History of Soryu Karate

Ryukyu martial arts were developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom (today's Okinawa islands), and introduced in Japan in the early part of the Taisho era (1912-1926). It was not called Karate at this time. The Karate practitioners started creating schools of Karate in order to distinguish themselves from each other. Most Karate schools were named after places where the martial art is popular, such as Shurite (首里手), Nahate (那覇手), or Hakute (泊手). For example, Shurite (首里手) is the Ryukyu Karate in Shuri, Okinawa. Te (手) refers to the indigenous martial arts of the Ryukyu Islands. After Ryukyu martial arts practitioners moved from Okinawa to the main island in Japan to teach their techniques, Ryukyu martial arts began to be called "Karate." At first, the characters for Karate were 唐手. The characters were changed from “唐手” to “空手” because a Chinese martial art, Tang Soo, also used 唐手. “空” means empty in Japanese. One theory holds that Kara (空) was chosen because of a Buddhist expression, "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form" (色即是空,空即是色).

Karate Historical MembersKanken Toyama is the grand master of the Toyama school of Karate, and Souke Michio Koyasu learned Karate from him. Kanken Toyama was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1888, and started learning Karate and Kempo at a young age. He studied Karate from Ankou Itosu in 1908, and studied under Kanryo Higaonna after that. He moved to Tokyo in 1930 and opened his own Dojo, “ShuDoKan, 修道館.” After the war, when martial arts were prohibited by US policy, Karate was on the way out. Ankou Itosu ran here and there trying to save Karate. His contribution to reviving Shurite (首里手, Karate in Shuri, Okinawa) earned him the honor of being called a founding father of Karate's restoration. Kanken Toyama learned Karate from Ankou Itosu, and was beloved by Itosu.

Most Karate practitioners, who moved to the main island in Japan where they opened their Dojos, learned Ryukyu Karate from Ankou Itosu sensei or Kanryo Higaonna sensei in varying degree. From the point of the fact that most traditional Kata we use today are the same as Ankou Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna invented, we could say today’s Okinawa Karate is heavily influenced by these two Karate masters. The school of Toyama Karate produced many famous Karate originators, including Souke Michio Koyasu. The All Japan Karate-Do Association was established in 1958 by Kanken Toyama (the grand master of the Toyama school) as the chairman and Souke Koyasu Michio (the father of Soryu Karate) as the vice chairman. Souke Koyasu Michio contributed to establish and develop the Karate-Do association.

Souke Koyasu Michio established the Japan Soryu Karate-Do association in 1960, and opened the headquarters of Soryu Dojo, "SoRyuKan, 総流館" in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan. He acquired a 8th Dan of Karate in 1965, and started teaching Tai Chi after acquired a grand master’s certificate from the authority of Ryuki Tai Chi, “Yang Ming-Shi.”

Okinawa Karate schools focus on “Kata,” while full contact Karate focuses on “Kumite." Souke Michio Koyasu searched for a suitable training method for many years without success and, in the end, he invented Yakusoku Kumite. Training with two people using offense and defense gives you more effective ways to acquire techniques compared with Kara which is used in an individual training. It’s also effective as conditioning training by punching and kicking each other.

It is unfortunate that Souke passed away in 2007 (aged 82), and we cannot meet him. Soke Emiko Koyasu succeeded as the 2nd generation Soke (died in 2017). Takamichi Koyasu succeeded as the 3rd generation Soke, and the situation continues up to today.

The Origin of Soryu

Karate-Do School Diagram

Karate Historical Members

The Meaning of Soryu

Soryu means, “One’s movements should all flow like water: always straightforward, never jagged, never struggling.”
This philosophy gives you the foundation of the techniques and the proper mental attitude.
Every martial art detests clumsy blows that only smash the weak. Pointing this out should not be considered esoteric.
All moves should flow smoothly, like a large river, and they should also be full of intrinsic power.
A large power can overwhelm and crush a small power when hitting it head on, like a torrent. This power can even move a rock. This is a strong power, “Hard.”
Meanwhile, if one could divert the torrent, one could change the flow itself and neutralize it. This is the resilient power, “Soft”, which lets you divert your opponent’s power.
Distinguishing between hard methods and soft methods is the soul of the Ryukyu martial art as well as the core of Soryu Karate-Do. Furthermore, “Soryu” means it transcends all martial art schools, and it has a wide range of techniques that unite all schools and all martial arts’ techniques.

The 5 Rules of Soryu Karate-Do

1. “Planning”
Work out a feasible plan
2. “Endeavor”
Make diligent effort
3. “Enjoyment”
Relish in your human nature, and remember to enrich your life
4. “Self searching”
Reflect on your behavior and seek progress when you train
5. “Continuity”
Fulfill your plans with continuous effort and determination

The origin of the Soryu patch

Soryu logo

The circle in the middle represents the pass of Karate-Do, that is, a well-rounded personality. The four knife hands surrounding the middle circle show that a well-rounded personality is always created through the techniques of Karate-Do. Two of the knife hands are yours and the other two are your partner, which teaches you not to forget the lesson of mutual support. The knife hands represent an upper block, a cross block, and a middle block, ready to accept any challenge. Knife hands become spear hands as necessary, representing a ready mind that can never be defeated. Furthermore, the tip of the middle finger is a curve, representing Soryu’s pursuit of the techniques of Karate-Do without being angular. The red color in the middle and on each side represents passion for acquiring Karate-Do.

Acitive Soryu Shibu Dojos in the U.S.

Caesar Johnson

Caesar Johnson

SoShiKan (総士館) Kingston, New York

Frank Selvera

Frank Selvera

SoShuKan (総修館) Elroy, Texas

Robert Selvera

Robert Selvera

SoShinKan (総心館) Brady, Texas

Gabriel Grove

Gabriel Grove

SoBuKan (総武館) New Braunfels, Texas