Contrary to popular belief, Karate did not begin in Japan. Its roots began on a small island by the name of Okinawa (part of Japan since 1972). Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands, which are situated halfway between China and Japan.
In 1609, the islands of the Ryukyu were conquered by the Samurai of Satsuma, Kyushu. The prince of Okinawa was taken hostage and a police force was established at the capital city of Naha. The military class was banned and all weapons confiscated. For this reason we have the combative techniques that were developed in secrecy and handed down from father to son.
The system of Karate taught at the New York Seibukan is Okinawan Isshin-ryu karate-do. It was founded by one of the great Karate masters of Okinawa, Tatsuo Shimabuku, and derived from some of the older classical styles. It is primarily a combination of Okinawan Goju-ryu and Shorin-ryu Karate, with what the Master considered to be the best of each.
Isshin-ryu Karate emphasizes:
- Kicks and punches that are thrown from natural stances eliminating wasted motions and giving you split-second advantages over opponents using some of the other styles.
- Stresses proficiency with both hand and foot techniques, equally, making it a more versatile form of Karate because you have no weak points.
- “Close in” techniques useful in “street fighting” making it a more realistic style of Karate.
- Snap punches and snap kicks, where the limb does not fully extend and is immediately retracted (preventing excessive strain on the knees and elbows) permitting you to move in and out quickly without committing yourself to a disadvantageous position should you miss or misjudge.
- Blocks with muscular portion of the forearm rather than the bone.
- Fist formed with the thumb on top rather than wrapped over the first two fingers (this strengthens the wrist to help prevent buckling at the wrist on impact).
- The vertical punch, which increases speed and can be focused at any given point.