There are a bunch of different karate styles and schools, with the most popular one being Shotokan, but schools like Goju-Ryu and Shito-Ryu are also catching up. These more prominent karate dojos are present in many countries and cities across the globe, however, some of the less popular ones also deserve to be talked about. One of these is the Isshinryu style, sometimes written Isshin-Ryu. In this article, we will look into some basic history of the art, but more importantly, we will answer the most important question regarding these sorts of martial arts: is Isshinryu effective?
Isshinryu karate is an effective style for self-defense and also when compared to other karate styles, thanks to its combination of the best aspects of different styles like Goju-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu.
However, we want to dive into the reasons for this more, since although karate styles aren’t all that different, there can be quite large differences when it comes to their effectiveness or their base in reality. If you are interested in one of the lesser-known branches of karate and are also curious to find out whether it can be used as an effective way to train karate and defend yourself, read on!
How Effective Is Isshinryu Karate?
In order to determine how effective Isshinryu is, we have to look at its history a bit, and that starts by talking about its founder, Tatsuo Shimabuku. He was born on the 19. of September, of the year 1908. When he became around 12 years old, he began to study karate from his uncle, who was called Ganiku Shinko. In 1927, when Shimabuku was 19 years old, he decided to pursue more forms of karate. These styles were Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu, which are the two styles we have mentioned earlier.
Shimabuku began experimenting and trying new techniques with Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu in the second half of the 1940s. He combined what he thought were the best techniques and philosophies of these two styles, with weapon forms he had studied, along with his own techniques which he developed alone.
Isshinryu karate was meant to take the best from these two styles and also the best from Shimabuku’s life experience, and that is why we can say that it is an effective martial art. The word Isshinryu roughly translates to “one-heart-method” or “complete”, which represents that it is a whole and complete martial arts form in contrast to the ones he took inspiration from, which in his eyes all contain some error or hole which can be easily exploited or which just makes the style incomplete.
Isshinryu has somewhat more of an emphasis on close-range combat than some other karate styles like Shotokan, which makes it effective and powerful. Also, in general, the combination of martial arts that make up this hybrid and the fact that the most useful parts of each were added means that proposing that it is more effective than its predecessors wouldn’t be off the mark.
Is Isshinryu Karate Good for Self-defense?
In this section of the article, we will be discussing whether Isshinryu karate is good for the street or not. First, we need a disclaimer, since all martial arts “effectiveness” analysis is only relative. COmpared to Muay Thai, Krav Maga, or perhaps Jiu-Jitsu, Isshinryu karate, just like most styles of karate, is not all that effective in a real-life scenario. However, when compared to other arts, it is highly effective. This is why these types of statements about effectiveness should only be interpreted together with the context they are presented in.
Isshinryu karate is not really effective in street fighting scenarios, especially when compared to other martial arts from other parts of the world, and even more so if your opponent is also a trained fighter. The problem with karate, in general, is that it has holes. Isshinryu, Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, and all the others are way too philosophical and have too many useless parts which all inhibit their effectiveness on the street.
However, Isshinryu is still a relatively good option for self-defense. The reason for that is quite simply, that most people won’t be trained fighters, and Isshinryu is still a decent martial art. Though it wasn’t made for the streets, Isshinryu can teach you powerful kicks, punches, blocks, and stances, all of which can come in handy when facing a foe on the street.
One of the reasons why Isshinryu might be more effective in street fights than other karate styles is its emphasis on close-range combat, and also the fact that in this style, kicks are below the waist, whereas punches are below the waist, which is a concept which adds great stability to your stance and also provides a great, hassle-free base to build your striking-repertoire from.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Black Belt in Isshinryu Karate?
Just like with most karate styles which are not taught in McDojos, but rather in actual, authentic dojos which can usually be traced back to some Japanese masters in Okinawa in a couple of steps, it takes a lot of time and effort for one to become a black belt. In order to get the Shodan title, which basically means “the first-dan master”, you need to pass 10 Kyu-s and also the Shodan test itself. Assuming you take one of these exams every three months, you will need around 30 months, so almost three years to reach the black belt level. However, people don’t take exams every three months.
If you are looking to get good at Isshinryu karate, just like with anything else, you need to put in the time and effort. That way, not only will you become a better martial artist, you will also reach your potential quicker and might just also be able to become an instructor at your dojo. Most karate progress relies on the free will of a person, and their motivation and passion concerning the style they are practicing. If you want to be a black belt fast, you need to be able to learn fast and work extremely hard.