The seeds of the development of karate were first shown in ancient China around 483AD when, Daruma Tashi developed physical exercise forms which were practiced by Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple. The discipline of the physical exercises contributed to the development of control of the body, mind, and soul.
In 1372, official relationships began between the emperor of China and the leaders of Okinawa, formerly called the Ryukyu Islands. In 1392 thirty-six families were sent to Kume Village, Okinawa, for cultural exchange. They introduced formal martial arts training called â€œTo Deâ€ to the hierarchy of the Okinawans. For the next 200 years these fighting techniques developed at the Shaolin Temple in China were taught to the nobility, and passed down from the family head to the oldest son or number one student. It eventually became known to common people as a means of protection against the Japanese Samurai.
In 1942 Okinawa was united under the leadership of Sho Hashi, the first King of Okinawa. His rule produced the beginning of the flourishing era. In 1477, Sho Hashiâ€™s rule ended and the Sho Shin dynasty began. Sho Shin placed a ban on all bladed weapons. This action produced the necessity for unarmed defenses. To De became an essential part of lifestyle of the nobility.
In 1609 the Satsuma clan of southern mainland Japan invaded Okinawa. Bitterness toward the new Japanese control inspired the widespread use of To De, commonly referred to as â€œTeâ€, throughout the islands. Three styles, Shrui-Te, Naha-Te, and Tomarie-Te, were named for the cities from which they originated. From these districts many styles developed, yet all had two common factors, the use of karate was for survival and consequences were permanent.
Okinawans trained in secret, in the mountains, punching trees, kicking rocks, climbing and running. They also practiced breathing techniques and meditation. Through incredible hard work and dedication, karate practitioners became well-trained fighters.
While the Japanese control lasted several hundred years, Te was a necessity to the survival of the oppressed Okinawans. In addition, the art of Kobudo, or weapons, was developing. Simple farming and fishing tools became a means of protection.
After Japanese dominance relaxed, the need for self-protection was lessened and competitive race for superiority between cities and styles of Te took place. In the early 1900s Ginchin Funakoshi introduced Shuri-te karate to mainland Japan. What began as a secret means of self-preservation is now practiced worldwide as a discipline and sport.
In 1936 instructors agreed to refer to the art as Karate, or empty hand.
Shorin-Ryu Karate developed from the Shuri-Te lineage. It is known for its short stances and fast hand movements. There are four styles of Shorin-Ryu Karate: Kobayashi-Ryu (Small Forest), Matsubayashi-Ryu (pine forest), Shobayashi-Ryu (young forest), and Matumura Seito.
Choshin Chibana (1887-1969) was the Creator of Kobayashi-Ryu, the style of Shorin-Ryu taught at Okinawan Karate-Do Kobudo Academy. Chibanaâ€™s number one student and successor as Grand Master is Shugoro Nakazato.
There are many styles of Karate in the world today, each with its own Grand Master. Shorin-Ryu Karate is the original karate system. Shorin means â€œShaolinâ€, or small forest, and Ryu means â€œStyle of the Shaolinâ€, or small forest style. Shorin-Ryu traces its lineage to the Shaolin Temple in the Fukien Province in China. It is from Shorin-Ryu that all other styles originated.
-Haleyâ€™s Martial Arts Center-Shorin Ryu Handbook