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Okinawan Martial Arts

Refers to the martial arts, such as karate, tegumi and Okinawan kobudō, which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island

Due to its central location, Okinawa was influenced by various cultures with a long history of trade and cultural exchange, including Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, that greatly influenced the development of martial arts on Okinawa.

Karate training with Shinpan Gusukuma sensei at Shuri Castle c.1938, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan


In 1429, the three kingdoms on Okinawa unified to form the Kingdom of Ryūkyū. When King Shō Shin came into power in 1477, he banned the practice of martial arts. Tō-te and Ryukyu kobudō (weaponry) continued to be taught in secret. The ban was continued in 1609 after Okinawa was invaded by the Satsuma Domain of Japan. The bans contributed to the development of kobudō which uses common household and farming implements as weaponry. The Okinawans combined Chinese martial arts with the existing local variants to form Tōde (唐手 Tuudii, Tang hand, China hand), sometimes called Okinawa-te (沖縄手).

By the 18th century, different types of Te had developed in three different villages – Naha, Shuri, and Tomari. The styles were named Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te, respectively.

Well into the 20th century, the martial arts of Okinawa were generally referred to as te 手, which is Japanese for "hand". Te often varied from one town to another, so to distinguish among the various types of te, the word was often prefaced with its area of origin; for example, Naha-te, Shuri-te, or Tomari-te.

Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te belong to a family of martial arts that were collectively defined as Tode-jutsu or To-de. Karate (Okinawa-te or Karate-jutsu) was systematically taught in Japan after the Taisho era (after 1926).


Shuri-te (首里手, Okinawan: Suidii) is a pre-World War II term for a type of indigenous martial art to the area around Shuri, the old capital city of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.

The genealogy of Shuri-te

Important Okinawan masters of Shuri-te:

Important katas:

The successor styles to Shuri-te include ShotokanShitō-ryū, Shōrin-ryū, Shudokan, Shōrinji-ryū, and Motobu-ryū.


Tomari-te (泊手, Okinawan: Tumai-dii) refers to a tradition of martial arts originating from the village of Tomari, Okinawa.

The genealogy of Tomari-te

Important Okinawan masters of Tomari-te:

Important katas:

The successor styles to Tomari-te include Motobu-ryū, Matsubayashi-ryu and Shōrinji-ryū.


Naha-te (那覇手, Okinawan: Naafa-dii) is a pre-World War II term for a type of martial art indigenous to the area around Naha, the old commercial city of the Ryūkyū Kingdom and now the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture.

The genealogy of Naha-te

Important Okinawan masters of Naha-te:

Important katas:

The successor styles to Naha-te include Gōjū-ryūUechi-ryū, Ryūei-ryū, and Tōon-ryū.


Did you know?

Ganbaru (頑張る lit., stand firm), also romanized as gambaru, is a ubiquitous Japanese word which roughly means to slog on tenaciously through tough times. The word Ganbaru is often translated to mean "doing one’s best", but in practice, it means doing more than one's best. The word emphasizes "working with perseverance" or "toughing it out." Ganbaru means "to commit oneself fully to a task and to bring that task to an end." It can be translated to mean persistence, tenacity, doggedness and hard work. The term has a unique importance in Japanese culture.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ganbaru", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Okinawan Martial Arts", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.