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Matsubayashi-ryū (松林流), is a style of Okinawan karate founded in 1947 by Shōshin Nagamine (1907–1997). Its curriculum includes 18 kata, seven two-man yakusoku kumite (pre arranged sparring) routines, and kobudō (weapons) practice.
"Matsubayashi" is the Okinawan/Japanese pronunciation of the ideograms for "Pine Forest." "Matsu" means "pine" and "Hayashi" means "forest." When the two words are put together, the "H" of Hayashi is pronounced as "B," hence Matsubayashi. "Shorin" is the Chinese pronunciation of the same ideograms. The origin of this name is the Shaolin Temple in China. "Ryu" translates as style or system. Literally, it means "river," which conveys the image that an art is a living, flowing thing.
Nagamine Sensei's most influential teachers where Ankichi Arakaki, Chotoku Kyan and Choki Motobu (shown above). Nagamine Sensei named his school "Matsubayashi" in honor of two great Sensei who taught the later, two of these teachers: Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura and Kosaku Matsumora. Incidentally, Nagamine Sensei's nickname growing up was Gaajuu Maachuu (sometimes Chippai Matsu), meaning "tenacious pine tree."
Matsubayashi-ryu is one of the four main styles of karate on Okinawa today, and was one of the styles represented when the Okinawa Karate-do Federation was founded. It included the styles: Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, Shorin-ryu, and Matsubayashi-ryu.
Sensei Nagamine named his style in honor of the two most important masters that his teachings were based upon, Sōkon Matsumura of Shuri-te and Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari-te. He chose to name the school using the first kanji characters from both master's names Matsu (松) and the style is pronounced in Japanese "Matsubayashi".
Shuri-te is divided into three styles, two are called Shorin-Ryu and a third is called Matsubayashi-Ryu. Matsubayashi-Ryu is a style of Shorin-Ryu and the terms Matsubayashi-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu can be used interchangeably. Normally, the style is referred to as Shorin-Ryu but when a definite distinction is required between the other styles of the Shorin-Ryu family (Kobayashi-Ryu, Shobayashi-Ryu and Matsumura Seito Hohan Sōken) then it is called Matsubayashi-Ryu.
Shoshin Nagamine also credited Motobu Chōki as the teacher who inspired his seven Yakusoku kumite forms. Until his death in 2012, the official Matsubayashi-ryū organization was run by Shōshin Nagamine's son, Takayoshi Nagamine. However, there are many schools teaching Matsubayashi-ryū that are separately affiliated with the Nagamine dojo.
Matsubayashi-ryū is one of the better-documented traditional karate styles, owing to Nagamine's book, The Essence of Okinawan Karate-dō as well as Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters.
Sho (Pine) Rin (Forest) Ryu (Style): Shorin-Ryu is one of three main systems of Okinawan Karate-Do and can be traced back to the 1400’s. It was developed around Shuri and Tomari Village and was called Shuri-te. The other main systems are Shorei-Ryu which came from Naha as well as Goju-Ryu and was called Naha-te and third the extinct Tamari-te.
Characteristics of Shorin-Ryu: Shorin-Ryu is quick and fast in its movements. It uses the bodies natural ability to execute movements. There is no artificial breathing. Speed and proper timing are essentials in the study of this style. Although there are many stances in our style our most common stance is the Natural Stance, found in all 18 Kata of our system.
The Translation of “ Shorin-Ryu : " Since much of its roots are from China it is seen in the translation of “Shoalin Style of the Empty Hand Way.” The word “Way” (Do) means the path which one follows through life and is called Tao (Dow) in Chinese. It is used in many styles to indicate that the practitioners are learning the moral and philosophical aspects of the art as well as the physical techniques. To the serious practitioners, Karate-Do is a way of Life.
Development of Shorin-Ryu: Shorin-Ryu developed as a combination of various Chinese (To) martial arts and fighting techniques of the Okinawan people (Te). It is one of the oldest styles of Okinawan Karate-Do. Since there are several branches of Shorin-Ryu, when a definite distinction is desired between our branch and other Shorin-Ryu families, then it is called Matsubayashi-Ryu, which means Pine Forest Style, founded by Shoshin Nagamine of Naha City, Okinawa.