View Full Version : Bit of trivia about the origin of karate

9/12/2003 11:40am,
A comment from Kung Fu forum. I find it very informative so I post it here.

"All Okinawan Karate is said to be influenced by 5 Ancestor's Chuan Fa and Fukkien White Crane. This is a topic of much controversy, but those dedicated karateka who have trained with the old style Okinawan Shinshii (teachers) will agree that the lineage they were taught includes Southern and Northern influences.

The Shuri Te or Shorin traditions trace their lineage to the Fukkien Shaolin Temple. Bushi Sokon Machimura (Matsumura) studied for many years at the Fukkien Shaolin Temple under the tutelage of Sifu Iwah. He learned Shaolin Chuan Fa and White Crane. He received a teacher's license and integrated these lessons with his knowledge of Jigen Ryu Kenjutsu (martial tradition of the Satsuma Samurai Clan) and the Ti he learned from Tode Sakugawa. He originally called his art Shaolin Ssu or Suidi. The Sanchin of the orthodox Ryu of Shorin, Matsumura Seito, is called Shorinji Sanchin Kata (Shaolin Temple Saam Chien Quan). Another high level form is the "Hakutsuru" or "White Crane" Kata. These forms are seen only in this style of Okinawan Karate, although there are other forms most notably Goju Sanchin, and Happoren, a White Crane based Naha Te Kata.

ShorinJi Saam Chien uses controlled, unforced breathing as compared to the raspy and forced exhalation of Goju. Use of open hand strikes are prevalent. Many teachers feel that the former is more natural and less harmful than the Goju Ryu Sanchin kata. They point to the fact that many ShuriTe stylists live well beyond their 80s , whereas the majority of Goju practitioners usually die in their 60s or early 70s; often from strokes, aneurysms or heart attacks. As a people Okinawans have one of the longest lifespans of any society on the planet. Food for thought.

Hohan Soken, the familial heir to Matsumura Seito (Suidi) ShuriTe, also studied with a Chinese tea merchant, Wu Xiangui, who went by the Okinawan name of Gokenki. Chojun Miyagi (Goju) and Kenwa Mabuni (S h i t o Ryu) also studied Gokenki's White Crane forms, and this further added to the Chuan Fa influence seen in Okinawa Karate. Any real Okinawan Sensei knows these things, and was taught and teaches, that these are fundamental parts of the true art of Ryukyuan Toudi (now Japanized to "Karate).

Hohan Soken also studied for many years on Taiwan in the "Feeding Crane" style. This further enhanced his understanding of the Crane aspect of Shuri Te, and created more diversity and options in an already well-rounded fighting style.

Higashionna Kanryo Shinshii, father of what is now called Okinawan Goju Ryu, learned some"Whooping Crane" Chuan Fa from a Chinese master by the name of Ru Ru Ko. He trained under Ru Ru Ko's Sifu too- Wai Xinxian. Uechi Kanbun studied Tiger Fist Gung Fu under Zhou Zihe. Neither of these masters earned a teaching certificate, but the added knowledge of these arts helped in the formation of the "Ti" (Okinawa Hand) that came out of the Naha district. Hence, the term Naha Te which denotes the Naha City styles of Uechi Ryu and Goju Ryu (for the most part).

Shuri Te and Tomari Te, integrated and became Shorin Ryu. This style is a "hard-soft" one too, all Okinawan Karate is. In fact the genesis of the Goju Ryu name has a funny story of miscommunication behind it. It is more like second generation Whooping Crane Chuan Fa, with lots of closed fist strikes. Shuri Te tends to be fast, and offensive, with shallow stances and liberal use of hand techs. Low kicks are the norm, but in some ryuha (subsystems) high kicks are also taught. Positioning is key. Shuri Te is the major influence on Orthodox Shorin, whereas the other ryuha have many Tomari Te elements in their systems (Ryukyuan Kempo and Matsubayashi Ryu in particular). Shuri Te was the style of the palace guards at Shuri Castle, home of the Okinawan royal family. In fact Matsumura was the head palace guard for 3 Okinawan kings. He was over 80 when he retired!

Naha Te was the Ti of the ordinary man. The Sanchin of this style truly reflects the hard work needed to forge one's body into a thing of iron. Although open hand strikes predominate in Uechi Ryu and the movements are less tense in their kata, the same can be said for Uech Ryu. It's kinda' funny how many experts refer to Shuri Te as being an "External Style" and Goju and Uechi "Internal Styles", when their kata execution points toward the external side. I guess the use of more "circular" movement in Naha Te lends to this. Shuri Te makes use of angular and circular movement. Speed and quickness vs. deliberate power is definitely emphasized."

The comment was part of a thread I started.

http://ezine.kungfumagazine.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=20662&perpage=15&highli ght=five%20ancestors&pagenumber=2