Shorin-Ryu Karate is one of the two original Karate styles formally systemized in Okinawa. It is considered by some authorities to have had the most influential impact on the development of all modern Karate systems, following their emergence in Okinawa. Shorin-Ryu Karate eventually splintered off into four (4) groups.
Technically the Shorin-Ryu styles tend to use more upright stances than the Japanese styles, thus giving the Okinawan stylist more mobility. Unlike the Japanese stylist, the Okinawan Shorin-Ryu stylist does not emphasize constant forward pressure when engaging in a confrontation, or like the Chinese stylist, indirect countering; rather, he maintains enough flexibility to use both approaches very effectively and efficiently.
These four groups are as follows:
First, is the original Shorin-Ryu style founded by SOKON “Bushi” MATSUMURA, known, as a result, as MATSUMURA ORTHODOX. It is also reported that this style was founded by Hohan Soken, who was born in 1889. Reportedly some of the style’s followers have changed its name to Sukunai Hayashi.
Second is SHOBAYASHI-Ryu (small forest school), was first taught by Chotoku Kyan, a famous student of Yasutsune Itosu and trained several notable students such as Shoshin Nagamine who in 1947 founded the Matsubayashi Ryu branch of Shorin Ryu.
The third style is KOBAYASHI-Ryu (young forest school). Choshin Chibana is credited as the first to teach Kobayashi Ryu. According to some sources, this system is identical to Shobayashi Ryu. It is believed that Choshin Chibana simply misspelled the kanji characters, which changed the pronunciation from Shobayashi Ryu to Kobayashi Ryu.
The last is MATSUBAYASHI-Ryu (pine forest school). The last three names refer to the small pine forest where the original Shao-lin temple was located in China. All Shorin-Ryu styles are interpreted as Shorin-Ryu, or “Shao-lin way,” reflecting their Chinese heritage.