shorinkan_logoWarrior Martial Arts Karate students share a common direct link to the origin of modern day Karate. It is our objective to preserve and promote the techniques that have been passed down from master to student over the centuries. Warrior Karate lineage is as follows:

Satsunuku (To-Te) Sakugawa (1762-1843)
Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura (1798-1890)
Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu (1830-1914)
Choshin Chibana (1885-1969)
Shugoro Nakazato (1920-Present)
Patrick Haley (1952-Present)
Kenneth Marchtaler (1957-Present)

Satsunuku (To-Te) Sakugawa (1762-1843)

Satsunuku "Tode" Sakugawa was born in Shuri, the capital of Okinawa in 1762 (Some authorities show his date of birth at an earlier or later date). He began his martial arts training at the age of 17, under an Okinawan monk named Peichin Takahara. At age 23, Sakugawa was granted permission by Takahara to train under Kusanku, a Chinese envoy who had been settled in Okinawa. For the next six years, Sakugawa learned all that he could from Kusanku. He traveled to China with Kusanku to study Kempo. Before long Sakugawa was considered an expert in the "Chinese hand" fighting method.

Sakugawa learned valuable lessons from Kusanku. He soon started to teach the "Chinese hand" way in Okinawa, combining what both his teachers had taught him and structuring a training system. He went on to become a great master himself. Among his students were Chokun Satunku Macabe, Satunuku Ukuda, Chikuntonoshinunjo Matsumoto, Kojo, Yamaguchi "Bushi" Sakumoto, Unsume, and Sokon "Bushi" Chikatosinumjo Matsumura.

It is said that Sakugawa was awarded the title of Satunushi for his services to the Okinawa King. He was an important factor in the development of "Te" on the Okinawan Islands. Sakugawa was credited with forming several kata, which are still practiced today. These include the karate kata Kusanku and the bo kata Sakugawa No Kun. In addition, Sakugawa also created the concept of the Dojo Kun (dojo etiquette) which has become a tradition with many styles, including our own. Some scholars suggest that when Sakugawa was 78, he began teaching the art of "Te" to his greatest student of all, Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura.

Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura (1798-1890)

Sokon Matsumura, also known as Bushi (warrior) Matsumura and Shuri Matsumura, was born in Yamagawa Village, Shuri, Okinawa in 1798. He is one of the most renowned and colourful martial artists of his time. He was a master of both karate and kobujutsu (weaponry). Matsumura was of noble birth and as skilled at literature and the Chinese classics as he was at military arts. He organized the Shuri-Te style (native Okinawan martial art and prototype of Shorin-Ryu) into a more refined system of the martial arts.

Matsumura began the study of karate, as a young boy, under the guidance of Tode Sakagawa (1762-1843). Sakugawa was reluctant to teach the young Matsumura, but conceded to a promise he had made to Sofuku Matsumura, Sokon Matsumura's father. Matsumura spent several years studying under Sakugawa. Eventually, Matsumura's skill as a warrior became widely known throughout Okinawa and even in China. As a young man, Matsumura had already gathered a reputation as an expert in the martial arts. Many legendary stories are told about him in Okinawan folklore.

Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Royal Okinawan Sho family in 1816, serving the 17th Ryukyu King, Sho Ko. He received the title Shikudon, a gentry rank. In 1818 he married Yonamine Chiru, who was a martial arts expert as well. Matsumura eventually became the chief martial arts instructor "Shihan Yaku" and bodyguard for King Sho Ko. He subsequently served in this capacity for two other Okinawan Kings, King Sho Iku and King Sho Tai, respectively. Bushi Matsumura not only became the chief martial arts instructor but an official of the Ryukyu Kingdom. As such, Matsumura traveled as an envoy to China and Japan in the service of the Okinawan King. On these journeys, he sought out other martial artists and trained with them.

In 1832 he went to Satsuma, Japan and stayed there for two years. While in Japan it is believed that he studied the Jigen Ryu style of swordsmanship. This is a very aggressive style practiced by the Satsuma samurai. His sensei in Jigen Ryu was a samurai by the name of Yashichiro Ijuin. It is perhaps at this time when Matsumura's ideas about Bushido, the way of the warrior, and martial ethos were formed. Around 1839, he went to China and studied the Shaolin style of Chinese boxing and weaponry. Legend has it that he actually trained at the famed "Shoreiji" or Southern Shaolin Temple at this time. It is not known how long Matsumura remained in China, but tradition has it that he stayed for some time.

Is also known that around 1860 Matsumura traveled to Foochow in Fukien Province, China, on a diplomatic mission. In the 1860's he brought back the Chinese Kenpo Master Iwah and together they taught many Okinawans. He is also thought to have studied with the Chinese warrior Wai Shin Zan while in China. After his return from China he organized and refined Shuri-Te. His organizational efforts would eventually serve as the basis for the Shorin Ryu System of Okinawan Karate. Some authorities credit Matsumura with adopting the name "Shorin Ryu" while others say Anko Itosu, Matsumura's student is actually responsible for adopting this terminology. Shorin is the Japanese pronunciation of Shaolin. Even though this style is a blend of native Okinawan techniques and Chinese kenpo, it is named after the famed Shaolin Temple of China, renowned for its fighters.

A unique feature of the Matsumura style is the teaching of the White Crane or Hakutsuru kata, although white crane techniques are woven throughout most of the kata of the style, and are especially evident in Gojushiho and Kusanku. However, the Hakutsuru kata is one of those elusive and esoteric kata of karate. According to the late Hohan Soken, the White Crane style was renamed by Bushi Matsumura while he was in China. He then brought the style back to Okinawa in the 1860's. From then on the system was a secret style only taught to immediate members of the Matsumura family. The White Crane style was passed on from Bushi Matsumura to Nabe Matsumura, his grandson.

Bushi Matsumura was tall and thin with deep-set eyes. He was also extremely fast because of his constant practice. He also believed that speed was essential in order to develop power. Matsumura was an innovator and he practiced every technique so that it could be performed as fast as possible. Legend has it that he was able to generate enormous power in his techniques even though he was slender and wiry. The reason for this was that "torque plus speed equals power".

The concept of twisting and rotating the hips when delivering a technique is the method he used. Matsumura is credited with developing this concept in karate. Matsumura simply knew how the basic elements of physics could apply to and enhance karate technique. He was known to have superb kicking skills and a great jumping ability. His expression was "as a warrior one must develop the speed of a bird and the power of a tiger".

In his later years, Matsumura wrote a letter or makimono (hand written scroll) expounding on the elements of Bushido, the way of the warrior, and martial ethos. The letter was written to his student, Ryosei Kuwae on May 13,1882. This was the only surviving document in Matsumuras own hand-writing. The document has been handed down by the Kuwae family of Okinawa. In this letter, Matsumura's writings relate warrior ethics to social science and Confucian ethics. He states that knowledge and martial arts have the same theory. In the area of knowledge, Matsumura indicated that poetry, or creative writing and reading, hence literature, as well as teaching other along with an understanding of Confucianism constitutes Bun (knowledge). This knowledge helps one to understand the matters of life and to make the mind pure and true.

Regarding the martial arts, Matsumura states that there are three main areas of understanding. The three areas are GukushiNo Bugei (martial arts of intelligence), Meimoko No Bugei (martial arts without self-control) and Budo No Bugei (true martial way). Gukushi No Bugei refers to having a technical knowledge of the martial arts but with no real substance. It is only a superficial understanding with no depth. He also makes a comment that is as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago when he wrote it. Matsumura said "a style is only as good as the man who practices it". Meimoko No Bugei refers to a person who has a physical understanding of the martial arts and can defeat other men. They are violent and dangerous and have no self control. Budo No Bugei refers to the true way of the warrior. In this true martial way, a person has the physical understanding of the martial arts and is powerful. He has a strong sense of loyalty and would do nothing that is unnatural or contrary to nature. According to Matsumura, the true way of the warrior is characterized by seven virtues of Bu (military mind). They are as follows:

Bu prohibits violence
Bu keeps discipline in soldiers
Bu keeps control among the population
Bu spreads virtue
Bu gives a peaceful heart
Bu helps keep peace between people
Bu makes people or a nation prosperous

Matsumura's letter continues with the idea that a warrior who follows the way of Budo No Bugei waits for the enemy to defeat himself. He says "you must deal with your own mind well and wait for others to fall apart mentally. Win the battle by remaining calm and steal the mind of your opponent". He goes on to say that "maturity promotes harmony and that a master of the martial arts should stay away from violence, deal well with people, be self confident, keep peace with people and accrue wealth". Finally, Matsumura concludes the letter with a message to his student Kuwae to promote Budo No Bugei, adapt to change, and keep training with these principles in mind.

Bushi Matsumura is credited with having originated or having developed important variations of many of the Shorin-Ryu katas practiced today including Chinto, Wansu, Passai, and Seisan. He is also credited with passing on the kata or formal exercises known as Passai Dai (Matsumura No Passai), Naihanchi, Chinto, Gojushiho (Fifty Four Steps) and Kusanku. A set of Chinese kata known as Chanan in Matsumura time, are said to have been modified by Matsumura and were the basis for Pinan I & II. These kata are the essential forms of all Shorin Ryu styles today.

Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu (1830-1914)

Born in Shuri, Okinawa, Anko Itosu is perhaps the greatest teacher in the history of Karate. He simplified many of the ancient katas, created several new ones, and pioneered teaching methods that would revolutionize the art by making its study easier and less dangerous for future generations. For this, he is recognized as the father of modern Karate.

He began his training when he was only 7 years old. It is said that his father would tie him up to a pole with an obi (belt), leaving a free play of about 2 feet for the boy to run around the pole. His father proceeded to jab at him with another pole, and Itosu would run around to avoid the attack until all the slack on the obi was used up. It was only when the boy tried desperately to get back at his father in anger, that he would stop the poking. This training, although harsh, continued every day until his father was convinced that he had developed a "fighting spirit". This style of training was common in the political climate of the time.

In 1846, Itosu accompanied his father on a visit to Bushi Matsumura. After the usual introductions, his father requested that Matsumura take in his son as a deshi. After some consideration, Matsumura agreed. It is said that Matsumura took liking to the fire in the boy's eyes. Itosu trained under karate greats Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura and possibly Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari. It was also said that Itosu studied under a Chinese master who was also living in Tomari. Like many of the great masters before him, Itosu was responsible for developing other strong karate masters including Kobayashi-Ryu founder Choshin Chibana, Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi and Shito-Ryu founder Kenwa Mabuni, to name just a few.

Itosu was famous for the superior strength of his arms, legs and hands. He was said to have even walked in the horse stance (from which he received his nickname, Anko). Itosu had very strong hands and could crush a thick stalk of bamboo with his vice-like grip. It is said that he walked past the imperial tombs everyday and would practice his punches against the stone walls that lined the road. Itosu believed that the body should be trained to withstand the hardest of blows.

Describing the art in his own words: "Karate means not only to develop one's physical strength but to learn how to defend oneself. Be helpful to all people and never fight against one person. Never try to strike if possible, even when taken unaware, such as by a robber or a deranged person. Never face others with fists and feet. As you practice karate, try to open your eyes brightly and keep your shoulders down, stiffen your body as if you are on the battleground. Imagine that you are facing the enemy when you practice the punching or blocking techniques. Soon you will find your own striking performance. Always concentrate attention around you. A man of character will avoid any quarrels and loves peace. Thus the more a karateka practices the more modest he should be with others. This is the true karateka."

In 1908, after years of teaching karate as part of the physical education program at Shuri Jinjo Elementary School as well as Dai Ichi College and the Prefectural Teachers' Training College, Itosu wrote a letter to the Prefectural Education Department that was responsible for the introduction of karate to all Okinawan Schools and later into the Japanese mainland:

"Tode did not develop from the way of Buddhism or Confucianism. In the recent past Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu were brought over from China. They both have similar strong points, so, before there are too many changes, I should like to write these down.

1. Tode is primarily for the benefit of health. In order to protect one's parents or one's master, it is proper to attack a foe regardless of one's own life. Never attack a lone adversary. If one meets a villain or a ruffian one should not use tode but simply parry and step aside.

2. The purpose of tode is to make the body hard like stones and iron; hands and feet should be used like the points of arrows, hearts should be strong and brave. If children were to practice tode from their elementary-school days, they would be well prepared for military service. When Wellington and Napoleon met they discussed the point that tomorrow's victory will come from today's playground'.

3. Tode cannot be learned quickly. Like a slow moving bull, that eventually walks a thousand miles, if one studies seriously every day, in three or four years one will understand what tode is about. The very shape of one's bones will change.

Those who study as follows will discover the essence of tode:

4. In tode the hands and feet are important so they should be trained thoroughly on the makiwara. In so doing drop your shoulders, open your lungs, take hold of your strength, grip the floor with your feet and sink your intrinsic energy to your lower abdomen. Practice with each arm one or two hundred times.

5. When practicing tode stances make sure your back is straight, drop your shoulders, take your strength and put it in your legs, stand firmly and put the intrinsic energy in your lower abdomen, the top and bottom of which must be held together tightly.

6. The external techniques of tode should be practiced, one by one, many times. Because these techniques are passed on by word of mouth, take the trouble to learn the explanations and decide when and in what context it would be possible to use them. Go in, counter, release; is the rule of torite.

7. You must decide whether tode is for cultivating a healthy body or for enhancing your duty.

8. During practice you should imagine you are on the battle field. When blocking and striking make the eyes glare, drop the shoulders and harden the body. Now block the enemy's punch and strike! Always practice with this spirit so that, when on the real battlefield, you will naturally be prepared.

9. Do not overexert yourself during practice because the intrinsic energy will rise up, your face and eyes will turn red and your body will be harmed. Be careful.

10. In the past many of those who have mastered tode have lived to an old age. This is because tode aids the development of the bones and sinews, it helps the digestive organs and is good for the circulation of the blood. Therefore, from now on, tode should become the foundation of all sports lessons from elementary schools onward. If this is put into practice there will, I think, be many men who can win against ten aggressors.

The reason for stating all this is that it is my opinion that all students at the Okinawa Prefectural Teachers' Training College should practice tode, so that when they graduate from here they can teach the children in the schools exactly as I have taught them. Within ten years tode will spread all over Okinawa and to the Japanese mainland. This will be a great asset to our militaristic society. I hope you will carefully study the words I have written here.

Anko Itosu. Meiji 41, Year of the Monkey (October 1908)" During his adult years, Itosu was secretary to last RyuKyu king, Sho Tai. Amongst his credits are the development of the "corkscrew" punch, the simplification of Matsumura's Naihanchi kata, the separation of Passai and Kusanku into Sho and Dai versions, and the creation of the 5 Pinan katas.

Choshin Chibana (1885-1969)

Choshin Chibana was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1885. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 to study Karate full-time with Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu and remained with him for the next 13 years until Itosu's death in 1914. In fact Anko Itosu was the only teacher Chibana ever had.

Chibana opened his first dojo at the age of 34 and taught Karate exactly as Itosu had taught it to him. In 1933, he officially named the style Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu to differentiate it from the Shorin-Ryu styles that had come down from Chotoku Kyan.

Chibana moved often, opening dojos and founding Karate clubs throughout Okinawa. From 1954 to 1958 he was chief instructor at the Shuri police station and in 1956, was a founding member of the Okinawa Karate-do Federation. In 1968, he received the 4th Order of the Sacred Treasure (KUNYONTO) from Emperor Hirohito.

Choshin Chibana always believed that Karate should be taught as an art and not as a sport or a mere from of exercise. He is given credit for giving Shorin-Ryu its name. He continually strived to better himself and, even upon his death at the age of 84, believed he still had much to learn. Upon Mr. Chibana's death the Kobayashi system was passed on to his senior student Shugoro Nakazato.

Shugoro Nakazato (1920-Present)

A Brief Overview

Hanshi Nakazato was born in Naha City Okinawa on August 14, 1920. He began his study of Karate at age 16, while attending school in Osaka Japan under Iju Seiichi. He continued his studies under Sensei Iju for 6 years until the out break of World War II, where he served in the Japanese calvalry.

In June of 1946, Hanshi Nakazato began his study of Karate under Choshin Chibana. In 1948 Chibana's Shuri dojo closed but he continued his study with Master Chibana at his home. In 1951, Hanshi Nakazato was instumental in helping Soke Chibana open his Dai Ichi Dojo in Naha City. Hanshi Nakazato continued to receive his personal tutoring until January 10, 1954 when he received his Shihan Menkyojo, and became Soke Chibana's Shihan Dai (Master's assistant). About one and a half years later, he was commissioned by Soke Chibana to open the Shorin-Ryu Shorin-Kan Nakazato dojo.

In 1955, Hanshi Nakazato formed the Okinawan Karate-Do Renmei Federation which was comprised of Goju-Ryu, Uechi Ryu, Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu and Kobayashi Shorin Ryu. In 1960, the Federation promoted him to Eighth Degree Black Belt (8th Dan) and Kyoshi. Seven years later he continued his climb to the top of the Shorin-Ryu hierarchy when Master Chibana and the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate-do Kyokai promoted him to Hanshi and Ninth Degree Black Belt (9th Dan). In 1969, when Soke Chibana passed away, Shugoro Nakazato inherited the leadership of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi Karate-Do. In 1980, he was promoted to the highest rank in Japanese Martial Arts of a 10th Degree Black Belt (Judan), Grand Master of Shorin Ryu Shorinkan Karate.

Hanshi Nakazato's kobudo training began in 1936 under Seiro Tonaki, where he studied sai, bo, nunchaku, tonfa and kama. In 1955 he furthered his bo skills, training under Masami Chinen.

Grand Master Nakazato has the destinction of being recognized as a Hanshi in both Karate and Kobudo. He bears the title "Mukaei Bunkazai" or "Intangible Cultural Asset". He is President of Shorin Ryu Shorinkan Karate-Do Kyokai.

An Exert From Kyoshi Doug Perry

Nakazato Sensei is one of the most influential living karate Grand Masters in Okinawa and travels many times a year to promote the traditional Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan Karate (Kobayashi-ryu) system. Hanshi JuDan headed the Okinawan karate delegation and was asked to give a special performance at the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia. Most recently in May 1999, he led an Okinawan seminar delegation of Grand Masters to the United States promoting The 1st Okinawa Traditional Karatedo & Kobudo World Tournament. In addition, Hanshi JuDan NAKAZATO is credited for the introduction of the Gorin kata.

Nakazato Shugoro, Hanshi/ Judan, has continued the kata curriculum of his teachers, Chibana Chosen and Iju(Ishu) Seiichi. The kata are similar to those taught in the dojo of Nakazato's former peers Miyahira, Higa, Nakama and Kinjo, but have stylistic changes based on founder discretion for instructional methodology. Nakazato's kata curriculum consist of the Itosu/Chibana kata's Naihanchi, Pinan, Kusanku(sho/dai), Passai(sho/dai), Chinto and consists of foundational and developmental kihon and fukyu forms. The version of Gojushiho (54 steps) practiced in the Shorinkan is that of Nakazato's first teacher, Iju, who was a student of Shinpan Shiroma (although one report says that the kata came from Yabu Kentsu.) Chibana did not teach Gojushiho but some of his students had learned a version of the kata from other sources hence the differences among the Chibana-lineage styles on Okinawa (Miyahira, Higa, Nakama, Nakazato). These are not to say that Chibana did not know Gojushiho or ever teach it but he did not make it a part of his kata syllabus. Chibana did not teach kobudo either but Murakami Katsumi remarked that he was quite skilled with the nunchaku.

It is said that Nakazato performs kata exactly as Chibana did and in his younger days, when many of Shorin-Ryu's top instructors went to Chibana for kata instruction and correction, it was Nakazato who trained them. Nakazato's kata is efficient in movement, speed and does not involve a great deal of long, deep stances, which is a distinguishing characteristic of Shorin systems. The kata are exciting to watch for those who understand what the bunkai is.

Shugoro Nakazato's Morality of Karate
(courtesy of Kyoshi Pat Haley)

The following set of principles is displayed in Hanshi Nakazato's Dojo in Okinawa:

1. The ideal of Karate is "to cultivate noble character and conduct, and the virtues of modesty and courtesy."

2. "No forestalling in Karate." Karate is the military art for self-defense to protect and preserve your life, and never to attack others on your on initiative.

3. "Perseverance is the root of all conduct." True patience lies in bearing what is unbearable!

4. Put back your hands when you are full of fight and retract your fight when your hands itch to deal a blow.

5. "Softness is unity." "Strength is unity." The ultimate object of human beings should be coexistence and co-prosperity in "peace".

6. Avoid fights and quarrels even when dared.

Patrick Haley (1952-Present)

Patrick Haley was born July 15, 1952, in San Jose, California. He attended San Jose City College before transferring to California State University, Chico. He received a BA in Physical Education and a teaching credential in 1976.

Kyoshi Haley started his Karate training in 1974. In 1985, he began training personally under Grand Master Shugoro Nakazato in Okinawa, Japan. While hosting the 1994 Shorin Ryu International Karate Camp, he was promoted to Nanadan, 7th Degree Black Belt. He also holds the rank of Rokudan (6th Degree Black Belt) in Kobudo.

Kyoshi Haley has won over 300 awards in kata (forms), kumite (sparring), and kobudo (weapons), including 7 United States national gold medal championships. He represented the United States in the 1997 Okinawa Karate Kobudo World Championships and has coached the national team at international tournaments. Pat is on the National Referee Council and Hall of Fame Committee for the United States Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). He currently serves as President of the North American Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan Karate-do Association. Kyoshi has the distinction of being an inductee to both the North American and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame.

Kyoshi Haley is noted for his integrity, professionalism, and unconditional commitment to excellence in his field. In 1990, he received a commendation from the California State Assembly for his contributions to the community of Chico, and the California State Assembly's 1999 Community Service Award. His enthusiasm, drive and ability to motivate has afforded his students the opportunity to bring out the best in themselves. He still considers himself a student of Karate and as a result he travels to Okinawa 4 times each year to receive instruction from his teacher, Grand Master Shugoro Nakazato. He and wife Bitz operate Haley's Martial Arts Center, a 15000 sq. ft., over 500 member state of the art facility in Chico, California.

Kenneth Marchtaler (1957 - Present)

See Chief Instructor