Shuri Te / Shuri Ryu has the longest unbroken history of any style of karate.Its origins are traced back to Taishi Bodhidharma (470-523),who was the founder of Zen, in the 6th century. Shuri Ryu was known as Shuri Te before the Japanese influence over Okinawa in the early 19th century. It is linked to the ancient form of Te in Okinawa, which became Tode Te under the first to master the style; Tode Sagawa (1548 – 1627). He taught it to Chugin Wansu (1608 – 1695) who taught the “Dragon Boy” Sochin (1681 – 1777) who created the main Kata known as Wansu or “The Dragon Boy Dumping Form” in 1695 in honor of his master’s death.
Other Kata’s taught in Shuri Ryu are as follows:
Anaku (pivoting form), Nai Han Shi So (missing enemy form),
Sanchin (three conflict form), Empi Sho (one warrior),
Bassai Dai also called Patsai (to breach the fortress),
Go Pie Sho (peacock form), Dan Enn Sho (white swallow on the beach form),
Nan Dan Sho (difficult victory form),Kan Ku Sho (flowing lagoon), and Ten Sho (breath form).
This was taught to Kanga Sakugawa (1733 – 1815) who taught it to Bushi Sokon Matsumara
(1767 – 1869) creator of Bushi Te Kempo, Yogi Gosaka (1798 – 1881)
creator of the Pine Tree Wind School
and the only one to earn the Gold Belt Soke; and title of Supreme Grandmaster,
Choki Motobu (1870 – 1944), and Anko Itosu (1831 – 1915).
Master Itosu taught Shuri Te to Master Gichen Funikoshi (1868 – 1957)
who created Shotokan (hall of shoto; his pen name)
after his was invited to teach Karate to school children in Tokyo Japan
by the Japanese Ministry of Education in 1900. He created the Taekyoku Kata in 1922,
to simplify Kata for a beginner student to better understand it.
The Pinyan Kata’s were hard to master.
And in 1950 he took from Jinsaro Kano’s belt system of Judo and created a belt ranking structure of karate as follows: 9th Kyu Rope, 8th Kyu White Belt, 7th Kyu Yellow Belt, 6th Kyu Green Belt,
5th Kyu Green Belt with Yellow Stripe, 4th Kyu Purple Belt, 3rd Kyu 3rd Degree Brown Belt,
2nd Kyu 2nd Degree Brown Belt, and 1st Kyu 1st Degree Brown Belt.
Note that Kyu’s go back wards from 9th to 1st.
Then after that was Black Belt which took an average of 10 years to earn at the time
and then later the Masters Red Belt.
Another master who furthered the development of Shuri Ryu Karate was the Chinese Master Shang Taso Hsiang, who integrated the internal Chinese systems of Hsing Yi, Pakua, and Chan Fa and the external systems of
Shaolin Chun, Chuan Pei, and Hung Kun.
The elder Hsiang left his knowledge to his nephew, Tung Gee Hsiang, whom he raised from early childhood. During a time Tung Gee Hsiang was living in the Chinese settlement of Kume Mura in Okinawa, he was approached by one of the greatest martial arts masters of the century, the Legendary Choki Motobu.
Hsiang and Motobu shared their knowledge and the incorporation of their two noble styles became the entirety of the Shuri Ryu Karate System as taught today.
From Okinawa Tung Gee Hsiang traveled to the Solomon Islands as a missionary.
There in 1942, he met Robert Allen Trias (1923 – 1989), a young American serviceman
who was the middleweight boxing champion of the United States Navy.
Following a now famous exchange between the two men, Trias began training in Hsing Yi and Shuri Ryu Kempo. Later during the war he trained under a student of Master Funikoshi in Okinawa in 1943.
Then later he was stationed in Singapore and trained with Hoy Yuan Ping in 1944.
Ping was a Cantonese Master who had been associated in the realm of the martial arts with
Hashinosuka Fukada of the Tenshin Sinjo School of Kempo Jujitsu in Japan.
During World War 2 and the US Invasion of Okinawa in 1945 General Douglas MacArthur issued a scat ban in martial arts training. Okinawa was one of the, if not, the bloodiest battles during WW2.
Over 20 thousand US troops killed and over 100 thousand Okinawan's and Japanese.
The deadliest battle of the war in Okinawa was a hill known as Sugar Loaf
which we (the US) needed to cross to get past the Shuri Line.
In which we (the US) also destroyed the Kings Temple - the Shuri Temple in Shuri Okinawa.
We also have a Air Force Base there known as Kadena Air Base outside a village known as Tomi.
After the scat ban was lifted karate came to the United States with the first to introduce karate to America -
Robert Aguirre Trias (birth name) AKA Robert Alberto Trias...
After the war ended in 1945 Trias returned to the United States and was the first to introduce karate to America. He opened his first karate school in 1946. He formed the United States Karate Association in 1948. Shortly after opening his dojo he started teaching the true Sensei of the Quad Cities,Sensei Jess Mills (1940 – 2011).
After receiving his black belt in Shuri Ryu in 1959,
Mr. Mills joined the United States Army where he served in until 1962.After leaving the army he moved to the Quad Cities to Moline Illinois where he opened up his dojo called the Quad Cities School of Judo and Karate which he operated until 1994. At the same time he worked as a machinist at the Rock Island Arsenal for 31 years. He retired in 1990 and retired from teaching karate four years later. He earned the rank of 9th Dan.
Sensei Jess Mills was an inspiration to me,
O’ Sensei Timothy L. Kerofsky.
I was one of the last black belts at his school.
I earned my black belt in Shuri Ryu in January 1994.
I trained at his school to start going up in rank from 1981 until 1985
when I joined the Navy and left home.
(Note, however, I started training in karate in 1976
but was not eligible for rank at the age of 10.).
I stayed active in his dojo however, until he retired. I would come home on leave and train at the dojo,
and was the last student to actually be promoted to the black belt rank at his school
and that to me is an honor.
Tode Te Tode Te founded by Tode Sagawa (1548 – 1627) in the 1600s.
Shuri Te Shuri Te founded by Chugin Wansu (1608 – 1695) in Shuri Okinawa
Tomara Te Tomara Te founded by Kosaku Matsumaru (1829 – 1898) in Tomara Okinawa
Naha Te Naha Te founded by Kanryo Higaonna (1853 – 1915) in Naha Okinawa.
Goju Te Go (hard) Ju (soft) Te (hand) also founded Kanryo Higaonna after he traveled to China and learned the soft styles of chi and 5 animal gung fu (gung fu means to be skilled at) he returned to Okinawa after 15 years. This style became known as Goju Ryu under Master Chojin Miagi (1888 – 1953) and was re-founded by him in 1930. He was famous in Okinawa by the way he trained by killing bulls in the field. He killed 52 bulls with his bare hands. At least that is how legend foretells it. After the Japanese influence in Okinawa all traditional styles of Te became known as Ryu – meaning tradition. This is when karate went full circle.
Other styles that came from this were:
Shuri Ju Kempo founded by Yogi Gosaka (1798 -1881) in 1870,
Kobayashi Ryu and Shorin Ryu founded by Chishin Chibana (1885 – 1969) in 1933,
Isshin Ryu founded by Tatsuo Shimabuku (1908 – 1975) in 1956,
Uiechi Ryu founded by Kanbun Uiechi (1877 – 1948) in 1925,
Shito Ryu founded by Kenwa Mabuni (1881 – 1952) in 1931,
and Wado Ryu founded by Hironori Ohtsuka (1892 – 1982) in 1934.