February 27, 2024

RyukyuTe History

RyukyuTe Kempo:  is a Koryu Ryuha or “Old School martial art”. We are not a modern commerical martial art orgination.  We specialize in pure empty hand self-defense techniques.  Old School systems mostly have limited formal kata training, as the emphasis is placed on combat. Katas were designed as a method to remember indidual techniques. Kata practice increases muscle memory and automatic reflexes. RyukyuTe Kempo training includes; Kata and Kumite training.

RyukyuTe Motobu:  RyukyuTe Motobu is a Shihan level training that teaches many of the Hidden Techniques of  3 martial art styles or Ryuhas; Ryu-Te Karate (Oyata) and Seidokan Karate (Toma) along with Motobu-ryu (RyukyuTe Motobu) as taught by Oyata, Toma Sensei and Seikichi Uehara.

The word “Ryukyu” comes from the name of the islands of Okinawa which are called Ryukyu Islands. The word “Te” comes from the usage of “Te” in Karate meaning hand. Okinawa-Te or RyukyuTe is a Koryu (old school) style martial art that has it’s roots tracing back to the 17th Century Okinawa.  In the late 1960s, several Americans servicemen began to train with Oyata and, in 1977, several of Oyata’s senior American students began to organize within the United States. They brought Oyata to Kansas City, Kansas and established the “Ryukyu Kempo Association” (an official member of the Motobu Undun Di society*). Then in 1995, since Ryukyu Kempo became a generic term for any forms of karate from Okinawa, he renamed his organization to the “Ryu-te Association”  The word Ryū-te is a shortened form of Ryūkyūte (琉球手 “Ryūkyū hand”). It our preferance of  to use the full name of RyukyuTe Kempo name the martial art as founded by the late Seiyu Oyata (1930–2012) (親田清勇Oyata Seiyū). In addition, “Ryukyu-Te” signifies the “Te” arts of Okinawa specifically the arts of  Motobu-ryu and Seidokan which were apart of the Motobu Undun Di society.

Ryukyu Kempo Patch prior to 1994

Oyata Sensei at Hayek’s Dojo 1984

Oyata Sensei

Ryukyute Kempo is not a Commerical Oriented marital art.  We teach a streamlined martial art that was commmon for prior to the 1940’s.  We train in only 2 main katas: Naihanchi and Sanchin.  We teach “Old School” Karate or Koryu Karate.  Koryu Ryuha (old martial art style)  rarely taught more than one or two kata. Modern Karate dojos teach on average 13-15 katas. One particular style Shitoryu has over 60 kata. Oyata Sensei told me that one should only learn one kata and know it well, as it can take 10 or more years to fully understand all of the movements and hidden techniques.  Oyata’s Ryute style has over 13 katas.  Naihanchi is the one kata that Oyata spent many year of analyzing.  He taught the other katas as a perseveration for the Okinawan Karate and Kobudo.  Modern Karate dojos have expanded their list of kata for commercial purposes.  Ryukyute Motobu is a hybrid Koryu Karate Ryuha that teaches many of the Techniques of hidden techniques of 3 martial art styles or Ryuhas; Ryu-Te Karate (Oyata) and Seidokan Karate (Toma) along with Motobu-ryu (RyukyuTe Motobu) as taught by Oyata, Toma Sensei and Seikichi Uehara.

The arsenal of techniques of RyukyuTe are called Te-jitsu (also known as Tuite or Torite):  Not all Te-jitsu techniques are contained in the Okinawan Kata.  The movements of the Okinawan Kata refer to only one specific application of a technique. The underling joint twisting (Tuite) or pressure point Strike (Kyusho) is reference for other types of attacks and variations of applications to those attacks. Each technique is like a letter of the alphabet, as you learn more techniques, you start to see the letters become words and the words become a language. The Kata techniques are the beginning level for  understanding the language of Te-jitsu. Once these techniques are mastered, they can be used to overpower an opponent with a never-ending series of techniques that flow from one to the other.

These techniques are:

  • Odori-te: dance hand
  • Kaeshi-te: return hand
  • Tori-te: take or release hand
  • Nage-te: throw hand
  • Tori-te Kaseshi: take or release hand – reversal
  • Atemi or Kyusho: pressure point strikes

Some say that Te-jitsu is related to Japanese Aiki-jujutsu.  However,  a number of characteristics differentiate Okinawan Te-jitsu from Japanese aiki jūjutsu. First, the waza of Te-jitsu are generally applied from the palm side of the hand rather than the back of the hand. Second, Te-jitsu waza employ linear movement whereas aiki jūjutsu emphasizes circular motion. There is also no za-waza–aiki-style seated defense–in Te-jitsu.

Introduction to Okinawan Tuite, This video was produced in Okinawa, it is Matsumura Shorin-ryu Karate. Sokan Matumura (1797-1889) was taught by Kanga Sakugawa (1733-1815) Matsumura was the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King Shō Kō (1787-1834) As a Royal Court Guard, Matsumura was exposed to the fighting techniques of the Minamoto Clan, which traces it’s skills to Heian Period of Japan (794-1185)

Most martial art styles of Okinawa have self-defense techniques or Tuite which have been codified within their kata. Some of these techniques have evolved from Chinese Kung-fu. The hand techniques (Te or Te-jitsu) of Motobu-ryu are an exception. These techniques are indigenous to Okinawa and the Royal Court Guards.  In 1968 Shian Toma, Seikichi Uehara and Seiyu Oyata formed the Ryukyu Karate-do Renmei. Then in 1969 the dojo became an official member of the Motobu Undun Di society (Motobu Gotune Te) Shian Toma’s Ryuha came to be referred to as Seidokan Motobu Ryu. In 1977 Oyata Sensei came to the USA and established the “Ryukyu Kempo Association”  and taught Te-jitsu. This was the first time that Te-jitsu was taught in the USA. Ryukyute Motobu is a private USA Ryuha that follows the teachings of Seiyu Oyata, Shian Toma and Seikichi Uehara.

Senseis – Oyata and Toma

Seidokan Patch

Seikichi Uehara Sensei

*Motobu Undun Di is an Okinawan martial art from the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was once referred to as ushu-ganashi-mē no bugei, or “his majesty’s martial art.” The current name comes from the fact that it was passed down through the noble Motobu family of the udun rank, with the di coming from te, meaning bujutsu–martial art–in Ryukyuan. Motobu udundi is considered a “general” martial art in that it makes use of punching and kicking striking techniques, joint locking and throwing techniques known as tuite, and a variety of weapons. In the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom, it was taught only in the confines of the palace and the secrets of the art were received only by the heirs of the Motobu Udun.

Motobu-ryu Website link:   Motobu Undun Di 

Seidokan Motobu and Toma Sensei:

Note: Kent Hayek studied and received 4th Dan Black Belt ranking Seidokan in the mid ’90’s

Shian Toma was a dedicated Karate practitioner, but he sought to understand the greater depths of the Okinawan martial arts, which he achieved by seeking instruction in the oldest extant art on the island. This was achieved when he began training with Seikichi Uehara in 1968. Uehara teaches the system named Motobu Ryu Kobujutsu. Motobu Ryu Kobujutsu is the art founded by Uehara in 1947. It preserves the ancient art of the Motobu family which is also known as Undun Di. The art was originally founded in the seventeenth century by Sho Koshin, the sixth son of Okinawan king Sho Shitsu. Having learned his family’s martial art, and not being the eldest son, Sho Shitsu changed his name to Chohe Motobu and established his own family. He created his own particular martial art, which he called Undun Di, and passed it on to only his eldest son, instructing him to do the same. Thus Undun Di was passed on from father to eldest son until modern times, when Chosho Motobu taught his eldest son Choyo Motobu. This was at the beginning of the modern era, so that the feudal age was over and the restriction to teach only the eldest son was over. Choyu Motobu accepted Seikichi Uehara as his student, hoping that it would encourage his son Chomo to train. Uehara and Chomo, whose name of youth was Toraju, were close friends, thus Seikichi was allowed to learn the complete, heretofore secret system. While Choyu Motobu founded the Okinawan Karate Kenkyu Kai, ‘research society’, where he trained many of the leading martial arts masters of the day, it was only to Seikichi Uehara that he taught the entire system. When Choyu died in 1926, and Chomo refused to learn the system, and then passed on himself, it left Seikichi Uehara as the last master of Undun Di.

What is considered by many the main principle of Undun Di, and what separates it from modern Karate, is Tuite. Thus the secret is the ‘taking hand’ skill, which is very similar to Aikijujutsu, but with a unique Okinawan application. The main emphasis is on Bunkai, which translates to ‘analysis’ and refers to the interpretation of movement, which leads to typical Karate techniques having concealed within them aspects of body manipulation. This is why the techniques of Tuite are nearly limitless. Motobu Ryu Kobujutsu, as taught by Seikichi Uehara to Shian Toma, includes not only the Tuite, but the familiar striking art, which is practiced in the ancient manner without prearranged forms.