Isshin-ryu Karate and Kobudo
Brief History Basic Techniques
Codes of Karate Basic Principles

Brief History

Master Shimabuku, Founder of Isshin-Ryu

[Photo master Shimabuku]Isshin-Ryu (one heart/one mind) was introduced by Tatsuo Shimabuku. Master Shimabuku studied both the Shorin-Ryu (mother of Isshin-Ryu meaning "first-way") and Goju-Ryu (father of Isshin-Ryu meaning "hard/soft way") systems. Later he studied kobudo (weapons—the Bo, Sai and Tonfa) under Okinawa's most noted instructors. Isshinryu is a combination of the best of these styles and weapons techniques and epitomizes the powerful, lightning-fast techniques that enabled the weaponless Okinawans to endure the rein of the Chinese empire and to defeat the sword-wielding Samurai of Japan.

1. What is karate?

Karate is self-defense made up of blocks, punches, grabs and kicks to provide protection against attackers. There are many styles that have their own philosophy and techniques.

2. Isshin-ryu: (which means: Whole Heart Way) was developed from Shorin-ryu (mother; translation: First Way) and Goju-ryu (father; translation: Hard-Soft Way). Officially named on January 15, 1956 by Master Tatsuo Shimabuku (founder).

3. Master Tatsuo Shimabuku: Founder of Isshin-ryu. Born on September 19, 1908 in the Okinawan village of Chan (now Kinaka). Died on May 30, 1975.

Master Shimabuku began his martial arts training at the age of 13 from his uncle Ganeku, who also taught him to be a "sanjinsoo" or fortune teller.  He later studies with Chotku Kyan, Chojun Miyagi, Choki Motobu.  He incorporates what he learns from these masters into his karate style.

At first he calls his karate Chan migwa karate after Chotoku Kyan's nickname, the later Sun nu su karate after his own nickname (given to him by the mayor of Chan when Tatsuo was a tax collector).  In 1956, he officially names it "Isshin-ryu" karate he says, "because all things start with one."

At 51 years old, he begins to learn Shinken Taira kobudo and incorporates it into Isshin-ryu as well.

In 1971 he retires from teaching and his first born son, Kichior takes over the dojo.

Master Tatsuo Shimabuku took Seisan, Naihanchi, Wansu, Chinto, and Kusanku Katas from Shorin-Ryu Karake

Master Tatsuo Shimabuku took the Seiunchin and Sanchin Katas from Goju-Ryu Karate.

Sunsu (originally Sun nu su or "son of old man" from one of Tatsuo's nicknames given to him when he was a tax collector) is only true Isshin-ryu kata.

4. Blocking: Grip inward

5. Striking: Grip outward

6. Isshin-ryu Patch: Shape of a fist with thumb on top.

Master Arsenio J. Advincula, first generation student of Master Tatsuo Shimabuku, designed our patch based upon the vision that Master Shimabuku had in a dream. The patch that is in the shape of the vertical fist is the only patch that Master Shimabuku approved.

Dragon: fighting spirit of Isshin-ryu. The dragon is also symbolic of Master Shimabuku as Tatsuo means Dragon Man.

Night: peace and serenity

Wind and Water: violence of typhoon surrounding goddess through which she remains calm

Goddess: Megami: (woman-god) half woman, half dragon

Right hand clenched in sign of power

Left hand open in sign of peace

Goddess shows gentle humility and fighting fury

Calm illustrates self-control in face of adversity

Gold: Purity

7. There are eight cardinal directions (basic directions of attack).

8. The only true Isshin-ryu kata is Sunsu.

9. What is master rank? Fifth.

10. What does Seisan and Seunchin katas Teach?
Seisan: speed and mobility
Seiunchin: stability and power

11. What does Naihanchin and Wansu teach?
Naihanchin: side fighting
Wansu: dump

12. What does Chinto kata teach? Attacking from a non-standing position and pivots.

13. What does Kusan-Ku kata teach? Night fighting.

What makes Isshin-Ryu different from other styles of martial arts?

a. There are no deep, lunging stances
b. Punches do not twist and the arm is never locked out.
c. Body is never over-extended so balance is never lost.
d. Hands and feet are used equally.
e. Mobile style with muscle blocks and vertical punch from hip.

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Master Tatsuo Shimabuku's "Codes of Karate"

1. A person’s heart is the same as heaven and earth.
2. The blood circulating is similar to the moon and the sun.
3. The manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft.
4. A person’s unbalance is the same as a weight.
5. The body should be able to change direction at any time.
6. The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself.
7. The eyes must see all sides.
8. The ears must listen in all directions.

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Basic Techniques

Basic Techniques:

1. front snap kick
2. knee strike
3. groin kick
4. forward angle kick
5. cross heel stomp
6. side front snap kick
7. side kick
8. forward heel thrust
9. roundhouse/squat kick
10. back kick

1. lunge punch
2. reverse punch
3. high lunge punch
4. high reverse punch
5. high block, reverse punch
6. middle block, reverse punch
7. low block, reverse punch
8. high open hand block, high reverse punch
9. middle open hand block, spear
10. shuto block (X), shuto strike
11. high block, 5 punches
12. middle block, 5 punches
13. low block, 5 punches
14. deflecting block, back fist, reverse punch
15. palm block, 2 hammer fists 
16. cat stance, elbow

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Basic Principles

Eight Basic Principles of Isshin-ryu
1. Joints are never locked.
2. No follow through push after impact.
3. Stance provides equal balance and striking power in all directions.
4. Vertical punch with thumb on top of fist.
5. Body relaxed unless blocking or striking.
6. Blocking with muscle instead of  bone.
7. “L” shaped angular movements.
8. Sanchin at the point of impact.