Mountain Karate’s style is traditional Okinawan Shorin Ryu.
Shorin Ryu is the name adopted by a number of martial arts that are practiced on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. A ‘Ryu’ is a teaching lineage. ‘Kara’ means empty. ‘Te’ means hands.
The Okinawan people frequently traveled to China as diplomats, students, traders and fishermen. There they learned the martial arts of the coastal cities of Fujian Province.
They used what they learned to deepen their own Okinawan martial arts.
Kata as Practical Training – a Worldwide Collaboration
The ‘kata’ or movement sequences we use in our style were designed to teach practical defensive skills.
Practical street experience, through law enforcement and elsewhere, provided a reality check on attitudes and practices that work. This was so for Police Chief Shoshin Nagamine founder of the Matusubayashi Shorin Ryu style, our instructors, and many others who draw on experience from inside and outside the dojo to make our karate authentic and alive.
These dimensions are all present – but sometimes unrecognized – in the kata of our style.
These make our martial art uniquely practical and exciting to learn.
This renewal of karate is part of an ongoing collaboration of people who have preserved the authenticity of traditional styles, leaving the confines of big organizations to expand and deepen our martial arts. This is the same approach taken by the Okinawans who continually refreshed their style and deepened their knowledge over the centuries. Our approach is traditional.
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 and related arts powerful and useful are being practiced again, here.
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.)
Hajime – Begin
Yame – Stop
(Drawings, prints and paintings on this site are original art by Tarleton Brooks, copyright©1999-2019 Tarleton Brooks )