Karate, as we know it today, originated on
the Ryukyu Archipelago, more commonly known as the Island of Okinawa,
(Birthplace of Karate), Japan. The major sites were the villages
of Naha, Shuri and Tomari.
(1733-1815) "father of Okinawan karate"
Matsumura Sokon "Bushi"
Itosu Yasutsune "Anko"
Chibana Chosin "Hanshi
Nakazato Shugoro "Hanshi
There are no known authentic pictures of:
The traditional Kata (forms) have been handed down from instructor
to student. To quote Chibana Sensei, "Karate is teaching Kata
(form) we have taken from forefathers without changing it at all."
There are 15 traditional Katas and in Kobudo (Okinawan Art of
Weaponry) there are 6 weapons with individual Katas for each weapon.
Founding Eminent Okinawan Karate Masters
of "Karatedo" Association in 1936.
(Front-from right) Chojun Miyagi, Chomo Hanashiro,
Kentsu Yabu, Chotoku Kyan
(Back-from right) Genwa Nakasone, Choshin Chibana, Choryo Maeshiro,
Okinawan Karate dates to the
sixth century when Bodhidharma's (Daruma), born in India, travels
took him to China where he settled at a Shao-lin (Shorin in Japanese)
Monastery. The introduction of ch’uan-fa ("fist way") occurred
in the late 1300’s with the expansion of trade and cultural exchanges
between Okinawa and China. Evidence suggests that te ("hands"),
in fact, was indigenous to Okinawa, (the birthplace of Karate),
developing in the villages of Shuri, Naha and Tomari. Thus begins
the lineage of Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi Karate from the Shuri-te system.
TAKAHARA, Peichin (1683-1760)
was revered as a great warrior and is attributed to have been
the first to explain the aspects or principles of the word do ("way"). These principals
are: 1) ijo, the way-compassion, humility and love. 2) katsu, the laws-complete
understanding of all techniques and forms of karate, and 3) fo dedication seriousness of
karate that must be understood not only in practice, but in actual combat. The collective
translation is: "One’s duty to himself and his fellow man." Most importantly, he was the first
teacher of SAKUGAWA, Kanga "Tode" who was to become known as the "father of Okinawan karate."
KUSANKU, (AKA: Kung Syanag, Koso Kun)
is a Chinese diplomatic title. This emissary was a military official,
who traveled to Okinawa, as documented in 1761. He instructed "Tode" after the death of
TAKAHARA, SAKUGAWA’s first instructor. KUSANKU’s name is associated with several katas
in the Shorin-Ryu styles.
SAKUGAWA, Kanga (1733-1815)
"Tode" meaning "karate," was a nickname given to him by his eminent
instructor TAKAHARA. Known as the "father of Okinawan karate," SAKUGAWA traveled to
China to study the fighting arts. During this time he is attributed for combining the
Chinese art of ch’uan fa and the Okinawan art of tode ("Chinese hand or empty hand"),
forming Okinawa-te ("Okinawa hand") which would become the foundation for Shuri-te. He
passed down Kusanku, which is said to be one of Okinawa’s oldest katas. Furthermore,
he developed a bo kata, Sakugawa no Kon.
MATSUMURA, Sokon (1796-1893)
"Bushi" ("Warrior") it is acknowledged, began his training at an
early age under the tutelage of SAKUGAWA, "Tode" and made several trips to China to
further study the fighting arts. He is credited, by several sources, for making the
most singular contribution, katas, to the development of Okinawan karate. The Shuri-te
system of katas that are still practiced today in the Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu system are
Naihanchi I-III, Passai Dai, Chinto & Gojushiho.
ITOSU, Yasutsune (1830-1915)
"Anko" ("Iron Horse") trained under MATSUMURA, Sokon and is credited
for introducing the Pinans ("Peaceful Mind") I-V Katas to the Okinawan public schools in
1901. He is also credited for Kusanku Sho and Passai Sho. Some of the most important
modern day instructors that trained directly under him were: CHIBANA, Chosin, FUNAKOSHI,
Gichin, KYAN, Chotoku, MABUNI, Kenwa to name just a few.
CHIBANA, Chosin "Hanshi no Sogo" (1887-1969)
was one of Itosu’s top students. CHIBANA Sensei was the first to
differentiate his system of karate from others by naming it Kobayashi-ryu ("young
forest" style), in 1930, instead of Shuri-te or by his own name (e.g. Chibana-te)
as had been done in the past within the Shorin-ryu systems. This decision was brought
on by the growth and development of te, not only on Okinawa, but also with the foresight
of international introduction. CHIBANA Sensei was one of the founding committee members
of karate masters in 1936 that agreed karate should be translated as "empty hand." In
addition, he was awarded the Fourth Order of Merit from the Emperor of Japan, in 1969,
for his life long contributions to the martial arts. It is attributed by some sources
that he passed down the Kusanku Dai and Gojushiho katas. CHIBANA Sensei’s most influential
student of the modern day is NAKAZATO, Shugoro, to whom CHIBANA Sensei presented his
personal black belt, which was a great honor and tribute to NAKAZATO Sensei’s devotion
and martial arts skills.
NAKAZATO, Shugoro "Asahi
(1921 - Present)
Hanshi JuDan NAKAZATO has spent most of his life in the martial
arts and in 1967, after nearly twenty years of training, was awarded 9thDan by his
eminent instructor CHIBANA Choshin. Upon CHIBANA Sensei’s death in 1969, NAKAZATO
Sensei became the president of the Okinawan Shorin-Ryu * ShorinKan Karate-do Kyokai
and was promoted to 10thDan in 1980. NAKAZATO Sensei is one of the most influential
living karate Grand Masters in Okinawa and travels many times a year to promote the
traditional Okinawan Shorin-Ryu * ShorinKan Karate (Kobayashi-ryu) system. Hanshi
JunDan headed the Okinawan karate delegation and was asked to give a special performance
at the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia. Most recently in May 1999, he led
an Okinawan seminar delegation of Grand Masters to the United States promoting The 1st
Okinawa Traditional Karatedo & Kobudo World Tournament. In addition, Hanshi JuDan
NAKAZATO is credited for the introduction of the Gorin kata. In August 2000, the
Okinawan Prefecture Board of Education bestowed upon Hanshi NAKAZATO the title of
"Kenmukei Bunkazi" - Intangible Cultural Asset. Hanshi JuDan NAKAZATO's recognized
current influential first generation students in the United States are Kyoshis: Nabil
NOUJAIM, Doug PERRY, Patrick HALEY, Eddie BETHEA, Raymond KELLER , Eberhard WELCH, Noel
SMITH, C.D. WILLIAMSON, Chris ESTES, Sean RILEY, Kevin ROBERTS and Cheech LUZZI, to name a few.
"Kyoshi-Nanadan" (1950 - Present)
Kyoshi (Nanadan) Nabil Noujaim, 7th dan-Karate, 5th dan-Kobudo, is one of Hanshi Judan Nakazato
Sensei’s senior students in the U.S.A. and Southern California. Kyoshi Noujaim has been a student of Shorin-Ryu*ShorinKan
Karate since 1972 and is the head instructor of Noujaim’s Shorin-Ryu Karate in El Centro, CA., U.S.A. His ranking students
have shibo dojos in Indiana, New York, Chile, Puerto Rico,
Argentina, Mexico and various California cities including El Centro, Brawley, Berkeley,
San Miguel and Paso Robles. Kyoshi Noujaim travels extensively promoting ShorinKan not only nationally but also internationally including
seminars in Israel, Chile, Jordan and Mexico. His travels also take him to Naha City, Okinawa, Japan where he trains under
Shugoro Nakazato Sensei, Grand Master Shorin-Ryu*ShorinKan Karate & Kobudo. In addition, his annual November Camp,
Cal South International Martial Arts Camp draws from all the martial arts disciplines. The 2003 CAMP was honored to have
Nakazato Sensei as the Guest of Honor along with his son, Minoru san and several ranking kyoshis from Okinawa.
This brief synopsis of Okinawan Karate history is nothing more than just that,
brief. Please refer to the references listed on the home page and/or your own library and