Article: Karate until the grave

By Miguel Da Luz

 

While in the west, karate is rarely practiced by people who have reached 60ies, here is another story of a man who lived his karate until entering his grave.

In the Ryukyu Shinpo newspaper of April 12, 2015, an article was published focusing on Uezu Antoku, an 80 years old man whose family tomb is located on the US Futenma Airbase. The tomb was built by his grandfather, Uezu Anriku, prior to WWII. Anriku passed away at the age of 105. His grandson Antoku explains his desire to be able to visit freely the tomb and one day to complete the grave that his grandfather was not able to finish. In the article, Mr. Uezu has in his hands a board with some photos of his grandfather Anriku.

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(Source: Ryukyu Shinpo)

There are two interesting matters in this article.

First, the central photo hold by Mr. Uezu shows his grandfather performing what seems to be a karate kata. The right hand is pulled in Hikite while the left hand is performing something like a Shotei palm strike. The upper left photo where Anriku seats in seiza also reminds a karate way of seating.

Second, the name of the interviewed person itself is interesting. Indeed, there are quite a few Uezu masters in karate history. Now, it must be noted that in Okinawa, it is common that people of not directly related families have the same name (for example Uezu) and the same first kanji in the given name (in this case An). Passing this first particle to descendants is a tradition still alive in Okinawan families. A good example would be Funakoshi Gichin: his son was named Gigo while his nephew was named Gisho. In this article case, the name Uezu Antoku reminds of Uezu Angi sensei, an Isshin-ryu master located in Uruma City, but also of Uezu Angi from Shuri who was a handsome karate man and a police officer from Naha Police Department. Once stationed at the Nishinjo Police Box, he married the head of the close by Japanese style restaurant Ryotei Naha located in Tsuji, Naha in 1935. This 2nd Uezu is most likely the one mentioned together with Nagamine Shoshin sensei in a 3 part article dating of 1936 titled “Interviews with Respected Elder Bushi, Choki Motobu Regarding Real Self-Defense – (Jissen) Episodes”.

In a search for any relation between Uezu Anriku and karate, an article published in 1973 in the Nishihara Village’s publication “Koho Nishihara” actually mentions about Uezu Anriku. Below is a summarized translation of the article.

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“Okinawa is recognized as a longevity prefecture and has been in the spotlight nationwide. On October 25 at the Koza Municipal Athletic Park, the first ever Okinawa Prefecture Central district Elders Sport Tournament was held. More than 2,000 athletes and organizers from 14 municipalities from central Okinawa participated and almost 10,000 elders came to cheer the participants. Soft ball throwing, tennis, dribble relay, Ryukyuan dances and various other games were enjoyed by the young at heart elders.

Among the various attractions performed during the event, 102 years old Uezu Anriku residing in Ginowan City demonstrated karate. He was accompanied in his demonstration by some sanshin music played by the members of the Koza City Elders Club. The performance deeply impressed the audience. Mr. Uezu is a small but sharp build man and his face has been deeply carved by history. His calm but agile hands and feet moves brought many impressed comments from the audience and as the karate performance ended, a thunderous applause exploded. At 102 years old, such a firm body, bright face and splendid karate mastery. The demonstration was a huge encouragement for the entire crowd.”

 

 

At the age of 90, Nagamine Shoshin sensei offered a marvelous maxim: “Mada taranu, kitae konashite anoyo made” . An English interpretation would be “Not good enough, keep tempering until reaching the other world”.

As you see, there is no age to start, practice and stop karate…