Liberty Karate Club

Brief History of Matsubayashi Ryu

The martial arts arose out of the fundamental human instinct of self-preservation. The Okinawans developed their own unique art of self-defense called Te, literally meaning "hands". As the name implies it was a system of fighting using the fists as weapons. At the same time there existed in China a system of fighting called To-Te, meaning "Chinese Hands." This system relied mainly on "open hand" techniques as opposed to fists. In the 1700s an Okinawan nobleman named Sakugawa went to China and studied To-Te, then came back to Okinawa where he taught the Chinese system combined with the Okinawan system of Te. This eventually resulted in the karate we know today. Because of a ban on weapons and the practice of any martial arts that was imposed on Okinawa by the Satsuma Clan in 1609, all training was done in secret and passed down from father to son. Because of this secrecy, there are no accurate written records of the history of karate. What is known is that two main styles developed, Shorin Ryu and Shorei Ryu. Shorin Ryu developed around Shuri and Tomari, while Shorei Ryu came out of the vicinity of Naha. With the end of the Satsuma occupation in 1875, the need for secrecy ended, and in fact karate training became an educational requirement in Okinawan public schools in 1904. Shoshin Nagamine began the study of karate in 1924 at the age of 17. His first sensei was Chojin Kuba, who lived in his neighborhood. Nagamine trained with Sensei Kuba for two years, then began to train under Taro Shimabuku in Shuri. Eventually both Nagamine and Shimabuku became students of Ankichi Arakaki. Nagamine earned the name Chippaii Matsu (Tenacious Pine Tree) because of his dedication and hard training. In 1931 Nagamine began training under Chotoku Kyan, a famous sensei, and in 1936 he became the student of Choki Motobu, known as one of the greatest karatemen of Okinawa. In 1940 Nagamine was awarded the degree of "Renshi" meaning "Qualified Karate Instructor." Nagamine opened his dojo in 1942, however due to the war, he was forced to close it down. In 1947, Nagamine re-opened his dojo and adopted the name Matsubayashi Ryu (meaning Pine Forest Style or Way) for his style of teaching. Nagamine states in his book The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do, "Sensei Kyan had been a student of Sensei Sokon Matsumura of Shuri and Sensei Motobu had studied under Sensei Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari. Therefore, I am the third instructor following these two men. Since my teachings are based on the ideas of these two noted masters, I decided in 1947 to adopt the name Matsubayashi Ryu in honor of both of them. In this way, the names of these karatemen are retained in our minds." Matsubayashi Ryu thus became one of the four major systems of Shorin-Ryu.

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