Okinawan martial arts refers to the martial arts, such as karate, tegumi and Okinawan kobudō, which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island. Due to its central location, Okinawa was influenced by various cultures with a long history of trade and cultural exchange, including Japan, China and Southeast Asia, that greatly influenced the development of martial arts on Okinawa.
In 1429, the three kingdoms on Okinawa unified to form the Kingdom of Ryukyu. When King Shō Shin came into power in 1477, he banned the practice of martial arts. Tō-te and Ryukyu kobudō (weaponry) continued to be taught in secret. (唐手, Tuudii, Tang hand, China hand), sometimes called Okinawa-te (沖縄手, Uchinaa-dii).The ban was continued in 1609 after Okinawa was invaded by the Satsuma Domain of Japan. The bans contributed to the development of kobudō which uses common household and farming implements as weaponry. The Okinawans combined Chinese martial arts with the existing local variants to form Tōde
By the 18th century, different types of Te had developed in three different villages – Shuri, Naha and Tomari. The styles were named Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, respectively.
Well into the 20th century, the martial arts of Okinawa were generally referred to as te and tii 手 in Japanese and Okinawan for "hand". Te often varied from one town to another, so to distinguish among the various types of te, the word was often prefaced with its area of origin; for example, Naha-te, Shuri-te, or Tomari-te.
Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te belong to a family of martial arts that were collectively defined as Tode-jutsu or To-de.
Karate (Okinawa-te or Karate-jutsu) was systematically taught in Japan after the Taishō era (after 1926).
Shuri-te (首里手, Okinawan: Suidii) is a pre-World War II term for a type of indigenous martial art to the area around Shuri, the old capital city of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Important Okinawan masters of Shuri-te:
The successor styles to Shuri-te include Shotokan, Shitō-ryū, Shōrin-ryū, Shudokan, Shuri-ryū, Shōrinji-ryū, Shorei Ryu, Shorei Goju Ryu, Gensei-ryu and Motobu-ryū.
Tomari-te (泊手, Okinawan: Tumai-dii) refers to a tradition of martial arts originating from the village of Tomari, Okinawa.
Important Okinawan masters of Tomari-te:
The successor styles to Tomari-te include Wado-ryu, Motobu-ryū, Matsubayashi-ryu and Shōrinji-ryū
Naha-te (那覇手, Okinawan: Naafa-dii) is a pre-World War II term for a type of martial art indigenous to the area around Naha, the old commercial city of the Ryukyu Kingdom and now the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture.
Important Okinawan masters of Naha-te:
The successor styles to Naha-te include Shōrei-ryū (earliest school), Gōjū-ryū, Uechi-ryū, Ryūei-ryū, Shito-ryu and Tōon-ryū.
Gōjū-ryū (剛柔流), Japanese for "hard-soft style", is one of the main traditional Okinawan styles of karate, featuring a combination of hard and soft techniques. Both principles, hard and soft, come from the famous martial arts book used by Okinawan masters during the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bubishi. Gō, which means hard, refers to closed hand techniques or straight linear attacks; jū, which means soft, refers to open hand techniques and circular movements. Gōjū-ryū incorporates both circular and linear movements into its curriculum, combining hard striking attacks such as kicks and close hand punches with softer open hand circular techniques for attacking, blocking, and controlling the opponent, including joint locks, grappling, takedowns, and throws.
Wadō-ryū (和道流) is one of the four major karate styles and was founded by Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982). The style itself places emphasis on not just striking, but tai sabaki, joint locks and throws. It has its origins within Tomari-te karate, but also gains influence from Shito-Ryu and Shotokan, however it was massively influenced by JiuJitsu, which explains the emphasis on concepts such as tai sabaki, noru and nagashi sabaki.
Shitō-ryū (糸東流) is a form of karate that was founded in 1934 by Kenwa Mabuni. A synthesis of various different Okinawan schools of martial arts, the Shitō-ryū is primarily practiced in Osaka. Due to both controversies in Kenwa Mabuni's line of succession and Mabuni's extensive efforts to popularize the martial art form in Japan, there exist many successor karate schools that claim Shitō-ryū as an influence.
Isshin-Ryū is a style of Okinawan karate founded by Tatsuo Shimabuku in 1956. Isshin-Ryū karate is largely a synthesis of Shorin-ryū karate, Gojū-ryū karate, and kobudō. The name means, literally, "one heart method". In 1989 there were 336 branches of Isshin-ryū throughout the world, most of which were concentrated in the United States.
Shorei Ryu is a style of Okinawan karate and is one of the two oldest Karate styles, alongside Shōrin-ryū. It was developed at the end of the 19th century by Higaonna Kanryō in Naha, Okinawa.
Tatsuo Shimabukuro was a Japanese martial artist. He is the founder of Isshin-ryū style of karate.)
Chōjun Miyagi was an Okinawan martial artist who founded the Gōjū-ryū school of karate by blending Okinawan and Chinese influences.
Motobu Chōki was an Okinawan karateka from Akahira Village in Shuri, Okinawa, capital of the Ryūkyū Kingdom when he was born. His older brother Motobu Chōyū was also a noted karateka.
The karate kataSeisan (十三) literally means '13'. Some people refer to the kata as '13 Hands', '13 Fists', '13 Techniques', '13 Steps' or even '13 killing positions'; however, these names have no historical basis.
Kenwa Mabuni was one of the first karateka to teach karate in mainland Japan and is credited as developing the style known as Shitō-ryū. Originally, he chose the name Hanko-ryu, literally "half-hard style", to imply that the style used both hard and soft techniques. Finally, Mabuni chose Shito-ryu, the first characters of the names Itosu and Higaonna, his two primary teachers.
Chitō-ryū (千唐流) is a style of karate founded by Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, (1898-1984). The name of the style translates as: chi (千) - 1,000; tō (唐) - China; ryū (流) - style, school, "1,000 year old Chinese style." The character tō (唐) refers to the Tang Dynasty of China. The style was officially founded in 1946.
Naihanchi (ナイハンチ) is a karate Kata, performed in straddle stance. It translates to 'internal divided conflict'. The form makes use of in-fighting techniques and grappling. In Shorin-Ryu and Matsubayashi-ryū Naihanchi Shodan is the first Ni Kyu although it is taught to Yon Kyu occasionally before Evaluations for the Ni Kyu rank. It is also the first Shorin-ryu and Shindo jinen-ryu kata to start with a technique to the right instead of the left. There are three modern kata derived from this. Some researchers believe Nidan and Sandan were created by Anko Itosu, but others believe that it was originally one kata broken into three separate parts. The fact that only Naihanchi/Tekki Shodan has a formal opening suggests the kata was split.
Matsumura Sōkon was one of the original karate masters of Okinawa. The years of his lifespan are reported variously as c.1809-1901 or 1798–1890 or 1809–1896 or 1800–1892. However, the dates on the plaque at Matsumura's tomb, put there by Matsumura's family, clearly state that he was born in 1809 and died in 1899.
Shōbayashi Shōrin-ryu (少林流) is a style of Okinawan Shorin-ryu karate founded by Eizo Shimabukuro. Eizo Shimabukuro (1925-2017) dropped the Chatan Yara no Kusanku and the Oyadamari no Passai he learned from Chotoku Kyan and he added Kusanku Sho and Dai and Passai Sho and Dai of Yasutsune Itosu lineage. It is said that Eizo Shimabukuro learned these Itosu kata as well as Pinan Shodan to Godan and Naihanchin Shodan to Sandan from Choshin Chibana. However, in his book "Okinawa Karatedo Old Grandmaster Stories" Eizo Shimabukuro says that Chibana was too old to teach and so Chibana referred Shimabukuro to his senior student, Nakazato, for instruction. Eizo Shimabuku also added two kata from his time in Goju-ryu with Chojun Miyagi. These kata being Seiunchin and Sanchin.
Shorin-ryu Seibukan, also known as Sukunaihayashi, is one of the many Okinawan Shorin-ryu styles of karate.
Shinpan Gusukuma, also known as Shinpan Shiroma by the Japanese, was an Okinawan martial artist who studied Shōrin-ryū karate as a student of Ankō Itosu. Gusukuma also trained under Higaonna Kanryō in the Naha-te style. Gusukuma went on to establish Shitō-ryū with Kenwa Mabuni.
Arakaki Seishō was a prominent Okinawan martial arts master who influenced the development of several major karate styles. He was known by many other names, including Aragaki Tsuji Pechin Seisho.
Chozo Nakama was a Kobayashi Shorin-ryu karate-do teacher known for his knowledge of karate history and generosity as a teacher. His primary teacher was Chosin Chibana, founder of Kobayashi Shorin-ryu; however, Nakama also studied with Chomo Hanashiro, Chōtoku Kyan, Kenwa Mabuni, Choki Motobu, and Kentsu Yabu. Nakama taught karate in Shuri, Okinawa, from c. 1935 to 1982.
Hohan Sōken was an Okinawan martial arts master who founded the Shōrin-ryū Matsumura Seito Okinawa Karate Kobudo Association.
Okinawa Seidokan is a style of Okinawa classical karate (Tode) and Kobudo founded in 1984 by Shian Toma. It is a synthesis of the Shorin Ryu katas, Motobu Ryu two-person open hand grappling and weapons techniques, and kobudo katas mostly of the Ryukyu Kobudo lineages.