Shaolin Monks

Get ready for a short martial arts history lesson that encompasses China, Okinawa, the Southern Shaolin Temple and, just possibly, the style of self-defense you practice!

In the latter part of the 19th century, when the Ming revolutionaries were still active and many secret societies had been formed, an Okinawan named Kanryo Higashionna (1853-1915) arrived in Fuzhou. He eventually found a martial arts teacher named Ryuryuko (Chinese: Xie Zhongxiang, 1852-1930), who taught at his house and claimed to have studied at a temple in the Fujian mountains. After spending a number of years in China, Higashionna returned to Okinawa and founded the naha-te tradition.


Building on his teachings, Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) established goju-ryu and introduced the Okinawan practice of using closed fists when performing the sanchin kata. He also made several trips to China after Higashionna's death to further his study of the Chinese arts and to find Ryuryuko. Miyagi supposedly located Ryuryuko's grave, but many of the notes he took during his trips were lost as a result of World War II.

A Buddhist monk practices his martial art at China's Nine Dragons Temple.

The other martial art practiced in Okinawa was shuri-te, which means “hands of Shuri." Today, it's called shorin-ryu, or “Shaolin style." Some Okinawan authorities claim it's a combination of the northern and southern styles, which is why it looks unique and has a different set of forms. That doesn't seem likely, however, because most of Okinawa's contact with China was through Fujian province.

Naha-te was more influenced by the southern Shaolin style, and shuri-te is a combination of the original Okinawa-te and the southern Shaolin tradition. Their seafaring adventures and maritime trade gave Okinawan sailors plenty of opportunity to bring back kicking methods from Thailand, which may have influenced their own kicks and strikes long ago.

Keeping in mind that Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands have had contact with many other Asian countries, it's safe to say that shuri-te is a more eclectic Okinawan karate style and a composite martial art with a long history.

Matsumura Soken (1809-1898) is considered a pioneer of the Okinawan martial arts. However, many generations before him, the arts were influenced by Chinese immigrants known as the Saposhi. Ming-dynasty officials sent 36 families to Okinawa to help with the island's development and relations with China. They taught the martial arts to the Okinawans as early as 1393 in a Chinese settlement called Kumemura, but how extensive the blending of Okinawan and Chinese martial arts actually was is unknown.

Other teachers of karate in Okinawa preceded him, but Matsumura is widely regarded the organizer of the kata system and the nomenclature of modern karate. As the king's bodyguard and royal envoy, he traveled to Fuzhou several times, and it's believed that he studied at or at least visited one of the Shaolin Temples in Fujian.

What's most interesting is that Matsumura brought a Shaolin white-crane master named Iwah back with him to Okinawa in the 1860s. Together, they taught the art to many locals.

Mural from the Northern Shaolin Temple in Henan (Photo by Robert W. Young)

To truly know Okinawan karate, you must understand the roots of the martial arts of southern China, and their migration to Okinawa and the Ryukyu islands. Okinawa was a satellite or vassal nation of China for more than 300 years, and that close geopolitical and cultural relationship led to the migration of the southern Shaolin style that so strongly influenced the Okinawan martial arts. That relationship and the findings presented so far will be further discussed in the next installment of this series.

(Read Part 1 here.)

(Read Part 3 here.)

Nine Dragons Temple Photo by George W. Alexander

About the author: George W. Alexander, Ph.D., is a ninth-degree black belt and president of the International Shorin Ryu Karate Kobudo Federation. John E. Graham is vice president of the International Nan Shaolin Wushu Federation and chief instructor at the United Academy of Kung Fu in Mobile, Alabama.

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Judo
Saddleburn

Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

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Destinee Tartuffe

My friend Destinee Tartuffe a 4th dan and Head Sensei at Good Time Judo in Santa Rosa, CA has always been a pioneer and developer in all her life endeavors. She first took over the judo program at Santa Rosa Junior Collegestarted by my old friend Terry Kelly upon his retirement then went on to complete getting her law degree, JD.

Recently Destinee contacted me about a new training tool she’s invented. Upon my investigation, I was so impressed with this product that I asked her to write something about it for this week’s Black Belt Blog.
Judo Equipment

Members of Good Time Judo using Judo Jaime Training Tools.

As judo practitioners we know judo is an exciting dynamic Olympic or recreational sporting activity that offers social interaction, stress relief, and tons of fun. However, we also know that judo can be a dangerous, and potentially deadly activity when used for self-defense or when not practiced safely.

For all the fun and benefit that judo provides an enthusiast it seems to be the world’s best kept secret from the general populace. My coach and mentor taught me that judo is an inclusive, not an exclusive activity. So, I look for ways to get more people interested.

One of the biggest issues relates to the very idea of inclusiveness, which for me translates to one dojo cannot be everything to everybody. The age old saying jack of all trades, and master of none comes to mind.

Recently, I watched YouTube videos of three respected Judo coaches discussing the state of Judo in the United States. One of their common observations is that students who come to train with them lack the fundamental skills which would allow them to actually help those students reach a level of Judo expertise whereby the student could compete at an elite level of competition.

While I was disappointed to hear their dire opinions, they were similar to what I was experiencing in my college classroom. Honestly, I have been concerned for many years about how to continue when so many of the students come to class with an attitude of being a “super ninja” when in actuality they are often uncoordinated and seemingly unwilling to follow even the simplest of instructions. This creates a situation or environment where “bullies” prevail, injures occur, and students are lost. This attitude seems a direct conflict to the principle of Mutual Benefit and Welfare, and it made me think about hanging up my judogi.

Then, COVID caused programs to close, but as a college Judo instructor I was tasked with creating an online curriculum for my students and doing so within one week! I knew my students did not have the proper safety equipment in their homes to continue with the rolls and falls that we were practicing in class. We spent the last eight weeks finishing out the semester via Zoom class. I found the biggest challenge to be communicating to the student how they needed to correct their postures, or their ability to visualize the skill and apply my instructions for any given lesson.

The last night of class of had a vision of how these issues could be addressed. That’s when I created the Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and a Proximity Training Device that I call Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke. These tools can be used together or separately. The benefits conferred to the user by using the tools together can greatly excel the beginning students understanding of the application of Judo.

These tools are not just for beginners, it is important for even the most experienced judoka to review the fundamental movements regularly. Think about it there are pre-arranged forms (katas) that specifically address movement!

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat is a durable vinyl mat with an elliptical design (mapping the movement of the Judoka in the plane of applied Judo). The instructor whether in-person or in an online class can assist the student by directing them to orient either along the horizontal or vertical 180 degree lines, which are also used to demonstrate and solidify 90 degree turns/pivots that are important to the fundamental movements for application of Judo. The mat also has indicators for the student to see the 45 degree angle of technique application easier.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device that allows beginning Judoka to develop the proper posture and understanding of the proximity for applying judo techniques without the resistance, frustration, or fear that working with a partner initially brings. My years of teaching adults have shown me that despite what the student says, they often approach contact with another with fear and the mistaken belief that over-powering or resisting their partner is the proper thing to do; however, one-half the goal of Judo is that someone falls down! With Judo Jaime the student has the opportunity to develop the confidence and skills to make an actual attack when they are ready to engage with a person.

The device weighs no more than five pounds and is approximately 53” in height (when assembled). It is easily transportable and fun to use vs. the usual training dummies which are awkward, heavy and unsafe to use without proper instruction or direct supervision. While either product can be used alone we recommend using the tools together. This allows the student to fine-tune visualization skills and apply techniques, here again, without resistance from a partner. The student will develop an understanding and integration of the techniques for proper response timing more quickly.

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and Instructional material is copyrighted by Destar Productions, Inc.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device with a patent pending by Destar Productions, Inc. For questions regarding orders and other product descriptions email Destinee Tartuffe at senseidestinee@gmail.com or visit our online store directly.

Judo Jamie

Judo Jaime

Fundamental Direction Training Mat

Fundamental Training Mat

Good Time Judo Outdoor workout with Judo Jaime

Outdoor Judo Jaime2

Judo training Without a Partner/ Introduction of Training Tools for Standing

This video introduces some new training tools for practicing, maintaining and gaining skills for application of Judo technique.Be sure to check out the Demon...

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training UkeBe sure to check out our video Judo training while social distancing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heSY5VGeA6M

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

Gary Goltz
Xiaolin Gruv
Photo Courtesy: Carmichael Simon

Title Image: XiaolinGruv Masters 2005 : Nigel Bolton, Carmichael Simon, Kory Watkins, Anthony Gooch, and Jeriel Bey

During the 1980s as BBoys (Breakers), Poppers, and Lockers share their creative spirits within the New York City transit line, Los Angeles nightlife, and media platforms such as Soul Train, we travel a few miles from Bruce Lee’s nostalgic school where the “Arts & Soul” of Oakland, California harmonize. Orchestrating the culture of their roots, heritage of movement, and diversity of social economics, we find the Alice Arts Center.

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