Okinawan karate and kobudo


Okinawa is the birthplace of karate.

Karate and kobudo nurtured in Okinawa have centuries of history. After WWII, they underwent a fast popularization and today, it is said that they count tens of millions enthusiasts in more than 170 countries as karate is practiced as a mind and body training, a martial art of self-defense and as a sport.

Okinawa karate has its roots in the 16th century but was, until the Meiji era, a secret martial art unknown to the public. During the Ryukyuan Kingdom period, the “Shurite” system was developed in the surroundings of Shuri Castle. The “Nahate” system was transmitted in Naha, and the flourishing Tomari area was home of the “Tomarite” system. With the later introduction of the “Uechi-ryu” system and till today, Okinawa karate’s lineage is composed of these 4 entities.

With the popularization to the mass and the spread to mainland Japan, styles were officially named and schools established. After 1945, Shorin-ryu, Goju-ryu, Matsubayashi-ryu and Uechi-ryu forming nowadays four main ryuha became extremely active and were joined by Isshin-ryu and Okinawa Kenpo respectively in central and north of Okinawa’s main island. Adding the other styles and schools, it is said that there are more than 100 ryukaiha (styles and branches) in Okinawa today.

Due to the earnest efforts of the karate circles, Okinawa “karate and kobudo” was recognized as an intangible cultural asset by the Okinawa Prefecture in 1997. Still today, karate continues to be inherited as an important cultural heritage that Okinawa is highly proud of.


History and originality (in construction)

Introduction of the schools and styles

Documentary: The Land of Karate

Karate video archives