I've been a keen karate student for 16 years, Shukokai and Shotokan, but there still seems to be no shortage of things to learn and explore. I'm hoping this blog will allow me to share my experiences and hear other martial artists thoughts.

Funakoshi’s Essence of Karate No.2

Funakoshi mentions two styles of Karate in the first chapter, Shorin-ryu & Shorei-ryu. He describes how Shorei-ryu sought to be supple in body and strong in mind with Shorin-ryu strong in body and supple in mind.

In Chapter 2 he looks again at these two styles. He felt the Shorei style with fine technical skills and agility was superior fighting at a distance while Shorin was stronger close in particularly taking hold of an opponent.

Robin L. Reilly’s Complete Shotokan Karate also mentions the terms  Naha-te, Shuri-te & Tomari-te and it appears the terms Shorei-ryu and Shorin-ryu came from these. It looks like the founders of todays modern karate styles were influenced by masters of both Shorin and Shorei. For example Anko Itosu, who taught Funakoshi, is refered to as a master of Shorin-ryu/Shuri-te and Kanryo Higaonna, teacher of Chojun Miyagi and Kenwa Mabuni, Shorei-ryu/Naha-te.

That said having studied both Shukokai and Shotokan it certainly feels like each style is influenced to this day by one of these old styles. Shukokai does feel more agile and supple through it’s slightly higher stances like Shorei-ryu while Shotokan feels more muscular like Shorin-ryu. As Funakoshi states, Karate should have a combination of both of these styles, and I certainly feel I’m a better karateka for experiencing the approaches of both styles.

It seems to make sense to me that to be a more complete student of karate I’d want to be able to combine flexibility, agility and precise techniques with strength of body and a capability to control and manipulate an opponent.




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