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Shorin Ryu

Our incredible team is truly the heart of Suibukan of West Virginia. It’s their dedication, passion and talent that keeps students invested in the learning process. Take a look below to learn more about the team.


was known as "Tode" meaning “karate.”  This nickname was given to him by his eminent instructor Peichin Takahara.  Known as the "father of Okinawan karate," Sakugawa traveled to China to study the fighting arts.  He was born on March 5th of 1733 in Shuri.  During his lifetime he was known for combining the Chinese art of ch’uan fa and the Okinawan art of tode ("Chinese hand or empty hand"), forming Okinawa-Te ("Okinawa hand") which would become the foundation for Shuri-Te. He passed down the Kusanku kata, which is said to be one of Okinawa’s oldest katas. Furthermore, he developed a bo kata, Sakugawa no Kon. The image to the left of the text is believed to possibly be Sakugawa's grandson while the drawing below is believed to be the likeness of Kanga himself

BUSHI MATSUMURA (1797 - 1889)

Sokon Matsumura, also known as Bushi (Warrior) Matsumura and Shuri Matsumura (1797-1889), was one of the most renowned martial artists of his time. He is known as the founder of Shorin Ryu Karate. Matsumura is responsible for carrying on the teachings of the original Shuri-Te. Matsumura chose the name Shorin-Ryu (Shaolin in Chinese) as the name of his Ryu due to its connection with the Shaolin Temple in China. Although some authorities believe that Anko Itosu (1830-1915), Matsumura's student, is actually responsible for adopting the name Shorin Ryu.

Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Sho family (Royal family of Okinawa) and eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King. At some point in his career (ca. 1830), he went to China and studied the Shaolin style of Chinese Kenpo (fist method) and Chinese weaponry. It is also known that he traveled to Foochow in Fukien province on numerous occasions as an envoy for the Okinawan King. After his return from China he organized and refined the Shorin-Ryu system of Okinawan Karate.

Matsumura is credited with passing on the following kata: Naihanchi I & II, Passai Dai (Matsumura no Passai), Seisan, Chinto, Gojushiho (fifty-four steps of the Black Tiger), Kusanku (the embodiment of Kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and Hakutsuru (white crane). The Hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the white crane system taught within the Shaolin system of Chinese Kenpo. Another set of kata, known as Chanan in Matsumura's time, is said to have been devised by Matsumura himself and was the basis for Pinan I and II.

Matsumura was given the title "Bushi" meaning warrior by the Okinawan King in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. In fact, Matsumura fought many times but was never defeated. His martial arts endeavors, specifically the organization of Okinawan Shorin Ryu system has been the progenitor of many contemporary karate styles to include Shotokan Ryu and Shito-Ryu. Ultimately, all modern styles of karate that evolved from the Shuri-Te lineage can be traced back to the teachings of Bushi Matsumura

ITOSU, YASUTSUNE (1830-1915)

Itosu was the son of a Tonichi, one of the two highest classes of the Okinawan society.  He was born in 1830, in the town of Azato in the Shuri-Yamakawa village, Okinawa.  He began studying "Shuri-Te" under Matsumura Sokon at a very young age and was literate enough to be named as the official clerk of the Shuri government.  He was furthermore adviser to the Okinawan King in military subjects. He became an expert in horse riding, kendo, and archery.  Itosu was also a student of the aforementioned Master Gusukuma and Kosaku Matsumora (Tomari-Te).

Azato, as he was commonly known, maintained a very complete registry of all the martial artists of the island, in these he would detail their abilities and defects.  He used to say "Know yourself and your enemy: this is the secret key of strategy."  During his lifetime he was defied by Yorin Kanna, the most famous sword trainee of Okinawa, and even though Azato was an expert in Jigen-kenjutsu, he confronted his adversary unarmed.  Kanna was known not only for his education but also for his enormous strength.  He lacked neither courage nor fighting spirit.  He attacked Azato once and again and each time Azato would throw him almost without effort.  Azato took the sword out of its trajectory and immobilized Kanna.

Itosu (Itotsu) or Azato was given the name "Anko or Ankoh" ("Iron Horse") because of his proficiency at the Naihanchi stance.  He is credited for creating and introducing the Pinans ("Peaceful Mind") I-V Katas to the Okinawan public schools in 1901.  He is also credited for Kusanku Sho and Passai Sho.  Some of the most important modern day instructors that trained directly under him were: Chibana, Chosin; Funakoshi, Gichin; Kyan, Chotoku; Mabuni, Kenwa, Kanken Toyama, Kentsu Yabu, and Shinpan Gusukuma to name just a few.

When Karate became part of the physical education training at the Shuri Elementary School in 1901, Itosu Sensei was its first instructor. This was the first step for the popularization of modern Okinawan Karate. Between 1905 and 1915, Itosu Sensei was a part-time Karate instructor at the Okinawan Dai Ichi High School. He devoted his entire life to the spread of Shuri style Karate and ended his 85 year long life in 1915. The following are the teachings of Itosu Sensei:

CHOSIN CHIBANA (1885 - 1969)

Choshin Chibana was an Okinawan martial artist who developed Shorin-ryu karate based on what he learned from Anko Itosu. Choshin Chibana was also called the “Last Warrior of Shuri”. In 1928 Choshin Chibana named Ankō Itosu’s karate “Shorin-Ryu”, a Japanese ryu name for an Okinawan karate style, which means “the small forest style”.

Choshin Chibana was born on June 5, 1885 in Okinawa’s Shuri Tori-Hori village (Naha City, Shuri Tori-Hori Town). He came from a family with a distinguished history who traced their family line from a branch of the Katsuren Court and Choharu, Prince of Kochinta, fifth son of King Shoshitsu (Tei). When the Meiji Emperor Mutsuhito banned the caste system in Japan, Chibana’s family lost their titles and status and were forced to supported themselves by brewing sake.

In 1899 Choshin Chibana began his study of martial arts under Ankō Itosu. Applying to be a student, Chibana was accepted for instruction. He was approximately fifteen years old at the time. Choshin Chibana studied with Ankō Itosu for thirteen years until Chibana was 28 years old. Ankō Itosu died at the age of 85 and Chibana continued to practice alone for five more years. He then opened his first dojo in Tori-hori district at 34. He would later opened a second dojo in Kumojo district of Naha City.

The World War II Battle of Okinawa, devastated Choshin Chibana. He lost his family, his livelihood, his dojo, a number of students, and he nearly lost his life. At this time he was forced to flee the war. After the war he was able to return to Shuri from Chinen Village and began teaching again. He taught first at Gibo, and later at other places in the Yamakawa district of Shuri and Naha. He would eventually relocate his main headquarters (hombu dojo) from Asato to Mihara.

Chibana served as Karate Advisor and Senior Instructor for the Shuri Police Precinct from February 1954 to December 1958. The Okinawa Karate Federation was formed in May 1956, and Choshin Chibana became its first President. He and his associate, Chotoku Kyan, would perform karate demonstrations to help promote the Shorin-Ryu style of karate.

By 1957, Choshin Chibana had received the title of Hanshi from the Dai Nippon Butokukai (The Greater Japan Martial Virtue Association). In 1960, Chibana was awarded the First Sports Award from the Okinawa Times Newspaper for his overall accomplishments in the study and practice of traditional Okinawan Karate-do. On 29 April 1968, the Emperor of Japan awarded Chibana the Order of the Sacred Treasure, 4th Class, recognizing his devotion to the study and practice of Okinawan karate-do.

SHUGORO NAKAZATO (1919 - 2016)

SHUGORO NAKAZATO was born in Naha-city Okinawa on August 14, 1919. While attending normal school in Osaka Japan in 1935, he began his study of Karate at the age of 16 under the instruction of Ishu Seichi. Nakazato studied under Sensei Ishu for 6 years. During the war, he was in the Japanese cavalry.
After the war was over, Nakazato returned to his home in Okinawa to find his family a casualty of war. In June of 1946, he began his study of Karate under Choshin Chibana, who was the Menkyo inheritor of Anko Itotsu. In 1948 Chibana's Shuri dojo closed but Nakazato continued his study with Master Chibana. For one year Chibana gave Nakazato personal tutoring at Chibana's home.
In 1951 Nakazato was instrumental in helping Chibana open his new DAI ICHI DOJO in Naha City at Matsuo. Chibana continued his personal tutoring of Nakazato at the Dai Ichi Dojo until January 10, 1954 when Nakazato received his Shihan Menkyojo at which time he became Master Chibana's Shihan Dai (assistant). After work as the Shihan Dai in the Dai Ichi Dojo under Chibana for one and half years, Nakazato was commissioned by Chibana to found the Shorin-Ryu Nakazato dojo in Naha City at Aza.
Nakazato was appointed as one of the directors of the Okinawan Karate Federation when it was formed in 1956 with the four major (ryu-ha) systems of Karate in Okinawa Goju-Ryu; Uechi-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu, Matsubayshi-Ryu. All during this time Nakazato devoted all of his time and energy to teaching and perfecting Shorin-Ryu Karate-do. In 1960 the Okinawan Karate Federation promoted him to Eight Degree Black Belt and Kyoshi. Seven years later Nakazato continued his climb to the top of the Shorin-Ryu hierarchy  when Master Chibana and the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate-do Kyokai promoted him to Hanshi and 9th Degree Black Belt.
Nakazato began his study of weapons almost from the beginning of his training in 1935. He was trained in the sai, bo, nunchaku, tonfa, and nicho kama, but he specialized in Bojutsu for 4 years. Throughout his career he has given of his knowledge very willingly. He has demonstrated his technique of Karate all over the world, in Europe, India, Africa, mainland Japan, and he has made at least 12 trips to America. He has appeared on television many times and is often a guest on the "Tokyo T.V. Afternoon Show." When Master Chibana passed away, Shugoro Nakazato inherited an arm of leadership of Chibana's Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-do, at the time he was   a (9th) NINTH DEGREE BLACK BELT


Tadashi Yamashita was born in Japan in 1942, but he considers himself an Okinawan. His father died when he was three, and his mother moved to Okinawa when Tadashi was eight years old. He lived in Okinawa until, at the age of 24, he came to the U.S.A. where he became a citizen. Sensei Yamashita's experience of more than 4 decades in the martial arts began at age 11. He was the roughest kid in school and picked fights with other students, as well as the teachers.
This was brought to the attention of the PTA, which realized they could not handle him. The PTA president, who was also a karate instructor, stopped by to pick up Tadashi after school. Always the warrior, Tadashi tried to fight him. The instructor grabbed the rebellious youngster and dragged him off to the dojo where he was taught the elements of kicking, punching, and, most important of all, discipline. Tadashi found his probation period very interesting. His destructive energy was channeled into a hidden talent. The young man had found an art form, a religion and a way of life. Sensei was awarded his black belt at the age of 16, in 1960.
He captured the All-Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Free Sparring Grand Championship Title. In 1968, he visited Japan and tested before his Sensei, Shugoro Nakazato, 9th Degree Black Belt. Also on the panel was the famous Grand Master Chosin Chibana, 10th Degree Black Belt. Yamashita Sensei became the youngest Nanadan (7th Dan) in the history of Japan. In 1969 he became the head of the American Karate Association together with Sensei Ernie Lieb. Sensei is also known for teaching the late Bruce Lee the use of the nunchuku. Yamashita Sensei is the foremost karate and kobudo expert in the United States today and the Head Instructor of Shorin Ryu in the United States


David Hayes was born on Long Island in New York in 1958, his family moved to Cleveland Ohio, where they lived until he was in the 5th grade. In 1969 they moved to Muskegon Michigan, where as a new kid in the school he found himself having to fight many of the kids at the school. This was also during the times when there seemed to be a lot of racial tension in the area. Feeling the lack of security David Hayes began the study of Martial Arts at Muskegon Community College under Ernest H. Lieb in 1972. Sensei Lieb was the best instructor to be found with very good credentials. He was the founder of both the American Karate Association, the second largest karate organization in the United States, and the American Karate System, which was the first American style of Karate. Sensei Lieb also awarded the Black Belt hall of Fame - Man of the Year Award the year before Bruce Lee won it. This award is the highest award that can be given in Martial Arts in the United States of America. Sensei Lieb was also one of the top tournament fighters in the United States and passed much of his knowledge on to Sensei Hayes.

Sensei Hayes received his Black Belt in the American Karate System in 1975, at the age of 16 to become the youngest person to receive that rank in the history of the American Karate System. The style does not allow Black Belt rank until the age of 18, but Sensei Lieb broke the rules for Mr. Hayes because he saw the talent, dedication, and maturity in this young man that he would need to hold the rank. Sensei Hayes proved that his instructor made the right choice by winning the Black Belt Division in the American Karate Nationals that same year as a 16-year-old. Sensei Hayes went on to win the Nationals 4 more times. He also competed in many tournaments throughout the Midwest. He placed in over 150 tournaments, competing in Fighting, Kata, and Weapons. During his days of competition he was rated as high as #3 in the country in the American Karate Association in Kata competition, #3 in the Midwest in sparring competition through Karate Illustrated Magazine, #1 in the Midwest in Kata Competition through Karate Illustrated Magazine, and won Top Michigan Fighter award in the first year of the Michigan Karate Circuit.

Sensei Hayes: having met his own goals in tournament competition and receiving a 5th Degree Black Belt in the American Karate System, went seeking more knowledge and a more traditional style, something which could keep feeding his hunger for knowledge. In this quest he found Sensei Tadashi Yamashita whom he first met in 1973, in South Bend Indiana. Sensei Hayes spoke with Sensei Yamashita in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and asked to study his style, Okinawan Shorin-Ryu. Sensei Yamashita took Mr. Hayes as a student, and with his instruction and the help of Sensei Babis Polychronopolous, Sensei Hayes received his 6th Degree Black Belt under Sensei Yamashita in 1996.

Sensei Hayes through his new school the Michigan Suibukan, is dedicated to supporting Sensei Yamashita as our Chief Instructor and dedicated to the advancement of Okinawan Karate-Do in the Michigan area, and believes that through Karate training many people, especially here in the United States with the fast paced life style and many broken families, can benefit from the philosophy and culture taught in Karate.


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