Shuri-Te is the name of the particular type of Okinawan martial art that developed in the village of Shuri at Shuri Castle, the ancient capital of Okinawa. One of the early Okinawan masters, Sakugawa (1733-1815) is credited as being one of the initial importers of Chinese martial arts to Okinawa, in particular to the Okinawan city of Shuri, where he started the development of the Shuri-Te style of Okinawan martial arts.

Sakugawa had a student named Sokon Matsumura, who in turn taught Anko Itosu, who was destined to become a great martial artist and teacher in the 19th century, who introduced the practice of Tode, as the Okinawan martial arts were called, to the Okinawan school system. Anko Itosu's contribution to Tode was the emphasis of Kata and its practical application, called Bunkai. Matsumura & Itosu's styles later developed and became Shorin Ryu Karate

Many students of Anko Itosu became significant figures in the early development of Karate. Amongst Itosu's students are Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), who later moved to Japan and founded Shotokan Karate and Kenwa Mabuni (1890-1954), combined aspects of Naha-te and Shuri-Te, also moved to Japan, and founded Shito-ryu Karate-do.

The founder of Shorin-ryu was Sokon Matsumura, instructor to Anko Itosu (1831-1915), the great master of the Shuri-te style. Kanga Sakugawa (commonly known as Tode Sakugawa), Sokon Matsumura and others went to China and learned Kenpo there. Returning to Okinawa, they brought Kenpo into the Okinawan Te and systematized the two styles into one. That was then passed on to Anko Itosu, and was named 'Shorin-ryu' in 1933.

The main technical characteristic of Shorin-ryu is to concentrate power instantaneously. In that it somewhat resembles kendo. One's strength is expressed through the Kata from the inside to the outside, in a voluntary kind of way. It causes no pressure on the internal organs and little disturbance of respiration. In addition, it causes no unnecessary muscle fatigue, and sharpens concentration. It is believed that alertness can be fostered in this way and full offensive power can be exerted. Typical Kata include: Naifanchi (1st-3rd Dan), Pinan (1st-5th Dan), Kusanku (dai) and Kusanku (sho), Passai (dai) and Passai (sho), Jion, Jitte, Sochin, Gojushiho, and Chinto. Pinan was created by Anko Itosu as a training aid for his pupils. It is said that Naifanchi is well suited for muscle training, Kusanku is good for fostering alertness, and Passai is suited for putting training into practice.

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Updated: Friday, 10 September 2010