Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai (TM)   

"Karate aims to build character, improve human behavior, and cultivate modesty..." Yasuhiro Konishi

In the 1984 movie "The Karate Kid", two different karate schools were depicted: (1) Sport Karate represented by Cobra Kai and (2) traditional karate represented by Miyagi-Ryu Karate. At the Arizona School of Traditional Karate (Arizona Hombu) we teach traditional karate.

According to legend, a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma traveled from India through the Himalayan Mountains to the northern Henan Province of China to teach Zen Buddhism at the Shaolin Temple around 525 AD. When Bodhidharma arrived at the Shaolin-si (small forest) temple he began teaching meditation and found that the monks were unfit, lazy and periodically fell asleep during meditation. To remedy the situation, he added a group of combat physical exercises known as 'Shi Pa Lohan Sho' that was known as the 18 hands of Lohan. The blending of combat with philosophy or the body with the mind, resulted in the first martial 'art'.

In order to be an art, there must be intrinsic value for the mind and spirit - thus combining the combat with meditation resulted in an esoteric art - the first the world ever knew. Today, there are many things that are called martial arts that have no esoteric value that cannot be a martial art - in particular MMA and many sport martial arts. 

The father of modern karate - master Gichin Funakoshi, a Shorin-Ryu practitioner from Okinawa stated, "the Purpose of Karate lies not in Victory or Defeat, but in the Perfection of its Participants". This supports that karate is a martial art as the self-defense system is all about perfection of the practitioners. It has little to do with victory or defeat, which is a very important part of sport karate. 

Furthermore, Shoshin Naginame, a grandmaster of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate wrote, "If there is no kata, there is no karate, just kicking and punching" . This relates to the fact that kata, which has considerable esoteric value as well as extraordinary combat techniques, is what makes karate and important martial art. He also concluded that "Karate begins and Ends with the study of Kata".

It is clear that "kata is a living encyclopedia of martial arts techniques containing all the necessary elements for blocking, striking, kicking, restraining, body hardening (shitai lori), meditation, self-defense, weapons techniques and much more. What could be more esoteric and more combat oriented?

I was intrigued by an Indian martial art known as Kalarippayattu taught in southern India. It is a very primitive combat form and possibly this descended from Shi Po Lohan Sho. It has many circular blocks, open hand techniques and acrobatic movements similar to Kung Fu. Possibly, this or a similar combat exercise was introduced to the Shaolin Temple. Whatever was introduced became a major martial art all through China and was again introduced to Okinawa sometime in the past. Kung Fu may have been introduced to Okinawa with 36 Chinese artisan families who moved to Okinawa in 1392. It is thought that these Chinese introduced a book entitled 'Bubishi' at that time - a book about the White Crane Kung Fu.

The White Crane martial art from China was modified by the Okinawan people who tweaked many of the techniques and made everything a little more practical to develop karate. Shorin-Ryu karate of today is translated as Shaolin -style indicating a tie to the Shaolin Temple. 

OKINAWA KARATE. Little is known about the early development of karate on Okinawa. Some suggest a few Okinawan people traveled to China to learn kung fu, particularly those who represented the King of Okinawa and his body guards. But the presence of the Bubishi with the 36 Chinese families who settled in Okinawa suggest that kung fu may have been introduced at the end of the 14th century. There are some who have suggested that the Bubishi is a text from the White Crane martial arts. Okinawa was a trading port for southeastern Asia, so all kinds of asian philosophies could have been introduced to their culture.

Nearly a century after the 36 Chinese families made their home on Okinawa, King Sho Shin proclaimed a weapons ban on Okinawa. Some suggest that this was a ban on martial arts and after the proclamation, both kobudo and tode were only practiced in secret. Bladed weapons in the hands of the people were banned in about 1480 AD. The reason for the ban was that King Sho Shin was fearful of a revolution. Okinawa was later invaded by the Satsamura samurai from Japan who continued the ban of weapons. 

Some Okinawan's began to develop the martial art known as kobudo: it is suggested that the development of kobudo was left up to the warrior class (Pechin) on Okinawa, which is unlikely as they were still able to carry swords. But no matter who developed this ancient art - whether Pechin or peasants, the tools of the Okinawa farmer, fisherman and merchant were practiced as weapons - thus kata were developed along with many waza (techniques).

Karate was associated with three different villages known as Shuri, Naha and Tomari- each a center for a different sect of society - kings and nobles, and farmers, fishermen and merchants respectively. For this reason, different varieties of karate developed that were initially termed Shur-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te (te referred to the empty hand technique). These were collectively known as Okinawa-te (Ryukyu-te), Tode and later Kara-te. Gradually, karate was divided into two parts known as Shorin-Ryu (from Shuri and Tomari) and Shorei-Ryu (from Naha). As karate continued to evolve, the Shorin-Ryu karate remained known as Shorin-Ryu with the exception of when it was introduced on mainland Japan and later named Shotokan, and Shorei-Ryu later became known as Goju-Ryu.

Master Gichin Funakoshi suggested that the two primary karate styles were based on different physical requirements. Shorin-Ryu was quick and linear with natural breathing and Shorei-Ryu had steady, rooted movements with synchronous breathing with each movement.

The kanji used to describe tode was pronounced kara and referred to emptiness. At some time, do was added to kara-te, making it karate do. Do was used to imply that there was a path to take with the practice of karate. The 'do' was used early on as it implied a philosophy to the study of karate. Okinawan scholar Teijunsoku (circa 1600s) stated, "No matter how you excel in the art of te and in your scholastic endeavors, nothing is more important than your behavior and your humanity as observed in your daily life". Here he mentions te and also implies there was a path to follow with its training!

It is reported that the first public demonstrations of the secret art of karate were performed by the Grandfather of modern karate - Anko Itosu and the father of modern karate - Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi's demonstration occurred on mainland Japan in 1917 at the Butokuden in Kyoto.

In 1922, Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, invited Funakoshi to demonstrate karate at his Kodokan dojo. It is thought that this sponsorship by Dr. Kano allowed for the spread of karate though out Japan. Without the sponsorship, karate would likely be uncommon on Japan because it was viewed as a peasant art. As such, some styles of karate were developed with Japanese roots that included Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Kyokushinkai.

The original Shorin-Ryu remained predominately Okinawan. Soken Matsumura (1797-1889) studied under Tode Sakugawa (1733-1815) and many of the current branches of Shorin-Ryu can be traced back to these two martial artists. Some of the more prominent branches of Shorin-Ryu include Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu, Shobayashi Shorin-Ryu, Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu, Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu.

Many of Matsumura's students started their own branches that included Sukunaihyashi Shorin-Ryu, Ryukyu Hon Kempo, Kodokai Shorin-Ryu, Seidokan Shorin-Ryu, Chubu Shorin-Ryu, and Ryukyu Shorin-Ryu. Others that have recently evolved include Yamashita Shorin-Ryu and Seiyo Shorin-Ryu.

Seiyo Shorin-Ryu (Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai) was created in 1999 after Dai Soke Sacharnoski certified Sensei Dan Hausel as the sokeshodai (first generation grandmaster). Soke Hausel had trained under a number of martial artists over the years beginning in 1964, and each art influenced the development of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu, but by far the greatest influences were from the martial arts taught by Dai-Soke Sacharnoski. Soke Hausel took techniques from Kyokushinkai, Wado-Ryu, Shotokan, Dai Yoshin-Ryu Kempojutsu, Seidokan Shorin-Ryu, Yamashita Shorin-Ryu, Juko Ryu, and Yamanni-Ryu Kobudo to create Seiyo-Shorin Ryu. Seiyo-Shorin Ryu is distinguished by having nearly 70 karate, kobudo and samurai arts kata, bunkai for all kata, and applied focus and power in every punch, block and kick in the system. It is the philosophy of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu (as it is in some other traditional martial arts) that one should be able to end any attack with a single block and strike. Seiyo translates as Western as opposed to Eastern indicating a strong western cultural influence. The system is referred to as Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai, Seiyo Shorin-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu Seiyo Kai, Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Budo Bugei Renmei, and Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Renmei.