Introduction to RyuTe® Ren Mei

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Introduction to RyuTe®

The Ryukyu Islands stretch from the southern tip of Japan to just north of Taiwan.  Like a bridge linking these countries together, the Ryukyu Islands were linked to the culture and customs of both Japan and China.  The Ryukyu Islands, although independent during much of their early history, were a tributary state to China until their independence ended when they became subjugated to Japan in 1609 with the invasion of the Satsuma Warriors.

The feudalistic period of the Ryukyu Islands was one embroiled in wars and skirmishes between rival castles struggling for control of trade and agricultural rights.  As these struggles grew stronger, 3 major kingdoms came to power; Nanzan, the northern region, Chuzan, the middle region and Sannan, the southern region.  In the early 1400's, Sho Hashi, ruler of Chuzan, united the Ryukyus into one central kingdom.  During this and subsequent eras, the culture and economy of the Ryukyus flourished.

Little is known about the early development of karate; however, the native art of “Ti”, developed through the warrior class, began to blend with Chinese martial arts as trade relations developed between the two nations.  This blend of "Ti" and Chinese martial arts was referred to as "Tode".  During the feudal period, the propagation of the martial arts was passed through family lines and wasn’t necessarily stylized as it is today.

After the unification of Okinawa under one central rule, feudal lords were required to live in close proximity to the main castle at Shuri.  As part of this requirement, bladed weapons were forbidden, thus the need for unarmed self-defense flourished.  

As the feudal lords lost power and their families settled in these regions, three stylized forms of “Ti” emerged from the old martial art of “Ti” and "Tode".  These were known as Shuri Te, Naha Te and Tomari Te.  Most modern karate styles are derived from a blend of one or more of this stylized versions of “Ti”.  Modern karate masters such as Itosu began to further stylize karate and offered it as a type of discipline and physical education to schools in Okinawa.  At this time, Karate began to develop from an art of life-protection to one of self-development.

To Te - Kanji

Shuri Te Kanji

Naha Te Kanji

Tomari Te

    To Te

  Shuri Te

  Naha Te

   Tomari Te

As karate became stylized, various names were given to these styles to differentiate them from others.  Although all Okinawan karate is linked to the warriors of past, there is a difference in interpretation of kata and technique.  Some karate styles place a heavy emphasis upon karate as a sport. while others place emphasis on the character building and discipline developed by practicing the way of karate.

RyuTe® is a blend of Tode, Shuri Te, Naha Te and Tomari Te.  It is is a classical form of karate emphasizing life protection by controlling an opponent without the use of excessive of force.  RyuTe® includes Tuite, grappling, locking, and escape techniques; Kyusho Jitsu, striking techniques that exploit the body's weak points; Kobudo, weapons techniques and Bogu Kumite, protective gear sparring.

RyuTe® was originally referred to as Ryukyu Kempo by Oyata, Taika and his students; however, Ryukyu Kempo didn't capture the true essence of the art.  Thus, Oyata refered to his art as RyuTe®.  RyuTe® is an acronym for "Ryukyu Hand", tying all Okinawan karate into one.

The Key to learning Ryute® is in the kata and kata interpretations.  These separate RyuTe® from other stylized systems of karate. 

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Updated 11-16-2014
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