Ryu-te is an Okinawan founded by Seiyu Oyata (親田清勇). The word Ryu-te is actually an acronym meaning “Ryukyu Hand” with Ryukyu being a reference to the original name of Okinawa prior to it becoming part of Japan. Before 1995, Oyata referred to his style as Ryukyu Kempo, but eventually renamed it “Ryu-te” as Ryukyu Kempo was a reference to all styles originating in Okinawa rather than to any one particular style. Ryu-te emphasizes effective self-defense while deliberately minimizing the harm to the opponent. Its practitioners consider Ryu-te neither a sport nor a form of exercise, but rather a method of training the body and mind for the betterment of mankind.
Technically, Ryu-te is characterized by combining joint manipulation techniques “Tuite Jutsu” with effective strikes to the body’s weak points “Kyusho Jutsu”. These terms, which have become well known among martial artists, were originally introduced to the United States by Oyata in the early-1980s
Taika Seiyu Oyata is responsible for introducing to the United States the esoteric (once considered secret) arts of original Okinawan karate: “Tuite Jutsu” and “Kyusho Jutsu”.
He is a descendent of Zana Oyakata, a high ranking official of the RyuKyu Kingdom, who was a hero in the Satsuma invasion of RyuKyu in 1609.
Taika Seiyu Oyata began his martial arts training at a very early age as he was shown the Okinawan form of Sumo, “Tegumi” by his father, Kana Oyata, who was the middle weight Tegumi Champion. During World War II he received instruction in Iaido, Kendo, and Judo. After World War II, he began training with Uhugushiku-no-tan-mei, a retired personal guard of the last king of the independent RyuKyu kingdom. The Uhugushiku family was noted for their martial art skills and served the Okinawan ruling class for many centuries. Uhugushiku was known as a “Kakurei Bushi”, ‘Hidden Warrior’, and did not teach outside of family lines or those with no direct connection to the warrior class of Okinawa.
Under Uhugushiku’s tutelage, Taika Oyata learned the principles of weapons fighting, weapons kata and the techniques and concepts of Tuite Jutsu, the secret grappling arts of original Karate. Uhugushiku introduced Taika Oyata to Wakinaguri a descendant from the ancient Chinese families sent to Okinawa as emissaries. Master Wakinaguri was a Chinese Martial Artist and was also a Bushi warrior. Master Wakinaguri was asked to teach Taika the art of vital point striking and pressure point striking, techniques for which Master Wakinaguri was renowned. When Taika Oyata met him he noticed that all the fingers on Master Wakinaguri’s hands were the same lenght. This was due to many years of training by thrusting his hands into pumice.
Wakinaguri continued to instruct Taika Oyata in the principles of ancient martial arts, most notably, the pressure point strikes of Atemi Jutsu & Kyusho Jutsu. Neither Uhugushiku nor Wakinaguri had descendents to whom they could pass their art; therefore, Oyata became the inheritor of this knowledge. Below is a photo of two ancient Okinawan gentlemen, and, although they cannot be confirmed to be Uhugushiku and Wakinaguri, they fit the description of those two retired Bushi. Note the fans worn in their Obi in the similar fashion as a Samurai sword and the umbrellas held in their hands which could be used very effectively for life protection. Uhugushiku was described as taller than the average Okinawan and Wakinaguri was described as short and stocky, both of these gentlemen fit those descriptions. Their Kimono also appears to be of a style worn by the Bushi class, “Wabi-Sabi” – under-stated elegance but with a utilitarian function.
After the deaths of Uhugushiku and Wakinaguri, Taika Oyata trained with Shigeru Nakamura Sensei (from whom he learned the 12 basic empty-hand kata that are taught in Ryu Shu Kan Karate) and Seikichi Uehara of (Motobu-ryu Udun-de – the royal form of Ryukyu Te / “Tuite-Jutsu and Kyusho-Jutsu)
Seikichi Uehara of Motobu-ryu Udun-de
In 1977, Taiak Oyata established his headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas. In 1980, Oyata began to broaden the knowledge of the general martial arts public by introducing the concepts of Tuite Jutsu and Kyusho Jutsu throughout America and revitalized the way in which karate is taught and studied today.