is one of the major modern Okinawan martial arts. Said to have been founded by Sokon Matsumura during the 1800s, Shorin-ryu combines elements of the traditional Okinawan fighting styles of Shuri-te and Tomari-te. Shorin-ryu is widely considered to be one of the two major modern styles of Okinawan karate, along with Goju-ryu, which is rooted in the third traditional Okinawan style, Naha-te.
Sokon Matsumura was a renowned warrior of his time; bodyguard to three kings of Okinawa, he has been called the Miyamoto Musashi
of Okinawa and was dubbed bushi
, or warrior, by his king. However, while he is often referred to as the "founder" of Shorin-ryu
, he did not invent all the components of the style, and perhaps didn't refer to it as Shorin-ryu
himself. It is quite possible that he synthesized his knowledge of Okinawan arts with Chinese fighting styles
that he learned on his travels and taught it as a coherent system to some eager students, who subsequently refined it, labeled it, and passed it on. Shorin
is the pronunciation of the Chinese Shaolin
in Hogun ("Hogen" is standard Japanese for "dialect"; the suffix "-ben" is also used, but the modern use of the word "Hogen" is current Okinawan local "slang" for Uchinanchuguchi, TFA.) The primary dialect of Okinawa, although now an almost dead language due to the taking over of okinawa by Japan.; and ryu
means "Association". Therefore, Shorin-ryu
("Shaolin association" or "small forest") reflects the Chinese influences intrinsic to the art.
Along with being a style on its own, Shorin-ryu is also perhaps the most influential single ancestor of modern Japanese karate. One of Matsumura's best-known students, Anko (or "Ankoh") Itosu became a great practitioner and teacher of Okinawan karate and developed the five Pinan kata, which are now taught not only in Shorin-ryu, but also in a wide variety of Okinawan, Japanese and derived martial arts. It is also believed by some that the first three Pinan kata were actually developed by Matsumura and the last two by Itosu. In addition, Itosu and another student of Matsumura's named Anko Azato were among the primary influences on a fellow Okinawan named Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi introduced his Okinawan martial arts to mainland Japan in 1922, and in subsequent decades was instrumental in developing what he termed simply karate or karate-do into a popular Japanese martial art. The style Funakoshi taught on mainland Japan is now called Shotokan karate.
Shorin-ryu is generally characterized by natural breathing, natural (narrow, high) stances, and direct, rather than circular movements (with the exception of Shorin-Ryu Kyudokan, which makes extensive use of circular movements). Shorin-ryu practitioners will say that correct motion matters, being able to move quickly to evade violence by having fluid movements and flexible positions is quite important, and that a solid structure is very important for powerful moves, but stances that are too deep, will most likely make body movement very difficult.
About the name of Shorin-Ryu
"... now the Japanese call it 'kobayashi style' but that is incorrect - but that is all right because only people who do not know Okinawan karate will call it by that name. Since they do not know you must gently remind them or the Okinawan people will laugh at their ignorance. After all, it is funny, many foreign people call it kobayashi shorin-Ryu - that is just like saying shorin shorin-ryu. It doesn't make much sense ..."
Miyahira Katsuya hanshi
Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate 10th dan
There are many dojos who use the term "Shorin-ryu". Some of the best known schools of Shorin-ryu were started by Matsumura's students, keeping with Okinawa's tradition of successorship. Each of Matsumura's Deshis (students) changed the name of their system when they took over, so the branches began: Sukunaihayashi (Shōrin-ryū Seibukan
), Ryukyu Hon Kenpo, Kodokai Shorin-ryu, Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-ryu, Seidokan
, Kobayashi Shorin-ryu
, Kyudokan), Matsubayashi-ryu
, Okinawa Kenpo
, and Shobayashi-ryu
, but there are many others, most with long and distinguished histories that trace back to Matsumura and his students, for exapmle Shinjinbukai, founded by Yoshimitsu Onaga
There are different sets of kata
, ranging from kihon (exercise kata) to rohai (vision of the crane kata). This is a list of the main kata series studied in Shorin-ryu karate. Not all kata are practiced by all schools. In some styles of Shorin-Ryu Kihon Kata or Kihongata is taught before Fukyugata or it takes the place of Fukyugata.
- Kihon series (basic form)
- Fukyugata series (fundamental/universal class form, also called Fukyu)
- Taikyoku series (full hearted way kata)
- Naihanchi series (iron horse form)
- Pinan series (peace and meditation form), (riceline form)
- Channan series (valley kata, these kata are thought to have evolved into the Pinan kata)
- Passai series (breakthrough form)
- Kūsankū series (look to the sky form)
- Ananku (southern light kata or Swallow on the beach form)
- Chintō (east-fighting kata)
- Chintē (east village kata)
- Gojushiho (54 move kata, also called Useishin)
- Rōhai (crane on rock form)
In 1924, Gichin Funakoshi
adopted the Dan system from judo
founder Jigoro Kano
using a rank scheme with a limited set of belt colors. Other Okinawan teachers also adopted this practice.
In a Kyū/Dan system, the beginner grade is a higher-numbered kyū (e.g., 9th Kyū) and progress is toward a lower-numbered Kyū. The Dan progression continues from 1st Dan (Shodan, or 'beginning dan') to the higher dan grades. Kyū-grade karateka are referred to as "color belt" or mudansha ("ones without dan"); Dan-grade karateka are referred to as yudansha (holders of dan rank). Yudansha typically wear a black belt.
Requirements of rank differ among styles, organizations, and schools. Kyū ranks stress stance, balance, and coordination. Speed and power are added at higher grades. Minimum age and time in rank are factors affecting promotion. Testing consists of demonstration of technique before a panel of examiners. Black belt testing is commonly done in a manner known as shinsa, which includes a written examination as well as demonstration of kihon, kumite, kata, and bunkai (applications of technique).
In Shorin-Ryu, a common rank (belt) progression is as noted bellow:
In America the mudansha are:
- White Belt (7th Kyū)
- Yellow Belt (6th Kyū)
- Orange Belt (5th Kyū)
- Blue Belt (4th Kyū)
- Green Belt (3rd Kyū)
- Purple Belt (2nd Kyū)
- Brown Belt (1st Kyū)
In America the yudansha are:
- Black Belt (from the 1st to the 4th Dan, some styles to 9th Dan)
- Red/Black Belt (5th and 6th Dan, some stlyes don't use)
- Red/White Belt (7th and 8th Dan, some styles don't use)
- Red Belt (9th and 10th Dan, some styles only 10th)
Obs.: In order to distinguish among the six Dan of Black Belts, some use small marks at the belt, usually one mark means a 1st Dan Karateka, two marks a 2nd Dan and so on.
List of representatives
| Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do lineage
|| ryū name || Shidokan
|| Shinjinbukan |
|| Matsumura Sokon (1809-1899) |
The creator of kata: Naihanch, Passai (Dai), Chinto, Kushanku (Dai), Gojushiho
|| Itosu Anko (1831 - 1915) |
The creator of kata: Pinan (1-5) and constructor of kata: Passai (Sho), Kushanku (Sho).
He enlarged Naihanchi into three
|| Okinawa Shorin-ryu
|| Chibana Choshin (1885 - 1969)|
A successor of master Itosu Anko
Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karatedo 10th dan
|| Miyahira Katsuya (1918-)|
A successor of master
Karatedo 10th dan
| Nakazato Shuguro (1920-)|
A disciple of master
Karatedo 10th dan
| Higa Yuchoku (1910–1994)|
A disciple of master
Karatedo 10th dan
|| Onaga Yoshimitsu|
founder of the Shinjinbukan School
Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate 8th dan
Oshukai: Headmaster: Chinen Kenyu (Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karatedo 9th dan), A disciple of masters Chibana Choshin, Miyahira Katsuya, Nakazato Shuguro