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|Country of origin||United States|
Shuri-ryū (首里流) karate, is an eclectic martial arts system developed by Robert Trias (1923–1989), the first person to teach karate in the mainland United States, who opened the first dojo in 1946 in Phoenix, Arizona. Later in 1948 he formed the first karate association in the U.S., the United States Karate Association (USKA). The USKA became one of the largest karate associations in the country; its membership included almost all of the early top karate instructors.. The style of Shuri-ryū is taught in the United States, parts of Europe, and South America and is related to other Trias styles of karate such as Shōrei-Gōjū-ryū, Shōrei-ryū, and Shōrei-kai.
Trias was first introduced to karate while in the Navy during World War II, when he was stationed in the Solomon Islands. In 1942 Robert Trias met T'ung Gee Hsing and began training with him. Hsing practiced the Chinese system of Xingyiquan and had reportedly cross-trained with Motobu Chōki in the Okinawan village of Kume Mura several years previously. Later Trias reportedly studied with Hoy Yuan Ping in Singapore in 1944. In addition to these teachers, Trias learned from other martial art teachers, such as Yajui Yamada (judo), Gogen Yamaguchi (Gōjū-ryū), Roy Oshiro (Gōjū-ryū), Yasuhiro Konishi, Makoto Gima (Shotokan, Shitō-ryū), and several others. Both Konishi and Gima served as mentors to Trias instead of in a formal teacher-student relationship.
Konishi, a prominent student of Gichin Funakoshi, Choki Motobu, and Kenwa Mabuni, recognized and countersigned Trias' promotion certificate to 9th Dan by the USKA in the 1960s.
Gima was a prominent student of Funakoshi and he recognized Trias as 10th Dan in 1983, reaffirming Trias as style head for Shuri-ryū.
In addition to the punches, blocks, and kicks of karate, Shuri-ryū also incorporates joint locks, take-downs and throws, and kobudō (traditional weapons). Several senior sensei also hold high ranks in jujitsu and judo.
Shuri-ryū also has several short combinations. These include: 26 ippon (ippon kumite kata), which are performed to develop form and power; 10 taezu (taezu naru waza) which are performed to develop speed and fluidity; 30 kihon which are performed to develop fighting technique; eight sen-te motions; and seven kogeki-ho to develop attacking and retreating.
In addition, there are additional training exercises including form sparring (kata kumite), focus stance sparring (kime dachi kumite), free exercise (jiyū undō), and free sparring (jiyū kumite).
Shuri-ryū has three form exercises called Taikyoku Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan to prepare the student to learn the 15 core forms (kata):
Besides these forms, Sanchin and Tenshō have alternate ways of performing the forms. Also, the senior sensei of Shuri-ryū also teach several other forms such as Shudo So and Hakutsuru Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, and Yondan.
Many of the above kata emphasize the use of various animal forms, and the definitions are often reflective of this. For example, Wunsu (Strong Arm Dumping Form or Dragon Boy Dumping Form) uses the tiger form, Anaku refers to a swallow pivoting on a beach, Empisho (First Elbow Form) refers to the flying swallow, and Go Pei Sho refers to a tearing peacock. Some kata will emphasize multiple animal forms, such as Dan Enn Sho, where ten animals are emulated. Also, there are 15 animal body and fist form exercises.
The Shuri-ryū style, like most systems of the martial arts, uses a belt system to designate rank. The appropriate rank is awarded when the student demonstrates a certain level of proficiency when performing the required techniques, kata, etc. The ranking system as spelled out in "The Pinnacle of Karate" by Trias is as follows:
At each rank, the student must also pass a rigorous physical requirement before performing the technical requirements. Running one or two miles (up to green = 1 mile, purple and beyond = 2 miles), lifting 10 or 15 lb weights 75 times over the head (depending on gender), performing 500–1000 front kicks, and various hand technique exercises are commonly used.
One characteristic feature of Shuri-ryū is the use of the Shuri fist, in lieu of a standard fist. Instead of curling the index finger when making the fist, the upper half of the index finger is laid flat against the palm, with the thumb curled around the index finger and pushing down between the first and second joints, resulting in a tighter fist and better alignment of the ulna and radius bones with the first two knuckles of the fist.
Another feature of Shuri-ryū is the position of the thumb of the knife hand strike or block. The thumb and forefinger form a "j" so that the hand may be used in a variety of techniques (ridgehand, spearhand, open-hand throat strikes, etc.) without changing the thumb position.
The Dojo Kun used by the style of Shuri-ryū remains in its intact form, as originally penned by Trias:
Prior to 1989, Trias had designated 8 Chief Instructors of the Shuri-ryū system to perpetuate Shuri-ryū after his death; Roberta Trias-Kelley, John Pachivas, Robert Bowles, Ridgely Abele, Pete Rabino, Michael Awad, Dale Benson, and Dirk Mosig.
Other individuals who were designated Chief Instructors at one time but left Trias are Victor Moore, Phillip Koeppel, John Hutchcroft, and Randy Holman.
Traditionally, a karate system was owned by the family of the founder. Thus, upon Trias' death in 1989, his daughter, Roberta Trias-Kelley, inherited the Shuri-ryū system as style head. Dirk Mosig followed her leadership. Eventually three factions developed from the Shuri-ryū style.
In 1995 John Pachivas appointed Robert Bowles as style head of Shuri-ryū. Bowles founded the International Shuri-ryū Association (ISA) with the following Chief Instructors as Executive Directors: John Pachivas, Ridgely Abele, Pete Rabino, Michael Awad, and Dale Benson. Since then, the International Shuri-ryū Association under Robert Bowles has become the largest organization of Shuri-ryū stylists and has appointed more Chief Instructors and more Assistant Chief Instructors for the ISA.
Currently, there appears to be three strains of Shuri-ryū each, respectively, centering around Roberta Trias-Kelley, Robert Bowles, and Victor Moore.
The instructors below are either spelled out to be Chief Instructors in "The Pinnacle of Karate" or affiliated with the ISA.