The Dojo

Firstly lets look briefly at the origins of Karate, which can be traced back to India around 1000B.C. where a martial art known as Vajramushti is known to have existed. This was introduced to China, according to most historians by an Indian monk known as Boddhidharma, who settled in the mountains at the Shorin Ji (Shaolin Temple) and introduced a series of exercises to the monks. As time went by these exercises were refined and developed into a form of self defence and was known as Shaolin Temple fist method (Shorin Ji Kempo). This is why the Shaolin Temple is credited with being the birthplace of martial arts. It is known that this method of self defence flourished throughout Asia and eventually found it's way to Okinawa via settled Chinese families some of whom were experts in martial arts.

The Birth of Karate

During the formative years 'TE' or hand as it had been called shrouded in the secrecy due to laws in Okinawa that were attempting to eradicate martial arts. The three leading schools in Tomari, Naha and Shuri went underground to avoid detection. Sometime between 1784 and 1903 the word 'KARATE' replaced 'TE'. Also during this period different styles (Ryu) were developed, these Ryu, by the year 1903 had become standardised many of which are still being taught today.

The Creation of the Styles

History shows that Bushi Sokun Matsumura who studied under Sakugawa and Chinese boxing under Kong Su Kung was responsible for developing the fighting style around Shuri which became known as Shurite.
One of Matsumura's top students was Itosu, another was Higaonna who was regarded as the most influential martial arts instructors in the history of Okinawa.

In 1874 Higaonna left Naha and travelled to China and trained in Shorinji Kempo. When he returned to Okinawa his fame spread and he did a demonstration for King Shotei and subsequently became instructor to the royal family. Throughout the rest of his life he developed Nahate, among his disciples were Chojin Miyagi, founder of GOJU RYU and Kenwa Mabuni, the SHITO RYU founder.

Itosu who was born in Shuri began his training under Matsumura of the Tomari line. He was the creator of the Pinan (peaceful mind) series of Kata. Importantly among the Itosu's top students were Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of SHOTOKAN, kenwa Mabuni and Choshin Chibana.

Mabuni who studied under Itosu and Higaonna, combined two styles, Shurite and Nahate and created his own method called SHITO-RYU. He was heavily influenced by Go Kenki of China and developed formal exercises based on the white crane techiniques taught to him. Mabuni's Shito-ryu is one of the four major styles taught in Japan today.

Tsuyoisima Kai Karate is based on the principles of Shitu-Ryu.