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 Karate Do  


     okinawankarate2For centuries, okinawan martial arts have been practiced and developed by natives. Okinawa, the biggest of the Ryukyu islands, is located south – west of Japan and south – east of China. For many centuries, it served as an intermediate station for ships heading to Japan or China. Due to Okinawa's strategic location, it became a fertile field where the two nations met, and affected each other's culture.  


   The warriors of Okinawa (bushi) found themselves more than once in combat situations, where they had to fight armed opponents with their bare hands due to lack of weaponry. To overcome this challenging situation, they developed the martial art named "Karate Do".


   In the beginning, the martial art that was practised by the elite warrior cast, was called "Te" or "Ti" meaning "hand". It appeared sometime between 15th and 16th century A.D. Over time, "Te" ("Ti") was enriched with martial arts elements of China, Japan and south – eastern Asia in general.  


So, by 19th century the term "Tode" (or "Todi", meaning "chinese hand") was used to describe the okinawan martial arts.


Other factors that led to the evolution and development of Tode were
* the weapon ban policy, imposed by King Shoshin (1477 – 1526)
* the Satsuma clan invasion of Ryukyu islands (1609)  
Between 1784 and 1903 the term "Karate" replaced the widely used "Tode" and "Te" describing the main form of okinawan unarmed combat. By the end of 19th century, three systems of this martial art were formed, based on the area they were taught. They were:



  • Naha-te
  • Tomari-te



Shorin Ryu Karate Do


        okimastersThe greatest teacher of Shuri – te during 19th century was Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura. Being himself a student of the great Tode teacher Satunushi "Tode" Sakugawa, he was one of those few given the title "Bushi", meaning "Warrior". Matsumura is considered to be the "father of Shorin Ryu". It was him that turned Shuri – te into a martial arts system, which later developed into Shorin Ryu.
     The most known student of "Bushi" Matsumura was Yasutsune "Ankoh" Itosu. In 1908, due to this Shuri – te Grand Master's efforts, Karate is integrated into the school curriculum of Okinawa, and after many centuries of sececy this martial art is now available to the public.
     "Ankoh" Itosu taught some of the greatest teachers of that time. They would later institute most of okinawan and japanese karate systems. Some of them were: Chosin Chibana (Shorin Ryu), Funakoshi Gichin (Shotokan), Mabuni Kenwa (Shito Ryu), Choki Motobu (Motobu Ryu).  Master Chosin Chibana is considered to be the founder of Shorin Ryu. It was him who gave the name “Shorin Ryu” to the teachings of his master, “Ankoh” Itosu. “Shorin Ryu” translates to “the school of the young forest” or “the school of the small pine forest”. “Shorin” is the okinawan accent for the word “Shaolin” and is tribute to the Shaolin Temple. That reflects the chinese  

influence in the art of Shorin Ryu. Alternatively, Shorin Ryu can be pronounced as “Kobayashi Ryu” so as not to be mistaken with the Shaolin doctrine and to be considered as a distinct okinawan martial art.


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