Our style of martial arts is called Shorin Ryu White Crane.
‘Shorin’ is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese “Shaolin.”
Shaolin means ‘young forest.’ It refers to an ancient, influential martial arts training center located at a Buddhist temple complex in what is now Henan Province, China.
A ‘Ryu’ in Japanese is a teaching lineage. ‘Kara’ means empty. ‘Te’ means hands.
Shorin Ryu is the name adopted by a number of martial arts styles that are practiced on the island of Okinawa.
Okinawa is located between Japan and China. It is part of Japan now, and the people speak Japanese, but for much of its history it was closely associated with China.
The Okinawan people traveled to China as diplomats, traders and fishermen. There they learned Chinese language, technology, culture and martial arts, especially the martial arts used in the coastal cities of Fujian Province. Among those arts the White Crane style was prominent. Its characteristic sinuous motion unifying the whole body and mind, were suited to increased vitality and vigorous self defense.
They applied these lessons to their own indigenous defensive technique – known as te (hands) or uchinade (Okinawan hands) – to form the martial arts that became Okinawan karate.
Kata as Practical Combative Training
The kata we use in our style were designed to teach practical combative skills. The ones we use transmitted through Shoshin Nagamine’s Matsubayashi-ryu, and have been reunited with Hakustsuru White Crane body mechanics, energy transmission and technique application.
Beginner and intermediate kata:
普 及 型 一 Fukyugata Ichi – introductory kata by Sensei Nagamine
普 及 型 二 Fukyugata Ni – introductory kata by Chojun Miyagi
ピンアン 初段 – 五段 Pinan Shodan through Godan – intermediate kata
ナイハンチ 初段 – 三段 Naihanchi Shodan through Sandan – intermediate kata
Black Belt kata:
王 冠 Wankan
鷺 牌 Rohai
汪 楫 Wanshu
拔 塞 Passai
鎮 闘 Chinto
公 相 君 Kusanku
Sensei Shoshin Nagamine’s generation, growing up in the 1920’s and 30s, learned these kata from Kyan Sensei and others.
By the time Shoshin Nagamine created Matsubayashi style the name of the arts he learned – Ryukyu kempo to-te jutsu – changed to karate-do (empty-hand way). Ryukyu was the name of the Okinawan Kingdom which was absorbed into Japan in 1879. Kempo is a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese words chuan fa – fist knowledge or fighting art. To-te means Chinese hands which referred to the fighting systems the Okinawans learned when they visited China as distinguished from the indigenous Okinawan styles known as te or hand. Jutsu is an art, technique or a method.
Earlier, in pre-industrial times on Okinawa, there was no such thing as a ‘civilian.’ Everyone worked – as a farmer or fisherman, trader or artisan. Military professionals were few, and most were in service at the court.
If there was a threat to a ship, an island, to a village or a community, everyone pitched in to defend it. Everyone was responsible.
Then, when the danger ended, they all went back to their homes and jobs and families.
In those days martial arts were a needed practical skill. Just as everyone needed to know how to grow food or to fish, how to navigate on the water and the land, how to repair their house or get fresh water, everyone needed to know how to take care of themselves and their family.
To cultivate martial art skills they needed consistent practice, in a group.
We do too.
To encourage a systematic approach our training uses ranks or grades. These are indicated by belt colors – white, green, brown and black. After black belt there is no change of the color of the belt, except as it naturally turns white over time.
The first ranks include tests of mastery of specific katas and other skills demonstrating speed, power, and contact training.
The white belt ranks are Rokyu and Gokyu
Green belt ranks are Yonkyu and Sankyu
Brown Belt ranks are Ni Kyu and Ikkyu
The black belt ranks are Shodan and up.
Yudansha – black belts – are not limited to specfic kata. Black belts are introduced to deeper technique, step by step, through advanced kata practice.
Over the years as the ‘traditional martial arts’ were brought to the modernizing world – to the US, Europe and Japan – there was an emphasis on standardizing and simplifying the arts, so people could learn them in a shorter time and benefit from them. This version was widely taught.
Now, by training with committed practitioners who preserved their ancient style,
we have access to a martial art that is both profound and practical. Skill in full-body mechanics, energy flow and transmission, technique application, and other dimensions that made Shorin Ryu White Crane and its descendant arts powerful and useful are being practiced again, here.
Mountain Karate Dojo offers anyone who wants it a means to cultivate a strong mind and an intelligent body, through the practice of Shorin Ryu White Crane Karate.
We use a few words in Japanese in our classes. These words are used in many traditional dojos on Okinawa and around the world:
Arigato – Thank you
Onegaishimasu – I ask something of you
Dozo – Please
Dojo – Training place
Sensei – Teacher
Rei – Bow
Mawatte – Turn
Ich 1, Ni 2, San 3, She 4, Go 5, Ro 6, She 7, Hotch 8, Kyu 9, Ju 10 (These are clipped pronunications used during training.)
Hajima – Begin
Yame – Stop
(Drawings, prints and paintings on this site are original art by Tarleton Brooks, copyright©1999-2017 Tarleton Brooks )