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Influential Figures In The Development Of Karate On Okinawa

There were several influential figures in the development of karate on Okinawa. These individuals played a crucial role in laying the foundations for what would become modern-day karate. Some of these figures include:

Pechin Takahara (1683-1760)

Pechin Takahara was a warrior and scholar who is believed to have been one of the earliest practitioners of Okinawan martial arts. He was a high-ranking official in the Ryukyu Kingdom and is credited with introducing Chinese martial arts to Okinawa. Takahara is also said to have developed his own style of martial arts, which he taught to his students.

Choki Motobu (1870-1944)choki motobu

Choki Motobu was a karate master who is credited with the development of the Motobu-ryu style of karate. He was born into a family of martial artists and began his training at an early age. Motobu was known for his powerful strikes and his ability to adapt his techniques to suit different situations. He was also one of the first Okinawan karate masters to teach karate in Japan.

Bushi Matsumura (1809-1899)

Bushi Matsumura was a renowned martial artist who is often referred to as the “last warrior” of the Ryukyu Kingdom. He served as a bodyguard to the king of Okinawa and was one of the most skilled martial artists of his time. Matsumura was a student of both Sakukawa Kanga and Tode Pechin, and he is credited with developing the Shuri-te style of karate.

Kanga Tode Sakugawa (1733-1815)

Tode Sakugawa, also known as Sakukawa Kanga, is regarded as one of the earliest karate masters in Okinawa. He was a student of Chinese martial arts and is credited with introducing the Chinese techniques to Okinawa. Sakugawa later went on to develop his own style of martial arts, which he called Tode.

Matsumura Bushi Sokon (1796-1889)

Matsumura Sokon was a samurai who served as a bodyguard to the Okinawan king. He was also a student of Sakukawa Kanga and is known for his development of the Shuri-te style of karate. Matsumura Sokon was one of the most influential karate masters of his time and is credited with training many of the other prominent karate masters of the era, including Choshin Chibana and Gichin Funakoshi.

Choshin Chibana (1885-1969)

Choshin Chibana was a prominent karate master who is credited with the development of the Shorin-ryu style of karate. Chibana began his training under Anko Itosu, who was a student of Matsumura Sokon. Chibana later went on to develop his own style of karate, which combined the techniques of Shuri-te and Tomari-te. Choshin Chibana was instrumental in the spread of karate on Okinawa and helped to establish it as a legitimate martial art.

Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915)

Kanryo Higaonna was a prominent karate master who is credited with the development of the Naha-te style of karate. Higaonna began his martial arts training under Aragaki Seisho, who was a student of Matsumura Sokon. Higaonna later went to China, where he studied under various Chinese martial arts masters. Upon his return to Okinawa, Higaonna began to develop his own style of martial arts, which combined the techniques of Chinese martial arts with Okinawan karate.

Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957)gichin funakoshi

Gichin Funakoshi is often regarded as the father of modern karate. Funakoshi began his karate training under Anko Itosu, who was a student of Matsumura Sokon. Funakoshi later went on to develop his own style of karate, which he called Shotokan. Funakoshi was instrumental in the spread of karate beyond Okinawa and helped to establish it as a legitimate martial art in Japan and around the world.

Above lists a few of the many influential figures in the development of karate on Okinawa. Their contributions helped to shape the karate we have today and continue to inspire generations of karate practitioners around the world.

Karate is a martial art that originated on the island of Okinawa in Japan. It is believed that karate evolved from the indigenous martial arts of Okinawa, known as “te,” which was a combination of Chinese martial arts and Okinawan techniques. Karate has spread around the world and is a way of life for many people. The development of karate on Okinawa was influenced by many individuals, we will explore some of the most influential people who played a vital role in the development of karate on Okinawa.

Influential Figures In The Development Of Karate On Okinawa

A list of the Okinawan martial artists masters with their main students:

  1. Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953):

  • Founder of Goju-ryu karate

  • Main students:

    • Gogen Yamaguchi (founder of Goju-kai karate)

    • Seiko Higa (founder of Shito-ryu Seiko-kai)

    • Ei’ichi Miyazato (founder of Jundokan Goju-ryu)

  1. Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915):

  • Founder of Naha-te

  • Main students:

    • Chojun Miyagi (founder of Goju-ryu karate)

    • Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shito-ryu karate)

  1. Wu Xianhui (Nanpa Shorin-ken) (?-?):

  • Brought Chinese martial arts to Okinawa, likely including techniques that would later develop into Naha-te, Shuri-te, and Tomari-te.

  1. Choshin Chibana (1885-1969):

  • Founder of Shorin-ryu karate

  • Main students:

    • Katsuya Miyahira (founder of Shidokan karate)

    • Shugoro Nakazato (head of Shorin-ryu Shorinkan)

  1. Jinan Shinzato (1867-1943):

  • Founder of Kobayashi-ryu Shorin-ryu karate

  • Main students:

    • Tatsuo Shimabuku (founder of Isshin-ryu karate)

    • Eizo Shimabukuro (founder of Shobukan karate)

  1. Yasutsune Anko Itosu (1831-1915):

  • Founder of Itosu-ryu karate

  • Main students:

    • Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shito-ryu karate)

    • Choshin Chibana (founder of Shorin-ryu karate)

  1. Meitoku Yagi (1912-2003):

  • Founder of Meibukan karate

  • Main students:

    • Katsuya Miyahira (founder of Shidokan karate)

    • Seikichi Iha (founder of Shito-ryu Shukokai)

  1. Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945):

  • Founder of Shobayashi-ryu karate

  • Main students:

    • Shugoro Nakazato (head of Shorin-ryu Shorinkan)

    • Chozo Nakama (founder of Okinawa Kenpo karate)

  1. Shoshin Nagamine (1907-1997):

  • Founder of Matsubayashi-ryu karate

  • Main students:

    • Ansei Ueshiro (founder of Shorin-ryu karate)

    • Higa Yuchoku (founder of Kishaba Juku karate)

  1. An’ichi Miyagi (1925-1999):

  • Head of Jundokan Goju-ryu karate

  • Main students:

    • Eiichi Miyazato (founder of Jundokan Goju-ryu)

    • Seikichi Toguchi (founder of Shorei-ryu karate)

  1. Seikichi Toguchi (1917-1998):

  • Founder of Shorei-ryu

  1. Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957):

  • Founder of Shotokan

  • Main students:

    • Shigeru Egami (1912-1981): (founder of Shotokai)

    • Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982): (founder of Wado-ryu)

    • Isao Obata (1915-1991): (founded the Japan Karate Association of America and the International Karate Association)

    • Masatoshi Nakayama (1913-1987): (became the chief instructor of the Japan Karate Association after Funakoshi’s death)

    • Genshin Hironishi (1898-1984): (one of the first people to teach shotokan karate outside of Japan and Okinawa).


In conclusion, the development of karate on Okinawa was influenced by many individuals who left their mark on the history of karate and indeed the history of Shotokan karate.

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