by Dan Smith

The various names that are used to refer to Shorin Ryu such as Matsubayashi, Kobayashi, Shorinji, Shobayashi and Sukunaihayashi all mean the same thing. The reason for the choice of the term to represent the various methods of "Shorin Ryu" by each group in some cases have a specific meaning but the meanings are the same.

See notes 1 & 2 below

Shorin Ryu is the Japanese pronunciation of the Shaolin in Chinese. The English translation is "The small forrest way". The kanji is not clear as to whether it is in reference to a small forrest where the trees are short or does it mean that it is a small forrest in geographic size or does it mean a small group of forrest. The kanji used for small could be used in describing a small group of large men or a large group of small men.

Sukunaihayashi means exactly the same as Shorin Ryu or Shaolin. The kanji is the same it is just a different way of pronunciation. It is not known why Kyan used this term other than it is said that it is an older pronunciation that he may have been comfortable with.

Kobayashi is the pronunciation of Chibana and the difference is his supposed erroneous use of kanji that specifically indicates the use of "small" that indicates the size not the number or reference to a "few".

Matsubayashi was created by Nagamine. He stated that the kanji he used was in honor of Matsumura and Matsumora it still is read as Shorin Ryu.

Shorinji is used by Nakazato Joen and the Hisataka group in difference to wanting to reflect their methods back to a closer tie to China.

Over time these various terms have been used to identify a certain method of the group that bears the choice of name but in reality all the terms mean the same thing a reference to the methods that came from China and the Shaolin Temple.

The question has been asked of why their there is so many derivations of Shorin Ryu as compared to Goju Ryu or Uechi Ryu. IMHO it is the tenure of the methods of Shorin Ryu. The history of Shorin Ryu on Okinawa is at a minimum of 300 years old and perhaps as old as 700 years. In retrospect to only have four clear divisions is rather surprising. If you follow Shaolin back to China you will have hundreds of methods that have developed over the same period.

GambatteDan Smith

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Reprinted from the CyberDojo Group with permission from Dan Smith Seibukan Shorin-Ryu


1: Matsubayashi does NOT mean the same as Kobayashi, Shorinji, Shobayashi and Sukunaihayashi. Matsu=Pine.

Mario McKenna (from CyberDojo Group)

2: In reference to Mr. McKenna's reference to the "Matsu" in Matsubayashi meaning pine tree. I understand the reference by some to mean "Pine Tree" and yeild to Mr.McKenna's knowledge and experience in Japanese along with Mr. Swift's. My understanding came from what Nagamine sensei told me directly in December of 1996 that his use of "Matsu" was in memory of Matsumura and Matsumora and that his kanji of Matsubayahsi retained the Kyan meaning of Shorin Ryu. I questioned the use of "Pine Forrest" in his book and his response was that it could be translated as "Sho" which means pine forrest but he did not intend the meaning to be different than Shorin Ryu but was a way to acknowledge his group. This conversation left me with the understanding that the kanji could have more than one meaning and the only time it should be read with the "Matsu" reference was to define his group.

Dan Smith in response to note 1

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