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American Shorin-Ryu Federation


This web page has been developed by The American Shorin-Ryu Federation (Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate). The following is a brief history of the Karateka lineage that makes up the ASF.



Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine is the founder of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu (Matsubayashi-Ryu) karate.

Shoshin Nagamine founded Matsubayashi-Ryu karate, however its beginnings had existed for hundreds of years before. Matsubayashi-Ryu karate can trace it's lineage from Chinese Gung-Fu to the original Okinawan karate; Koryu Uchinadi-Ryu karate & Yamaneryu Kobudo. This "original" Okinawan karate then developed and divided into Naha-Te, Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te. These were all referred to generically as Shorin-Ryu, which then divided into Kobayashi-Ryu (Chosin Chibana), Matsubayashi-Ryu (Shoshin Nagamine), Shobayashi-Ryu (Chotoku Kyan) and Matsumura orthodox (Hohan Soken). The term "karate" means "open-hand" and it is used to reflect the art's unique Okinawan development. Matsubayashi is the Okinawan pronunciation of the characters for "Pine Forest." "Matsu" means "pine" and "Hayashi" means "forest." When the two are placed together, the "H" of Hayashi is pronounced as "B," making it Matsubayashi. "Shorin" is the Chinese pronunciation of the same characters. The origin of the name "Shorin-Ryu" is the Shaolin Buddhist Temple in China. "Ryu", roughly translated, means style or system. More literally, it can mean "river," which Shoshin Nagamine said reflected his thoughts that the art of karate, and specifically Matsubayashi-Ryu, is a living, flowing thing.

 Walt Sapronov Sensei

Sensei Sapronov studied Shorin-Ryu while attending Ohio State University. He began training in 1966 under one of the first Americans to train in Okinawa directly under Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine. In 1970, Sensei Sapronov moved to Iowa City, Iowa to attend the University of Iowa. He established the Iowa City, Shorin-Ryu dojo in 1970. The dojo was affiliated with the college's recreation department. Sensei Sapronov was an intense fighter capable of developing great power and speed which are the corner stone's of Shorin-Ryu, as practiced by the ASF. Although Sensei Sapronov is still active in martial arts he is no longer affiliated with Matsubayashi-Ryu karate

Denis Oliver – Sensei

Sensei Oliver began training in January of 1971 at the Iowa City dojo under the direction of Sensei Sapronov. Sensei Oliver quickly became one of Sensei Sapronov's best students and in 1974 he rose to become the focal point of Shorin-Ryu karate in Iowa City. Under Sensei Oliver's leadership the Iowa City dojo experienced tremendous success and growth. Sensei Oliver's discipline in training and dedication to the art inspired all who trained in his Dojo. His leadership and skill in teaching developed many Black Belts who have gone on to create dojos throughout the United States. Our expansion would not have occurred without Sensei Oliver's guidance and support. It is with the highest honor that we consider him to be the First Teacher of the American Shorin Ryu Federation.

Doug Van Cleave – Shichidan, 7th Dan

Sensei Van Cleave began training in September of 1972 at the Iowa City dojo under Sensei Oliver. In August of 1973, Sensei Van Cleave established the Newton, Iowa dojo and continued to commute to the Iowa City dojo to train with Sensei Oliver. Sensei Van Cleave also established dojos in Minnesota and Florida. He is currently teaching in the Apopka, Florida dojo.

Reza Pouraghabager – Shichidan, 7th Dan

Sensei Pouraghabagher began training in January 1974 at the Iowa City dojo under Sensei Oliver. In September 1979, he moved to San Luis Obispo, California and established his first dojo at Cal Poly University. Since then, he and his senior Black Belts have expanded the art of Shorin-Ryu karate to five dojos in California.

Bruce Bartels - Shichidan, 7th Dan

In September 1973 Sensei Bartels started training under Sensei Oliver in Iowa City, Iowa. After several years there he moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he trained and taught. In late 1995 he moved to Lafayette, Louisiana where he continued to train, while commuting periodically to train with Sensei Van Cleave in Florida. He later opened the Lafayette Dojo where he trains and teaches today.


Sensei History:


Sensei Shoshin Nagamine

85th Birthday



Shoshin Nagamine Dojo

Naha City, Okinawa



Walt Sapronov

Columbus, Ohio 1967




Denis Oliver

First Teacher

American Shorin-Ryu Federation

Iowa City, Iowa 1976



Doug Van Cleave

Apopka, Florida 2003


Reza Pouraghabagher

San Luis Obispo, CA 2008





Bruce Bartles

Lafayette, LA 2008




Class History:


Minneapolis, MN 2009




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Iowa City, Iowa 1974



Cal Poly 30th Anniversary 2009



 Burnsville, Mn. 2000