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Karate

Karate Styles
Up: Karate

This ring/web is under construction so please bear with me. This is a pretty huge undertaking and will take quite some time to finish. Thanks for your patience.

The following is a schematic of the origins of the most popular karate styles. Most are still taught today, and instruction is widely available. I've marked the most popular ones.


                       (Chinese Martial Arts)                              (Korean Martial Arts)
                            /      \                                                    |
         Shaolin Buddhism  /        \________________________________________________    \
                    \     /                                                           \   \
                     \   /                                                             |   |
                      \ /                                                              |   |
                       |                                                               |   |
                   "Kung Fu"                                                           |   |
                       |                                                               |   |
                       +--------------------------------------------------.            |   |
                       |                                                   \           |   |
              White Crane Kung Fu                                           \          |   |
                       +-----------------------.                             |         |   |
                       |                        \                       Pangai-noon    |   |
                    Okinawa                      \                           |         |   |
                 Te or Okinawa-te   -  -  -  -  - | -  -  -  -               |         |   |
                       |                          :            \             |         |   |
             _________/ \__________               :             |            |         |   |
            |Shuri   Tomari    Naha|              :          Kobudo          |         |   |
             /         |          \               :           |  |           |         |   |
            /          |           \              :           |  |           |         |   |
        Shuri-te    Tomari-te     Naha-te         :    /=====/===|==+========+         |   |
 .       ...\........./.............|........     :   //    /    |  |  (influenced)    |   |
 .      /    \       /              |        \    :  //    /     |  |        |         |   |
 .      |   Shorin Ryu          Shorei Ryu   |====:==/    /      |  |        |         |   |
 .      \........|..................|......../    :      /       |  |     Uechi Ryu    |   |
  \              :                  :             :     /        |  |        |         |   /   .
   \             :===== KARATE =====:             : ___/         |  |        |         /  /   .
    \            :\______   _______/:             |/             |  |    Shohei Ryu   /  /   .
     \           +----.  \ /        |             +              |  |                /  /   /
      \          |     \  |         |             |              |   \              /  /   /
   Ju-jitsu      |      | |      Goju Ryu       - | - - - - - - -+    \            /  /   /
        \    Shotokan   | |         \_________/   |              |     \          /  /  Judo
         \       |      | \___________     _______/              |      \        /  /    |
          \     /       \             \   /                      |       \      /  /   _/
          WadoKai        \          Shito Ryu                    |        \    / _/ __/
          /     \         \           /   \                      |         \  / /  /
         /\     /\         \         /     \                     |        Kyokushinkai
        /  \   /  \         \       /       \___                 |
       /    \ /    \         '- - -|- - - - - - \- - - - - - - - +
      /      |      \              |             \               |
     /       |       \            /               \         Isshin Ryu
     \  Wado Kokusai  \          /                 \____
      \               /         |                       \
 WadoRyu Renmei      /   Tani-ha Shito Ryu     Mobuto-ha Shito Ryu
                    /           |
                 WadoKai   (becomes...)
                                |
                             Shukokai

The above gives an outline of the origins of the most common karate styles. As you can see, most of karate came from the martial arts developed on the island of Okinawa. Karate was originally split into three flavours, each based in a different area of Okinawa. These were the areas of Shuri, Tomari and Naha, begetting Shuri-te, Tomari-te and Naha-te respectively. Te simply means 'hand' so Shuri-te, for example, means something like 'Hands of Shuri'. Shuri-te and Tomari-te merged together and formed Shorin Ryu, which was similar to the rigid form of Shotokan Karate. Naha-te became Shorei Ryu which is a more flowing style with more resemblance to its Chinese origins.

Shorin Ryu was developed by Gichin Funakoshi into what he called Karate, and was later renamed to Shotokan. Shoto was Funakoshi's pen name, and Shotokan means "Shoto's Hall". It was given this name by his students after his death. Whilst Shotokan was originally the one to be called Karate, nowadays it is accepted that Karate refer to the set of Okinawa-te martial arts above and their various offspring.

Honori Ohtsuka was a student of Ju Jitsu in his youth, and later studied Shotokan which he adapted into what he called Wado Ryu, or Way of Peace. This style and its offshoots is referred to as Wadokai. Hereafter things get political and rather complicated. Wado Ryu is based around the concepts of evasion and deflection.

Chojun Miyagi developed Shorei Ryu into Goju Ryu, another very popular form of Karate. Naturally it retains much of the 'softer' feel of Shorei Ryu. It was influential in the creation of Isshin Ryu, one of the few tradtionally armed Karate styles. This latter was developed by Tatsuo Shimabuku.

Shito Ryu was created by Kenwa Mabuni, and is less well known outside Japan, but there it is quite popular. Since Mabuni's death a number of different variations have been created, including Tani-ha Shito Ryu, or Shukokai as it later became.


Please contact me for corrections, extra information I may have missed, or other suggestions for changes. All feedback is appreciated!

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