Matsumura Shorin-ryu

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Karate History

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About 530 to 545 A.D. a Buddhist Monk, Taishi Daruma (later know as Bodhidharma) crossed the Himalayan Mountains from India to China. He came for two reasons; to found a Buddhist Monastery and to unite the various Buddhist and Taoist schools of thought which had preceded him. The undertaking of such a journey even today is an enormous and extremely dangerous task requiring months of planning. Daruma found that the Monarchs of the Liang Dynasty were not perceptive to Buddhist tenants. Returning to the wilderness, he and a small group of disciples constructed the Shaolin Monastery, which was the birthplace of Zen Buddhism. Finding his Chinese followers weak from long hours of traditional meditation and physical neglect, Daruma established a system of physical and mental discipline know as I-Chin or San-chin meaning "three conflicts". The concept of San-Chin is founded on the realization that man's most powerful body forces lie virtually untapped.

The term conflict applies to the independent, undisciplined function of the body's three most powerful elements; breathing; mental and physical concentration. In application, the San-Chin practitioner seeks complete coordination of these forces, greatly improving the mind-body relationship.

About 500 years ago the famous King Haishi Sho succeeded in uniting the Ruykyu Islands into one kingdom. To ensure rule by law, all weapons were seized from the people and it was made a crime against the state to possess weapons. About 200 years later Okinawa became a part of the Satsuma Clan of Kyushu, and a second ban on weapons was declared. During these centuries that Okinawa was occupied by Japanese War Lords the art of empty-handed fighting, now know as Karate, (Kara-empty, te-hand) underwent it's most advanced developments to date. Though their many years of secret the Okinawans became so proficient that they could attack and kill armed soldiers with their "bare hands". Their weapons (hands; feet; fists; ect.) were as effective as any other weapon of that day, and in the 16th Century they attacked and over-threw the Japanese occupational force. Karate was to be taught secretly for centuries and was not officially introduced in Japan until 1917.

The most important step in the development of modern Karate came with the introduction of "Tode Fighting Art" to the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa). Scattered like stepping stones from the southern Island of Kyushu to Taiwan in the East China Sea, Okinawans lived a frugal existence. They incorporated flowing movements of Chinese boxing arts into the art of Okinawan-te (Okinawan Hand). The Islanders gave birth to a new art, KARATE (China-hands, now known as empty-hands), the most fierce fighting art known to man. From this evolution, three main styles evolved. They being: Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te. Taking their names from principal cities on the main Island of Okinawa. Naha and Tomari often were referred to as one city.

Of these three main systems, the person responsible for the development of Naha-te was Kanryo Higahionna. The developer of Shuri-te and probably the greatest Karate-ka in Okinawa was Sokon Matsumura, the great Bushi Warrior in the Mid Meiji Period (1867 - 1912) and the person who developed Tomari-te was Kosaku Matsumura.

Soken Matsumura was a student of Karate (Tode) Sakugwa. His most notable students were, Soken Matsumura, Yasutsune Ituse , Kentsu Yabu, Chotoku Kyan, Chosin Chibana. Some of the present day styles coming from these peoples efforts are;

1. Matsuubayashi Shorin-ryu - founded by Shoshin Nagamine (teachers were; Kyan, Motobu, & Arakaki)

2. Okinawan Shorin-ryu - founded by Katsuyu Miyahira (teachers were; Chibana and Motobu.

3. Shorin-ryu Shorin Kan - founded by Shugoor Nakazato (teacher was Chibana)

4. Kuboda Kan - founded by Shinken Taira (teacher was Yabu)

5. Shudo Kan - founded by Toshio Hannue (teachers were Yabu and Motobu)

6. Koei Kan - founded by Eizo Onishi (teachers were Yabu and Motobu)

7. Shoto-Kan - founded by Gichin Funakoshi and some times called the father of Japanese Karate (teachers were Ituse and Azato)

8. Matsumura-Seito - founded by Hohan Soken whose uncle was Nabe Matsumura. Nabe Matsumura was the grandson of the great Soken "Bushi" Matsumura. Hence, this system is from the Matsumura "FAMILY STYLE"

In this brief history of Okinawan Karate, we have by-passed many Okinawan Masters, but we tried to highlight the three specific areas in the development of Okinawan Karate in our particular system.

In America today there are many Karate schools. There are also many styles and systems. Although the basis of Karate began thousands of years ago, there has been a gradual changing in the execution of it's techniques. Each Master of the past has added his own special ideas to produce today a form of unarmed self-defense equaled by no other means......but it is not over; it is just beginning. Changes are being made even now by the Karate Masters of today. Karate is on the move. Its history is being written day by day as it continues to strive for self-betterment in the Art, and character of its followers. But I might add.....change, for the sake of change is not good, but a change for improvement is good.

The four (4) elements of Karate are: 1. Speed 2. Power 3. Technique (form) 4. Breath

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