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Warwick Vets High School Shotokan Karate Club

History of Martial Arts

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Shogo 'Soke' Kuniba

'Keinosuke Enoeda'
(First Instructor to Britain)



Shorin Ryu system of Okinawan Karate

Sokon Matsumura (1792-1887) was the forefather of Shorin Ryu..

Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Sho family (Royal family of Okinawa) and eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King.   At some point in his career, approximately 1830,  he went to China and studied the Shaolin style of Chinese Kenpo (fist method) and weaponry.   It is also known that he traveled to Foochow in Fukien province, China on numerous occasions as an envoy for the Okinawan King. After his return from China he organized and refined the Shorin Ryu system of Okinawan Karate.

Matsumura is credited with passing on the kata or formal exercises of Shorin Ryu Karate known as Naifanchi I & II, Bassai Dai, Seisan, Chinto,  Gojushiho (fifty-four steps of the Black Tiger),  Kusanku (the embodiment of Kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and Hakutsuru (white crane).   The Hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the white crane system taught within the Shaolin system of Chinese Kenpo.   Another set of kata, known as Chanan in Matsumura's time,  is said to have been devised by Matsumura himself and was the basis for Pinan I and II. Matsumura's Ryu has endured to the present day and the above mentioned kata are the core of Shorin Ryu Karate today.

Matsumura was given the title  "Bushi"  meaning warrior by the Okinawan King in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts.   In fact,  Matsumura fought many times but was never defeated.    His martial arts endeavors has been the progenitor of many contemporary karate styles,   Shorin Ryu,  Shotokan Ryu,  and Shito Ryu,  for example.   Ultimately all modern styles of karate that evolved from the Shuri-Te lineage can be traced back to the teachings of Bushi Matsumura.   This includes Taekwon Do (Korean Karate)

Kenwa Mabuni (1887-1952) is the founder of the Shito-ryu style of Karate.   Mabuni was Okinawan born, the son of a 17th generation Samurai called the Bushi (warrior) class. During his time, the martial arts (Okinawa-te) was known according to the village where it was practiced:  Shuri-te (the hand of Shuri),  Naha-te and Tomari-te.   Mabuni learned Shuri-te from Yasutsune Itosu,  who was a student of Sokon Matsumura,  and Naha-te from Kanryu Higashionna.   Mabuni also learned several empty hand katas and Kobudo (weapon) katas from Seisho Arakaki (1840-1918), and some white crane Kung Fu forms from Woo Yin Gue, a Chinese tea merchant in Okinawa.

After Gichin Funakoshi introduced "Karate" in Japan in 1922,  Kenwa Mabuni as a police officer,  traveled several times in Japan and tried to spread his knowledge of Okinawa-te in Japan.   Finally he moved to Osaka,  Japan in 1928 and started to teach Karate in Japan when Butokukai (then the governing body for martial arts in Japan) started registration for all Karate school and Master Mabuni named his style as  Hanko-ryu  (half-hard style) which he later in 1930's changed to "Shito-ryu" in honor of his two foremost teachers Yasutsune Itosu and Kanryu Higashionna  (the first kanzi character in 'Itosu' sounds like 'Shi' and that in 'Higashionna' sounds like 'to',  'ryu' stands for 'style' or 'school').

Master Mabuni,  the founder of Shito-ryu Karate,  died in Osaka, Japan in May,  1952 at age 64 leaving his name and art in every heart of each Shito-ryu Karate-ka. 

THE ART OF KARATE was developed from a combination of southern Chinese martial arts and the native Okinawan art of Te. The word karate is derived from two characters which mean empty and hand; therefore, karate can be translated as the art of the empty hand. The style of karate taught at the Authentic Ancient Arts dojo is Okinawan Shorin-ryu.




Karate, the Okinawan fighting art that has spread to main land Japan across the world has received much fame. But even some Karate-ka (Karate student) don’t know about its origins. In Okinawan Karate means “Chinese Hands”, but when translated into Japanese it means “Empty Hand”. Karate was at first a “jitsu” system; a system made for the battlefield. But today it is a “do” system, which is a life long system used to perfect oneself. 

Okinawan Karate is a mix of Chinese martial art styles. Karate was used by the peasants in Okinawa to protect themselves from the samurai and muggers, if one was unable to defend himself he would be killed by the attacker, so Karate was introduced. Some Karate- ka even decided to test their Horse Stance against huge tidal waves and fierce storms. To further condition themselves Karate-ka punched iron and wooden posts called Makiwara to toughen their fists. After a while Karate reached mainland Japan and underwent many changes. 

In some styles of Okinawan Karate weapons are used. Karate weapons are unique for they all are farmers’ tools, the Kama; used to cut grass. The Nunchaku: used to harvest rice. The Sai; used to turn things (I forget but I think meat???). The Tonfa; originally a handle for grinding mills. The Eku; an Okinawan boat oar. And the Bo; a staff used to carry water in buckets. There are many other weapons used in Karate but these are the more popular. Karate-ka of olden days always trained outside to toughen them up by tolerating rain, cold, and heat. But a Karate-ka’s weapons range from their head to their toes. Almost every part of a Karate-ka’s body is a weapon. The primary areas of Karate training include kihon (basic techniques), kumite (sparring), and kata (a series of pre arranged moves. 

One Karate-ka, Mas Oyama decided to develop his discipline, endurance, and body. He did this by going into the mountains of Japan and lived by himself for a year and a half doing 2,000 push ups a day and punching trees until his hands were bloody. To develop his concentration he sat underneath a ice cold waterfall meditating on Zen Koans (Zen Riddles). He was even able to punch through 12 roofing tiles in one punch and take down a charging bull in two blows, the first split a horn in half and the second hit the animal in the head killing it. The power of Karate......


Self-defence is about Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan jump kicks and yells. 
You need a black belt to be able to defend yourself. 
You have to be fit to defend yourself. 
You have to be violent to defend yourself. 
Carrying a weapon is the best protection. 
If you are old there is nothing you can do to stop an attacker. 
Don't hurt your attacker when defending yourself in case they sue you. 


Everyone is able to learn to defend themselves in some way. 
No one is too old to learn some useful self-defence. 
Avoiding a dangerous situation is better than defending your way out of it. 
If you are serious about defending yourself or someone else against an attack, you have to be prepared to do things you may never have done in your life. Yelling, kicking, punching and scratching may save your life. 
If you take a stand and report the attack (even if it seems minor), then the attacker may be brought to justice and you will prevent something worse happening to anyone else. 


About fourteen hundred years ago Daruma (Bodhidharma), the founder of Zen Buddhism, left western India, penetrating mountain ranges including the Himalayas, and crossing unabridged rivers through complete wilderness, to travel to China to present lectures on Buddhism. Since even present roads between India and China would not be described as good, one can imagine the greatness of Daruma's spirit and physical strength so great that he should have been able to conquer with such courage this difficult, several thousand mile way alone. In later years, as he traveled to the Shaolin Temple (Shorin-ji) in Hunan Province in China to lecture there on Buddhism, a great multitude of followers fell one by one in exhaustion from the harshness of his training. Daruma then set forth a method of developing the mind and body, telling them, "Although the way of Buddha is preached for the soul, the body and soul are inseparate. As I look at you now, I think it likely that you will not complete your training because of your exhaustion. For this reason, I shall give you a method by which you can develop your physical strength enough to enable yourselves to attain the essence of the way of Buddha." The method he set forth is contained in the Ekkin Kyo (Ekkin "sutra"). With it, the monks were able to recover their spiritual and physical strength, and it is said that these monks of the Shaolin Temple came to be known throughout China for their courage and fortitude.

The legend claims that in later times, after teaching of this method originally proposed by Daruma spread to many other places, it came to bear the name of its origin and was called Shorin-ji Kempo. It was this method that eventually reached the Ryukyu Islands and developed into Okinawa-te, the forerunner of present-day karate. 

In the southern part of Japan are located the Ryu-kyu Islands of which Okinawa is the largest. These group of islands is located 550 km. from mainland Japan-Kyushu and 700 km. from China. 

Around the 12th century the famous hero King Shö Hashi united all the island under his rule. In order to assure the position of the ruling class, the possession of arms by the common people was forbidden. 

Later on about the 16ht century all weapons in the islands were confiscated by the ruling Satsuma clan of Japan. At the same time there were many practitioners of martial arts that traveled to China to learn martial arts, that were brought back to Okinawa. It is probably for these reasons that the development of martial arts took a tremendous impulse forward and developed in the Okinawan martial art that we know today. 

At the beginning of the 19th century, Karate was accepted by the Okinawan authorities as an official physical education program and thus the future of karate was secured. Karate spread rapidly in Japan and slowly but surely in continued its spreading around the globe

It was developed in Okinawa the Karate-Do, initiallly called TI or TE (hand). This kind of fight was used to teach the beginner to face an opponent without weapons. The Okinawa island, known as a Rope on the Sea, is located on the Pacific Ocean, about 600 Km South of mainland Japan, 600 Km North of Taiwan and 700 Km East of China.

In 1371, Okinawa started an intense trade with China, Korea, and the southeast Asia countries, such as Thayland, Java, Philipinnes, Indonesia, Sumatra, Malasia, etc.. As a consequence, there was also a cultural interchange which brought to Okinawa another kind of fight originated in China similar to “TE”, the “Kempo” (Chinese Boxing). With these chinese fighting techniques, a new kind of fight was improved, the “Karate-Do”.

On two ocasions there was a weaponry banning in Okinawa. At those times the Okinawa island was divided in three states: Nazan, Chuzan and Hokuzan. In 1427, the Chuzan king, Shohashi, conquered all the island after a long conflict and, in 1469, the first prohibition occurred.

When the Satsuma governor atacked and conquered Okinawa in 1670, this japanese lord ordered a new weaponry banning, as well as hands free fighting. So, Karate-Do assumed more value. Those who could not use weapons, improved and used the Karate-Do as a means of defense against their armed opponents, always trainned in secrecy, in forests and caves.

Karate-Do developed in three different places in Okinawa: at the capital Shuri, being kown as Shuri-Te; at the trading city of Naha, being known as Naha-Te; and at the harbour city of Tomari, being known as Tomari-Te.

Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te originated the “Shorin-Ryu” style and Naha-Te gave birth to the “Goju-Ryu” style.

Nowadays, there exist many styles derived from Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu or as a product of integration of these two roots.

It was Master Gichin Funakoshi who took Karate-Do from Okinawa to mainland Japan, Tokyo, for the first time, in 1917, invited by the Education Ministry of that country. After that, other masters followed: Kenwa Mabuni (Shito-Ryu), Kanken Toyama, Chojun Miyagi (Goju-Ryu), Choki Motobu and others took Karate-Do to many other cities of Japan. After World War II, Karate-Do became popular all over the world.

There are no ancient registers of Karate-Do practitioners because of the long banning which turned this martial art a secret matter for selected students.

The more recent generations and renowned masters of Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do are as follows:

MASTER TAKAHARA: is the oldest known master. Although there is no register of his birth, his existence is known by the speech tradition from his disciple Sakugawa.

MASTER TODE SAKUGAWA (1762~1843): was teacher of Sokon Matsumura.

MASTER SOKON MATSUMURA (1809~1896): taught Karate-Do to Okinawa kings Sho Ko and Sho Tai, being also their steward and secretary. Among his students there were Anko Itosu, Yoshimine, Tawata, Kiyuna, Kuwas and others.

MASTER ANKO ITOSU (1832~1916): was also teacher and secretary of the Okinawa king Sho Tai. At the very beggining, he taught at his own house. In 1904, when Karate-Do was introduced as a regular discipline in the island schools, Master Itosu started teaching at the State School of Okinawa and at the Normal State School of Okinawa, becoming the first teacher of this martial art in education institutions. Among his students there were Choshin Chibana, Kentsu Yabu, Hanashiro, Anbun Tokuda, Kenwa Mabuni and Shinpan Shiroma (both founders of the Shito-Ryu style), Gichin Funakoshi (founder of the Shotokan style), Gusukuma, Yamakawa and others.

MASTER CHOSHIN CHIBANA (June 5th, 1885~February 26th,1969): taught Karate-Do for 50 years. Among his students were Chosho Nakama, Yuchoku Higa, Katsuya Miyahira, Shugoro Nakazato, Seitoku Ishikawa, Katsuyuko Shimabukuru, Akira Chibana, Yoshihide Shinzato, and many others.

  • Takahara (1683-1760) & Kusanku

  • Sakugawa Kanga
    "Father of Okinawan Karate"

  • Matsumura Sokon

  • Itosu Yasutsune

  • Chibana Chosin
    "Hanshi no Sogo"

  • Nakazato Shugoro
    "Hanshi JuDan"


There are no known authentic pictures of:
Sakugawa Kanga "Tode"
Matsumura Soken "Bushi"
Itosu Yasutsune "Anko

Shorin-Ryu Karate was established originally in Japan and then founded in the Ryu-Kyu Islands, better know as Okinawa.





THE ART OF KARATE was developed from a combination of southern Chinese martial arts and the native Okinawan art of Te. The word karate is derived from two characters which mean empty and hand; therefore, karate can be translated as the art of the empty hand. The style of karate taught at the Authentic Ancient Arts dojo is Okinawan Shorin-ryu.

SHORIN-RYU is one of the two original karate styles formally systematized in Okinawa and considered by some to have had the most influential impact on the development of all modern karate systems.

Sensei Gichin Funakoshi is the father of modern karate and founder of the Japan Karate Association. He was born in Shuri-Okinawa in 1868 and died in Tokyo-Japan in the 26 of April 1957. In the year 1922 Sensei Funakoshi was requested to give a karate demonstration in Japan. Until the this fighting art was known as "Chinese hand", but Sensei Funakoshi renamed karate and change the characters to read "empty hand". With this change he indicated that with the practice of karate would be possible to develop the character of the practitioner. At this time he coined the famous sentence "karate ni sente nashi....there is no first to attack in karate". 

TODE SAKUGAWA (1762-1843) 

Recognized as one of the most important figures in the history of Karate, Satunushi "Tode" Sakugawa was among the first to blend elements of the original Okinawan art of te with Chinese boxing (tode) to initiate the development of what we know as Karate today.
Born in Shuri, Sakugawa began his martial arts training as a youth under Peichin Takahara, a local astronomer and monk. A short time later, he met a Chinese military diplomat stationed on Okinawa named Kusanku and began training under him in Chinese Kempo. During subsequent trips to China, Sakugawa continued his Kempo training and studied bojutsu and other fighting arts as well.
From Sakugawa comes the kata Kusanku, the bo kata Sakugawa No Kun, and the concept of the dojo kun (dojo etiquette).
Many historians believe that one of Sakugawa's students was the famous Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura.

MACHU HIGA (1790-1870)
Like many of the leading martial artists of' his time, Machu Higa served as a bodyguard for the Ryukyuan royal family for which he was awarded the title Peichin, signifying membership in the Okinawan Shizoku (equivalent to the Japanese Samurai class).
Higa was an expert in bojutsu, saijutsu, tonfajutsu, and a pioneer in the early development of Karate. According to some historians, among his students was Ufuchiku Kanakushiku (Sanda Kinjo).


The father of Okinawan Karate, Sokon "Bushi" (Warrior) Matsumura was the first to systemize Shuri-te from which the various Shorin-ryu styles have come down to us today. Born into a prominent family in Shuri, Matsumura was a good scholar and athlete. He learned the fundamentals of te as a young boy (customary for upper class youths of the time) and later, according to many historians, began his formal martial arts training under Tode Sakugawa. From Sakugawa he is said to have learned use of the bo and the kata Kusanku. While serving as a bodyguard and martial arts instructor to the last three Ryukyuan kings, Matsumura made a number of official visits to China and Japan where he studied Chinese boxing and Japanese swordsmanship. Following retirement from service to the royal family, Matsumura taught Karate in Shuri. Among his many noteworthy students were Itosu Yatsutsune, Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro, Gichin Funakoshi, Chotoku Kyan, and Nabe Matsumura. 
Sokon Matsumura is credited with having originated or having developed important variations of many of the Shorin-ryu katas practiced today: Chinto, Wansu, Passai, Seisan, and others.