influential traditional styles

The four blue triangles in the official Cheonjikido style patch represent the four birthplaces of the traditional martial arts styles that have influenced the Art of Cheonjikido (i.e. China, Japan, Korea, and Okinawa).

china

chuan fa

Chuan Fa is a general term for Chinese martial arts that literally translates “fist principles” or “law of the fist” (This word is translated kenpo in Japanese). As a style, Chuan Fa is considered to be the first eclectic martial art with roots possibly stretching as far back as the 5th century BC during the Zhou Dynasty. In the Spring and Autumn Annals, the earliest surviving Chinese historical text to be arranged on annalistic principles (covering the period from 722 to 481 BC), reference is made to a hand-to-hand combat theory which includes the notion of integrating hard and soft technique (true martial arts eclecticism). Chuan Fa is the forerunner of Okinawan Karate, as the Chinese eclectic arts eventually migrated to the island via the old maritime trade routes. In modern times, detailed knowledge concerning the state and development of Chinese martial arts became available around 1928 as a result of an effort to compile an encyclopedic survey of martial arts schools. Since the 1950’s the Communist People’s Republic of China has officially organized these arts as an exhibition and full-contact sport under the heading of Wu Shu (a Chinese term that literally translates “martial arts” or “military arts”). In Yoon Byung (1920-1983?), the first personage in the Cheonjikido black belt lineage, studied Chinese Chuan Fa under a Mongolian Grandmaster in Manchuria sometime prior to 1940. As Chuan Fa in its earliest reference and in the training received by Sensei Byung represented a balanced blending of hard and soft technique, so is the goal and eclectic spirit of Cheonjikido.

kung fu

Kung Fu is a Chinese term that literally refers to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete. In the West, this term evolved as a general reference to Chinese martial arts, but it wasn’t until the late 20th Century that it became accepted in this sense by the Chinese community. There are two main divisions of Chinese Kung Fu: the northern styles are known for more soft, circular movements with emphasis on footwork while the southern styles are characterized by strong and powerful technique with an emphasis on the upper body. Notwithstanding, most kung fu styles contain both hard and soft elements, and are therefore eclectic by nature. Cheonjikido incorporates the ba shi (i.e. the 8 basic stances) of the northern styles; and Tan Tui, a kata from the Northern Islamic Longfist tradition, is required for the rank of Sandan.

japan

aikido

Morihei Ueshiba
Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido means “the way of harmony” and is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) in the 1920’s and 1930‘s as a result of his study in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that weaker practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from severe injury. Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This requires very little physical strength, as practitioners can actually lead an attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements. Thus, weaker defenders can achieve victory against stronger opponents. Aikido techniques are completed with various throws or joint locks, and its many contributions to Cheonjikido include emphases upon redirection of force, displacement of balance, circular motion, grappling technique, and the application of ki. Such attributes manifest themselves in our foot movement, ippon kumite, kata bunkai, weapons defense (knife & gun ippon kumite), self-defense technique, and our jo kata.

karate

Anko Itosu
Anko Itosu

Karate is a Japanese homophone that literally translates “empty hand” and in English, it has become a generic term that refers to various Okinawan and Japanese striking arts. Originally, karate was developed in Japan’s Ryuku Islands, mainly in what is now Okinawa, as a blend of indigenous styling with various aspects of Chinese Kenpo (i.e. chuan fa). The latter began to be imported into the Ryuku Kingdom from the Chinese mainland as early as the 15th Century. Anko Itosu (1831-1915) is considered to be the father of modern karate, introducing it to Okinawan schools as early as 1901. It was not until the 1920’s that karate was systematically taught on the Japanese mainland. Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), a student of Itosu and founder of Shotokan Karate, is generally credited with having introduced and popularized karate on the main islands of Japan. Today, there are various styles of karate, and as mentioned, this term has become a reference to a whole slough of striking arts. Typically, karate styles put an emphasis upon hard striking (punching, kicking, open-hand technique, knee & elbow striking, etc.), but karate is not just “punches and kicks.” It also necessarily involves tuite (joint-locks), grappling, throws, and pressure points, all of which are are found in Cheonjikido kata, ippon kumite, and self-defense technique.

shotokan

Gichin Funakoshi
Gichin Funakoshi

Shotokan is Japanese for “Shoto’s house” and represents the style founded and established by the Okinawan Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) on the Japanese mainland between 1922 and 1936. Interestingly, Funakoshi’s pen name was “Shoto” which translates “pine waves” (i.e. the movement of pine needles as the wind blows through them), and in Shotokan, after years of study in Okinawan Shuri-te and Naha-te traditions, he introduced a simplified and eclectic system that combined elements and principles of both. Okinawa, by the way, is known for its beautiful and unique pine trees. Funakoshi’s first official Shotokan dojo was built in Tokyo in 1936, and in honor of their sensei, his students hung a sign over the entrance that read Shotokan. Funakoshi himself never personally referred to his system by that name; he simply called it karate, or karate-do (i.e. the way of the empty hand). As early as 1924, Funakoshi introduced the kyu/dan ranking system, colored belts, and the ghi into his karate teaching, all adopted from the art of Judo founded by Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) in Japan in 1882. In his lifetime, the highest rank that Funakoshi ever awarded was a Godan, 5th-degree black belt. The three primary features of Shotokan training are kihon, kata, and kumite. Initially, beginners and colored belts are taught strong basic techniques and stances with quick linear-movement, thereby giving rise to the notion that Shotokan is a hard art of “punching and kicking.” However, these aspects were only intended to be a means in the natural evolution of strength and power toward balanced fluidity. This evolution is clearly seen in Shotokan black-belt kata; and with higher ranks, the focus shifts to fluidity in basics and incorporates grappling, tuite, and aikido-like technique. Shotokan kumite also mirrors this evolution as the basic stances and movements taught to beginners give way to a less-structured emphasis on fluid speed and efficiency in the application of strong basics. This Shotokan ideal undergirds Cheonjikido’s Core Principle #2; and the heavy influence of Funakoshi’s eclectic system is obvious in Cheonjikido kata, ippon kumite, self-defense technique.

shudokan

Kanken Toyama
Kanken Toyama

Shudokan literally means “house for the cultivation of the way [of karate]” and represents a style of Japanese karate founded by Kanken Toyama (1888-1966). Toyama primarily studied the Shuri-te karate tradition under Anko Itosu for eighteen years and was appointed the title of shihandai (i.e. assistant master) to Itosu in 1907 at the Okinawa Teacher’s College. Toyama and Gichin Funakoshi were the only two students to ever be granted the title of shihanshi (i.e. protege) by Itosu, and some believe that Toyama outranked Funakoshi because there is no record of the latter ever bearing the title shihandai. Beyond this, Toyama also received supplemental instruction from Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915), the founder of the Naha-te karate tradition. Later, around 1924, Toyama moved his family to Taiwan, and there, he studied Chinese Chuan Fa for seven years. In 1930, he relocated to Tokyo and opened his first dojo, calling it Shudokan. There, he simply taught an eclectic blend of what he had learned from Itosu and Chuan Fa. Toyama never claimed to have originated a new style of karate and like Funakoshi, he never referred to his system by the name of his dojo. In the early 1940‘s, In Yoon Byung (1920-1983?), the founder of Chang Moo Kwan and the original black belt in Cheonjikido’s direct lineage of instruction, studied under Toyama at Nihon University in Tokyo. Byung, with a background in Chinese Chuan Fa, traded knowledge with Toyama and later attained the rank of Yondan under him. Toyama was a Godan at the time, so this made Byung the highest ranking student at the Nihon Karate Club. Shudokan, an eclectic balance of hard and soft technique, is characterized by circular motion, the art of covering and deflection, a proper balance between power and fluidity, and unique kata. The art of Cheonjikido acknowledges and teaches the value of these attributes; and as our style also strives to maintain an eclectic balance of hard and soft technique, Toyama’s influence via In Yoon Byung and Chang Moo Kwan is obvious.

tomiki aikido

Kenji Tomiki
Kenji Tomiki

Tomiki, also called Shodokan, is one of the earliest independent styles to emerge from traditional aikido as taught by Morihei Ueshiba. It was systemized by Kenji Tomiki (1900-1979) who formed the Waseda University Aikido Club in 1958 and then built a dojo in Osaka in 1967 to teach, train, and promote his style. As a result of the religious mysticism that negatively affected the practical effectiveness of Ueshiba’s teaching in his latter years, Tomiki renewed an emphasis on Aikido’s Aiki-Jujutsu foundation while introducing elements from his extensive background in Judo (Tomiki was a student of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, in the 1920’s). Tomiki Aikido differs from traditional aikido in its greater stress on combative atemi (i.e. blows or strikes), compact motion (i.e. as opposed to the drawn-out movements of the Hombu styles), and free-form randori (often practiced in formal competition). Tomiki is also credited with arranging aikido technique into numbered sets, or two-man kata. These kata were designed to promote development in both randori and aikido technique. Tomiki Aikido is the style taught at the Newton Aikido Club in Newton, North Carolina. Larry Beal (1944-2010), Sensei Jesse Boyd’s instructor, intensively studied this art and taught at the Newton Aikido Club from 1994-2010. The art of Cheonjikido is heavily influenced by the natural and compact circular motion of Tomiki Aikido and Cheonjikido Ippon Kumite pay direct homage to this tradition. This set of 100 includes the Aikido Basic 15, Randori-No-Kata (the 17 Advanced), the 11 Dynamic Throws, and the 10 Counters. Moreover, elements of Tanto Waza from Koryu-Dai-San and Koryu-dai-Roku are clearly recognizable in Cheonjikido’s set of 20 Knife Ippon Kumite.  Koryu-Dai-Ichi and Koryu-Dai-Ni are required learning for the rank of Nidan while Koryu-Dai-San and Goshin-Ho must be learned for the rank of Sandan.

korea

chang moo kwan

In Yoon Byung
In Yoon Byung

Chang Moo Kwan is a Korean coinage that literally translates “building a martial arts house” and was used to describe an eclectic martial arts style developed and taught by In Yoon Byung (1920-1983???) at the Seoul YMCA dojo as early as 1946. Byung was the first Korean national on record to study Chinese Chuan Fa, and he did so under the supervision of a Mongolian Grandmaster in Manchuria, northeast China. He then took this knowledge to Nihon University in Tokyo, Japan where he studied and assimilated Shudokan Karate under the teaching of Kanken Toyama. Upon returning to Korea, Byung synthesized Northern Chinese Chuan Fa with Korean & Japanese martial arts, and produced what later became known as Chang Moo Kwan. Byung originally labeled his style Kwon Bop Kong Soo Do, a Korean phrase that literally translates: “the way of fist law AND empty hand.” This designation not only pays tribute to the spirit of eclecticism that Byung wove into his art from its outset, but in its literary form, one also sees Byung’s conviction that a superior martial style needed to reflect a proper blending of hard art (fist law) with soft art (empty hand). Later, Byung would suggest that the style be called Chang Moo Kwan (said change would establish itself more fully under Byung’s protege, Nam Suk Lee), and in early years, the curriculum reportedly consisted of a unique blend of karate and chuan fa. The techniques were said to have a smooth yet hard appearance when practiced or demonstrated. Supposedly, early practitioners were required to perform several Chuan Fa forms, including Dan Kwon, Doju San, Jang Kwon, Taijo Kwon, and Palgi Kwon, as well as at least two staff forms, one created by Byung himself and another brought over from Shudokan Karate.

Nam Suk Lee
Nam Suk Lee

After the Korean War, Byung having gone missing and thought to have perished, the propagation of Chang Moo Kwan fell into the hands of his top protege, Nam Suk Lee (1925-2000). Interestingly, Lee actually started learning martial arts from a discarded Chinese translation of Gichin Funakoshi’s karate textbook that he found in the streets sometime during the 1930’s.  He took over In Yoon Byung’s Chang Moo Kwan dojos at the age of 27 and would ultimately be responsible for the style’s overwhelming influence in the evolution of Korean Taekwondo. Unquestionably, it was Nam Suk Lee’s leadership which cemented Chang Moo Kwan as the foundation of the World Taekwondo Federation established in 1973, and he undoubtedly dedicated his life to the spread of Chang Moo Kwan and its self-defense methods, rightfully remembered as the style’s Patriarch.  However, Lee more or less moved away from In Yoon Byung’s lineage when Taekwondo went international. Notwithstanding, it is said that after a long period of retirement from active teaching, he spent the last few years of his life revisiting and teaching this heritage at a YMCA dojo in San Pedro, California–the same heritage he received at a YMCA dojo in Seoul, Korea during the 1940’s. Via our black belt lineage, the style of Cheonjikido lies in a direct line of descent from Chang Moo Kwan Do as taught by In Yoon Byung and Nam Suk Lee. Though many specifics of the indigenous style have been obscured and largely unpreserved, the principles championed in Seoul endure in Cheonjikido, not the least of which is a consciousness of value in various martial arts styles, or a spirit of eclecticism, as opposed to the blind devotion toward singular tradition that has many times reared its ugly head in martial arts history. Other valuable Chang Moo Kwan principles preserved in Cheonjikido include a strong emphasis upon kata, techniques that bear a smooth yet hard appearance, a proper balance of power and fluidity, attention to body mechanics and the technical intricacies of basic technique, targeting precision, and the use of practical weaponry.  Interestingly, the 12 kata (Kibone 1-5, Pyan Dan 1-5, Chugi IL, & Ginsu-Ginsa) that Nam Suk Lee taught in the San Pedro YMCA the last two years of his life bear the fingerprints of Funakoshi, Toyama, and Chuan Fa, and therefore Byung’s spirit of cheonjikido. It is obvious that these forms predate the World Taekwondo Federation and provide a unique glimpse into indigenous Chang Moo Kwan as it was originally practiced. Cheonjikido has added these 12 forms as supplements to its own kata.

tae kwon do

General Hong Hi Choi
General Hong Hi Choi

Tae Kwon Do translates “the way of hand and foot technique” and is the Korean coinage proposed by General Hong Hi Choi (1918-2002) on April 11, 1955 when leaders and historians from nine of Korea’s kwan’s (i.e. martial arts houses are traditions), including Nam Suk Lee and representatives from Chang Moo Kwan, met to discuss uniting under a loose banner of national identity. This coinage was approved because of its resemblance to Taekyon, a traditional Korean term that had been used to describe martial arts in military training, and because it described both hand and foot technique, a common emphasis in all of the Korean kwans.  Although a loose organization was formed under the banner of Taekwondo, it was agreed that dojos were to maintain their independence concerning martial arts philosophy and differences in technique.  The prevailing notion was to prevent the loss of the unique expressions of each kwan. In 1961, Nam Suk Lee joined with other national martial arts leaders to form the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTD), a tangible result of the 1955 assimilation agreement.  In 1967, Lee was appointed General Director of KTD, and in 1969 (and again in 1971), he would serve as Vice-President.  Under Lee, Chang Moo Kwan grew to be the overwhelming influence in the evolution of Taekwondo, and it was viewed as the leading self-defense method. By 1973, the prevailing opinion was that Taekwondo needed to go international.  Thus, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was formed in South Korea with Nam Suk Lee appointed as a member of the Executive Council.  At this critical juncture, Taekwondo started moving away from its original image of an eclectic assimilation of unique kwan expressions and began to embrace an international sporting label as a result of the overwhelming influence of General Choi. Today, Taekwondo has become more a a general term in the English language to refer to Korean martial arts, most of which put strong emphasis on kicking technique. Reflections of Tae Kwon Do can be discerned in Cheonjikido kata, particularly in Sa-Geup (#8), and in the importance our style attaches to kicking basics. Interestingly, Cheonjikido’s former designation, Teashikido, was basically a Japanese translation of the Korean Taekwondo.

okinawa

goju-ryu

Chojun Miyagi
Chojun Miyagi

Goju-ryu literally translates “hard-soft way” and refers to one of the main traditional Okinawan styles of karate. This style was developed by Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) around 1926 and was born out of his study in Naha-Te under Okinawan karate master Kanryo Higashionna (1853-1915). In the early 1930’s Miyagi entrusted Gogen Yamaguchi (1909-1989), a well-known Japanese karate master, with spreading the doctrines of Goju-ryu in mainland Japan. Yamaguchi systematized Goju-ryu and is credited with originating the practice of jiyu-kumite (i.e. sport or tournament kumite) in 1936. Goju-ryu is a unique blend soft defensive techniques combined with strong counter-attacks. Both speed (i.e. typical of hard striking arts) and circular patterns of movement (i.e. typical of softer arts) are emphasized. Goju-ryu is also known for it’s use of dynamic tension and dramatic breathing technique for strength and conditioning. This is clearly discerned in Sanchin and Tensho, the two core katas of the style. Joint locks, grappling, takedowns, and throws also have their place in this eclectic tradition. Like Goju-ryu, Cheonjikido can also be characterized as a “hard-soft way” that acknowledges the value of strength and conditioning. In fact, the ending of our Il-Geup Kata (#10) reflects the influence of Sanchin.

isshin-ryu

Tatsuo Shimbabuku
Tatsuo Shimabuku

Isshin-ryu literally translates “one heart way” and refers to the style of Okinawan karate developed by Tatsuo Shimabuku (1906-1975) and formally named by him on January 15, 1956.  Shimabuku was asked by his number one student: “Why such a funny name?”  To this, he replied: “Because all things begin with one.”  Isshin-ryu was developed as a result of Shimabuku’s background study in both the Shuri-te and Naha-te karate traditions.  In fact, he is known as one of the few to have mastered both systems.  His most influential teacher was Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945), one of the early lords of Okinawan karate; and he also studied privately with Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-ryu, at his home in Kyan village for about a year in 1947.  Isshin-ryu is an eclectic Okinawan style of karate that emphasizes both hard and soft elements.  This dual focus is clearly scene in the symbol of Isshin-ryu, a half-sea snake (i.e. strength) and half-woman (i.e. quiet character) creature that Shimabuku claimed to have seen in a vision.  The style itself is unique in its emphasis on natural positioning, utilization of 45-degree angles, the closing of distance, slipping evasion followed by immediate redirection of attack, prompt and lethal disarmament, short snapping technique, and the use of practical weaponry such as the bo.  Sensei Larry Beal studied Isshin-ryu and saw the value of these unique emphases, all of which are reflected today in Cheonjikido kata, ippon-kumite, and self-defense technique.  Beal introduced and adapted Naihanchi Kata and the Chin-ai-no-kin-sho bo staff form from the Isshin-ryu tradition into the Newton Martial Arts dojo after its initial break with the Carolina Karate Association in 1992.  Moreover, he adapted our punches to reflect a natural 3/4-turn positioning with thumb placement atop the fist for added stability and protection (i.e. as opposed to the typical full-twist karate punch with thumb placement over the index and middle finger knuckles); and he adapted our blocks to a natural positioning with the muscle supported by two properly aligned bones as the point of contact for added shock absorption (i.e. as opposed to blocking with singular twisted bones as seen in other karate styles).  Both of these modifications were the result of Isshin-ryu’s influence in Beal’s training and are preserved today in Cheonjikido.  Sam-Geup Kata (#8) is Naihanchi as taught and adapted by Sensei Beal from Isshin-ryu.  And, the Chin-ai-no-kin-sho bo form is required for the rank of Shodan.  Cheonjikido also values Isshin-ryu’s nami gaeshi hip kick, and the end of our Il-Geup Kata (#10) reflects the influence of Sanchin, a traditional Goju-ryu form that Shimbabuku incorporated into Isshin-ryu as a result of his private study with Chojun MiyagiIt was Shimabuku who said of this kata with its unique hourglass stance and dynamic tension:  “Sanchin is for health.  Without health, how can you have karate?”

okinawan kobudo

Kobudo is the indigenous Okinawan art of weaponry, and in Japanese, the kanji for Okinawan Kobudo literally translates “old martial way of Okinawa.” Okinawans have a unique tradition of sophisticated fighting techniques associated with common household and farming implements, and this tradition arose amongst the Shuri nobles or Keimochi after the 1609 Japanese samurai invasion that turned Okinawa into an enslaved nation. For the next 250 years, the Japanese Satsuma overlords enforced a disarming policy that forbade the Okinawan samurai and general populace from owning swords or traditional weapons. As a result, makeshift weapons or weapons disguised as tools became a priority, particularly when it came to protecting Shuri Castle and the Okinawan Sho Kings. From such objects as millstone handles, threshing flails, bridles, oars, turtle shells, machetes, staffs, truncheons, and short swords, combined with methods secretly imported from China and Southeast Asia, were developed fighting systems associated with the bo, sai, tonfa, nunchaku, kama, tekko, eku, tambo, kuwa, hanbo, sansetsukon, etc. Most of the Shuri Keimochi whose names were prominent in the origin and development of Okinawan karate were well-known kobudo masters who, serving as royal bodyguards and police, encountered Satsuma overlords and armed foreigners on a daily basis. They were forced to use “peasant weapons” because of a Japanese disarming policy, but those who wielded these disguised weapons were not peasants. The hallmark of Okinawan Kobudo was practicality and accessibility. Undoubtedly, it is the forerunner of Okinawan karate as the footwork in both systems is virtually interchangeable. In Cheonjikido, four Kobudo bo kata are required learning: Tsuken No Kon for Il-Geup (brown belt), Shushi No Kon and Cho Un No Kon for Nidan, and Saku-gawa No Kon for Sandan. It is our conviction that the bo and the shorter jo are practical weapons that are easily disguised and accessible (i.e. objects that resemble these weapons) in this age of political correctness.

naha te

Kanryo Higaonna
Kanryo Higaonna

Naha-te (i.e. Naha-hand) is a pre-World War II term for a type of Okinawan karate indigenous to the area around Naha, an important port town in the Ryukyu Kingdom and the present-day capital of the island of Okinawa.  With the rise of the term karate (i.e. empty hand) in the 20th Century, the practice of naming styles of martial arts after areas of origin declined.  Thus, Naha-te is no longer in general use.  Naha-te was primarily based upon White Crane Chuan Fa which Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915), known as the father of the Naha-te tradition, studied for fourteen years while living and working as a basket maker in Southern China.  Sometime during the 1880’s, Higaonna began teaching chuan fa in Naha; and by 1905, he was teaching Naha-te in the Naha Commercial School.  In terms of philosophy: Naha-te was rooted in muscular strength and grappling; it stressed subduing opponents as opposed to destroying them; it taught practitioners how to defend themselves in the dark by maintaining hand contact throughout a fight; and it placed an enormous emphasis on Sanchin Kata, a grueling 90-seconds of exhausting isometric movement during which the one performing the kata is struck repeatedly with a stick in the chest, back, and legs so as to build up immunity against pain.  Higaonna himself followed the chuan fa philosophy that students should practice Sanchin for three straight years before being taught anything else.  Goju-ryu is the primary successor style of the Naha-te tradition, and many other styles of karate were influenced by it, including Isshin-ryu, Shudokan, and Shito-ryu, a style developed by Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952), one of the first karateka to teach Okinawan karate on the Japanese mainland.  In terms of moral conviction, Cheonjikido embraces the Naha-te tradition which favored subduing one’s opponent over destroying him. However, if it becomes necessary in an effort to live by the biblical injunction of Proverbs 24:10-12, Cheonjikido practitioners are encouraged follow the Shuri-te route of destruction, and that right quickly. Sometimes, the Naha-te tradition is referred to as Shorei-ryu (i.e. the way of inspiration).

shuri te

Sokon Matsumura
Sokon Matsumura

Shuri-te (i.e. Shuri-hand) is a pre-World War II term for a type of Okinawan karate indigenous to the area around Shuri, the old capital city of Ryukyu Kingdom. With the rise of the term karate (i.e. empty hand) in the 20th Century, the practice of naming styles of martial arts after areas of origin declined. Thus, Shuri-te is no longer in general use. Unlike Naha-te, which was based upon Chinese chuan fa, the Shuri-te tradition, or linear karate, was largely invented by Sokon Matsumura (1809-1901) who spent more than fifty years as the chief military officer of Shuri Castle, from the mid-1820’s until 1879. Matsumura was given the title bushi (i.e. warrior) by the Okinawan king in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. All branches of linear karate descend from or through Matsumura, the inventor of Shuri-te, and most of those also come through Anko Itosu (1831-1915), Matsumura’s primary protege. If Matsumura was the inventor of Shuri-te, Itosu was its teacher and is therefore often referred to as the father of modern karate. Many of the students who secretly trained in Itosu’s home during the 1880’s and 1890’s are some of the greatest names in the history of karate (including, but not limited to: Gichin Funakoshi, Kanken Toyama, Chojun Miyagi, and Tatsuo Shimabuku), the same who who established famous dojos and styles in later years. Late in his life, something that Itosu taught his students was quite revolutionary: it is possible to practice karate apart from secrecy, and it can be taught to the general public. Around 1902, Itosu was instrumental in getting karate into Okinawa’s public schools, and by 1905, he himself was teaching at both the Prefectural Dai Ichi College and the Prefectural Teachers Training College. Had Itosu maintained the extreme secrecy of Matsumura and other previous instructors, karate would have remained clandestinely tucked away on the island of Okinawa, perhaps to have gone extinct following the ravages of World War II. Bruce Clayton, in the well-written Shotokan’s Secret (Burbank, CA: Ohara Publications, 2006), writes “Comparing Shuri technique with Naha is like comparing the irresistible cannonball with the immovable post, yet both are known as ‘karate’ simply because both towns are in weaponless Okinawa.” Actually, the two traditions have little in common, and there was quite a bit of rivalry between Shuri-te and Naha-te between 1902 and 1930 due to differences of origin, philosophy, and technique. While Naha-te was more about muscle strength and grappling, Shuri-te was rooted in speed and impact. Matsumura, Itosu’s teacher, may have been the first to really appreciate a key rule of physics in his practice of the martial arts: kinetic energy increases exponentially with the square of the speed. In other words, speed was the key to net power and a means whereby stronger and more muscular opponents could be subdued. Supposedly, Matsumura never lost a fight because of his application of this principle. While Naha-te sought to subdue an opponent, Shuri-te was about destroying an opponent, and that right quickly. The Shuri-te tradition assumed that one could see his opponent whereas Naha-te emphasized technique that allowed one to fight in the dark. Finally, unlike Naha-te, the Shuri-te tradition completely abandoned Sanchin Kata. Despite the rivalry and moral tension (i.e. subdue vs. destroy) between the two traditions, some influential karate masters would eventually take an eclectic approach, seeking to synthesize the strengths of both Shuri-te and Naha-te. This spirit of eclecticism and integration, in fact, filtered through Kanken Toyama to In Yoon Byung and down to Sensei Larry Beal in Cheonjikido’s yudansha lineage. It is said that Anko Itosu called his Shuri-te type of karate Shorin-ryu, meaning “Sho’s forest.” This was not homage to the Shaolin Buddhist Temple, as has been popularly disseminated, but rather a subtle tribute to his teacher, Sokon Matsumura. The first kanji character in Matsumura’s name means “pine tree” with a kun reading (i.e. Japanese reading) of “matsu.” The on reading (i.e. reading in ancient Chinese) of that same character is “sho.” So, “Sho’s forest” would be “Matsumura’s grove.” This fact is further confirmed by the opening statement of Anko Itosu’s Ten Precepts of Karate correspondence that he wrote to draw the attention of the Japanese Ministries or Education and War in October of 1908: “Karate did not develop from Buddhism or Confucianism.” This letter was very influential in the spread of karate styles greatly influenced by the Shuri-te tradition, including Shotokan, Shudokan, Shito-ryu, and Shorin-ryu. The latter was systematized by Chosin Chibana (1885-1969) as one of the oldest successor styles to Shuri-te and officially named by him in 1933. Chibana was one of Itosu’s top students, and he was the first to officially propagate a Japanese Ryu designation for an Okinawan karate style, utilizing Itosu’s “Sho’s forest” epithet.