Okinawan martial arts represents the martial art forms that originated among the people of the Okinawan Kingdom as early as the 7th century. Here the martial arts mainly relied on open-handed defence systems. By virtue of its central location, Okinawa was very easily accessible to the other countries, people and the culture they brought with them, especially the Chinese. Okinawa shared a colourful trading and cultural history with China.
In the 14th century, when the three separate kingdoms of Okinawa entered into a tributary relationship with the Ming Dynasty, many of the Chinese delegates arrived in Okinawa with their traditional Chinese martial art forms and styles. They taught these forms to the Okinawans, which included the Chinese Chuan Fa or kung fu. The Okinawans held on to their traditional forms and blended them with the new techniques they learned to give birth to the Okinawan Karate.
In 1429 the three kingdoms unified to form Ryukyu. the practice of all martial arts including karate was banned by the decree passed by the King Sho Shin who came to power in 1477. The ban continued till 1609. However the martial arts enthusiasts continued practicing in secret using common household items as weaponry. By the 18th century different types of Te had developed in the three villages; Shuri, Tomari and Naha. The styles were hence names Shuri-te, Tomari-te and Naha-te. It is very intriguing since, the origin of all there forms were the same but a difference of two centuries brought about immense differences in strategies, forms and tactics. Shuri-te is the name given to the martial art developed in the Village of Shuri, then capital of Okinawa, before the second World War. To-De Sakugawa is considered one of the pioneers of this form of Karate as he imported the Chinese martial art forms into Okinawa.