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Thread: Shōrin-ryū & Shaolin Chuan

  1. #1
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    Default Shōrin-ryū & Shaolin Chuan

    Hi I have a question about the history of Shorin Ryu karate. I was wondering if there is any link with the origin of this hand style, to Shaolin Fists? I've have heard some speculations made, nothing solidified however. I know the kanji for Shorin and Shaolin is the same, verbatim, so it would seem like an obvious connection or branch, yet when I researched, and asked around for some clarity, no one had answers lol, so I come here to ask if any of you are versed on the topic, or practice Shorin Ryu and know the honest roots of the style.

    Thank You!
    Otomo

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    Hi Otomo,
    Good question. I don't think there actually is a clear answer but you can uncover some interesting points working through it.
    The links to China and possibly Shaolin are clearer in the Naha te styles than in shorin ryu.
    Sanchin kata is found in both white crane chuan fa and most naha te styles.
    There are occasionally rumors of a Shorin Sanchin but I am not aware of any current shorin style with its own sanchin.Some shorin teachers studied goju and have a sanchin added to their shorin.
    You are correct that Shaolin and Shorin have the same kanji.
    Also the shorin kata Wansu and Kusanku are usually considered to be named after Chinese teachers.
    Most shorin schools start their lineage with Sakugawa Sensei who they say studied in China.
    Serious historians however say he might just be a legend.
    Next they usually list Bushi Matsumura who was definitely a real person and did study in China.
    The Hohan Soken Sensei linage teaches that Matsumura brought back a kata from China called Hakatsuku (White Crane) from China. Their are other schools on Okinawa that teach a Hakatsuru kata that they learned from Gokenki but Soken insisted that this was not his kata.
    This is all extremely hard to prove since only extremely long term students are taught this kata and it is never practiced in public.
    OK there are the facts as far as I know. Others here might know more and add but the question is interpretation.
    Possibilities include:
    1. Shorin is largely derived from Shaolin Chuan Fa
    2. Shaolin is just a marketing tool for Shorin
    3. Small pieces of Shaolin where spliced with native martial arts to create a hybrid Okinawan/Japanese/Chinese martial art.
    4. The Chinese influence was overemphasized to add to favorable relations with China
    These possibilities are not mutually exclusive.
    Dig around the older shorin kata like naihanchi and what you can find out about Shaolin.
    Please let us know if you find anything.
    Len

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  4. #3
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    thank you Len! this was very helpful and informative, I'll do some research from here.

  5. #4
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    Hello,

    With the opening of karate in the 1910s and 1920ies a few articles were published which contained "histories" of karate as well. The term "Shōrin" in various Japanese spellings obviously was an intended nominal link to the name "Shaolin", which became pupular in Japan at that time. However, there is no direct technical link between the figthing arts of Okinawa and Shaolin itself.

    Regards,

    Henning Wittwer

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