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#144274 - 05/15/05 05:17 AM Mainstream Okinawan Karate Style Differences
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
Im interested in understanding the differences between the 2 main schools of okinawan karate as part of my research/training. As i see it we have shorin and shorei schools, and styles that emcompass aspects of both.

On a previous post some expierienced martial artists suggested it would be a bad idea to try to teach both schools to students, albeit on a simple basis ie not the complete systems up to shodan level and then let the student choose their own path, im still of the opinion that this would be a very good way for people to learn okinawan karate so would like to understand why others do not in a little more detail.

To start us off the most obvious difference would be the way we 'step'


in shorin (i train in matsubayashi) we step straight, the benefits to me are speed and better mechanics of power delivery (not generation!), ie its simpler to hit harder this way. the step can also be a nice knee strike or low front kick.

(however recent training with a superb shobayashi instructor taught crescent stepping? more confusion for me!!!!!)

in shorei (in general) we step crescent style. in my mind this is slower, more complicated to learn but when learned well is very very powerfull, also the 'step' can be a nice takedown.

From my shito days we used the shorei (crescent) method,

what does isshin ryu practise and why?

Neither is right or wrong, both have merits IMO, what do you people think on this subject?

I look forward to expierenced response

yours in karate


Edited by shoshinkan (12/29/09 06:15 AM)

#144275 - 05/15/05 12:48 PM Re: Mainstream Okinawan Karate Style Differences [Re: shoshinkan]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Sho,

First I don't agree with the shortcut two types of Okinawan karate definition. I feel those who originally poposed it were trying to communicate something to a Japanes audience that could not be called upon to understand what Okinawa was.

From one perspective, such as a Chinese stylist, there is nothing terribly different between any of the Okinawan styles compared to say the Chinese ones, the differences just minor ones between the Okinawan's.

From another perspective the true Okinawan styles are those pre 1890, and those after 1890 (the Hiagonna to Goju import) and the 1950's Ueichi import being less relevant to the Okinwan definition.

The perspective I use is each instructor is expressing a different well of styles, one that changes and grows as time passes. One of my friends who trains in Okinawa explained to me on Okinwawa there are maybe 90 Shoring Dojo, and in them each one is different from the others. Linking them to one group or the other is a shorthand that doesn't look at the reality.

The Isshinryu I practice is no less complex. At different time our founder taught the system differently even to the method of technique execution, from vertical strike, to twisting strike then back to vertical strike. And as the system spread the differences betwen groups continuted to maginfy. There is a core value that maintains, but a case can be made that Isshinryu is isshinryu and isshinryu and isshinryu and so on.

I know of different camps of instruction potential within the Matsubayshi Ryu, here in the states, each variation based on direct Okinawan teaching.

The issue is very difficult to truly characterize.

Now if your two school definition is a correct one, how do styles like Shito Ryu (with at least 80 years in existence) and Isshinryu (with at least 50 years in existence) suffer because they are using lineages from both sides you describe.

Within Isshinryu a small system, there are different ways of stepping, some using the crescent step, some just stepping forward and some using both.

All those ways can be effective.

For stepping I'm a crescent stepping fanatic. I like the compression of energy and the explosion on the stepping completion, and the intrinsic timing of that compression and explosion as a driving basis for the art and its way of opening the application potential.

But that's my way.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#144276 - 05/15/05 03:44 PM Re: Mainstream Okinawan Karate Style Differences [Re: shoshinkan]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
The similarities between Okinawan styles are more interesting to me than the differences. The differences only reveal a priority of fighting philosophies. The differences do not necessarily illustrate philosophies found exclusive to that style...

It is often characterized that Goju is an inside fighting style, yet bunkai in it's kata shows a rich set of evade and counter to the outside.

The term "Goju" itself is a misnomer since all karate is both hard and soft and not exclusive to GojuRyu.

Speaking of 'mainstream'...
There is one philosophy I can think of which is not compatable with Okinawan Karate...when it is introduced, the core of Okinawan fighting is comprimised. I'm talking about the sport philosophies of 'get in and score and get out', long-range attacks, and the notions of 'faking',false-starting and mind game strategies. These things are sport and just not practical in a real fight - woe is the person trying to implement them at the wrong place at the wrong time. Show me an Okinawan kata that has a 'strike and retreat' or 'fake' technique. The closest thing would probably be a setup or a double fist strike could maybe be stretched into thinking of it as a decoy. but a very different philosophy and intention.

just adding another view.

#144277 - 05/15/05 05:05 PM Re: Mainstream Okinawan Karate Style Differences [Re: Victor Smith]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
interesting thoughts Victor, many thanks.

It would seem that we do not think of things so differently, my research and practise has led me to believe that the differences between styles is generally one of personal emphasis and training methods, im happy to call myself a student of okinawan karate and learn from any relevant style, a habit from my shito ryu days perhaps!
Jim Neeter

#144278 - 05/15/05 05:09 PM Re: Mainstream Okinawan Karate Style Differences [Re: Kintama]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK

Your view and expierience is appriciated. i agree totally with your thoughts on this matter, particulary the 'sporting' application of classical karate.

If I am asked to compete by my instructors then I will do so but do not envisage any different training methods for kumite or kata, I wont be expecting to win but may be surprised, who knows, who cares???????

It would seem that to learn from the different ryu is not an impossabile task after all, I will continue my research and practise with an open mind.

#144279 - 05/27/05 08:22 AM Re: Mainstream Okinawan Karate Style Differences [Re: Kintama]
IsshinRyuStudent Offline

Registered: 05/26/05
Posts: 10
Hello Kintama,
I totally agree with you that most of the things central to sport fighting have no merit in actual combat where your oponent is trying to kill or maim you.

I did want to comment on showing you a kata with a fake in it. There are alot of different factions of Isshin-Ryu and all of them may not use this technique, so I will clarify by saying, I study Isshin-Ryu as it has descended from Tasuo Shimabuku to Sensei Arcenio Advincula. In the version of Wansu that I practise there is a fake uppercut just prior to blasting your opponent with a low front kick. This is the bunkai as taught to me by Sensei Advincula. Of course, the uppercut doesn't "have to be" a fake, your imagination will dictate how you you utilize the techniques in your katas, but I prefer to do it as a fake. I don't think that there is anything wrong or untraditional with decieving your oponent into thinking you are going to strike one place, creating an opening, and then surprising him with a technique he didn't expect. Just my thoughts on the subject.
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