About Matsubayashi-Ryu

Grand Master Shoshin NagamineGrand Master Shoshin Nagamine is the founder of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu,  Matsubayashi-Ryu karate. While Matsubayashi-Ryu karate did not exist before Nagamine Sensei founded it, it's beginnings had existed for hundreds of years before. According to Patrick McCarthy of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society, Matsubayashi-Ryu karate can trace it's lineage from Chinese Gung-Fu to the original Okinawan karate; Koryu Uchinadi-Ryu karate & Yamaneryu Kobudo. This "original" Okinawan karate then developed into Te. Te grew and divided into Naha-Te, Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te. Shuri-Te (Also generically known as shorin-ryu) then divided into Kobayashi-Ryu (Chosin Chibana), Matsubayashi-Ryu (Shoshin Nagamine), Shobayashi-Ryu (Chotoku Kyan) and Matsumura orthodox Hohan Soken). It was not until 1936 that the Okinawan masters met and adopted the term "karate" or "open-hand" to replace the earlier term of Tote (abbreviated to Te) which meant "Chinese Hand". They felt the new term, karate, better reflected the art's unique Okinawan development.  Following World War II Nagamine Sensei encountered a book by Ginchin Funakoshi, entitled "Introduction to Karate". He later stated it was this book that helped him make up his mind to pursue karate as a life's ambition. Although there is no  documentation of it, one cannot help but wonder if Nagamine Sensei's service as an infantryman in China in 1928 may not also have influenced his subsequent development of the Matsubayashi-Ryu style. 1947 was the first time the public world heard of Matsubayashi-Ryu karate, this occurring when Nagamine Sensei opened his first dojo and named it the "Matsubayashi-Ryu Kododan Karate and Ancient Martial Arts Studies". Matsubayashi is the Okinawan pronunciation of the characters for "Pine Forest." "Matsu" means "pine" and "Hayashi" means "forest." When the two are placed together, the "H" of Hayashi is pronounced as "B," making it Matsubayashi. "Shorin" is the Chinese pronunciation of the same characters. The origin of the name "Shorin-Ryu" is the Shaolin Buddhist Temple in China. "Ryu", roughly translated, means style or system. More literally, it can mean "river," which Nagamine Sensei said reflected his thoughts that the art of karate, and specifically Matsubayashi-Ryu, is a living, flowing thing. Nagamine Sensei created the name "Matsubayashi" out of respect for two great Karate-ka's who taught Okinawatwo of his most influential teachers (Chotoku Kyan and Choki Motobu). These two masters were Bushi Matsumura and Kosaku Matsumora. As a side note, the World Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate Association website reports Nagamine Sensei's nickname growing up was "Gaajuu Maachuu" sometimes pronounced "Chippai Matsu", which means "tenacious pine tree."  In the years that followed it's opening, his dojo grew in both fame and size. Soon selected nearby American servicemen began to train at his school.  In 1960 the United States was introduced to Matsubayashi-Ryu karate when James Wax, an ex-American serviceman, became the first westerner to open a Matsubayashi-Ryu dojo in Dayton, Ohio. Later, in 1962, Nagamine Sensei dispatched a senior student, Ansei Ueshiro to the United States with the intent of firmly establishing Shorin-Ryu, Matsubayashi-Ryu karate in North America.  In the 1980's Ueshiro Sensei branched off from Nagamine and formed the Shorin-Ryu Karate USA (Matsubayashi-Ryu) branch.  With the untimely death of Ueshiro Sensei in May of 2002, Shorin-Ryu karate USA broke off into two divisions; that headed by Scaglione Sensei (Shorin-Ryu Karate USA) and a new organization headed by Sensei Maccarrone - Karate USA - Terry Maccarrone. Before Nagamine Sensei's death, the U.S. Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do Federation petitioned him to start their own federation in the United States. The federation received his written authorization and the federation was born, under the auspices of the parent Okinawan organization. Nagamine Sensei, in addition to being the founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu karate, was the unifying figure that kept it together, at least until his death in 1997.  With Nagamine Sensei's death, Matsubayashi-Ryu separated into the separate organizations seen today. Master Nagamine's original school remains open today in Naha, Okinawa. As a matter of courtesy, any Matsubayashi-Ryu stylist or school wishing to train in Okinawa at Nagamine Sensei's dojo should first write the dojo and request permission. Soke Takayoshi Nagamine  

Soke Takayoshi Nagamine
Kodokan Nagamine Karate Dojo
3-14-1 Kumoji
Naha City, Okinawa, Japan

tel: 011 81 98 867-3413

At the present time there are number of schools which teach Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do in one form or another. Many of these schools remain independent and unaffiliated with the major North American branches of Matsubayashi-Ryu. Eighteen kata are practiced in Matsubayashi-Ryu. According to an old saying, one kata would be practiced for three years before the next would be learned. The last kata, Chatan Yara no Kusanku, is said to take at least ten years to master. Altogether, that's 61 years to master all eighteen kata! Kata are not to be changed. There are infinite bunkai (applications) but only one kata.

Fukyugata Katas

Fukyugata Ichi was created by Osensei Shoshin Nagamine in 1941 and Fukyugata Ni by the Master of Goju-Ryu, Chojun Miyagi. These two introductory kata were originally requested to be created by a special committee of all the Okinawan Karate-Do Association organized and summoned by the governor of Okinawa at that time, Mr. Gen Hayakawa. The reason for the inception of these two introductory kata was to allow beginners and school children to approach Karate practice in the most lenient way possible.

The Pinan Katas

Pinan I through V were created by Anko Itosu in 1907 and were intended to be practiced by high school students as an integral part of the regular curriculum. Itosu Sensei developed this Kata for health promotion whereby the combat system hardly a role played. There are different theories concerning the Pinan Kata:

Itosu Sensei derived the Pinan Kata from the Kata Sakugawa No Kusanku.

Itosu Sensei derived the Pinan Kata from the chinese Kata Chanan.

Itosu Sensei derived the Pinan Kata from the chinese Kata Chanan and extended it with elements from the Kata Kusanku.

The Naihanchi Katas

The composer of Naihanchi Shodan through Sandan is unknown. These ancient kata were the introductory ones to Karate for beginners before the Fukyugata and Pinan kata were composed. The most important and significant distinction of this Kata lies in the sideward movements for the defence and offensive. Chotoku Kyan learned the Naihanchi Kata from Sokon Matsumura. Itosu Sensei simplified Matsumura's Naihanchi Kata.


The composer of this short kata is unknown and the history of it is comparatively short. The characteristic of this kata is noted by the lunging stances (Zenkutsu-dachi) for defensive and offensive movements.


The composer of this kata is unknown also, but it has a long history. This kata was practiced mostly in Tomari Village. The characteristics of this kata are its elegance combined with powerful movements of attack and defense sequences.


The composer of this kata is also unknown, but it has a long history as well. This kata also was mostly practiced in the village of Tomari. The characteristic of this kata is the one-foot stances where the other foot is drawn to deliver a quick snap-kick. It is a short kata but is very elegant looking.


It is believed that this kata was brought to Okinawa in 1683 by a Chinese envoy named Wanshu; but later, this kata was reformed and developed by Karate men of Tomari Village. The characteristic of this kata is the execution of hidden fist punches. Chotoku Kyan learned the Kata Wanshu from Maeda Pechin, a disciples of Kosaku Matsumora. Nagamine Sensei learned the Kata from Kodatsu Iha.


The composer of this kata is also unknown. The characteristic of this kata is the execution of knife-hand techniques. This kata was the favorite of many Karate men of Tomari Village. Chotoku Kyan learned this Kata from Kokan Oyadomari. Nagamine Sensei learned the Kata from Kodatsu Iha.


The composer of this kata is also unknown. Goju-Shi-Ho literally means 54 steps. The characteristics of this kata are the spear-hand thrust and the resemblance of a drunken man's movements. Chotoku Kyan learned this Kata from Sokon Matsumura.


The composer of this kata is unknown. The characteristics of this kata are the execution of a flying kick, and every movement is composed in a diagonally straight line. It's a long type of kata with techniques in which both offence and defense are carried out simultaneously using both hands, including: ashiwaza (leg technique) from jigo-tai (defensive posture) and zenkutsu-tai (forward posture), and migiashi nidan-geri (double front snap kick with right leg). Chotoku Kyan learned this Kata from Kosaku Matsumora. Nagamine Sensei learned the Kata from Kodatsu Iha.


This kata was adopted and developed by Okinawan Karate men after it was brought to Okinawa in 1761 by a Chinese Martial Artist named Kusanku. This kata is the most magnificent and advanced kata of all Matsubayashi Ryu Karate. It is also the longest and most difficult kata, requiring painstaking practice for more than a decade for mastery. Kusanku had two famous disciples, Sakugawa Kanga and Chatan Yara. The form of the Kata practised in Matsubashi-ryu, however, was thaught to Kyan Chotoku by Chatan Yara, a contemporary of Matsumura. Kyan taught the Kata to Arakaki, who thaught it to Shimabuku, who in turn taught it to Nagamine Sensei.