Onko Chishin

Hanashiro Chōmo sensei identified in 1904 photograph – Maybe…

2016.05.31

Charles S. Leavenworth published a book “The Loochoo Islands” in Shanghai 1905. “Loochoo” of course is the English transcription of “Ryukyu”. At that time, Leavenworth was a Professor of History at the Imperial Nanyang College in Shanghai.1 The well-illustrated book was the result of a visit to Okinawa Prefecture in the summer of 1904, were he travelled nearly a month among these islands. It is a comprehensive coverage of all aspects of the history and current society of Okinawa at that time. Among the large number of illustrations and photos is found, for example, a copy of a calligraphy tablet written by investiture envoy Wang Ji 汪楫 of 1683, who in karate circles is sometimes considered to be the source of the kata Wanshu2.

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The poem hung in the Sōgen-ji, i.e. the mausoleum of the 1st Royal Shō-dynasty. The calligraphy is composed of the four characters 永観厥成. It is a short quote from the Shijing 詩経 or Book of Odes. It is an ode to harmoniously blended sounds of notes coming forth from various instruments in solemn unison, to which guests listen for a long time. That is, it seems to be an allusion to the envoys and members of the 1683 investiture mission, who greatly enjoyed the musical performances in Ryūkyū. In the Sōgen-ji at the time of Leavenworth were

                          “… beautiful decorations on the ceiling and round about are inscriptions written by the various ambassadors of former times from China. The priest showed us with reverent care an arrow which, it is said, belonged to the half-legendary Japanese chieftain, Tametomo, who came to the islands long ago, the arrow being, according to tradition, eight hundred years old.”3

The person Tametomo here refers to legendary Japanese warrior Minamoto no Tametomo 源為朝 (1139 – 1170). He allegedly reached Okinawa and later left behind his son Shunten 舜天, who became king. However, while an early influx of Japanese warriors into Ryūkyū actually took place, the Tametomo legend was retrospectively fabricated to serve as an ideological link between early Okinawa and the Minamoto clan, who were descendants of the 56th Emperor of Japan (Seiwa Genji 清和源氏). Satsuma used this as a pretense to justify their invasion in 1609. Moreover, at the time of the establishment of Okinawa as a prefecture under the Japanese Empire in 1872/79, Tametomo’s legend was again cited as an argument for the legitimacy of this action.4 So while the mentioned arrow at Sōgen-ji might have been as old as was stated, it was merely ascribed to Tametomo. Historiography at any time served the important purpose to legitimatize the current successor. This is true in history, and also maybe sometimes in karate.

Leavenworth was born around 1880 in Connecticut. Following his career in China he returned to New Haven, where his last book was published in 1924.5 In 1940, at age 60, he still lived unmarried in his own house in Hamden, New Haven, Connecticut.6 At that time he was obviously employed as a chemist in government work,7 for which he received a salary of $2100 per annum. As a comparison, the median income in 1940 was only $956.8

During his 1904 visit to Okinawa, Leavenworth received help from various authorities. These included Baron Narahara Shigeru 奈良原繁 (1843 – 1918), Governor of Okinawa Prefecture from 1892 to 1908, and Kishimoto Gashō 岸本賀昌 (1868 – 1928), Councillor of Okinawa Prefecture, as well as a host of officials and others in the islands.

As regards Kishimoto, in 1926 karate masters Miyagi Chōjun, Motobu Chōyū along with others constructed a dōjō in the rear of a certain Mr. Kishimoto’s house in Naha Wakasa. This was meant to serve as a place to research and spread the art of karate. It is generally known as the Okinawa Karate Research Club (Okinawa Karate Kenkyū Kurabu)9. While it is just a guess, the person in question might well have been Kishimoto Gashō. In 1882 Kishimoto Gashō was among the first group of Okinawans to be sent to Tōkyō as prefectural-sponsored students. Another member of this group was Ōta Chōfu 太田朝敷 (1865 – 1938).10 Shuri-born Ōta was not only a politician and founder of the Ryūkyū Shimpō Newspaper Company, but also hosted the famous Karate Masters Symposium in 1936.11 An acquaintance of Ōta in turn was Ōshiro Kengi 大城兼義 (1871 – 1951), who – according to Uehara Seikichi Sensei – was the sponsor of the Okinawa Karate Research Club mentioned earlier.12 Ōshiro was a wealthy businessman, politician, congressman of Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, and member of the House of Lords.

Apparently karate circles at the time drew large circles.

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From left to right: Naha-born Teruya Hiroshi 照屋宏 (1875 – 1939, a railroad engineer and mayor of Naha), Shuri-born Ōta Chōfu 太田朝敷 (1865 – 1938), Kume-born Teruya Rinken 照屋林顕 (1867 – 1944), and Ōshiro Kengi 大城兼義 (1871 – 1951).13

Moreover, Ōta is also found in the following photograph from 17 June 1913.

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Ōta is second from left in the back row. In the picture insert on the upper right is Chibana Chōshō 知花朝章, district mayor in Shuri at the time, disciple of Matsumura Sōkon, and the person who handed down Chibana no Kūsanku14. In the front row on the right is Ie Chōjo 伊江朝助 (1881 – 1957), a politician and businessman during the Meiji to the Shōwa eras. In 1907 he graduated from the department of politics and economics at Waseda University. After becoming a permanent inspector of the Okinawa electric railroad track (沖縄電気軌道監査役) in 1911, and director of the Okinawa Gingko Bank (沖縄銀行取締役), he became company president of the Okinawa Shinpō Newspaper Company 沖縄新報社 in 1940. In the meantime he served as a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly in 1913 and has been a member of the old Japanese House of Lords for 14 years. In the postwar period he served as board chairman of the Okinawa Foundation (Okinawa Zaidan 沖縄財団) and others. Most importantly, Ie had a boyhood-time conversation with Matsumura Sōkon15, which is another hint to the extended circles karate in fact constitutes.16

Let’s move on and turn toward Baron Narahara Shigeru 奈良原繁 (1843 – 1918), who was also mentioned by Leavenworth. Narahara was a Shimazu samurai and Meiji-era bureaucrat. He is reputed to have been the samurai who cut down British subject Richardson in 1862, which entailed the bombardment of Kagoshima.17 In January 1872 Narahara was one of the three leaders of the mission from Kagoshima to Ryūkyū – the mission that informed the royal government of Ryūkyū about the establishment of the Ryūkyū fief under jurisdiction of Kagoshima Prefecture. He was a member of the old Japanese House of Lords, a consulting official of the Senate and possessed competences within the imperial court. He was also the president of the Japanese railway company. In 1892 Narahara began his sixteen years long-term as the 4th government-appointed governor of Okinawa Prefecture, lasting 1892 to 1908. During his term he became known as the King of Ryūkyū (Ryūkyū-ō 琉球王).

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Under the new Japanese police system established in 1871, the government appointed Prefectural Governor was automatically the highest police authority in the prefecture. Subordinate to the governor was the Prefectural Police Department, which performed the routine management and most of the law enforcement duties. Under its control in turn were the police stations of the cities and towns. In the rural areas, there were several police sub-stations or residential police boxes assigned to their respective regional police station.18 In other words, Narahara was also the highest police authority in Okinawa from 1892 to 1908.

According to the eye-witness account by Leavenworth, Okinawa under Governor Narahara not only had “excellent prisons and well-trained police,” but military defence was also one of the topics he emphasized.19 In addition, Narahara acted as the chairman of the Okinawa Private Education Association (Okinawa-ken Shiritsu Kyōikukai 沖縄県私立教育会), composed of school teachers and officials of the Prefectural Department of Educational Affairs etc., which fully supported the conscription ordinance (chōheirei 徴兵令) of 1872 which, however, was made effective in Okinawa only since 1898. It is assumed that some persons went to China to evade the draft, among them karate men.

On April 17, 1895, the Treaty of Shimonoseki concluded the 1st Sino-Japanese War with Japan’s victory. On the same day the Dai Nippon Butokukai 大日本武徳会 (DNBTK, Martial Virtues Party of the Empire of Japan) was established in Kyōto. The DNBTK came to be designed as a nationwide organization, with police at its core, and in combination with the prefectural branches of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Naimushō 内務省). The prefectural governors were appointed branch directors of the DNBTK, with district and municipal branches spread inside the prefectures. In other words, Governor Narahara was also the director of the Okinawa Branch of the DNBTK.

Although not explicitly touched in relevant literature, Narahara was a zealous exponent of bujutsu. Non less than Noma Seiji described him thus:

                          “Like all the men of Okinawa he [Narahara] was also inclined to drinking and not rarely he was seen in company of highly animated carousers, whom he often entertained at his palace. On one such occasion he turned towards me and said, as I thought in a tone of mixed contempt and pity: ‘You see, Noma, you believe you are a swordsman! But I tell you, what you are capable of is child’s play, not fencing. You have in no way sufficient skill to kill an adversary. You should eventually seriously practice in this art, so that you learn proper fencing and to deliver proper blows that are able to accomplish something in a battle of life and death.’ ”20

Narahara’s older brother was a zealous student of the Yakumaru Jigen-ryū 薬丸自顕流, and his younger brother was an expert of the yari or spear. Narahara himself, during his sixteen years on Okinawa “swung his sword in Jigen-ryū style every day.”21

The question of the replacement of Western-style gymnastics by indigenous Japanese bujutsu-style physical education in Japanese school education was raised several times since a first modification proposal of October 1884. This became a nationwide policy based on the interaction between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the DNBTK. In this connection it should be noted that – after sixteen months in Europe and nine years as a school teacher in Kyūshū – in January 1898 the founder of judo, Kanō Jigorō 嘉納治五郎 (1860 – 1938), assumed office as National Director of Primary Education at the Ministry of Education. He also acted as the principal of the Tōkyō Higher Normal School (Tōkyō Kōtō Shihan Gakkō 東京高等師範學校),22 which was the national-level pendant to the Shuri Normal School.23

Two days prior to a parliamentary motion to include the bujutsu in the school curricula on national level, an unknown journalist pointed out what he believes should to be the main points of educational karate.

                          “After in 1904 the personnel of the Shuri Middle School had intended to take up karate, they immediately commenced work. At present the results are proper. It is sufficiently understood that the teachers simultaneously serve in two roles – i.e. as regular teachers, and also as karate teachers. However, one inadequate point is that there is no methodical explanation in existence among the teachers. Therefore, after having accumulated a reasonable skill in karate, we hope the personnel creates a program that largely matches our country’s current society and that they research and develop karate technically, mentally, and as a physical education. … We are in the process of getting the ball rolling in jūjutsu, wherein Western people still have to start working. That karate has its origin in the prefectural middle school is a great delight. In addition, karate has a huge influence on the robust health of the teaching staff themselves.”24

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The above article is clear evidence that the staff of the Shuri Middle School worked on the implementation of karate into the curriculum since 1904. It is also apparent that this was considered the first and original approach, although it does not imply that karate wasn’t taught previously in one way or the other. Rather, it simply means that a new framework was being devised. Karate’s new face was that of an Okinawan form of the conception of jūjutsu/jūdō. It should be noted that the West became strongly interested in jūjutsu due to Japan’s military successes in the Russo-Japanese War 1904–05, hence the reference in the article. Karate was thus designed to become a bujutsu-style physical education along the lines of jūjutsu and gekiken (kendō), although other than these karate was initially locally confined to Okinawa Prefecture.

Compared to karate, the delay in the implementation of jūjutsu and gekiken (kendō) as mandatory school subjects is remarkable.25 The simple reason were concerns by the education authorities as regards the many dangerous techniques included in jūjutsu and gekiken (kendō). This was obviously not the case in educational karate, for – other than jūjutsu and gekiken (kendō) – it was largely a solo kata-based system. Furthermore, in case of partner works pre-arranged forms without contact were used. In any case, as the article shows, the introduction of karate into school education was clearly welcomed. As methodical descriptions of karate were still scarce or insufficient at the time, the unknown journalist proposed that – in order to introduce karate into school education – further study by the teaching personnel was necessary. In other words, it appears like a “textbook” of karate was considered necessary for its introduction into school education.26

Thanks to an eyewitness account we are able to grasp a vivid picture of the atmosphere in those day. It was written by Noma Seiji 野間清治 (1878 – 1938), the founder of the Kōdansha 講談社 publishing house. After Noma in March 1904 successfully graduated from the teacher training course – “thanks to the very particular forbearance and friendliness of the good professors” – the question of career arose. Mr. Matsunaga, the chief secretary of the school, had fifteen vacant jobs to be filled, and asked the graduates to express their ideas and wishes. Noma declared he wanted the position with the highest salary, no matter where he would be sent, he just wanted to earn as much money as possible. Mr. Matsunaga offered him the position of a middle school teacher in Okinawa, which Noma accepted. So he came to Okinawa in 1904, where he remained until 1907. In three chapters Noma describes his time in Okinawa, which he called the “summer of life.” Land and customs he called “almost alien” and recognizes their uniqueness, which “could not be seen in any other region of the Empire.” Concluding his report on Okinawa, he states:

                          “Alas, many of these old familiar faces are now vanished forever. Since then I have gained a little in earthly possessions, but without the precious memories of those happy days on the islands of Okinawa, I would consider all my possessions null and void.”

In March 1904, at twenty-six years of age, Noma Seiji was formally appointed teacher of Japanese and Chinese classics at the Shuri Middle School. 27 This was also the year of the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War and

                         “If we had not been teachers, my colleagues and I would also have been drafted. The air was filled with war and with war talks; often I held lectures about war and other patriotic topics in and outside of school; not only the boys, but the adults, too, were in a dangerous mood. On the slightest occasion fists attacked and sticks were swung.”28

Right when he began his teaching job, while talking to the director, his attention was directed to the playground, where some students exercised in fencing. An avid fencer of kendō himself, Noma asked and received permission by school principal Ōkubo Shūhachi 大久保周八. Putting on his fencing gear, Noma challenged some of the young folks to a few duels. Some of the third grade pupils, good fencers, were the brotherly ruffians of the school, bullying the younger pupils and being a nuisance for the teachers.

                         “They intended to score me off. This instantaneously became obvious, for they stormed, with the intention to batter me in full fury. I responded with equal vehemence, though today I would be ashamed to do so. Had I been older, I would have treated the young men more lenient and confined myself to defense, so as to wear them out. But I was young, tempestuous and more or less an amateur; So I pushed with full force, returning their ‘courtesy’ in the same manner and with it often moving on to attack myself. Bigger ones followed one after another, in apparent intention to avenge their comrades, and I paid them back in their own coin using my best endeavors. As it later turned out, this was a good lesson for the gang. Later in the classroom I found them quite manageable. … Outside the classroom I’ve been at the fencing site every day and gave lessons to anyone who desired so.”29

                         “Tsuji was not considered a dishonorable area, as it might be today, because the high-ranking personages of the island, scholars, judges, and police officers forgathered there. It was kind of a center of social life, serious and important events were sometimes held there, such as meetings of teachers to discuss vital education issues. All cherished guests from actual Japan were inevitably invited to Tsuji as one of the locations no visitor should miss, for in Tsuji there were Japanese Geisha and Ryūkyūan courtesans, who could perform picturesque dances, which could be seen in no other area of the Japanese Empire.”30

Regarding his gaffes in Tsuji he added “I scuffled with wild boys and beat up men for imaginary insults”31 and that he generally “scuffled around like an alleyway lout” without even mentioning all “lesser clashes.”

                         “The Okinawans are a peaceful people, but, like all people of primitive lifestyle who are also prone to drink, they were able to commit inhumane cruelty when they were caught in heat. Through centuries of practice the Okinawans had extraordinarily developed the peculiar art of self-defense and attack, which is called ‘tekobushi’. It consists, similar to jūjutsu or even boxing, of delivering blows with incredible skill and impact with the bare fist.”32

Let me add a few words to the word tekobushi 手拳. In Ryūkyūan language it is pronounced tikubushi ティクブシ.33 It refers to the clenched fist (kenkotsu 拳骨) and is also called tījikun ティージクン. A typical phrase is tikubushi nu chūsan ティクブシヌチューサン, i.e. “to have a powerful tikubushi,” or “to be skilled in tikubushi.”34 However, one might ponder if te 手 here really verbatim refers to “hand”, or rather to “skill” and “techniques”. Moreover, and analoguously, does kobushi 拳 refer to verbatim “fist”, or rather to unarmed fighting with hands, feet etc.? In this way the etymological and contextual content of the term tekobushi 手拳 would become “The skills and techniques of unarmed fighting.” But let’s leave it at that and return to the leitmotif.

                         “An Okinawan who possesses some skills in this deadly art was able to crush all the bones in the body of his victim with strikes of his arm, as if he had smashed him with a giant hammer. Not infrequently such poor maimed dead persons were found lying by the roadside. At night in the vicinity of Tsuji gangs of thugs roamed around, of which it was said they were proficient in ‘tekobushi’ and who were always ready to overwhelm unwary strangers.”

                         “On a summer night – in Ryūkyū it always seemed to be summer – I rode in a rickshaw under the starry sky, that spread smiling over the silver sea, from one common point to another, when my sight already veiled (from alcohol) spotted four or five mighty fellows which, like burdocks had hung themselves to my vehicle. With the boundless optimism of the bigheaded I thought these people offered homage to my noble person; because they shouted: ‘Wassho! Wassho!’ – the exclamation of sedan chair bearers on festive occasions. I comfortably sat in my seat and held, flattered and pleased with myself, my eyes half closed.”

                         “Then it occurred to me to look around and my blood froze! The men were about to push the rickshaw against the edge of the causeway, in the apparent intention to throw me, the rickshaw and everything into the sea. According to the way they systematically and without rushing got down to work, there was no doubt that they were serious. Startled, I jumped out of the rickshaw and over the heads of the gang. Following a sudden inspiration of the moment, I uttered a bellow of rage, lifted the large stick, which I always carried with me and threatened to kill them all. The men fled, scared away by the force of my voice alone, because thanks to my fencing training I was capable of considerable performance, as regards martial shouts. If they would have had the courage to stay and attack me, this story would never have been written.”

                         “Another time, I was less fortunate. When coming around a corner I was attacked by a gang and hardly assumed a defensive position when something soft and hard hit me closely above the eye. The projectile – it was a stone wrapped in a towel – had been thrown by an unknown hand. It gave me an ugly cut on the forehead above the eyebrow, and blood ran down my face. I picked up my cane and immediately went in pursuit of my attacker, the one hand pressed upon the left eye, but he escaped in the crowd.”35

Later Noma, who had practiced kendō since his school years, opened the private “Noma Dōjō” behind his publishing company building in Koishikawa, Tōkyō. It was at the Noma Dōjō were in 1936 the extensive collection of images found in the second part of Ueshiba Morihei’s book “Būdō” were recorded.36

In his above given description Noma mentioned Ōkubo Shūhachi 大久保周八 as the director of the Shuri Middle School. Most karate people saw his face, but probably don’t know it. He is depicted at the side of Itosu Ankō in the photo of around 1909, at the Shuri Middle School.37

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A few years earlier Governor Narahara stated that the knowledge of Japanese language and education which the young generation pick up in the primary and middle schools were of much higher value for the assimilation of Okinawa than all laws and prohibitions imaginable.38 Without doubt, this referred first and foremost to the fundament of school education in form of the hundred and seventy Primary Schools in both Ōshima and Okinawa Prefecture at the time. In the eight years of the primary course, attention was paid, among others, to gymnastics and military drill, which was to become substituted by karate around the time of Leavenworth’s visit. Leavenworth also visited the Middle School in Shuri. It’s five year course comprised of more advanced studies by about six hundred scholars and more than twenty teachers.39 In none of his works or elsewhere a photo of Leavenworth can be found. However, the following photo appears to be taken during Leavenworth’s visit to the Middle School in Shuri in summer 1904.40

In the photo we see many of the personalities that were mentioned so far. First of all, Charles S. Leavenworth himself, Governor Narahara Shigeru, Shuri Middle School principal Ōkubo Shūhachi, as well teacher Noma Seiji of the same school. The description gives no exact date of when the photo was taken. Instead it says “late Meiji period.” However, it says it is the Shuri Middle School, which is confirmed by the presence of both Ōkubo and Noma. The presence of Leavenworth, who explicitly noted about his visit to the Shuri Middle School, also confirms this, and moreover allows determining the date of the photography to the summer of 1904.

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See the excerpt below:

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Front row from left: 1st Narahara Shigeru, 2nd Ōkubo Shūhachi, 6th Charles S. Leavenworth.

2nd row (standing) from right: 2nd Noma Seiji.

There is more to this photo. It was taken exactly at the time when the attempt was begun to introduce karate into school education. As was shown earlier in the Ryūkyū Shinpō article of 1905, it appears that some sort of study material – such as a “textbook” of karate – was considered necessary for the introduction of karate into school education. This – finally – brings us to Hanashiro Chōmo.

Hanashiro Chōmo 花城長茂 (1869 – 1945) was born in the village of Shuri on July 26, 1869 as the 3rd son of father Chōkō 長康 (1834 to not earlier than 1876) and mother Magosei 真呉勢. Chōmo’s childhood name was Masanrā 眞三良, his Chinese-style name was Min Zōsei 明増盛. While his modern-era name was Hanashiro, the correct designation of his family is House Kameya of the Min-Clan 明氏亀谷家. It was a keimochi (“lineage holder”) family from Shuri which originated in Atetsū Pēchin Chōson 阿手津親雲上長孫 (1556 – 1609).41 Chōmo was in the 11th generation of this lineage, but not heir to it.

It should be noted that according to popular legend Atetsū Pēchin Chōson was a descendant of King Shō Toku尚徳 (rg 1461-1469) as follows:

                           King Shō Toku 尚徳王 ► 3rd son Yabiku Ōyako 屋比久大屋子 ► 4th son Ameku Ōyako 天久大屋子 ► 1st son Teruya Pēchin Chōta 照屋親雲上長太 ► 2nd son Atetsū Pēchin Chōson 阿手津親雲上長孫.

However, in Okinawa there are many oral traditions which claim family ancestry in the Royal Shō-clan, or in other famous persons, yet most of these lack reliable sources. As a matter of fact, all genealogies during the Ryūkyū kingdom era were examined and authorized by the Royal Bureau of Genealogies (Keizuza). Within the official genealogy of the House of Kameya itself, no information about an ancestry of King Shō Toku is found. In other words, at the time of the official establishment of the House of Kameya, the Royal Bureau of Genealogies had no sources whatsoever which would establish such an ancestry.

Therefore, according to the currently available sources, this oral tradition has to be considered a mere legend.

Hanashiro was an Okinawan soldier (infantry) and a physical education and karate teacher at the Middle School in Shuri. In 1905 he created the basic text book called “Karate Kumite” (空手組手) as a manual for teaching karate at school42. Here for the first time in history the modern notation of karate 空手 in its meaning as “empty handed martial art” was used. Only one page of this document has been handed down to posterity, printed in the book “Karate-dō Taikan” by Nakasone Genwa (1938).

In 1919 Hanashiro was appointed as the village headman of Mawashi Village. In 1926 he participated in the Okinawa Karate Research Club (Okinawa Karate Kenkyū Kurabu) mentioned earlier. In 1934 he taught karate at Azato, in 1936 took part in the Karate Masters Symposium sponsored by Ōta Chōfu of the Ryūkyū Shimpō Newspaper Company, and in 1937 he was involved in the establishment of the twelve Karate Kihon-gata43. Hanashiro passed away in 1945 in Nakaoji in Haneji Village, aged 76 years. The Kata called Jion ジオン (慈恩) is said to have been his specialty. Photographs of his performance of Jion can again be seen in the book “Karate-dō Taikan” (1938).

It is usually assumed that Hanashiro served in the Russo-Japanese War 1904–05 and only after return from campaign in 1905 began teaching karate at the Middle School in Shuri.44 However, it is possible – and I believe even likely – that Hanashiro, at around 35 years of age, is pictured in the above mentioned 1904 photo. If correct, not only can we say he already was at the Middle School in 1904, but also do we have for the first time a photo of Hanashiro in his 30s.

In the following comparative survey the physiognomy of Hanashiro is compared by means of two photos. The one photo shows – presumably – Hanashiro in 1904 at the Middle School in Shuri. The other shows him thirty-three years later, in 1937 on a commemorative photo of the establishment of twelve Karate Kihon-gata. Compare the overall bearing, note details like his right ear, the chin, the nose, the eyebrows, the strength and width of shoulders, as well as overall proportions. Moreover, bear in mind the different angles and positions the photographs were taken.

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The above presented conclusion follows simple inferences taken from facts we are informed about by written descriptions and eye-witness accounts of some of the protagonists themselves: from Leavenworth who visited the Shuri Middle School in 1904, via the school principal Ōkubo Shūhachi and the teacher Noma Seiji, who began teaching there in 1904 as he informed us, via the introduction of karate at the Middle School in 1904 as described in the Ryūkyū Shinpō article, to Hanashiro Chōmo as the karate instructor at that school and his textbook “Karate Kumite” of 1905, and finally to the noticeable similarities in his physiognomy between the 1904 photo – which was published in a publication by the alumni association of exactly that school – and Hanashiro’s photo from the 1937 establishment of the twelve Karate Kihon-gata – all in all this is quite a lot. At least it is enough to tentatively announce that Hanashiro Chōmo had been identified in a 1904 photograph, unless contrary proof is brought forward.

In the future, first of all further evidence need be sought which unambiguously corroborates that Leavenworth is the person in photo. Secondly, and more importantly, expert assessment need be consulted to evaluate further clues as regards the person in the photo being Hanashiro Chōmo, or not. For example, a document to date his military discharge, a list of employees of the Shuri Middle School, descendants of Hanashiro who might possess a photo of him for comparison, or a professional facial recognition using modern technology: each might turn out decisive. In order to solve this case, I also look forward to input and critique by the international karate community.

Andreas Quast 2016-03-23

 

Footnotes

1 In 1901 and 1905 he published works where he was active in this position: 1) Leavenworth, Charles S.: The Arrow War with China. Publisher S. Low, Marston & Co., London 1901. 2) Leavenworth, Charles S.: The Loochoo Islands. North-China Herald Office, Shanghai 1905. The university was established in 1896 and is the precursor of today’s Shanghai Jiaotong University. See, Reed, Christopher A.: Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876-1937. University of Hawaii Press, 2011, page 176.

2 Leavenworth 1950: 93.

3 Leavenworth 1950: 43.

4 See, for instance, Kreiner 2001: 3; Sakihara 1987: 51 – 52; Matsuda 2001: 17; Itō 2008: 93; Tsūkō-ichiran, Vol. 2: Ryūkyū-kunibu 1. 平均始末 Heikin Shimatsu.

5 Leavenworth, Charles S.: The lessons of history. New Haven, Printed under direction of Yale University Press, 1924.

6 1940 United States Federal Census for Charles S. Leavenworth. Connecticut New Haven Hamden 5-52. NAME: Charles S Leavenworth. BIRTH: about 1880 in Connecticut. RESIDENCE: 1935 -, Hamden, New Haven, Connecticut. http://interactive.ancestry.com/2442/m-t0627-00515-00791/127934591?backurl=&ssrc=&backlabel=Return, retrieved 2016-03-22.

7 The 1940 census gives his occupation code as V06VV2. See http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/occupational-codes.pdf, retrieved 2016-03-22.

8 https://www.census.gov/1940census/pdf/infographic1_text_version.pdf

9 From: Okinawa Times, 31 January, 1926. Collection of Shinji Miyagi, Okinawa Prefectural Library. Translation by Naoki Motobu and Peter M. Kobos. See, http://www.motobu-ryu.org/library/karate-research-club, retrieved 2016-03-22.

10 Taminato Asana: Jahana Noboru Nenfu Sōko. Historiographical Institute, Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education. 1976-03-31, page 102. 田港朝和:謝花昇年譜草稿. 沖縄史料編集所紀要(1). See, http://okinawa-repo.lib.u-ryukyu.ac.jp:8080/bitstream/okinawa/7622/1/No1p101.pdf, retrieved 2016-03-22.

11 See, for example, the English translation by by Patrick & Yuriko McCarthy, see, http://irkrs.blogspot.de/2013/08/the-1936-meeting-of-okinawan-karate.html, retrieved 2016-03-22.

12 According to Motobu Naoki Sensei, Uehara Sensei referred to him as Ōshiro Mujin 大城無尽, which is a nickname. Mujin is a rotating savings and credit association. This was the name of Ōshiro’s company. See also, http://ameblo.jp/naga-f11/entry-11762968420.html, retrieved 2016-03-22.

13 Naha City Museum of History. See, http://www.rekishi-archive.city.naha.okinawa.jp/archives/item3/37395, retrieved 2016-03-22.

14 For thes kata, see Tōyama 1963. 236 – 44.

15 Kinjō 2011: 222.

16 Yokoyama 1914.

17 Kerr 1958: 361. It is disputed whether it was Shigeru or his older brother Kizaemon.

18 Nakahara 1956 (I): 583-584.

19 Leavenworth 1905: 58-59. Leavenworth met Governor Narahara 1904.

20 Noma 1935: 114.

21 According to Miyagi Tokumasa.

22 Present day Tsukuba University.

23 Crée 2012: 9-10.

24 Chūgakkō Shokuin no Karate–Kyūikukai (The Karate of the Middle School Staff Members. Education World). In: Ryūkyū Shinpō, February 05, 1905.「中学校職員の唐手教育界」一記者。琉球新報、明治38年2月5日。

25 On February 7, 1905, a parliamentary motion to include the martial arts in the school curricula was submitted. However, its approval took until 1908. On July 31, 1911, by article 13 of the Revision to the Middle School Ministerial Administrative Ordinance (Chūgakkōrei Dhikō Kisoku Kaisei 中学校令施行規則改正) it was established that “Exercise in schools should be comprised of military and normal calisthenics, and Jūjutsu and Gekiken may also be included.” In 1913 Jūjutsu and Gekiken became elective classes and in on May 27th, 1926, the Ministry of Education officially discarded the terms Jūjutsu and Gekiken and replaced them by Jūdō and Kendō. In 1927-28, Kanō completed the Good-use-of-vigor National Physical Education (Sei-ryoku Zen’yō Kokumin Taiiku 精力善用国家体育, sometimes also called Martial Art-style National Physical Education (Kōbōshiki Kokumin Taiiku 攻防式国民体育). This was a logical series of gymnastics based on martial arts practicable by either gender and without special equipment or clothing. Finally, in January 1931 Jūdō and Kendō were designated mandatory school subjects. To a large part this was achieved “because of the increasing militarization and fascism to which such scripted and disciplined physical exercises appealed.” Cf. Crée 2012: 9-10.

26 Cf. Lu 2001: 60.

27 From 1899 to 1911 the name of the middle school was Okinawa-ken Chūgakkō 沖縄県中学校. It was the precursor of today’s Prefectural Senior High School in Shuri (Okinawa Kenritsu Shuri Kōtōgakkō 沖縄県立首里高等学校). Noma 1935: 90, 93. His stay on Okinawa is described on pages 91 – 134 of the German edition.

28 Noma 1935: 114.

29 Noma 1935: 94 – 95.

30 Noma 1935: 103.

31 Noma 1935: 110.

32 Noma 1935: 110.

33 You can listen to the pronunciation of tikubushi here: http://ryukyu-lang.lib.u-ryukyu.ac.jp/srnh/details.php?ID=SN21804.

34 Shuri-Naha Dialect Dictionary, entry for tikubushi. See, http://ryukyu-lang.lib.u-ryukyu.ac.jp/srnh/details.php?ID=SN21804, retrieved 2016-03-23.

35 Noma 1935: 110-112.

36 Ueshiba Morihei: Būdō. Teachings of the Founder of Aikido. Kōdansha International, Tōkyō – New York – London, 1991.

37 Photo of Itosu Ankō Discovered. Okinawa Times, 28 February 2016. 糸洲安恒の写真発見、沖縄タイムス。Photo from: OKKJ 2008: 560. The photo was found by Kinjō Hiroshi among a collection of photos from Itosu’s student Tokuda Antei. Itosu Ankō was identified with the help of Kadekaru Tooru in 2006.

38 Leavenworth 1950: 37 – 38.

39 Leavenworth 1950: 56, 58.

40 The photo is from: Me de miru. Yōshū Hyakunen. Yōshū Dōsōkai-hen, 1990 (目で見る養秀百十年養秀同窓会編、1990年). A copy of it is presented at the digital archives of Naha City Museum of History. Shuri (Gakkō) / Okinawa Kenritsu Dai Ichi Chūgakkō. Sōtsugyō Kinen Shashin. Meiji Makki: Naha-shi Rekishi Hakubutsukan. 首里(学校)/沖縄県立第一中学校卒業記念写真/明治末期 : 那覇市歴史博物館. http://www.rekishi-archive.city.naha.okinawa.jp/archives/item3/32846

41 See the genealogy of the Min-Clan, House of Kameya 明氏亀谷家, in: Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō: 679 – 693, as well as in Higa 2005.

42 Kadekaru 2012: 178.

43 Nakasone, McKenna (transl.) 2009: 114.

44 OKKJ 2008: 494.

 

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Leavenworth, Charles S.: The Loochoo Islands. North-China Herald Office, Shanghai 1905.

Noma Seiji: Kodansha. Die Autobiographie des japanischen Zeitungskönigs. Berlin: Holle 1935

Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō, Vol 5. Gazo to Zenbun Tekisuto Dētabēsu (I). 6: Ryūkyū Kafu no Jōhōka. 1: Shuri-kei Kafu. Min-sei Kafu (Kameya-ke). Page 679 – 693. 沖縄の歴史情報第5巻。画像と全文テキストデータベース (Ⅰ) 。(6) 「琉球家譜」の情報化。①首里系家譜。明姓家譜(亀谷家)。

Tōyama Kanken: Karatedō Daihōkan. Tsuru Shobō, Tōkyō 1963. 遠山寛賢:空手道大宝鑑。鶴書房、1963。

Amicus (Pseud.): “Chinese Account of Loo-choo” [Appendix to the Chūzan Denshin Roku (1719/21) by Xu Baoguang (Jo Hōkō), 1808], Indo-Chinese Gleaner (Malacca), n° 7, January 1819, 4-11. In: Beillevaire 2000, Vol. III.

Beillevaire, Patrick: Ryūkyū Studies Since 1854. Ryūkyū Library, Collection I. 5 vols. Edition Synapse, Curzon 2000.

Beillevaire, Patrick: Ryūkyū Studies To 1854. Ryūkyū Library, Collection II. 5 vols. Edition Synapse, Curzon 2000.

Ryūkyū Shinpō: Chūgakkō Shokuin no Karate–Kyūikukai (The Karate of the Middle School Staff Members. Education World). Ryūkyū Shinpō, February 05, 1905.「中学校職員の唐手教育界」一記者。琉球新報、明治38年2月5日。

Crée, Carl De: Shōnen Jūdō-no-kata [“Forms of Jūdō for Juveniles” ―an experimental Japanese teaching approach to Jūdō skill acquisition in children considered from a historic-pedagogical perspective–part I. In: Journal of Combat Sports and Martial Arts, Medsportpress, 2012; 2(2); Vol. 3, 1-13.

Gima Shinkin and Fujiwara Ryōzō: Kindai Karate-dō no Rekishi wo Kataru: Taidan. Bēsubōru Magajin-sha, Tōkyō 1986. 411 S. 22cm. ISBN 4583026064. 儀間真謹・藤原稜三編:近代空手道の歴史を語る:対談。東京、ベースボール・マガジン社 1986。

Higa Chōshin: Shizoku Monchū Keifu – Okinawa no daihyōteki Shizoku no Genso kara Genzai no Tōshu made. Kyūjō Shuppan, 2005. 比嘉朝進:士族門中家譜―沖縄の代表的士族の元祖から現在の当主まで。球陽出版、2005。

Itō Kōji: Japan and Ryūkyū during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In: Acta Asiatica. Bulletin of the Institute of Eastern Culture. No. 95. Studies of Medieval Ryūkyū within Asia’s Maritime Network. Tōkyō, The Tōhō Gakkai 2008. pp. 79-97.

Kabira Chōshin: Okinawa Fūzoku Ezu. Naha, Gekkan Okinawa-sha 1976. Supplement: map of old Shuri. 川平朝申(監修):沖縄風俗絵図。那覇:月刊沖繩社、1976 。付、地図1枚:ありし日の首里城。神谷明仁、中曽根義人。

Kadekaru Tooru: Kindai ni okeru Karate no Rekishi. Budō-gaku Kenkyū, Vol. 44 (2012), No. 3, pp. 175-183. Karate-do Subcommittee Meeting Project. Nihon Budō Gakukai, Ōsaka 2012. 嘉手苅徹:「近代における空手の歴史」。〈空手道専門分科会企画〉。武道学研究44 -(3) : 175-183. 日本武道学会、大阪 2012。

Kadekaru Toru, Ikehara Hitomi, Shinzato Aya: Printed sources and other historical materials on Karate and various martial arts owned by Kinjō Hiroshi Sensei. Shiryō Henshū-shitsu Kiyō, 30. Okinawa-ken Kyōiku Iinkai 2005. 嘉手苅徹・池原ひとみ・新里彩:金城裕氏所蔵空手・武道等関係史料について。史料編集室紀要(30)。沖縄県教育委員会2005 。

Kerr, George H.: Okinawa, the history of an island people. Tuttle, Rutland 1958.

Kreiner, Joseph (Ed.): Ryūkyū in World History. Japan Archiv. Schriftenreihe der Forschungsstelle Moderned Japan, Bd. 2. Bier’sche Verlagsanstalt, Bonn 2001.

Matsuda Mitsugu (松田貢): The Government of the Kingdom of Ryūkyū, 1609-1872『琉球王統史 1609-1872年』. A dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Hawaii in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, January 1967. Japan, 2001.

Me de miru. Yōshū Hyakunen. Yōshū Dōsōkai-hen, 1990. 目で見る養秀百十年養秀同窓会編。1990年。

Miyagi Tokumasa: Karate no Rekishi. Hirugisha, Naha 1987. 283 pp. 18cm. 宮城篤正:空手の歴史。ひるぎ社、那覇1987。

Nakahara Zenchū: Bunken ni arawareta Karate. Karate ha itsugoro, tare ga dōshite motarashi tano tarō ka? (Karate as appearing in literature. When, by whom and why was Karate created?) In: Gekkan Karate-dō, June 1956 Issue. Vol. 1, Nr. 2. pp. 17-18. 仲原善忠:文献に現われた空手。空手はいつ頃、誰がどうしてもたらしたのだろうか?月刊空手道六月号:昭和三十一年六月一日発行。第一巻、第二号。

Nakasone Genwa (ed.): Karate-dō Taikan. Tōkyō Tosho, Tōkyō 1938. 仲宗根源和、富名腰義珍:空手道大觀。東京圖書、東京 1938。

Niehaus A.: Leben und Werk Kanō Jigorōs (1860-1938). Ein Forschungsbeitrag zur Leibeserziehung und zum Sport in Japan. Sport, Kultur und Gesellschart – Band IV. Ergon Verlag, Würzburg 2003.

Okinawa Daihyakka Jiten Kankō Jimukyoku: Okinawa Daihyakka Jiten. Okinawa Taimusu-sha, Naha 1983. Vol. 1. Okinawa Taimusu-sha, Naha, 1983. 沖繩大百科事典刊行事務局編:沖繩大百科事典。Vol. 1-3。沖繩タイムス社、那覇1983。

Okinawa Kenshi: Dai Go-kan. Kakuron-hen 4. Bunka 1. Okinawa-ken Kyōiku Iinkai. Ryūkyū Seifu, Naha 1975. 宮城篤正:「古武術」。沖縄縣史:第5巻。各論編4。分化1。沖縄県教育委員会。那覇:琉球政府、1975。

Quast, Andreas: Karate 1.0. Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art. Selbstverlag, Düsseldorf 2013.

Ryūkyū Kankei Bunsho, Weapons Prohibition for Traveling Ryūkyūans. 1699/09/25. In: Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō, Vol. 6, part 18., p. 1102-1103. 琉球関係文書。沖縄の歴史情報第6巻。渡琉者武器禁止。康煕三十八年巳卯九月日記。

Sakihara Mitsugu: A Brief History of Early Okinawa. Based on the Omoro-sōshi. Honpo Shoseki Press, Tokyo 1987.

Shuri-Naha Dialect Dictionary. Okinawa Language Research Center. University of the Ryukyus Library. 首里・那覇方言音声データベース概要。沖縄言語研究センター。琉球大学附属図書館。

Takamiyagi Shigeru, Shinzato Katsuhiko, Nakamoto Masahiro: Okinawa Karate Kobudō Jiten. Tōkyō, Kashiwa Shobō 2008. 高宮城繁、新里勝彦、仲本政博編著:沖縄空手古武道事典。東京:柏書房、2008。

Takara Kurayoshi: The Kingdom and its Overseas Trade. In: Kreiner, Joseph (Ed.): Sources of Ryūkyūan History and Culture in European Collections. Monographien aus dem Deutschen Institut für Japanstudien der Philipp-Franz-von-Siebold-Stiftung, Band 13. Iucidium, München 1996. pp. 43-52.

Tsūkō-ichiran, Ryūkyū-kuni-bu. Priority Area Studies “Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō Kenkyū.” Text and Image Data. University of Tōkyō Archives, http://www.hi.u-tokyo.ac.jp/ 通航一覧・琉球国部。重点領域研究「沖縄の歴史情報研究」。テキストデータ・イメージデータ。

Yokoyama Kendō: Satsuma to Ryūkyū. Chūō Shoin, Hatsubaijo Meibunkan, Tōkyō 1914. 横山健堂:薩摩と琉球。中央書院・発賣所明文館、東京1914。

 

 

Onko Chishin series: Soken Hohan and Shiroma Taisei

2015.03.19

Onko Chishin – to learn from the past to know the future

 

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Article 5 (Part 1)

November 22, 1961

Soken Hohan (70) – Kusarigama

Soken, the successor of “Matsumura”

 

He was born in 1891 in Gaja, Nishihara Village. Presently, he teaches students as an instructor of Shorin-ryu (1) karate and kobujutsu.

Mr. Soken started karate when he was 12 years old. He was initiated by his mother Kamii’s elder brother, Mr. Matsumura (3rd generation of Shuri) (2).

He explains that although having reached a certain age, if a boy keep loafing, he won’t become a man which is why he was introduced to karate. But for the boy that Soken was still, it seems that training at that time was extremely strenuous. At 20 of age, leaving his parents’ home, he started living at the Matsumura Dojo. He recalls that he would wake up before others students and undergo morning training, while training occurred also until late in the evening. At the beginning, training was light, but as his level improved, he underwent training from the way to remove one’s geta clogs to how to escape. He explains that as the maxim “Karate ni sente nashi” tells, people who train in karate should also research “how to escape in any situation”.

In 1924, a martial art demonstration gathering martial artists from the entire island was held at the Taisho Theater in Naha. Mr. Soken performed next to Kyan Chotoku, (Chanmii-gwa), Motobu Choyu (Motobu Saaruu) (3) and others.

Mr. Soken has 58 years of martial art experience. During these years, although he has crossed over to Miyako and Argentina, he has kept practicing diligently martial arts. Returning to his home town after WWII, he, as an orthodox (4) successor of Matsumura sensei took the name Shorin-ryu and opened a dojo in Gaja, Nishihara Village.

Since then, he has taught almost 200 students and still today, some 20 disciples train hard daily. During the coming demonstration, he will perform Kusarigama (sickle and chain) while 6 other students will also demonstrate on stage.

(Resides in Gaja, Nishihara Village)

 

Notes:

1. Written Sukunai Hayashi

2. Most likely the master known as Naabii Tanmee

3. In the original text, before Motobu Saaruu – the monkey, it is written Motobu Choyu and not Motobu Choki.

4. Seitou in Japanese can be translated in orthodox, legitimate and traditional.

5. Master Soken passed away in 1982.

 

 

Article 5 (Part 2)

November 22, 1961

Shiroma Taisei (77) – Ufutun Bo

Shiroma demonstrating Ufutun Bo

He was born in 1885 in Ozato Village Aza Oshiro. At a young age, he became interested by watching the soul-stirringly Bojutsu performances of the youth of the hamlet during festivals.

At the age of 17, he started practicing by visiting the house of Futenma Ofu sensei who was teaching Bojutsu in the village. As he was gifted for athletics, his teacher told him “No mistake you will become skillful” and thus he was taken care of more than others. From then on, he kept practicing until 2-3 years after the end of the war.

Remembering his young years, speaking with an impatient expression, he tells “No one can’t win over age, only now am I able to swing the staff…”

In 1928, he performed during the imperial commemorative demonstration for the present emperor that was held at Yonabaru Elementary School. His demonstration on that day is his most cherished memory.

“I would like for the youth of the hamlet to temper their body by learning Bojustu, but the youngsters of today ignore the staff. Yet, this is a physical activity where one can have fun alone at any time, and that is perfectly suitable within the countryside. If through the coming demonstration, some youth of the villages understand, even if young I will teach them. Now I am troubled as there is nobody. Even myself, only now am I confident on being capable of performing correctly at least the moves of Ufutun Bo.” So speaks humbly Shiroma.

He has been teaching his first son Seiko since a young age, and although he has learned Ufutun Bo, he presently lives in Sawatsu City of Shizuoka Prefecture. Because he was my son, he accepted my selfishness and whim; on moonlight nights, I more than once woke him up during the night and taught him on the hill.

He goes on saying “With the coming soon Kobudo demonstration, having notified him by letter that I was going to perform Ufutun Bo, my son was happy telling me to be careful but also encouraging me to do my best.” Then, grabbing the Bo that was placed in the Tokonoma alcove, he said “This is Ufutun Bo” and went on to perform the kata.

 

(Resides in Aza Oshiro, Ozato Village)

Onko Chishin series: Kaneshima Shinsuke and Chinen Masami

2014.12.15

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Article 4 (Part 1)

November 21, 1961

Kaneshima Shinsuke (64) – Douchin

First ever demonstration of Douchin

He was born in Yonabaru Town in 1897. He served as the second mayor of Yonabaru and is presently the chairman of the town assembly. On the side of his busy official activities, he opened the Shobukan Dojo and devote himself in instructing his juniors.

From the age of 15, he learned from Motobu Choyu sensei (elder son of Motobu Saaru) among others. Since then and for more than 50 years, he has kept practicing karatedo. At the coming demonstration, he will perform the kata Douchin.

Douchin is a kata never seen in Okinawa therefore it will be the first ever demonstration in public. It is one of the many secrets that Mr. Kaneshima has in his repertory. He learned this kata from Chin Hando sensei after crossing over to Taiwan when 17.

Kaneshima has dedicated his life to karatedo and he is eager to demonstrate, his face being filled with confidence. Very involved with the preservation of kobudo, he together with President Higa Seitoku, has gone all around the island to gather the authorities of kobudo. He is a driving force for kobudo’s revival.

He tells about his aspiration as follow. “I am deeply sadden as I see that native kobudo is slowly disappearing. It is partly due to the fact that authorities are passing away. With the coming public demonstration, we intend to film and thus preserve the kata demonstration of each masters. Through kobudo, we wish to nurture highly spirited and healthy youth that will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Only the white vanishing hair are a sign of the man’s old age. Indeed, his movements and his verbal attitude are filled with energy. From the days he started learning karate, he has never been sick once said this man who has developed a powerful physical appearance. And he will prove it as he will perform Douchin for the first time in public. Wiping his sweat he goes on saying that he is not at all short of breath because as he explains karate built great physique and spirit. (Yonabaru Town Morishita Ward 35)

Extra notes: According to the “Okinawa Karate Kobudo Encyclopedia”, Kaneshima sensei passed away in 1990 at the age of 93. He was also a student of Tokuyama Chogi sensei. He used the name of his master to name his own karate “Tozan-ryu”. Today, some of his students continue his legacy using the name “Shorinpa Kenpo Tozan-ryu.”

 

Article 4 (Part 2)

November 21, 1961

Chinen Masami (63) – Sakugawa no kon

Learning the staff from his grandfather

He inherited Sakugawa no kon (bojutsu) directly from his grandfather Sanra.

It is said that “Sakugawa no kon” was introduced from China and there are very few experts in Okinawa. Mr. Chinen started practicing when he was 17 years old. When a child, he first started practicing karate with his younger brother, Seisho, but later on switched to staff as he felt there was a limit in his training. His explanation is that as he once took a break from training, his brother Seisho improved greatly. Although he once thought of quitting martial arts as he couldn’t bear losing to his younger brother, he started bojutsu on the recommendation of his grandfather. His grandfather Sanra was known as an expert of Bo and the technique of Mr. Sanra was known as “Yamanni no kata”.

Sakugawa no kon was also one of Grandpa Sanra’s fortes. Pretending to strike (utsu) while actually thrusting (tsuku); when thrusting, the staff should be twisted (hineru) in the thrusting motion, which is somewhat different with other bojutsu.

From his grandfather, Mr. Chinen was initiated into Tee (Tī), and he will perform Sakugawa no kon at the coming demonstration as an orthodox successor of the said kata. However, he told us: “Bojutsu is a martial art that my grandfather dedicated his lifetime to. With the meaning of preserving the kata of my grandfather, I wish to do my best during the demonstration.” Sakugawa no kon is preserved in the Kakazu hamlet of Madanbashi, but today, there are very few experts as it is a forgotten martial art. It is only inherited by a few seniors.

On the occasion of the coming demonstration, Mr. Chinen commented, “Acting as a good adviser to President Higa, I wish to furthermore devote myself for kobujutsu.”

(Shuri Tobaru-cho 2-6)

Onko Chishin series: Nakamura Shigeru and Higa Yusuke

2014.12.15

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Article 3 (Part 1)  (For part 2 of this article, click here.)

November 17, 1961

Nakamura Shigeru (67) – Niseshi

Studying with Chanmi-gwa and others

He was born in 1894 in Nago Town. When he was 15 years old, he entered the Okinawa Prefecture Junior High School (1), joined the school’s karate club and started to learn karate. From his young age, Mr. Nakamura was extremely interested in karate, listening to many tales and stories from old men and seniors. For this reason, and because he redoubled of enthusiasm, he quickly progressed in karate. During the coming demonstration, he will perform “Niseshi” kata that he learned from the nicknamed “Kuniyoshi no Tanmei” (2). The kata itself doesn’t have many transformations, however there are very few experts of it in Okinawa making this kata a precious work of art.

In the past, Mr. Nakamura zealously studied karate together with Chanmi-gwa and Motobu-zaru (3) mastering not only karate but also Bo (staff), Sai (trident) amongst others.

However, in the 50 some years of his martial art life, he had to face many hardships. He explains that he had to go to training sessions in cold winter nights and travel on many journeys in order to study karate. Such types of hardships built Mr. Nakamura’s temperament and helped him nurture an indomitable force of will that never bends in front of something. Today, he has opened a dojo in his house and has taught 1,000 students.

Nowadays in Okinawa karate, there are many various styles, however, Mr. Nakamura said that “In the past, there was no style in karate. To develop Okinawa karate, all styles must be united (4).” In the dojo of Mr. Nakamura hangs a framed picture on which is written in large letters “Jinkaku Kansei” (5). There, obeying the teaching of their master, students zealously train days and nights.

(Lives in 489 Nago Town)

(1) Today’s Shuri Senior High School was once the “1st Okinawa Prefectural Junior High School” while today’s Naha Senior High School was the “2nd Okinawa Prefectural Junior High School”.

(2) Alias for Kuniyoshi Shinkichi (1848-1926), “Tanmei” being a word that could be translated into grandpa or old man. According to the “Okinawa Karate Kobudo Encyclopedia”, Kuniyoshi was born in Kumoji Village (present Naha) and learned Nahate from Sakiyama Chikudun nu Peichin (who himself studied in China with Ru Ru Ko). Kuniyoshi’s mastery was considered equal to Higashionna Kanryo’s mastery. When 60 years old, Kuniyoshi Shinkichi moved to Nago.

(3) Nicknames for respectively Kyan Chotoku (1870-1945) and Motobu Choki (1870-1944).

(4) The word “united” could also be translated in “standardized”.

(5) “Character completion” as in personality brought to perfection.

Extra note: According to the “Okinawa Karate Kobudo Encyclopedia”, Nakamura studied under Itosu Anko when in junior high school and passed away in 1969.

 

Article 3 (Part 2)

November 17, 1961

Higa Yusuke (70) – Tenbei

Father and son demonstrating together

As kobudo is slowly being forgotten, the only person who performs “Tenbe”(1) today is Mr. Higa Yusuke. Devoting himself to the preservation of Tenbe, the role of Mr. Higa is very important. Showing a strong volition, Mr. Higa explains: “With the fear that the art of Tenbe might cease to exist, I had some helpless feelings but today, as I am speaking with kobudo concerned people in order to restore this martial art, I am quite happy. With all people capable of performing Tenbe passing away, we cannot be ungenerous. Myself, although I am getting old, I wish to perform Tenbe as best I can.”

Tenbe is a fight between someone armed with an umbrella and a sword (2) and someone armed with a spear. During the demonstration, Mr. Higa will be armed with an umbrella and a sword while his 5th son named Yufuku will be armed with a spear. As a familial combination with good spirit, they will do their best for the resurrection of Tenbe. In the case of the sword and umbrella handler, he must jump freely over the opponent. It is said that it is because it is hard to jump high over someone that this martial art is not really popular.

Imitating the jump and speaking in Okinawan, Mr. Higa says, “When I was young, it was nothing for me to jump over you.” A small but solid and muscle tightened man, it is easy to imagine that when he was young, this energetic old man could jump freely over somebody.

Born in 1891 in Kudeken, Chinen Village, he joined the Oita Infantry 72 regiment in 1911. He was discharged in 1913. He explains than after being discharged, when he was 24 years old, he received instruction from Arakaki sensei from Shuri. The hard training he received when in the infantry helped him in the study of Tenbe, an art that he quickly mastered. After the death of Arakaki sensei, he taught the art to the youth of Chinen, Takagusuku and Sashiki but the incessant hard training was too much to cope with and many quit training, letting him with his son Yufuku as only partner.

Keeping himself busy working on a farm on one side, Mr. Higa trains hard in view of the demonstration.

(1) Also called Tinbei in Okinawa

(2) In Japanese, it simply says “kasa to katana” or “umbrella and sword”.

Onko Chishin series: Masters Irei and Nakamura

2014.07.31

Onko Chishin – to learn from the past to know the future

Read other articles of this series

Kobudo Part2

Article 2 (Part 1)  (For part 2 of this article, click here.)

November 16, 1961

Irei Matsutaro (82) – Kusarigama

Training secretly

Expert of sickle and chain weapon Kusarigama, and the eldest senior, he started learning when he was 19 years old, which makes him a man with a martial art experience of more than 60 years. Kusarigama is a martial art that was developed in farm villages where people thought of linking the familiar chain and sickle into a single weapon. Therefore, while there is not one defined kata, many forms can be found depending of the region. Mr. Irei learned Kama-no-te from Asato no Tanmei (1) who lives in Goeku (2). However, his motive was quite simple. He explains that “I was aspiring to become a soldier and I didn’t want to be laugh at when going in Mainland Japan…” Still at that time in farming villages, people who studied karate and sickle were hated as they were considered as savages and thugs. People kept away from them even to the point that they couldn’t find a spouse. For such reasons, most people were studying martial arts incognito at night, away from people’s attention.

He first started with karate and with his skill leveling-up, he studied many other techniques like Sai, Bo and Kama. At 25 years old, he demonstrated for the first time karate and Kusarigama in a play put on in a village and at 31, he performed a large demonstration together with 12 students.

People are told that “Gei ha mi wo tasuku – Learn a trade, for the time will come when you shall need it.” Mr. Irei himself says that he was able to overcome many disasters because he studied martial arts. This is not simply a question of defending oneself but also to nurture naturally a spirit that helps one to endure hardships.

Nowadays, the number of experts in Okinawa Kobujutsu and especially sickle is diminishing but he is happily teaching all those who sincerely intend to learn the sickle. During the next coming demonstration, many experts of Okinawa Kobujutsu will gather to demonstrate their secrets and it is the purpose of all to popularize Kobujutsu. On his own, Mr. Irei is teaching Sai, Kama and other skill to his grandchild Tomita Nobuyuki (24).

(1) Tanmei is a word that could be translated into grandpa or old man.

(2) Goeku is located in Okinawa City or Koza.

 

Article 2 (Part 2)

November 16, 1961

Nakamura Heisaburo (68) – Chisochin

Becoming intimate with karate during student days

He was born in 1893 in Motobu Town Aza Toguchi.

When around 17 years old, he got to know karate and until this day, he has continued training as a spiritual cultivation and as a way of staying in good health. During the demonstration, he will perform Chisochin (1), a kata he says he was initiated to by Bushi Kuniyoshi (2) of Nago Town when he was a student. During his time at Shihan (3), he received instruction from Yabu Kentsu sensei.

About the merits of karate, he tells with a peaceful tone that “Karate is a good exercise to build a strong body and to temper the mind…”

A fervent karate aficionado, after graduating from the Teachers’ College he spent his life as a school teacher until 1957. In each school he was newly appointed, he instructed karate to students. Especially to upper students, he taught Pinan and kumite among other things, including karate as a regular item of school’s athletic meets. He retired as principal of Motobu Elementary school in 1957 (4). He is presently the head of the Board of Education of Motobu district.

A man who gives a pleasant impression, with a well-balanced appearance forged through karate, he looks much younger than he is actually. Most likely, he was much appreciated by his students when he was a school teacher. Since it is the first demonstration he is participating in, he went looking for a new karategi and now devotes himself completely to his training.

“As I will perform in front of the public, I cannot do anything irresponsible. Although I keep training, I am getting old, and I am worried if I can perform well” he says humbly. So how is it that he can perform such a powerful karate? As he demonstrates Chisochin facing the camera, his serious facial expression tells anyone that is still in good health. The sounds of joints and the agile handling of his body are such a contrast with his ordinary quiet face that he filled the space with a dignified feeling.

Notes:

(1) In Japanese, it is written “Chi” and not “Shi” like for the Goju-ryu kata Shisochin.

(2) Alias for Kuniyoshi Shinkichi (1848-1926). According to the “Okinawa Karate Kobudo Encyclopedia”, he was born in Kumoji Village (present Naha) and learned Nahate from Sakiyama Chikudun nu Peichin (who himself studied in China with Ru Ru Ko). Kuniyoshi’s mastery was considered equal to Higashionna Kanryo’s mastery. When 60 years old, he moved to Nago and taught the kata Niseshi to Nakamura Shigeru.

(3) Referring most likely to Shihan Gakko, the Teachers’ College that was located where today stands the Okinawa Prefecture University of Arts.

(4) According to Motobu Town Elementary School records, Nakamura was appointed principal of the school in April 1946 (Showa 21) as the 15th principal.