philosophy to improve a person's spirit & ethical awareness, it cannot be an art. Today, we see street-fighting forms such as MMA that profess being a martial art, but these lack any visible philosophy for positive & ethical development. Thus these are nothing more than street fighting and not a martial 'art'.

Dojo kun of martial arts is just one of many ways we bring self-improvement into the dojo.  Dojo kun are the rules or philosophy of a dojo (martial arts school). I think of them as affirmations. The dojo kun of Shorin-Ryu master Gichin Funakoshi provide the basis of kun for many martial arts schools

  • (Makoto no michi o mamoru koto). Have devotion in seeking a true way.
  • (Reigi o omonjiru koto). Always act with good manners.
  • (Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto). Cultivate a spirit of effort and perseverance.
  • (Kekki no yu o imashimeru koto). Refrain from violent and uncontrolled behavior.
  • (Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomeru koto). Work to perfect your character
  • (Kara te ni sente nashi). There is no first attack in karate. 
  •  (kara te do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto a wasaru na). Karate-do begins and ends with bowing.
  • (dojo nomino kara te to omou na) Karate extends beyond the dojo.


One of the earliest forms of fighting was known as Kalarippayattu taught in southern India. This art is suggested to be several hundred years old, and may be similar to Shi Po Lohan Sho. There is no way of dating this art, but it is a fascinating concept and the art shows circular open hand strikes, blocks and kicks with acrobatic manuvuvers similar to Kung Fu.

Bodhidharma's teachings became the basis for Chinese martial arts. One or more of these were introduced to Okinawa including Hakutsuru (white crane) of the Shaolin Temple in southeastern China. White Crane was developed by a woman who mimicked movements of crane. This form may be the basis for much of karate.

 In its earliest stages, karate was an indigenous form of fighting developed in Okinawa called Te, or 'hand'. Weapons bans imposed on Okinawa encouraged refinement of Te techniques & development of kobudo (peasant weapons). At this time, farming & fishing implements were developed into weapons of self-defense and taught with Te.

Karate developed in three different Okinawan cities: Shuri, Naha & Tomari. Each was a center for a different sect of society: kings and nobles, merchants, farmers and fishermen, respectively. For this reason, different forms of te developed in each city and subsequently became known as Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te. Collectively they were called Okinawa-Te, Tode (Chinese hand) or kara-te.

The Chinese character used to write Tode could be pronounced 'kara' thus the name Te was replaced with kara te or 'Chinese hand art'. This was later changed to karate-do to adopt an alternate meaning for the Chinese character for kara, meaning 'empty'. Thus, the term karate came to mean 'empty hand'. The do in karate-do implies 'way' or 'path' emphasizing moral and spiritual philosophy. 

Shorin-Ryu Karate evolved from Okinawa-Te as a combination of a native Okinawan fighting arts and Chinese martial arts. It is known as a hard style or "external" martial art. Other influential karate practitioners of note included Soken Matsumura (1797-1889). Soken Matsumura, sometimes called "Bushi" Matsumura studied Okinawa-Te under Tode Sakugawa (1733-1815). 

Another important martial arts practitioner was Yasutsune Itosu. Some of his students were instrumental in the popularization of karate on Okinawa, and its introduction to mainland Japan. His students carried on his teachings using the name of Shorin-Ryu (which refers to the Shaolin Temple). Since Itosu's death (1915), Shorin-Ryu branched into several variations, and is practiced by hundreds of thousands all over the world.Some branches of Shorin-Ryu include Shobayashi Shorin-Ryu ('small forest style'), Koybayashi Shorin-Ryu ('young forest style'), Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu ('pine forest style') and Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu ('orthodox' style), Sukunaihayashi (Seibukan), Ryukyu Hon Kenpo (Okinawan Kempo), Kodokai Shorin-ryu, Seidokan, Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Shidokan, Shorinkan, Kyudokan), Chubu Shorin-Ryu, Ryukyu Shorin-Ryu and Seiyo Shorin-Ryu

Our path is that of traditional martial arts.