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Shorin-Ryu Karate Dates back to about 500 AD, Originally called Shaolin it is the forerunner for most modern Martial Art Styles. Shorin-Ryu Karate is based on pure Self-Defense. Being comprised of Simultaneous Blocking and Hitting, Trapping and Striking, Taisabaki (Body Shifting), Kicks, Take Downs and Throws, Tuite (Joint-Locking), as well as Katame (Grappling) and Kyusho-Jutsu (Pressure Point Strikes) and Kobudo (Weapons Training). Finish it all off with Tameshiwara (Breaking Skills).   
Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura is the originator of Okinawan Karate and Shurite or Shorin Ryu. He was born in 1797, and died in 1889. According to some sources, Bushi's family name was Kiyo (Kayo). Matsumura grew up in Yamagawa village of the city of Shuri, Okinawa. He was partly Chinese and his Chinese name was Seitatsu Bu. although he called himself Unyu, or Takenaga. Tode Sakugawa was his teacher and began training Bushi at Akata when he was 13 years old, in 1810. According to tradition, it was at Bushi's father's Kiyo Sofuku's, request that Sakugawa teach him. Some say that to train Bushi to block, Sakugawa tied to him to a Pine tree so he could not move. Then he threw punches and other things at him. Sakugawa taught Matsumura to use the local Pine trees as makiwara in order to toughen his hands and feet stating this was an old training method that was linked to the way Shaolin monks practice in the great china temples.


Sakugawa trained him up until his death, and then Sokon was probably on his own for some while. According to oral history, he studied under Sakugawa for 4 years.


Bushi was recruited into the service of the Sho family. At that time, Sho Ko, the king of Okinawa, desired to have him change his last name, as was the custom, and suggested the name Muramatsu (Muramachi), or "village pine."  because of his constant abuse and makiwara training on the local pine tree's. After discussing the matter with some friends and relatives, he decided that Matsumura (Machimura), or "pine village", would be more appropriate for the future plans he had in mind. Sokon asked the king to let him change the name to that, and the request was granted. Some say this happened at age 17, which would probably put it around 1813.


 Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura, close advisor and body guard to three Ryukyuan kings. He served three reigns as a personal guard of the Royal descendants of King Shoen; the seventeenth, King Shoko; the eighteenth, King Shoiku and the nineteenth King Shotai

He was excellent in martial arts from childhood, and won a worldwide reputation of a great master. He was remarkable for both wisdom and valor, devoting himself to the spirit that both literary and martial arts are one. He  provided many of the foundations for the Karate studied today. He was noted for his study of the physical as well as metaphysical disciplines, and emphasized the importance of balancing physical development with moral education. He deeply embraced Confucianism and was also known for his mastery of the fine art of calligraphyas well as his skill in Jigen Ryu with the sword.


Many sources say that Bushi Matsumura trained in China, and it is certainly a strong tradition. Hohan Soken said that Bushi trained at "Fukien Shaolin" for 26 years and some months. We do not know for sure of his length of time spent in China. We do know that he spent at least 20 years there from the records that were kept for the Okinawan King.


Some prominent students of Bushi Matsumura were Yasutsune Itosu and Chotoku Kyan, Chosin Sakugawa, Ryosei Kuwae, although there were many more. Itosu's head student and successor was Chosin Chibana, who formed Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu from Itosu's version of Shuri-Te. Kyan's students formed Shobayashi Shorin-ryu from his personal brand of Shuri-te. Another student of Itosu was Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan. Once in a while, Itosu would take him to study under Bushi Matsumura. He was also a student of Azato, a Shorei-Ryu master.



The following text was from a scroll written by Sokon Matsumura to his prominent student, Ryosei Kuwae, illustrating a basic aim of karate - that "spirit and techniques are one."

"Make a firm resolution to master the secrets of martial arts, otherwise go away. you must have firm determination to accomplish the resolution.

The sword and the pen are but one. Literature consists of poetry, exegetics, and Confucianism. A student of poetry works at words and produces sentences in order to seek fame, peerage and fief. A student of exegetics studies Chinese classics to instruct people. He may make a scholar but ignorant of the world. Poetry and exegetics only make people woo fame, thus they are not the true art. Confucianism, however , makes us understand the nature of things. By the teachings on knowledge, honesty, and righteousness one may not only be able to manage a household but govern a country. Thus peace will reign over the land. These are Confucian ideas, the true art.

In the case of martial arts , there are three kinds of pursuers. A scholar pictures many ways of training in his mind so that his moves become like movements of dance; superficial and of no practical use for offense and defense. A normal student of martial arts is a good promiser of victory, but a bad performer. A dispute caused by such a man will harm people as well as himself. It will even bring disgrace upon his parents, brothers and sisters. The true pursuer of martial arts, however, does not idle away his time but accomplishes his talk ingeniously. He controls his mind and watches for a chance. His calm arouses a disturbance among enemies. He then grabs this chance and defeats the enemy. Everything ripens and the mystery of nature shows its secret to the master of martial arts, who has no hesitation or disturbance in his mind even in case of emergency. The power of a tiger and the swiftness of an eagle dwell within him. He defeats enemies completely and shows his loyalty and filial piety.


Shorin-Ryu Karate Called  "The Ultimate in SELF-DEFENSE" Is a  well balanced self-defense system and do to its age and the fact that it is used to a certain extent by our American Military and  Special Purpose Combat Teams as well as Special Law Enforcement Groups. Proves its Validity and Quality. We also believe this means that it has in the past; and is still being tested today in  "real time" REAL Combat !


The original martial arts contained no formalized movements. This is a truth that no one wants to admit because nearly all modern martial arts use a pre-determined series as forms training. Bruce Lee would not accept this and instead broke with "tradition" and trained in a free-form manner. He did not know that the precedence was in his favor. In reality he had stumbled upon Jiyu Kata or Mukei (No form). For Bruce it just made since. Any Adult who has been instructed in Mukei feels the same.

Set patterns for training did not occur in Japan until the above mentioned Edo period during the 17th century. In little Okinawa, Mukei was the sole method of training until 1880, after Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura returned from China. When Yasutsune Itosu taught school children he modified the forms that Matsumura brought back from China. He wanted a way to teach school-age kids without worrying how they would use what they had learned. Only being taught the movement and not the applications, they would not be able to use it to cause mischief and violence. When Karate was transferred to mainland Japan, it was this "institutional" version that went with Gichin Funakoshi As Well as Chojun Miyagi,  Kenwa Mabuni, Hironori Ohtsuka and Tatsuo Shimabukuro.

The older Adult version does still exist here in America with the last people who have been taught the complete art of Uchinadi, the Motobu family's style of Bushi Te. We still teach Mukei, and we teach Yakusoku Kata. It is common for a student to have been trained by another teacher before coming to our system, We think that is Great!

This  may well be the last Okinawan native system to be instructed in the truly ancient manner. Here in America we are one KARATE School Family that has chosen to continue the ancient tradition by still teaching the original Chinese based forms and Jiyu Kata to Adults. All our Yudansha (black belts) practice Mukei with all Waza (techniques). This allows the practicioner to react in a spontaneous and natural manner.


EVERYONE CAN!   However we recommend  Children start Shorin-Ryu around age thirteen as we do not award  Black Belts in Shorin Ryu to anyone under  the age of sixteen


Sakugawa, Sensei


Matsumura, Sensei