Hanshi Koei Nohara
Hanshi Koei Nohara is ranked as 10th-Dan Karatedo, and holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology, specializing in Ryukyuan culture. Hanshi Nohara retired from government service in 2008, having served as an administrator for the Okinawa Prefecture. In 2008, Hanshi Nohara released his book: “The Transformation of Tiy of Okinawan Traditional Karate”. This book chronicles Okinawa-te and its development into modern Karate. Hanshi Nohara’s book has been well-read in Japan and is available in English through Amazon. Hanshi Nohara also looks to the cultural dances of Okinawa, analyzing and studying the Shuri-te methods woven within these dances.
Hanshi Nohara personally instructs and guides his dojo branch owners in preserving Shorinryu Karate as a living, vibrant, and extremely viable fighting method, a powerful method of self-development, and a true cultural treasure of the Ryukyu’s.
"Transformation of Tiy"
by Hanshi Koei Nohara
The Ryukyu’s are a string of islands that lie between mainland Japan and China. Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands. Karate originated in Okinawa and developed into three major branches by the late 1800s. Each branch represents a locality in Okinawa, each different in history and form, together forming the base of virtually every karate style practiced today. Naha, Okinawa’s largest city, had its own branch called Naha-te (Naha hand). Tomari, a port region near Naha became the location of Tomari-te. Shuri was the seat of the rulers of the Ryukyu kingdom, where the third branch, Shuri-te developed.
Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands have a long history of feudalism, similar to Europe. Power was consolidated into three kingdoms in the 1300s (Sanzan Period) and then fell under one kingdom in 1429, when King Hashi and his kingdom at Shuri Castle rose to power. This was the beginning of the Sho Dynasty. Functioning as a tributary to China with its ships sailing from the port at Naha, the Sho Dynasty at Shuri Castle was at the center of a great exchange of culture and trade all over Asia. Shuri’s Sho Dynasty held the martial power to unify the Ryukyus and maintained an era of trade and peace for hundreds of years. The center of the Ryukyu martial way of life was Shuri-te, secretly maintained by the Shuri-te masters within Shuri Castle. In 1609, the Satsuma Clan of Japan took control of the Shuri Kingdom, driving Shuri-te deeper into secrecy. Shuri-te was preserved by the Shuri-te masters through private training, kata, and cultural dances. Shuri-te was first released to the public in the late 1800s by Shuri-te master and school teacher Anko Itosu (1831-1915), who believed that his teachings could empower the youth of Japan.
Itosu Sensei passed Shuri-te to his top students, Chosin Chibana, who named his branch Shorinryu (Kobayashi) Karate, and Chotoku Kyan, who named his branch Shorinryu (Matsubayashi) karate. Another of Itosu Sensei’s students, Gichin Funakoshi, moved to the Japanese mainland and introduced Shuri-te as Shotokan Karate.
Our Ryukyukan Karatedo Federation is committed to the preservation of the original Shuri-te/Shorinryu Karate as taught by Sensei Itosu in the 1800s. Our president, Hanshi Koei Nohara of Okinawa, has spent his entire life studying (Kobayashi) Shorinryu as taught by Sensei Chosin Chibana, and (Matsubayshi) Shorinryu as taught by his father Kaoru Nohara, a direct student of Chotoku Kyan.
Ryukyukan (or Ryukyu Organization) has a direct historical link to the original Shuri-te and preserves this lineage through Kata (Karate forms). If you look closely at the Shuri Palace photo, you will see the Shi-Sa (half dragon-half lion) on the palace roof. The Shi-Sa, protector of Okinawa, can be found on the Ryukyukan patch.
The main technical characteristic of Shorinryu Karate is to concentrate one’s power (kime) into the target smoothly and accurately; in the precise instant that it is needed. This method of concentrating power is practiced through the kata internally to externally, using movements that are naturally healthy for the practitioner. This practice causes no pressure on the internal organs and little disturbance of respiration. Relaxed natural movement punctuated with focused releases of power causes no unnecessary muscle fatigue. Energy is preserved, leaving the body and mind alert and ready to respond as needed.
Naihanchi kata is the most severe kata from the Shuri-te lineage, a tanren (conditioning for toughness) kata which involves strong stable footwork, side to side movements, and natural breathing techniques. Naihanchi kata is aimed at training one's body strictly, fostering a spiritual force which comes from the perseverance of severe training. Students begin with Naihanchi and constantly return to this kata with higher levels of understanding.
That's why it is said, "Everything begins and ends with Naihanchi" in the Shuri-te system.
The Pinan kata was created by Anko Itosu as a training aid for his young students and can be found in many karate styles today. It is said that Naihanchi is well suited for toughening the body and spirit, Kusanku kata are good for fostering alertness, and Passai kata are suited for putting training into practice. Chinto kata contains beautiful flowing Shuri-te movements. The fifty-four advanced Karate movements found in the Gojushiho kata are said to have been hidden in an ancient Okinawan dance.
Kobudo is the practice of weapons used in the ancient Ryukyu’s. Some weapons evolved from farm implements which could be used by peasants against the swords of wealthier attackers. Other kobudo weapons were used by the upper class. We teach historically correct Kobudo of the Ryukyus as taught to Ryukyukan members by Hanshi Nohara. The practice of Kobudo improves the use of dachi (foot, leg, and hip position) to generate power, conditions arms and hands, and sharpens focus and awareness.
Naihanchi Shodan, Naihanchi Nidan, Naihanchi Sandan,
Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yondan, Pinan Godan,
Passai Sho and Passai Dai
Kusanku Sho and Kusanku Dai
DACHIWAZA - Stance:
Ashi Orishiku Dachi
KERIWAZA - Kick:
Mae Tobi Geri
Mawashi Ushiro Geri
UKEWAZA - Block:
Shuto juji uke
Morote Tsukami Uke
Ken Juji Uke
Gedan Shuto Uke
Tate Shuto Uke
UCHIWAZA - Strike:
Haito Shuto Uchi
TSUKIWAZA - Punch:
Wari Uke Tsuki
Standing naturally with feet shoulder-width, knees relaxed and straight
Heels and toes together
Feet shoulder width and parallel
Four-point stance: wide stance, toes out, knees bent outward
Cross feet stance
Cat foot stance
Crane stance: one-foot stance
Kneeling, both knees
Kneeling stance, one knee down (aka Iaigoshi Dashi)
Half sideways facing
Snapping. Example: Maegeri Keage (front snap kick)
Thrusting. Example: Maegeri Kekomi (front thrust kick)
Crescent moon kick
Back (behind you) kick
Cut kick: diagonal kick
Flying front kick
Kick to knee
Axe kick: dropping down kick
Spinning back kick
Upper block (neck and above)
Middle block (between neck and navel)
Lower block (between navel and knees)
Sword hand X shaped block (ju, 10 is written like an x)
Sword hand block
Two hand grasping block (as Passai Uke)
Lower sword hand block
Foot blocks (Ashi, in this case, refers to using any part of the leg or foot)
Wave counter: foot checks against keriwaza
Sword hand block, fingers vertical
Refers to the two-handed blocking system practiced in Passai kata
Palm heel strike
Hammer fist strike
Inverted fist strike, as in Naihanchi
Bird’s beak strike (Gojushiho kata)
Spear hand thrust
Knife hand strike
Ridge-hand strike: shuto with the opposite side of the hand
Tsukiwaza is a sub-group of Uchiwaza
Punch: thrust with one hand
Simple, regular, straight punch
Fist thrust: straight punch, knuckles horizontal
Punch with knuckles held in a vertical position
Jab: lead hand punch
Lunging punch with the forward hand
Reverse punch: rear hand punch
Uppercut: rising punch
Alternate hands punching
Consecutive punches with the same hand
Mountain punch: wide u-shaped punch, one hand above other
Square punch, as in Naihanchi
Split block-punch, as in the first move of Pinan Shodan
Both hands punch, as in Naihanchi Shodan at the first kiai