COMPASSION HUMILITY GRATITUDE PATIENCE PERSEVERANCE
Okinawa (Ryukyu), Japan is the birthplace of modern day karate.
Karate in Okinawa descended from mainland China and developed and grew in Okinawa for the age-old reason of self-defense. The Karate we practice today comes from the art of "te" meaning hand, and is said to have originated over 1000 years ago around the Shuri Village in Okinawa.
Okinawa's own lack of unification gave rise to many aggressive warlords, each battling for supremacy of the island. Moreover, because the islanders were not of wealthy status, weapons were scarce. As a result, there was a strong incentive for the development of unarmed combat.
By the mid-1340s, Okinawa entered into a trade relationship with China. This trade and political friendship allowed the Okinawan people to observe the different aspects of China, and they were thus exposed to the Chinese martial arts system. Furthermore, by the late 1300s, in a tributary relationship, 36 Chinese families and businessmen settled on Okinawa. These families brought with them a variety of skills, including Chinese martial arts.
Through the 1400s, the island experienced much turmoil. At first the island was unified by King Sho Hash, who destroyed the former dynasty and established his own. Soon all arms were banned on the island, in fear that the reign might be overthrown. As a result, the emphasis on unarmed fighting arts further progressed. The main villages of Okinawa are credited with the main styles that emerged from Okinawa Te. From the village of Shuri came Shuri Te. From the village of Naha came Naha Te. Finally from the village Tomari, came Tomari Te.
These styles of unarmed combat were practiced in secrecy for years. Differences between Te styles suggest the different influences of various Chinese styles. Shuri-Te seem to utilize the external system of Shaolin kung-fu . While Naha-Te incorporates the use of internal Taoist techniques. Tomari-Te appears to be a mix of both internal and external fighting systems. These variations alone are responsible for the development of the different systems into the distinct martial art styles they are today.
In 1609, Okinawa (Ryukyu kingdom) was seized by the Japanese Satsuma Samurai clan, for refusing to recognize Japan’s newest Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. As a result, the Satsuma Samurai clan banned the Okinawan people from carrying weapons. This only further fueled the importance of further developing the martial arts as means of survival. At this time the Japanese had banned all trade relationship with other countries. The Japanese however, still allowed Okinawa (Ryukyu kingdom) to trade with China under control of Satsuma Samurai clan. As result, around the mid to late 1700s, a Chinese diplomat named Kusanku, moved to Okinawa for 6 years. During his stay he began teaching the Chinese system of Ch’uan-Fa. As these influences became introduced into the different local martial arts, they gradually became known as To-de (Chinese hand). By the 1800s these styles were again re-named. Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te formed the basis for Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate, while Naha-Te formed Goju-Ryu Karate. As is recorded, Tode Sakugawa began studying under Kusanku. The teachings of Kusanku enabled Sakugawa to combine the essence of both Te and Chinese martial arts principles. These principles form the basis of modern day Shorin-Ryu Karate.