Onko Chishin series: Kobudo in 1961 Part 1


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

In 1961, a series of articles titled KOBUDO was published in the Okinawa Times Newspaper at the occasion of the 1st demonstration of the Okinawa Kobudo Kyokai (1). From November 16 to 26 1961, 18 masters and their specialty weapon or kata were featured in 9 articles. The dates and masters were as follow.

Nov. 15, 1961 Kina Shosei (79) – Sai & Shinjo Heisaburo (47) – Karate-jutsu

Nov. 16, 1961 Article 2 Irei Matsutaro (82) – Kusarigama & Nakamura Heisaburo (68) - Chisochin

Nov. 17, 1961 Article 3 Nakamura Shigeru (67) – Niseshi & Higa Yusuke (70) – Timbei

Nov. 21 1961 Article 4 Kaneshima Shinsuke (64) – Douchin & Chinen Masami (63) – Sakugawa no kon

Nov. 22 1961 Article 5 Soken Hohan (70) – Kusarigama & Shiroma Taisei (77) – Ufutun bo

Nov. 23 1961 Article 6 Nohara Kamaichi (83) – Shihokiri & Takara Shigeru (53) – Kiai Justu

Nov. 24 1961 Article 7 Ishikawa Iroei (50) – Nunchaku & Higa Seitoku (41) – Shoushi no kon

Nov. 25 1961 Article 8 Kyan Shinei (49) – Sai & Kameshima Shinei (61) – Naifanchi

Nov. 26 1961 Article 9 Nakaima Kenko (51) – Nichigama & Uchima Anyu (23) – Naifanchi

Kobudo Part1

In the first article published on November 15, an introduction of the series was presented to the readers. Here is a translation of how the original article reads.

"With the support of the Commission for Protection of Cultural Properties, the Ryukyu Shimpo Newspaper and the Okinawa Times Newspaper, the Okinawa Kobudo Kyokai (President Higa Seitoku) will held its first demonstration on November 26 at PM1:00 at Naha Theater. This is organized in order to help the resurrection of decreasing native kobudo. More than 50 authorities from all regions of the island will participate performing around 60 demonstrations among which Bo, Sai, Kama, Nunchaku, Tinbei, etc…

From 83 years the venerable Mr. Nohara Kamaichi (Kochinda Village) to 24 years old young men, we are all enthusiastic with this demonstration and would like to introduce the major demonstrators."


Article 1 (Part 1)

November 15, 1961

Kina Shosei (79) – Sai

Direct transmission from the police force

In the past, Sai was worn by Chikusaji (hori) (2) and used to protect the king, control the crowd or to arrest criminals. It resembles the Jitte of Mainland Japan. Mr. Kina started the practice of Sai at the age of 18, receiving instruction from the seniors and friends of the village. The birthplace of Mr. Kina, Shimabukuro (Koza City) is extremely famous for Sai and it is said that it was popularized among the youth of the village as one kind of self-defense. However, it seems that this was only a self-taught style where people learned from mimicking policemen. Today, there are many masters of Sai in Okinawa but there exists no Ryuha (3) and kata are not uniformed.

The Sai technique that Mr. Kina practices was directly transmitted from an Ufuchiku (official title) policeman who performed his duties at Shuri Castle, thus making it an orthodox school.

The major techniques of Sai are about “hitting, blocking, thrusting and knocking down”, and it is a martial art for self-defense. Mr. Kina says that he teaches his students advocating, “Under the sky, one cannot commit bad actions, there is no first attack in Sai.” For 32 years, he has worked as a teacher and nowadays lives the rest of his life quietly as a Christian.

Among his students are Kyan Shinei, Izumikawa Kantoku and Kina Shoshin who are famous as Sai performers. With a big voice Mr. Kina jokes, “I am already an 80 years old grandpa” but his handling of the Sai is sharp. During the soon coming demonstration at Naha Theater, he intends to show the techniques and higher skills that he has spent a lifetime to learn. He was born in in 1882. (4)

Extra notes:

(1) The “Okinawa Kobudo Kyokai” was founded in 1961. It is not related to the actual Okinawa Prefecture Kobudo Federation.

(2) “Chikusaji” refers to police force or policemen. The term “hori” designates a policeman of the time of Edo era.

(3) “Ryuha” means school

(4) Kina sensei passed away in 1981.


Article 1 (Part 2)

November 15, 1961

Shinjo Heisaburo (47) – Karate-jutsu (1)

Studying “jutsu” in Nanking

He was born in 1914 in Yomitan Village Aza Uza.

His father being fond of karate, he became familiar with karate since his young years. On the suggestion of his father, he crossed over to Nanking China at the age of 17 and learned karate-jutsu at the dojo of Kan Mei sensei (2).

Karate is not about Buki (weapon) or Gei (arts). The purpose is to temper the mind (3).

Karate-jutsu… Mr. Shinjo explains that the meaning of “Jutsu” is the cultivation of the mind. During the demonstration, he is scheduled to put a wire through his arm (4).

Since the wire is like a fine metal chopstick, encouraging himself with a kiai, he will pass the wire through his forearm instantly. Not a drop of blood is shed. No pain is felt. It is hard to believe that such a skill is of a human being.

To master such a technique, one needs a considerable amount of spiritual training and Mr. Shinjo devoted six years. Although he has developed a strong body conditioned through karate and a thick wad of muscles, he recalls the pain that comes with conditioning.

After the war, he was evacuated to Mainland Japan (Kagoshima). When his Highness Prince Takamatsu visited Kagoshima, he demonstrated karate-jutsu at a welcoming party. So far he had put 16 times a wire through his forearm, but the demonstration he did for the reception in honor of Prince Takamatsu was the one that marked him the most. Seeing this, the Prince asked him if it wasn’t painful. He explained that once the wire go through, it is fine. But the mental concentration until realization is very tiring both nervously and physically.

Enthusiastically grabbing a wire, he says, “I am very happy to be able to show my skill in public. According to my capacity of applying technique on this day or not will be a turning point. Even if I am the only one in Okinawa to be able to do this karate skill, the Kobudo Association has recommended me, therefore, I have to do my utmost…”

Currently, he runs a shoe-making store in Nishinjo, Naha City (5).

(1) Shinjo Heisaburo sensei is the uncle of Shinjo Heitaro sensei, who is the master of Shorin-ryu Myobukan Matsuda Yoshimasa sensei. The 3 men participated to the demonstration in 1961. Matsuda sensei performed the kata Chinto and Heitaro sensei performed Kusari-gama. (Source: Matsuda Yoshimasa Koki Kinenshi - Seventieth Birthday Memorial Book)

(2) No further information on Kan Mei. The reading of the kanji is not sure as it is most likely a Chinese name. It is not sure if it is Kan-mei or Kan as a family name with Mei/Akira as a given name…

(3) In the text, “Seishin no tanren”, that could be translated as tempering or conditioning of the spirit or mind.

(4) A 3.5 mm diameter wire.

(5) At the entrance of Kuninda, the Kume Village, was a gate called Kume Ufu-mon (big gate). At the end of Kume Street, north east, used to be Nishinjo-mon (East gate). Today, the police box at the end of the street is still called Nishinjo Koban.