|PLEASE KNOW THAT THESE PAPERS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STUDENTS. IT IS PART OF THEIR
JOURNEY INTO KARATE. PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.
As I move farther along my journey through the martial arts, I’m learning more about myself, about
the changes in me. I realize that the people around me and the people who came before me support
who I am and who I am becoming in the martial arts. Just as I am supported by the people who I am
learning with, and the ones in the dojo who are further along their journeys, Karate itself has a long
history. It is a history in which each step along the journey of each master has developed the art into
what it has become today.
Okinawan Karate dates back to the 6th century when Bodhidharma, from India, traveled to China
and settled at a Shao-lin monastery. In the late 1300’s exchanges, both cultural and trade, began
occurring between China and Okinawa, which introduced a Chinese influence into Okinawa in many
aspects, including boxing and martial arts. There is evidence that te (“hands”) was indigenous to
Okinawa (the birthplace of Karate) starting in the villages of Shuri, Naha, and Tomari. This begins
the foundation of th Shorin-Ryu Karate from the Shuri-te system. The islanders were not of wealthy
status, so there were few weapons and the unarmed combat of Okinawan Te was evolved as
warlords fought to gain supremacy on the island.
When King Sho Hashi banned weapons from Okinawa, the need for unarmed combat became
stronger and the Okinawans began the practice of Kobudo with farming implements as weapons.
The practices continued in secrecy in the villages and continued to be developed as the Okinawans
were suppressed by different dynasties. When Japan barred all trade relationships except with
China, this allowed te, which originated in Okinawa, to mix with ch’uan-fa to develop eventually into
modern day Karate (“empty hand”).
Takahara Peichin (1683 – 1760) became known as the “Father of Okinawa Karate” as he was a
great warrior and was the first to explain the aspects of the word do (“way”). These are Ijo, Katsu,
and Fo which are the way of compassion, humility and love, the complete understanding of all
techniques and forms of Karate, and dedication and seriousness of Karate that must be understood
in practice and in actual combat. He was the first teacher of Kanga”Tode” Sakagawa (1733-1815).
When Peichin died, Kusanku (1720-1790) became the teacher of Sakagawa.
Kusanku was a Chinese ambassador from China to Okinawa. When Peichin died, Sakagawa began
studying under Kusanku where he was able to combine the essence of Te and Chinese boxing
principles to form the basis of modern day Shorin Ryu. He studied in China for 6 years. There is a
story told of how Sakagawa one day tried to push Kusanku off of a bridge and Kusanku sidestepped
the attack and knocked Sakagawa into the water then lectured Sakagawa on respecting elders and
knowing the “why” of karate, not just the “how.” Sakagawa developed the first version of Kusanku
kata to honor his teacher’s memory. He also developed a bo kata Sakagawa no kon. Sakagawa
was also known as the “father of Karate.” Sakagawa was the teacher of Soken “Bushi” Matsumura
(1796-1893), who was the first to systematize Shuri-te from which the four styles of Shorin-ryu have
been passed down to us.
Matsumura introduced katas into karate. On official business as a bodyguard and martial arts
instructor, he traveled to China and Japan where he studied Chinese boxing and Japanese
swordsmanship. He is credited with the katas Nahanchi 1-3, Passai Dai, Chinto, and Gojushiho,
which are practiced today in the Kobayashi Shorin Ryu system. Matsumura began training
Yasutsune “Anko” Itosu (1830-1915) when Itosu was young.
Itosu is known for simplifying many of the ancient katas, creating many of his own, and
revolutionizing how karate is taught. He helped change the public perception of karate as simply a
killing art into one where there is an emphasis on physical and spiritual health, making the study of
karate easier and less dangerous. He introduced karate into the Okinawa public school system in
1901. He created the original Pinan (peaceful mind) katas, as well as developing Naihanchi Sandan,
Passai Sho, and Kusankusho. His students included many famous karate masters including Chosin
Chibana began training with Itosu in 1900 and studied with him until Itosu’s death in 1915. Chibana
opened his first dojo in 1920, and opened others later in his life. In the 1950’s he ran his dojo as well
as worked for the police department in Shuri City as the Chief Karate Instructor. Chibana was
recognized with multiple honors and is credited with creating the three kihon kata. Chibana Sensei
is considered the founder of Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (young forest school), one of the four branches
of Shorin Ryu.
The other 3 branches of Shorin-Ryu are Matsumura Saito (or Matsumura Orthodox), Shobayashi –
Ryu (small forest school), and Matsubayashi-Ryu (pine forest school). Matsumura Saito is reported
to be founded by Soken Hohan, a student of Matsumura Nabe, who was a student of Matsumura
Sokon. Shobayashi –Ryu was first taught b Chotoku Kyan, a student of Itosu. Kyan trained many
notable students including Shoshin Nagamine who founded Matsubayashi Ryu in 1947. All Shorin-
Ryu styles are interpreted as “Shao-lin way” which refers to the original Shao-lin temple located in a
small pine forest in China.
It is at Chibana Sensei that our branch of Shorin-Ryu, Shorinkan, separates itself under Hanshi
Judan Shuguro Nakazato. Nakazato first began training in Shito Ryu Karate (1935-1940) under
Seiichi Iju, but by the end of World War II, Nakazato returned to Okinawa and became a student of
Chibana. They opened a dojo together in 1951, and then Nakazato opened the Shorinkan dojo in
1955. Nakazato was awarded Ninth Dan by Chibana in 1967 after 20 years of training and when
Chibana Sensei died in 1969, became the president of the Okinawas Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan
Karatedo Kyokai. He was promoted to Tenth Dan in 1980. He headed the Okinawa Karate
delegation and was asked to do a performance at the 1996 Olympics. He introduced the Gorin kata.
Nakazato is an influential karate Grand Master in Okinawa and has received multiple honors and
awards. His son Minoru Sensei is currently preparing to take over the next generation of
Shorinkan. Nakazato currently has many influential students in the United States including Kyoshi
Nabil Noujaim, who is my Sensei, Salvatore Cirincione’s, immediate Sensei. Kyoshi Noujaim has
been studying Shorin Ryu Shorinkan karate since 1972. His dojo is located in El Centro, CA, but he
has influential students across the United States and travels internationally to train and to train
others and annually draws in students for an international camp in Southern California.
Sensei Salvatore Cirincione has been studying martial arts since 1989 and studied many forms
before entering Shorin Ryu Shorinkan. He trains under Kyoshi Noujaim and he travels annually to
Okinawa to train under Nakazato Sensei, and pursues his life of martial arts fully. He is highly
respected and admired by his students and teaches them about the lifestyle of Karate both on and
off the mat. Just as the history of karate journeys over a 1000 years, our individual journey through
Karate can span a lifetime of discipline and study.
A Note to Sensei Sal
I began this paper soon after you asked me to write it, at least I began to look online for sources of
information and to read through it. I have done a lot of research and have written a lot of papers
throughout my education, but I think this was one of the most difficult. I am in a different stage in life
right now where my focus is spread out over many different priorities. As I read through the
information, I began to realize that a lot of the information was arranged in different ways and
sometimes was in conflict with other information I would find. I guess this is a lot like the martial
arts journey in itself because as we continue to grow in the martial arts, we are changing in life, in
martial arts, and the people around us are changing. There are many perspectives and we have to
listen, understand what we can, learn what we can, take what we need and can use and apply it in
the right way for our life and our journey. As we grow and change, these perspectives often change
(ours and others’) and we see and experience different steps of the path. As long as we continue to
listen and move forward, we will learn what to use and what to discard.
I’m sorry this paper is so late, I was working on it when I got in my car accident right before testing
last April, and just never finished it before testing. Thank you for all your work to help me continue
in the martial arts.
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Karate STL Okinawan Shido Kan Shorin Ryu