Okinawan Karate

hogstooth

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In your opinion which of the okinawan arts is better for self defense and why.
Now I am not asking this to get a war started between the different styles I just thought it would be interesting to hear different points of view because I have seen a lot of posts stating that "I am new to the MA's and I'm looking for an art that is good for self defense".
I think all of the Okinawan arts that I have gotten the priviledge to be exposed too are good but that is just me. What do you think is Goju-ryu, Isshin-ryu, Shorin-ryu, Uechi-ryu, Okinawan Kenpo and so on good for applying self defense in todays world? Can you support your opinion?
 

newy085

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I think I am going to have to jump on the fence here and say that it is in the way you practice, not what you learn. I have studied shotokan and shito-ryu and both systems would do well in a self defense situation, yet there where members who could not fight there way out of a paper bag.

Also I think I would need a more in depth knowledge of more than the two arts I have studied to answer this question properly. From my limited point of view, the differences in the styles aren't so much in what you study, as it is in how you study. There are subtle differences in the techniques, which are usually governed by that styles overall philosophy (from my experience shito ryu = short, sharp, snappy; shotokan = long and strong).

I think an interesting question to answer would be what is the styles philosophy, and how would that relate to self defense. I'll start with shito ryu as it is the style I currently study.

Shito Ryu - short, sharp, snappy. The shorter stances are used for increased mobility and the use of angle and line changes instead of distance. The techniques are executed over a shorter distance so that they are faster. There are a lot of angular blocks which are best execute at angles to the attack, which puts your opponent of line and opens target areas. In a self defense application if you can keep your opponent off line, then there is less chance of getting attacked, and more chance of targeting vital areas.
 
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hogstooth

hogstooth

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I agree with your assessment. It doesn't matter which art you study they all have valid techniques that work for self defense. I appreciate that you did not go to the "I study blank and it is better because". I asked this based on the posts asking which art is good for self defense and thought it would be interesting to hear how Okinawan Arts lend themselves to self defense.
In hindsight I realize that the way I asked this lends itself to a debate on which one is better. When I really was looking for the instructors to discuss the merits of the okinawan arts with self defense in mind.
I think that is probably why there has been no discussion on this subject.
I should have worded this differently but do appreciate your point of view newy085.
 

Brandon Fisher

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Instead of style I am going to approach it on application. Those Okinawan ryuha that use quick, sharp and snappy type movements such as the Shuri-te (shorin ryu) styles with the exception of Uechi Ryu which is technically naha-te but uses the same type of fast evasive methods as shorin ryu but crane type techniques. Are my choice of style because of my body type and comfort level. That is not to say Goju Ryu does not have very effective techniques either. Okinawan karate is very nasty in its application in all styles considering the non sport approach using throws, pressure points, grabs, tiwsts, hair pulling, as well as the obvious strikes, kicks and blocks.
 
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hogstooth

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Instead of style I am going to approach it on application. Those Okinawan ryuha that use quick, sharp and snappy type movements such as the Shuri-te (shorin ryu) styles with the exception of Uechi Ryu which is technically naha-te but uses the same type of fast evasive methods as shorin ryu but crane type techniques. Are my choice of style because of my body type and comfort level. That is not to say Goju Ryu does not have very effective techniques either. Okinawan karate is very nasty in its application in all styles considering the non sport approach using throws, pressure points, grabs, tiwsts, hair pulling, as well as the obvious strikes, kicks and blocks.

Thanks for your reply. This is the kind of evaluation I was looking for.
 

arnisador

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I've studied Isshin, Goju, and Uechi, though only to green or brown belt level. Isshin was powerful but too close/forward-facing for practicality; Goju was the most well-rounded; and Uechi was the softest. Were I to return to one now it'd be Uechi, which I didn't "get" at the time but feel I do now, but Goju is also a good choice. Isshin no longer seems like a good fit for me.
 

Victor Smith

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Well I've been working at Isshinryu for about 36 years, but I have trained in Shorin, Goju and Uechi dojo.

There is great difference from dojo to dojo, even in the same style, but I don't find one more or less effective than the other. Essentially most are working the same technique pool, with minor variances. If say a Chinese stylist would look at all of them they might well say what are the differences from the outside, but form the inside the difference seem much larger.

The true issue is which of the thousand different ways of teaching them is the method being offered by the instructor, not the system.

Which is softest, not sure. Which is hardest, well that depends too. IMO the Uechin Seniors videos from Okinawa are among the hardest striking dudes, but other seniors like Hiagonna Morio make a strong case for them too.

In the end, it's not so much hard or soft that matters, but the one that knows how to put the right amount of energy in a technique execution to disrupt an opponents attack at the right time. That might be hard or soft or inbetween. All that matters is that it works.
 

TimoS

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"I am new to the MA's and I'm looking for an art that is good for self defense"

You know, I had a discussion this weekend about this very issue with a friend of mine, who is a Krav Maga & Defendo instructor. His opinion was that you'd need to go and see the styles personally, because it all depends so much on the instructor. Without knowing the instructor, it is really quite impossible to really recommend anything. Like in this case, all those okinawan karate styles are basically good, but how good would they be for anyone asking personally depends on so many variables, that it is almost impossible to say.

We actually had our finnish forum's "meet&greet" this weekend and one of the demos was Yuishinkai karatejutsu where they walked us through kata "Matsumura no Rohai" and then applications to that. Also in the morning as an unofficial warm-up my friend was teaching some self-defence (dunno if it was krav maga or defendo). Anyway, after the karate demo my friend told me that he just realized he was actually teaching karate in the morning :)
 

chinto

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ok, i like what i study, its actually about 70% tamari really but called a shorin ryu. its circler and liner , hard and soft... but that said, any style if applied proplerly and has survived say 100 years has proven its self in encounters lots of times i am sure... so how you train and how your instructor teaches it is as important as what i think.
 

twendkata71

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Personally I like the body shifting tactics of the shorin ryu styles and the bodybuilding of Goju ryu. To me karate is karate and I can learn from all karate. I like the practical thinking involved in Okinawan karate. the Japanese use a more scientific approach, but has lost something in the transition from the original Okinawan karate.
 

TimoS

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any style if applied proplerly and has survived say 100 years has proven its self in encounters lots of times i am sure...

None of the styles we practise today are 100 years old yet. Sure, the Shorin traditions have long roots, but in their present form the styles are maybe 50-60 years old at best.
 

Brandon Fisher

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None of the styles we practise today are 100 years old yet. Sure, the Shorin traditions have long roots, but in their present form the styles are maybe 50-60 years old at best.

With all due respect Shorin ryu is much older than what you are describing and I don't understand how you are saying in its present form. Kata that are taught today in the the Shorin Ryu schools are very old. In particular Passai, Chinto, Kusanku, Gojushiho or what was known as Useishi, Seisan, Wansu and Naihanchi. The more modern kata of the style are Fukyugata and Pinan having been created in the 1900's but the Pinan kata are stil over 100 years old now.

Kobayashi shorin ryu was first named in the early 1930's by Chosin Chibana thats over 70 years just in that branch. 1947 for matsubayashi shorin ryu, matsumura shorin ryu name came about in the 1950's before that it was known as matsumura shuri te or suri ti. Chotoku Kyan called his karate Shorin ryu and this was prior to WW2 because Kyan Sensei died in 1945. Prior to this Te or Ti was defined by the city it was from Shorin Ryu mainly from Shuri Te but also from Tomari te which evident in the Seibukan and Seidokan Shorin Ryu systems. Kobayashi Shorin Ryu represents Shuri te mostly as it does not use any tomari te kata.

少林流
used to describe Shorin ryu these shorin ryu systems (seibukan, seidokan, shobayashi shorin ryu uses this kanji as well)
松林流
Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu uses this kanji

松村少林流
Matsumura Shorin Ryu uses this kanji

小林流
Kobayashi Shorin Ryu uses this kanji
The kanji used for te or ti or di depending on the dialect is:
手
so the names of the original styles would have looked similar to this

Okinawa te or okinawa ti: 沖縄手
首里手 Shuri te
那覇手 Naha te
泊手 Tomari te

Don't forget also that the Okinawan's did not originally use the name karate in its present style 空手 meaning empty handit originally was known as tode唐手 or todi meaning china hand. The term karate is new as of the early 1900's when the okinawan's decided to make their native "te" more japanese sounding.

Remember none of us were around in early 1900's to know for sure how things were taught then. But have no doubt it was different with a completely different focus than in todays western world. Even today the okinawan's train differently than the westerners for the most part. They still use karate as life preservation art and sport second.
 

TimoS

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With all due respect Shorin ryu is much older than what you are describing and I don't understand how you are saying in its present form. Kata that are taught today in the the Shorin Ryu schools are very old.

What I am saying that although Shorin styles have a long history and some of the kata have been around for a long time, all the famous teachers who we know for certain have a "named style" (can't come up with a better name), e.g. Chibana and all the various Shimabukuro, they all lived and taught around the mid-1900's. Before them, the teachings were not collected under one teacher. The "kata blends" of the various teachers haven't been around that long. Just as an example, let's take Zenryo Shimabukuro, as he is of most interest to me. His teacher was Chotoku Kyan. Kyan collected the various kata he knew from various teachers. Seisan and Gojushiho he got from Matsumura (or more likely from some of his students at Matsumura's dojo, as Matsumura was already an old man then), Wansu he learned from Maeda, Passai from Oyadomari, Chinto from Matsumora, Kusanku from Yara and Tokumine no kun from Tokumine. The last kata he learned (which if I remember correctly was Tokumine no kun) Kyan learned sometime in the 1920's. Ananku he created himself. Now we come back to Zenryo Shimabukuro. He added to those teachings his own creation Wanchin. His son Zenpo added even more kata which he learned from Nakaima: Pinan 1-5, Naihanchi 1-3, Jion and Passai Gwa. Then there are of course the Fukyugata and it is only after those that we have the complete "kata blend" of Seibukan.
This was my point. I am not denying that e.g. Chinto or Kusanku are old, but that the kata we practise today under various school names were collected into those schools much later and can we really talk about all the various styles before they have really been formed? Shorin and Shorei in general, maybe and even that classification is sometimes a bit odd, as there are kata which belong to both, like Seisan. Also the Shuri, Tomari and Nahate classification is, IMHO, a bit artificial. It does have it's use as a general classification guide, as the teachers in a particular area apparently did have some special kata that wasn't necessarily known in the other area.

Pinan kata are stil over 100 years old now.

Very likely yes. We don't know for certain when they were created.

Chotoku Kyan called his karate Shorin ryu and this was prior to WW2 because Kyan Sensei died in 1945.

Sorry, but here I disagree with you. Kyan called his karate karate, nothing else. As Itosu before him, Kyan thought that there are only two styles of karate, Shorin and Shorei and while he may have said if asked which he taught that he taught Shorin, he never named his style after it and he called it simply karate.
 

Brandon Fisher

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Ok I see where you were coming from now. Though you and I have kinda taken this post off topic a bit I think it still applies. Yes I agree Kyan had several teachers as did many of the great masters of the time. The unorganized approach is why the japanese would not recognize karate as a martial art. Thats why so many just called what they were doing te or ti.
 

twendkata71

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Actually it is confirmed by several sources on Okinawa that Itosu created the Pinan kata series in 1907 for the purpose of making it easier to teach school children, this is from Itosu's own writtings.
 

twendkata71

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On another note, it gets a bit fuzzy when talking about the history of the naihanchi/naifanchi kata. From oral tradition the Naihanchi kata were supposedly brought to Okinawa from China, but they are not found taught in any school in china. Some have said, (like Motobu Chotoku) that they were brought to Okinawa by Kushanku and taught to Sakagawa and passed down from there. This would put the kata at least two hundred years old, but many claim that they are older than that.
Now in Uechi ryu many of their kata were created about 60 years ago. From what I have read the original Uechi only brought back four kata from China. the others were created by his son and students.
The majority of Goju ryu kata were supposedly brought from China accept for the gekisai(fukyu) kata which were co created by Miyagi Chojun and Nagamine Shoshin, Miyagi creating fukyugata ichi(gekisai ichi) and Nagamine creating fukyugata ni(gekisai ni) in the 1940's. Fukyugata san was created by Ueshiro Ansei after he imigrated to New York in the the 1960's. Opinions vary on that as well. but apparently it was his creation of the third fukyugata without the permission of Nagamine(his teacher) that cause the split between the two, Ueshiro being expelled from Nagamine's organization.
The real problem with karate history is that until recently none of the history of kata were written down, most of it was from oral tradition and we know that the memory can get a bit fuzzy after a while.
 

TimoS

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Miyagi creating fukyugata ichi(gekisai ichi) and Nagamine creating fukyugata ni(gekisai ni) in the 1940's

Isn't that actually backwards? Nagamine created fukyugata ichi and Miyagi fukyugata ni. At least the versions we're practising the Fukyu 2 has a "goju feel" to it. I think the order is then sort of backwards when taught as Gekisai kata, so that Gekisai 1 = Fukyugata 2 and viceversa

The real problem with karate history is that until recently none of the history of kata were written down, most of it was from oral tradition and we know that the memory can get a bit fuzzy after a while.

Very true. We know with a degree of certainty much of what happened from early 1900's, and almost everything beyond that is educated guesswork at best and misunderstandings at worst
 

Brandon Fisher

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I agree I had always heard the pinan's were created in 1905 but according to unante the secrets of karate 2nd edition by John Sells it was 1902 when they were presented to the public which would be them even eariler because of the time it took to create them.

Tim,
I do think you got the Fukyugata kata creators just reversed. I agree that Ueshiro Sensei did create fukyugata san which is much different than the first 2.
 

twendkata71

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Your right I did have them switched. I guess my memory is not what it used to be. Nagamine created fukyugata ichi, Miyagi created fukyugata ni, and Ueshiro created fukyugata san. As far as the Pinan kata series, the Pinan series was introduced into the Okinawan school system in 1907, but you are right they had to have been created before they were actually implemented into the school system.
 

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