There are Three Kinds of Karate

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There are Three Kinds of Karate

Postby HanshiClayton » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:17 pm

In Chapter 4 of Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition I included a section differentiating Shorin from Shorei karate. I mapped the terms into Shuri-te and Naha-te. I said we could ignore Tomari-te for all practical purposes. It died out in World War II.

Migwa-te means the styles descending from Chotoku Kyan. ("Kyan" is pronounced "Chan." See the essay on pronouncing Japanese words.) Kyan was nearsighted, and as a boy earned the nickname "Squinty-Eyed Chan," or "Chan Migwa." I have derived "Migwa-te" from “Chan Migwa Te,” which was the original name that Taro Shimbukuro applied to the Isshinryu style. Migwa-te includes Isshinryu and Shoshin Nagamine’s Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu styles, at a minimum.

  • Naha-te (soft style; bodybuilding to develop upper-body strength for punching and grappling.)

  • Shuri-te (hard style; deep stances to develop lower-body strength; body-momentum strikes.)

  • Migwa-te (Kyan style; no muscle emphasis, and no high-impact. Heavy exploitation of whipping motions against vital points.)

These thumbnail descriptions are hopelessly oversimplified, but these three superstyles have very real differences. When we talk about “karate” we have to be careful to distinguish which type we mean. They have different histories and are optimized for very different audiences.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
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