Shorin-ryu master Shinpan Gusukuma instructs a group of students in the main courtyard of Shuri Castle in Okinawa, circa 1938. The castle, originally built in the 14th century, has burnt to the ground five times over six centuries: in 1453, 1660, 1709, 1945, and most recently in October, 2019. It has been rebuilt to original plans four times in the past, and will certainly be rebuilt again as a symbol of Okinawan resilience.

Matsubayashi-ryu ( 松林流 ) – alternately pronounced Shorin-ryu depending upon how the characters are read – was founded in 1947 by Shoshin Nagamine (1907-1997). Nagamine, born in 1907 in the Tomari district of Naha City, had begun his practice of karate as a youth in order to better his health.

With a myriad of training experiences throughout his life, including his later roles as an infantryman in the Japanese army and officer of the Okinawa Prefectural Police Department, Nagamine eventually catalogued his knowledge into a system he formally coined Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu). The impetus for such formalization, Nagamine explains as follows:

“After the war, the young people were driven to despair; their sense of morality vanished and juvenile delinquency soared. To instill an undying faith in the hearts and minds of promising youth seemed imperative, and I felt there was a real need for a karate dojo in which young people could train their bodies and build indomitable spirits.” – The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do

In naming his style, Nagamine chose to honor the progenitors of the two streams of martial study from whom his own teachers had learned, Sokon Matsumura (1809-1901) of Shuri-te and Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898) of Tomari-te, and upon whose curriculum his own teachings were based.

Upright "walking posture" while performing formal exercises.

Matsubayashi-ryu is known for relaxed and natural movements, breathing, and postures. Our curriculum consists of kihon (basic techniques), kata (forms), bunkai (applications), yakusoku kumite (pre-arranged sparring), jiyu kumite (free sparring), and goshinjutsu (self defense techniques). Okinawan kobudo, or classical Okinawan weaponry, is studied as an adjunct to our empty-handed training.

The legacy of the late Shoshin Nagamine and his forebears is today guarded in large part through the efforts of the World Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu) Karatedo Association, headquartered in Urasoe City, Okinawa, led by Kaicho Yoshitaka Taira. Taira Sensei is a direct student of Shoshin Nagamine, and longtime supporter of both Matsubayashi-ryu and the Nagamine family.