okinawa karate the origins of kyokushin karate
According to ancient Okinawan legend, Karate had its beginnings in India with a Buddhist monk named Daruma. Tradition says that Daruma traveled across the Himalayan Mountains from India to the Shaolin Temple in Honan Province of China. There he began teaching the other monks his philosophies of physical and mental conditioning. Legend has it that his teachings included exercises for maintaining physical strength and self defense.This same monk known as Bodhidharma in India and as Ta Mo in China, is credited with founding the school of Buddhist philosophy known as “Ch´an” in China and as “Zen” in Japan.The Okinawans believe that the art known as Karate today came from those original teachings of Daruma through an Okinawan who visited or lived for some time in China at the Shaolin Temple. Whether or not this is true, it is obvious that there are similarities in the Okinawan art of Karate and the language and martial arts of China.Further, we must assume that the Karate of Okinawa developed from trial and error of fighting experiences into a different and unique martial art.
Karate (空手)is a martial art developed in the in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called te (手, literally “hand”; Tii in Okinawan) and Chinese kenpō.Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are taught in some styles.A karate practitioner is called a karateka (空手家).
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 Ryūkyū. 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. 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 (唐手 Tuudii, Tang hand, China hand), sometimes called Okinawa-te (沖縄手).
By the 18th century, different types of Te had developed in three different villages – Naha, Shuri, and Tomari. The styles were named Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te, respectively.
Well into the 20th century, the martial arts of Okinawa were generally referred to as te 手, which is Japanese 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.
Naha-te, Shuri-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 Taisho era (after 1926)
The greatest of the masters of okinawa
Matsumura Sōkon (松村 宗棍) 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.
Matsumura Sōkon was born in Yamagawa Village, Shuri, Okinawa. Matsumura began the study of karate under the guidance of Sakukawa Kanga Sakukawa was an old man at the time and reluctant to teach the young Matsumura, who was regarded as something of a troublemaker. However, Sakukawa had promised Matsumura Sōfuku, Matsumura Sōkon’s father, that he would teach the boy, and thus he did. Matsumura spent five years studying under Sakukawa. As a young man, Matsumura had already garnered a reputation as an expert in the martial arts.
Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Shō family, the royal family of the Ryūkyū Kingdom in 1836 and received the title Shikudon (also Chikudun Pechin), a gentry rank. He began his career by serving the 17th King of Ryūkyū’s second Shō dynasty, King Shō Kō. In 1838 he married Yonamine Chiru, who was a martial arts expert as well. Matsumura eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King Shō Kō. He subsequently served in this capacity for the last two Okinawan kings, Shō Iku and Shō Tai. Matsumura traveled on behalf of the royal government to Fuzhou and Satsuma. He studied Chuan Fa in China as well as other martial arts and brought what he learned back to Okinawa.
He was the first to introduce the principles of Satsuma’s swordsmanship school, Jigen-ryū, into Ryūkyū kobujutsu (Ryūkyūan traditional martial arts) and he is credited with creating the foundation for the bōjutsu of Tsuken. He passed on Jigen-ryū to some of his students, including Ankō Asato and Itarashiki Chochu. The Tsuken Bō tradition was perfected by Tsuken Seisoku Ueekata of Shuri
Matsumura is credited with passing on the Shōrin-ryū Kempō-karate kata known as naihanchi I & II, passai, seisan, chintō, gojūshiho, kusanku (the embodiment of kusanku’s teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and hakutsuru. The hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the Fujian White Crane system taught within the Shaolin system which was created by Fang Qiniang after destroying the gang who murdered her father Fang Zhonggong (Fang Shiyu). Lin Shixian was a Master of Black Crane and Eighteen Fist Monk Boxing. One of his Masters was Fang Zhonggong. He helped train Fang Quinang to defeat the gang who killed her father. Kwan Pang Yuiba (1828-1912) became master of Shaolin White Crane in the temple and supplanted Black Crane in 1837 as the official Temple Crane style, he was first student of Fāng Qīniáng.
Teachings of Bushi Matsumura
Matsumura was given the title “bushi” meaning “warrior” by the Okinawan king in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. Described by Gichin Funakoshi as a sensei with a terrifying presence, Matsumura was never defeated in a duel, though he fought many. Tall, thin, and possessing a pair of unsettling eyes, Matsumura was described by his student Ankō Itosu as blindingly fast and deceptively strong. His martial arts endeavors have been the progenitor of many contemporary karate styles: Shōrin-ryū, Shotokan, and Shitō-ryū, 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. Of note, his grandson was the modern Tōde master, Tsuyoshi Chitose, who assisted Gichin Funakoshi in the early introduction and teaching of karate in Japan and who founded the Chitō-ryū (千唐流 ) style.
Kanryo Higaonna Sensei 東恩納 寛量
(March 10th, 1853 – December 23, 1917)
Born March 10th, 1853 in Nishi-machi (Nishimura), Naha-shi, Okinawa – the 10th generation of Higaonna family in Haru Lineage. At the time he was born Okinawa was occupied by the Satsuma Clan. Reputed to have earned a living transporting firewood from the Kerama Island. With his father, Kanryo-being the fourth son, worked as a merchant sailing between the small islands of Okinawa trading everyday goods. From a young age (it is believed he started working at 10 which was acceptable during the times) Kanryo Higaonna helped his father in this work and through the hard physical labor that was involved developed his strong body. Although we have no positive evidence, it has been rumored that his father was killed in 1867 (Higaonna age 14). He stood very small in size however had unparalleled speed and agility. His last name also pronounced as Higashionna, Kanryo Higaonna is known as the founder and highest authority of Naha-Te.
1853, March 10th – Kanryo Higaonna Sensei is born in
Nishi-machi [Nishimura], Naha-Shi, Okinawa, Japan
1967 – Kanryo Higaonna Sensei begins his formal training with Seisho Arakaki Sensei, studying Chinese Kempo.
1873 – Kanryo Higaonna Sensei arrives in Fuzhou China where he would stay for 15 years.
1874 – Higaonna Kanryo Sensei finally obtained an introduction to Ryuruko. After performing chores Ryuruko accepted Higaonna Kanryo Sensei as his student (see 1876).
1876 – Kanryo Higaonna Sensei begins his studies with Ryuruko at the age of 23.
1879 – Six years after Higaonna’s departure, Okinawa was officially ordered by the Japanese government to become its prefecture with presence of the Japan Imperial Army Japanese police and officials.
1888 – Kanryo Higaonna Sensei returned to his old job as a merchant, but his reputation was growing. He returned to Okinawa during the middle of the Meiji era and introduced a new effective school of Karatedo at the request of his students,
1890 – Kanryo Higaonna Sensei introduces Kata Sanchin to his Naha-Te system.
1901 – Higaonna Kanryo Sensei began teaching at his house in Nishishin-Machi, free of charge and in secrecy.
1902, Chojun Miyagi Sensei is introduced to Kanryo Higaonna Sensei by Aragaki RyuKo Sensei who is Miyagi’s first teacher.
1902 – Both Kenwa Mabuni and Chojun Miyagi begin study with Kanryo Higaonna Sensei.
1905, September – Kanryo Higaonna Sensei began teaching formally at the Naha Commercial High School in Okinawa and was considered along with Anko Itosu to be the foremost Karatedo practitioner in Okinawa.
1917, October 23rd – Kanryo Higoanna Sensei dies in Nishiishin-Machi, 2-chome, Naha, Okinawa. Miyagi Sensei paid for his funeral. Miyagi Chojun Sensei returned to Okinawa at this time, due to the death of Higaonna Sensei.
Kanryo Higaonna was still in his teens when his father died, At the age of 14, that same year he began his formal training in Chinese Kempo with Seisho Arakaki 新垣世宗 (1840-1920), who had studied the Fukien style. Kanryo decided he wanted to entertain his studies his studies abroad in martial arts and he set his heart on traveling to Fuzhou, China 中国福建省福州市 for this purpose. It is said that he visited the port city in 1873 for fifteen years. Some Martial Arts historians explain his motives of visiting the city was to study the Chinese Martial Arts. Higaonna did, in fact, study a Southern Shaolin Chaun style with Sifu (instructor) Liu Liu Gung and remained there for 15 years, during his stay in that city. Explained by other historians, his initial reason for visiting China was the result of his political involvements. He arrived in Fuzhou in the year 1869, he was 15 or 16. It is believed that Higaonna Sensei also studied the styles of Hung Gar-Shaolin Chuan, hard style Chinese martial arts of Chi-Chi and/or I-Chi as well with another master named ‘Woo’. He began his studies with Ryuruko in 1876 at the age of 23 in Fujian Province, China and he remained in there under the severe instruction of his teacher for approximately (his remaining) 13 years.
The Chinese system that Higaonna Kanryo studied from Wei Shinzan and Ryuruko was also known as Pan Gainoon 一半硬半軟 which literally means “one half is hard and other half is soft”. Those kata practiced in the current Goju-Ryu school like Sanchin 三戦, Sanseiru 三十六, Superinpei (Pecchurin) 百零八 all originated from Pan Gainoon. In addition to studying empty handed martial arts he also become accomplished in weapons techniques and Chinese herbal medicine. He assisted his teacher Ryuruko at his trade as a bamboo craftsman by day and trained in the evenings. Training in that time period is much different than it is today. Training included hojo undo, ude tanren, uke harai, kakie and ne waza. Higaonna Sensei reputation among the locals was one of Ryuruko’s most skilled students. Pan Gainoon.In addition to studying empty handed martial arts he also become accomplished in weapons techniques and Chinese herbal medicine. He assisted his teacher Ryuruko at his trade as a bamboo craftsman by day and trained in the evenings. Training in that time period is much different than it is today. Training included hojo undo, ude tanren, uke harai, kakie and ne waza. Higaonna Sensei reputation among the locals was one of Ryuruko’s most skilled students.
One close associate of Kanryo Higaonna was Lord Yoshimura, 義村御殿 who had an enterprising trade of tea between the city Fuchou and Okinawa. He was a prominent pro-China activist who tried to block the Japanese settlement in Okinawa. According to historians, Higaonna carried a letter of referral for Lord Yoshimura for his trip. Higaonna never explained to anyone about the letter and stowed away with a few companions for China. In the city of Fuchou, there was a consulate of Okinawa called Ryukyu Kan, or 琉球館. Apparently, the Ryukyu Kan represented an Okinawan petition then to the Chinese Government requesting its international pressure against the Japanese occupation of Okinawa. One posibility was that Higaonna was a chosen messanger by the pro-China Okinawa for updating others of the situation on the island.
In 1879, six years after Higaonna’s departure, Okinawa was officially ordered by the Japanese government to become its prefecture with presence of an army of Japanese police and officials. It was an extremely intense period of time for Okinawans so that earlier assumptions that Higaonna left for China for the purpose of inquiring study of Karatedo was unlikely.
It is said that Ryuruko esteemed his pupil highly and sanctioned Higaonna Kanryo Sensei mastery of the arts. Such was Kanryo’s skill in the martial arts that his fame became widespread throughout Fuzhou and the surrounding area.
Upon returning to Okinawa, Higaonna Sensei began private lessons to the sons of the man who had granted him passage to China. He went back to his old job as a merchant, but his reputation was growing. He returned to Okinawa during the middle of the Meiji era (1888) and introduced a new effective school of Karatedo at the request of his students, distinguished from other styles by its integration of Go- no (hard) and Ju-no (soft) Kempo into one system notwithstanding his small statue. At this time, martial arts became known as Naha-te (these arts were also referred to as “Tode” meaning martial arts from China).
Kanryo Higaonna taught these martial arts to the people of Okinawa and at the same time continued his own research and practice. In order to teach the youth of Okinawa he developed a teaching method which was specifically designed to develop the mind and body; to improve both physical and spiritual well-being. The first occasion on Higashionna-Sensei was noted for his powerful Sanchin Kata. Sometimes he would permit four men to attempt to push him out of his stance, but they were always unable to move him. It is said that after finishing his Sanchin Kata, the wooden floor would be hot from the mere gripping of his toes. His most prominent and best student was Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-Ryu. The Monument to the left was dedicated to Higaonna Kanro and Miyagi Chojun Sensei’s and is located in Naha Okinawa.
In 1905 he began teaching at a public high school, and was considered along with Anko Itosu to be the foremost Karatedo practitioner in Okinawa. Upon his return to Okinawa his reluctance to teach formally was finally broken in 1905 after which Chojun Miyagi, age 14, was brought to him for formal instruction and he began teaching formally at the Naha Commercial High School. He along with Anko Itosu was known as the most proficient Karatedo practitioner in Okinawan Naha-te. Among his top students were Chojun Miyagi (founder of Goju-Ryu) and Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shito Ryu).
When teaching, Higaonna Kanryo Sensei was an extremely hard task master. However in his everyday life he was a quiet and humble man and one who was renowned for his virtuous character. He was a man who had no need or desire for worldly things. He lead a simple life which was completely devoted to the study and practice of the martial arts.
There are many stories which relate tales of Kanryo Higaonna’s life and training. The power of his legs was legendary, so much so that he was often referred to as “Ashi no Higaonna” (“Legs Higaonna”) in Okinawa. His virtuous character was widely known and respected, and because of his popularity the people of Naha bestowed him with the name, “Obushi Higaonna Tanrnei”, a name which reflected the affection and respect they had for this great man and supreme martial artist. Kanryo Higaonna’s unparalleled skill in the martial arts aside, his great and distinguished work was in bringing the Chinese martial art forms from China to Okinawa, and there spreading these arts among the people of Okinawa.
Higaonna Sensei is considered one of the earliest and foremost masters of Okinawan Karatedo and regarded as one of the most influential Karatedo instructors in Okinawan history. Kanryo Higaonna is now bestowed with the title, “Kensei (sacred fists) Higaonna Kanryo”, a title which is eminently fitting. His name is synonymous with Okinawan martial arts and Naha-te, and his spirit is destined to live on forever as a great and valued treasure within Okinawan culture. Kanryo Higaonna Sensei passed away of illness at the age of 63 in early 1917 (however also rumored December 23rd, late that same year). His most notable students were Chojun Miyagi (Goju-Ryu founder ), Kenwa Mabuni (Shito Ryu founder) and Juhatsu Kyoda (Toon Ryu founder).
If all these influences have had global trajectories, at the base, these are three villages of Okinawa, three small communities that hold within a circle of less than 10km. Thus the village of Tomari is less than four kilometers from Kume, the “Chinese” village of Naha. But we are talking about a time when the secret is in order and, from one dojo to another, from one master to another, from one village to another, each cultivates his difference, essential to his Eyes. In the nineteenth century, the Tomari-Te was a distinctive style, initiated at that time by a man in particular Kosaku Matsumora, who will be one of the teachers of Chotoku Kyan, but also of Choki Motobu.
Kosaku Matsumora had learned Chinese boxing, but also stick techniques from the Jigen-Ryu, so important in the influence of Shuri-Te. Although very marked by the spirit and Shuri, the Tomari-Te has original katas and some that bear the same name but are very different in performance. One owes to this technical sphere, among others, the kata Sochin and … Unsu
The Tomari style of “peasant”, probably because he did not benefit from the aura, the royal court of Shuri and the clan of Satsuma, nor the cultural and technical influence of the Chinese of Naha. And also because it borrows forms close to traditional dances that mingle with purely martial gestures. At the same time, to conceal techniques with prying eyes, according to a universal technique, and also probably because in small rural communities everything ends with songs and dances.
But Kyan Chotoku and Choki Motobu have come down to posterity as well-known warriors. Kyan Chotoku was the son of a noble Okinawaian from Shuri. Young, he was the pupil of Matsumura and Itosu for the Shuri-Te, but also of the masters of Tomari, of which Kosaku Matsumora. He accompanied his father into exile in Japan and continued his apprenticeship. Back at thirty, he owned the Seisan, Naihanchi, Gojushiho katas from the Shuri-Te, but also Kushanku, Passai, Wanshu (Empi), Chinto (Gankaku), Ananku, Teaching of a Taiwan expert, Tokumine-no-kon, a stick kata. Vivid, famous for his dodging and his fast karate, Kyan Chotoku also had a reputation of turbulent pulling the devil by the tail and often in bad blows. He would even have killed another expert in a duel with bare hands.
Kyan Chotoku and Choki Motobu have come down to posterity as well-known warriors. Kyan Chotoku was the son of a noble Okinawaian from Shuri. Young, he was the pupil of Matsumura and Itosu for the Shuri-Te, but also of the masters of Tomari, of which Kosaku Matsumora. He accompanied his father into exile in Japan and continued his apprenticeship. Back at thirty, he owned the Seisan, Naihanchi, Gojushiho katas from the Shuri-Te, but also Kushanku, Passai, Wanshu (Empi), Chinto (Gankaku), Ananku, Teaching of a Taiwan expert, Tokumine-no-kon, a stick kata. Vivid, famous for his dodging and his fast karate, Kyan Chotoku also had a reputation of turbulent pulling the devil by the tail and often in bad blows. He would even have killed another expert in a duel with bare hands.
As for Choki Motobu, he left the memory of a fighter born, with an execrable reputation. Learning from each one what to develop the few elements that he had surprised of the art of his father, an expert who had not wished to teach his cadet, voluntary and strong but also aggressive, Rude, uncontrollable! No one wanted him in his dojo and he went from one to the other. It was finally Kosaku Matsumora who welcomed him the longest and that is why Motobu’s personal style is linked to Tomari-Te.
Motobu made numerous fights in Okinawa as in Japan where he remained until 1938, winning most of them in a very hard style, rooted in naihanchi-dachi, but capable of quick dodges, cashing the strikes without difficulty thanks To his natural power maintained by the musculation and attacking to obtain the KO, especially with the dragon fist (keiko-ken), with a phalange output, his favorite shot. He died in 1940 without posterity, but leaving a lasting imprint by his career and his very personal style.
At the beginning of the 20th century, with increasingly frequent exchanges, the Tomari-Te eventually melted into the “Shorin-Ryu” nebula, although experts such as Nakashone and Kokashiki, master of Goju-Ryu , Are also continuators, still marked by the specific roots of this branch of karate.
Like the style of Tomari, the Shito-Ryu underwent the influences of Shuri-Te and that of China through Naha. It is Kenwa Mabuni, who will be the creator. Born at the end of the XIXth century in Shuri, he began his formation by the Shuri-Te of the teacher Itosu. It was his friendship with Myagi Chojun, the creator of the Goju-Ryu, which earned him entry into the Okinawa Police Academy, some time after his introduction to the emblematic master of Naha-Te, Kanryo Higaonna. His status as a police inspector offers him the opportunity to train regularly and with many experts, which not only allows him to make the link between the two great influences of Shuri and Naha, with the learning of the Crane White from the famous province of Fukien (Fujian), but also master the Okinawa kobudo with various teachers. After ten years in the police, he finally founded his dojo, then made the trip to Japan also in 1926, in Osaka, teaching in the universities his art of Okinawa-te and Kobudo. His school became popular and eventually named it “Shito-Ryu” as a tribute to his two major influences and to his two masters, Itosu and Higaonna (for the Ito e Higa ideographs can be read Shi and To).
Logically, Shito-Ryu is characterized by many katas, many of whom are now founding the Goju-Ryu, heir to Naha. The kobudo are a major brand of style, still today. The success of the Shito-Ryu in Japan and its university system marked the Shito-Ryu, which adapted to the sporting forms that participated in the national and global development of karate and its three okinawaiian roots, Shuri, Naha and Tomari.
today uechi ryu, shorin ryu and goju ryu stay the majorstyle of okinawa, shorin ryu being composed of tomari-te, shurti-te and shaolin quan.