Okinawan Karate history

The empty hand of self-defence of the Ryukyu Kingdam was transmitted from China. Seminal martial arts via the Silk Rord into China, and found their way to Ryukyu. In 1429, the three kingdoms on Okinawa unified to the Ryukyu Kingdom. When Ryukyu King came into power in 1477, traning of martial arts was forbidden. Tō-te and Ryukyu kobudo continued to be taught in secret. The ban training of martial arts 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 Tō-te (唐手 Tuudii), also sometimes called Okinawa-Te (沖縄手 Uchinaa-dii).

By the 18th century, different types of Te had developed in three different villages–Shuri, Naha and Tomari in defferent forms. The styles were named Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te. Well into the 20th century, the martial arts of Okinawa were generally referred to as te and tii (手) in Japanese and Okinawan 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. Shuri-Te, Naha-Te and Tomari-Te belong to a family of martial arts that were collectively. All these are Karate. Karate (Okinawa-Te) was taught systematically in Japan after the Taisho Era (after 1926).

Different Type of Te


Shuri-Te (首里手) is a type of indigenous martial art to the area around Shuri before world war Ⅱ. Shuri is the old capital city of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Master of Shuri-Te

Matsumura Sokon

Funakoshi Gichin

Mabuni Kenwa
Itosu Ankō

Motobu Choki

Kyan Chotoku
Asato Anko

Chibana Choshin



Naha-Te (那覇手) is a type of martial art indigenous to the area around Naha before the world war 2. Naha is the old commercial city of the Ryukyu Kingdom and now the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture.

Masters of Naha-Te

Arakaki Seisho

Mabuni Kenwa
Higaonna Kanryo

Uechi Kanbun
Miyagi Chojun



Tomari-Te (泊手) refers to a tradition of martial arts originating from the village of Tomari, Okinawa.Based on an underground empty-handed fighting style native to Okinawa. Tomari-te developed through the influence of Chinese diplomats and other personages skilled.

Masters of Tomari-Te

Motobu Choki
Matsumora Kosaku
Kyan Chotoku