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Four Branches of Shorin-Ryu Karate
by Nathaniel Embick

Shorin-Ryu is a style of martial arts from Okinawa, Japan. This particular style of karate has been around for more than 1,000 years. There are 4 branches of Shorin-Ryu Karate: Matsubayashi (pine forest school), Shobayashi (small forest school), Matsumura (orthodox), and Kobayashi (young forest school). Each branch represents a different discipline of Karate. My style is Kobayashi. The individual styles are taught by different sensais around the world. Following is a brief discussion of each branch. The Matsubayashi branch of Shorin-Ryu was founded by Nagamine Sensei.

Generally, Matsubayashi means “Pine Forest School,” but sometimes, it means “River” because Matsubayashi flows through people’s hands and feet. Nagamine Sensei first founded it sometime around 1947. It was first introduced to the U.S. in 1960.Because of the death of Nagamine Sensei, some school have split of from the Matsubayashi discipline and gone over to others. Nagamine Sensei held it all together.
Shobayashi originated from Toute-Jutsu, another type of karate. It was founded by Chotoku Kyan, and it was passed on to Eizo Shimabukuro. This style was introduced in 1939. Eizo Shimabukuro learned the naihanchi katas and koryu passai and the advanced kata Seisan, Ananku, Wanshu, Gojushiho and Chinto and he passed them down to his students. When his uncle Kyan died in 1940, Eizo Shimabukuro was left with the task of running the school.

The current sensei of Matsumura is Soken Hohan. His style was founded by Kayo Soken, a bodyguard to three different Japanese rulers. After he served all three, he changed his name to Matsumura Soken and founded the style. When Matsumura Soken died, he allowed Soken Hohan’s uncle to use the style as his own. He then passed it down to Soken Hohan, who became the style’s Grand Master. In 1902-1903, there were not that many followers of Matsumura. One of the greatest senseis at that time, Itosu Ankoh,had less than a dozen students. Soken Hohan’s uncle only had one. But since then, the style has grown a lot.

Kobayashi is the style of Shorin-Ryu Karate that I practice. It is one of the most authentic types of karate. Shorin-Ryu was created in Okinawa, by a visiting Chinese diplomat, Kusanku-sensei who had moved to Okinawa for 6 years. Huri-Te and Tomari-Te, older forms of Okinawan martial arts were being practiced and they became the basis for Shorin-Ryu. Kobayashi was later developed by Shorin-Ryu Master Senseis sometime in the 19th century. The style then moved to the mainlands of Japan in the early 1920’s.

I hope you have found this essay fascinating. You learned about Matsubayashi, Shobayashi, Matsumura, and Kobayashi. These are the four branches of Shorin-Ryu. My experience with Karate has been that you have to keep on trying, even if you want to quit, or if it gets hard. Ultimately, once you walk through the dojo door, you leave your school, family problems, and other distractions behind. You enter, and do karate

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