Honoring 50 years of tradition and culture


GREENVILLE — Tradition. Culture. These words mean many different things to many different people. They are small words but have a big impact. When thinking of tradition, of culture, think of karate, specifically, Matsubayashi-Ryu.

Karate originated in Okinawa from man’s basic instinct, the desire for self-preservation. In 1609, the Satsuma clan of Japan banned weapons and the practice of martial arts on the island of Okinawa. The people were forced to learn other ways to protect themselves. This added to the increasingly popular art of Te (empty hand). For fear of reprisal from the Japanese government, these began to be practiced in secrecy, only handed down from generation to generation. In the late 17th century and early 18th century karate began to take shape and merge with Chinese martial arts.

During WWII, in 1947, the public first heard of Matsubayashi-Ryu when its founder, Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine opens his first dojo (school). During this time, his dojo is visited by many American servicemen stationed in Okinawa. In 1959, the United States is first introduced to Matsubayashi-Ryu when James Wax opened a dojo in Dayton. Sensei (teacher) Wax was the first westerner to obtain a black belt. One of his top students was Frank Grant, now known by many as Hanshi Grant (a Hanshi is a senior expert, a title awarded to those of the highest rank and knowledge). In 1966, Grant traveled to Okinawa in hopes of a deeper understanding of Matsubayashi-Ryu. There he trained under Grand Master Nagamine 16 hours a day for six months. In 1970, the World Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do Federation (WSKF) was born. After five years of hard work, Grant was given Grand Master Nagamine’s blessing. Hanshi Grant promised Grand Master Nagamine that he would never deviate from his teachings. He never did.

Among Hanshi Grant’s most prestigious students is Jack McPeek, today he is known as Hanshi McPeek.

McPeek opened the first Matsubayashi-Ryu dojo in Greenville in 1973 on Third Street; later moving to Short Street. Hanshi McPeek continued to teach karate the same as he was taught by Hanshi Grant. Hanshi Grant (10th degree black belt) has been quoted as saying “Everything in life is built upon its own basic parts. In Matsubayashi-Ryu, we perfect our eleven basic movements to perfect our form, our kata and our lives.”

Today Matsubayashi-Ryu continues to have a home in Greenville at Matsunoki Martial Arts and Fitness Center under Sensei Lisa and Sylvain Shank. Tradition is defined as “an inherited or established way of thinking or doing passed on from generation to generation; a time-honored practice.” In MatsubayashiRyu, a traditional martial art, it is essential from the first day of training to teach students traditional rituals.

By teaching the ancient heritage of this style of karate, students learn commitment and strength of character through structure and consistency in every class. An excerpt from the Matsunoki Marital Arts and Fitness Center Student Handbook.

This year Matsunoki Martial Arts and Fitness Center is celebrating it’s seventh year in conjunction with Matsubayashi-Ryu’s 50th year in Greenville. Matsunoki has grown so much in these seven years that they have had to relocate twice (fun fact, all locations remained on Broadway) in order to meet the needs of their expanding student population. They are currently located across the street from their original location, which also happened to be next door to a prior dojo of Matsubayashi-Ryu, now Don’s Pizza.

Some students of Matsunoki train for exercise, some for the discipline that it teaches. Sensei Lisa and Sylvain Shank have passed on the rich traditions and culture of Matsubayashi-Ryu to all who train regardless of why they are there. If you allow it in, you will find this culture becomes apart of you. It becomes more than just something you do but also helps you define who you are. You can realize your own true potential and become more than you ever thought possible.

Matsunoki Martial Arts and Fitness Center invites you to their open house and celebration of 50 years of Matsubayashi-Ryu in Greenville on Saturday, Sept. 16, noon-4 p.m., at 622 S Broadway.

You will have the opportunity to learn about this wonderful culture and see demonstrations of the art.

Refreshments will be available for a donation.

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