Kobudō 9: Nakaima Kenkō and Uchima Anyū
2019.12.03

 

November 26, 1961

Kobudo 9

 

Father-and-Son's Nichō-gama

Nakaima Kenkō (51)

Nichō-gama

 

  Born in 1910 in Kume, Naha into a family of martial artists referred to as the “Bō Nakaima,” Kenkō has been practicing karate for as long as he can remember. According to Kenkō, he had achieved a general mastery of his martial art by the time he was fourteen or fifteen years old.

  His martial art is one mastered by his grandfather, Norisato (1), who studied it in Fujian China during the Qing dynasty. Kenkō shared an episode about this with us. Around the time his grandfather, Norisato, was fourteen or fifteen years old, a burglar entered his house on the night 10,000 cash coins in strings had been dropped off by a moai (2) support group. Thanks to the quick-witted response of a neighbor a bad outcome was avoided, but the incident made Norisato feel it was his obligation as a man to learn a martial art, and so he began training.

  Around the time his martial art came to be known in Shuri and Naha, Norisato gave an exhibition of a tai (3) form at a party welcoming a ship of emissaries from China. His performance drew the attention of a Qing official and eventually lead to Norisato’s studies abroad.

  Norisato trained for three years in Fujian before returning home. He never took any disciples, but instead passed the art down secretly from child to grandchild, keeping it within the Nakaima household. As a result, many aspects of the art were never made public, including its tai, kama, and bō weapons forms, as well as tenbe, shuchin, and more.

  Mr. Nakaima has also mastered Okinawa’s unique equestrianism and it is said he is the island’s only school principal to own riding horses. “Military arts (4) were originally intended to kill people, but when the principles of morality are brought into play and the art is refined to the level of a philosophy, that is when it becomes a martial art (5),” he said, taking a small jab at the recent karate manslaughter incident at Takushoku University.

  Regarding the kobujutsu that will be demonstrated, he noted that “we need to preserve the arts not simply because they are old, but because they have true value.” With that in mind, rather than picking one of the many newer alternatives, he chose to perform nicho gama and he’s eager to compare his techniques to those of other sickle users. Mr. Nakaima will be performing the kata Nicho-gama Nidan, and Ichidan will be performed by his second son, who is attending the University of the Ryūkyūs, making it a father-and-son performance.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skD9iTGYVA8&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3ZGSnTxP-q91fSmtqNAoB3lXfeC0RcMV3pXlLORti7K1Yjg2Vx3JyK6jw

 

Notes:

(1) Can also be read Kenri

(2) Moai are social groups formed in order for members to provide each other various types of support. Many Okinawans have monthly Moai gathering that last for decades with longtime friends, school mates, club members, etc.

(3) Written "Tai" in Hiragana in the text.

(4) Written Bujutsu in the text.

(5) Written Budō in the text.

 

 

The Youngest Performer

Uchima Anyū (23)

Naihanchi

 

  Born in 1938 in the North Ward of Minamidaitō Island, Anyū is the only participating performer from a remote island. He arrived in Naha on the fourth, earlier this month, and is staying at the home of President Higa while waiting his turn to perform. Anyū, the youngest of the performers, will be demonstrating Naihanchi. While his Naihanchi differs from that of the main island, some suspect it has actually preserved the original Naihanchi form.

  Anyū receives instruction from his uncle, Yasuichi, who studied karate in the South Sea Islands before the war while living under the same roof as Motobu Choyū’s son, Torajū (a nickname). Mr. Motobu was a disciple of Shuri’s Bushi Matsumura and Yasuichi received instruction from Choyū’s son, Torajū, which links Anyū to Bushi Matsumura’s lineage. When President Higa saw Anyū’s Naihanchi, he commented that “The eye positioning and movement of the hands, feet, and body are different from the Naihanchi of the main island. Since your uncle received instruction from Motobu Choyū’s son, Torajū, your upcoming demonstration may give us a glimpse of the original Bushi Matsumura form. Everyone will be watching your Naihanchi with great interest.” Karate has yet to catch on in Minamidaitō - the only practitioners there are Yasuichi, his son, and Anyū. Anyū began training at the age of fourteen and currently devotes any time not spent helping with farming to his karate practice.

  “I’m really happy to be performing at the demonstration. I’ll get to see the kobudō of my seniors from the main island, and I also wanted to perform in front of everyone one more time,” he said, clearly looking forward to his performance.

 

Some more information on Uchima Anyū and the mentioned Naihanchi is available on the Motobu-ryū Blog and Motobu Chōmo alias Torajū.

 

Return to the top page of the series

Kobudō 8: Kyan Shinei and Kaneshima Shinei
2019.11.07

 

November 25, 1961

Kobudo 8

 

Eager to share with the younger generation

Kyan Shinei (49)

Sai

 

  Born in 1912 in Higa, Kitanakagusuku, Shinei began studying martial arts with one of his elementary school teachers he admired, Kina Shosei, a well-known sai expert. At the upcoming demonstration, the master and student will give a sai demonstration together. The wrist handling and the rich variation of movements make the sai a very interesting weapon. This is why he’s never dreaded practice in over forty years of training with the sai. “Every country has martial arts to protect its people. However, Okinawa’s sai is not meant to stab and kill an opponent to protect oneself like other martial arts and weapons around the world, but rather to subdue the opponent without causing them harm. This has a profound significance that cannot be done with words.

  Okinawa’s sai is a weapon modeled after the human body, a fact which symbolizes its philosophy of peace,” Shinsei explained as he gripped a human-shaped sai in each hand and showcased several quick moves. The movement variation of his wrists is so striking that one can’t help but break into a cold sweat imaging the worst-case scenario - a strayed sai flying to the side. But he says a sai has never slipped out of his hand even once since first picking the weapons up. While the idea itself of shaping the sai like a human is admirable, the design also resulted in a weapon that could be freely controlled by the five fingers, making the sai ideal for an art of offense and defense. It also seems fitting of the sai’s techniques. “I want to make a physical education course that uses my hometown’s unique sai and bō as equipment for sport. Martial arts demonstrations are currently often done solo, but group demonstrations would be good not only for physical education but also from a general education perspective since they would serve to carry on the wonderful kobujutsu that our ancestors entrusted us with,” he continued, before adding that it is our duty to share these arts with many people of the younger generation.

  (Current Secretary-General of the Okinawa Teachers' Association)

 

 

Combining hard and soft

Kaneshima Shinei (61)

Naihanchi

 

   Mr. Kaneshima, who practices karate as a way to stay healthy, will perform Naihanchi and Sanchin at the upcoming demonstration. Mr. Kaneshima was a weak child, thus his father Shinbi taught him karate as one “way of heath”. Ever since, it has been part of his daily routine and he trains every single morning, rain or shine.

   The karate Mr. Kaneshima practices is called Ishimine-ryū, also known as “Kuma-no-te”(1). While it may appear a bit unattractive, the style is dominating and overflows with a sense of power. It has several kata next to Naihanchi, and their bold movements are a good fit for powerful practitioners. Mr. Kaneshima explained that a balance of “hard and soft” is a distinguishing characteristic of Ishimine-ryū, and when he dons his karate gi he seems far younger than one might expect at sixty-one years of age.

   Still able to read without relying on glasses, he asserted his good health by displaying Sanchin. “While it was my father who introduced me to martial arts, not once have I ever felt like practicing karate was a chore,” he said. Karate training is intense, and it’s considered normal for a practitioner to give up at least once in their career. But because training has always been a part of his daily routine, Mr. Kaneshima claims he looks forward to his sessions just like one might look forward to the 3 daily meals.

  At the age of nineteen, he moved to Tōkyō to study law at Nihon University and spent his time as a student diligently training in karate and judo. Now, he spends his days enjoying life while painting, practicing calligraphy, and reciting poetry.

  (Works at the Public Prosecutors Office)

 

Notes:

In both articles, although the characters for ei of Shinei differ, both given names should be pronounced Shin-ei.

(1) Kuma-no-te could mean bear’s claw

 

Return to the top page of the series

Kobudō 7: Ishikawa Hōei and Higa Seitoku
2019.10.29

 

November 24, 1961

Kobudo 7

 

Father, the Nunchaku Master

Ishikawa Hōei (50)

Nunchaku

 

  Born in 1911 in Shuri into a family of martial artists—his father Hōkō was known as a master of nunchaku—Hōei grew familiar with kobujutsu from the time he was a child and began training in karate at the age of eleven. During the demonstration, he will perform the specialty of his father Hōko, the nunchaku.

  The nunchaku is said to have come from China, but the weapon never gained much popularity before the war, making practitioners rare. The nunchaku has a wider range of use than the bō, and the ease of attack is said to be one of its advantages. Hōei took some kata of karate and modified them to create his own original nunchaku kata.

  While karate was an intimate part of his life from childhood, Hōei didn’t begin using the nunchaku until he graduated from Nippon Sport Science University at the age of twenty-three. Since he’d already mastered karate by the time he began kobujutsu, it could be said Hōei was a late starter. However, his natural dexterity helped ensure his quick advancement after he began practicing.

  “My father went easy on me, so I didn’t train hard. I’m not even half as proficient as he was,” Hōei humbly revealed, although he is clearly fired up about the coming demonstration. He spoke about the mindset required for one training with the nunchaku, saying “Just because attacking is easy doesn’t mean you can be reckless. The practitioner’s intention will determine whether the nunchaku becomes a weapon for self protection thus being useful or a deadly weapon.” Many young people began practicing nunchaku after the war, and the weapon is becoming more popular than it was before the war.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yePfZ4_DDag&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3-TzqFjLW0vUqc57rbewUl3xzxJzis5lMOQrsuZpY454bH-ri1o9HGlN0

 

 

Dedication to the Revival of Kobudō

Higa Seitoku (41)

Soshi no Kon

 

  Born in 1921 in Sueyoshi, Shuri. The President of the Kobudō Association, he is extremely passionate about reviving kobudō. “My love for martial arts is pure—it transcends styles. I hope to revive the kobudō of my hometown,” he said, sharing his ambitions. Currently Head of Civil Affairs at the Regional Legal Affairs Bureau, Seitoku wears glasses and has a kind appearance. You wouldn’t believe him if he told you he was a bō expert, but as soon as he puts his karate gi on and picks up his bō, he begins to exude intensity and a certain sharpness. When he performed the Soshi no Kon kata that he will show at the demonstration, the sounds of his bō slicing through the air and joints cracking rang out as he made his way around the entirety of the dojo. Perhaps this is what is meant by the phrase “kakure bushi,” or hidden warrior. Soshi no Kon is a Yamane-ryū basic kata and Seitoku learned it from the style’s creator, Chinen Masami.

  The photograph shows a single frame of the Soshi no Kon kata in which the entire body is defended using a single bō.

  He began learning the bō around the age of ten, starting with an introduction from his uncle, and for more than forty years since, he’s devoted himself completely to the weapon. While studying law at Chuo University in 1929, he gave frequent martial arts demonstrations, primarily at student association gatherings. During school breaks, he would read novels on Miyamoto Musashi for inspiration and travel all over Japan training diligently. “I would sleep out in the open or spend the night at a temple if it was raining. Sometimes I would train myself mentally by sitting under a waterfall. That kind of training was really advantageous for daily life too. It also made for some good memories from my time as a student,” he said.

 

Return to the top page of the series

Kobudō 6: Nohara Kamaichi and Takara Shigeru
2019.10.08

 

[Okinawa Times] November 23, 1961

Kobudō 6

 

The eldest performer

Nohara Kamaichi (83)

Shihō-kiri

 

  Born in 1879 in Tomimori, Kochinda Village. 83 years old. It is the oldest among the performers. Even children in the hamlets who do not know Bōjustu are well aware that when “grandpa Nohara” is mentioned, it means the “master of Bōjustu”.

  A small built man like Mifune Jūdan (1), his vigorous moves do not betray a man of 83 years.

  Before WWII, the Tomimori hamlet was famous for Bō, and on the day of August 15th, there was a Bōjustu demonstration with the hamlet being divided into south and west. However, it was interrupted after WWII. Mr. Nohara tried hard to revive the hamlet traditional Bōjustu (Shihō-kiri), but he did not succeed. It seems that young people have no interest in the cudgel. As he has handled the staff for more than 70 years, he is sad that the Bō is going to die in the community.

  Last year, for the opening of the community center, this grandpa who loves Bōjustu performed a demonstration. For the hamlet’s wedding ceremonies, celebrations and the likes, he is always delighted to perform.

  "It is really good to be able to perform at the Naha Theater on the recommendation of the Kodudō Association soon. Because of my age, I cannot show a lively cudgel anymore but I firmly remember the kata," he said enthusiastically.

  Until the age of seventy, it was nothing for him to handle a staff of 70 kin (2), thus he has managed to perform lightly ‘Shihō-kiri’. Although he says that “One can’t beat aging”, he goes on performing vigorously what is “Sanpō-kiri”.

(Present address: Kochinda Village, aza Tomimori)

 

Notes:

(1) Jūdō master Kyūzō Mifune (1883 – 1965)

(2) 1 kin is approximately 600 grams

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMYkaDw08z4&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0jqupvhfA5OlW-80GNrxlE5-QqGmLWsUapXNXfwbzX9UqPtgJTbQt3dx8

 

Perfoming Kiai-jutsu and ‘Seisan’

Takara Shigeru (53)

Kiai-jutsu

 

  During the next demonstration, he will perform Kiai-jutsu and Seisan (karate). Mr. Takara grew up learning various martial arts from his father, Mr. Kamado, who loved martial arts since childhood. It has been more than 40 years since he held a sai trident at the age of ten years old.

  At first, he took out his father's sai and nunchaku and used them as fun toys but gradually became interested. After the passing of his father Kamado, he studied under Kyan Chotoku (Chanmī-gwa) and began to practice karate earnestly. Mr. Takara can perform either karate, kobudō or Kiai-justu, but this time, in particular, the association requests him to perform Kiai-justu and Seisan.

  He was introduced to Kiai-justu” by Mr. Tamura Yoshikazu, who lives in Tomita Village in Chiba Prefecture, but he demonstrates a technique that seems to be unhuman. Passing an approximately 20 cm long needle through his arm and attaching a chain to it, he then pulls a large passenger car, or pass the car over his stomach, truly techniques unbelievable for human. Since the venue at the Naha Theater is small, a car cannot be used. Yet he says that he still wants to introduce a secret technique for a change. Seisan is one of the kata of Chanmī-gwa. Similar to Sanchin, the main purpose is to develop the form and train muscles, and he says that anyone who practices karate must temper this way.

  Kiai-jutsu needs at least 20 years of practice to be mastered. But the countless needles scars on both arms of Mr. Takara seemed to give an account of the pain of the training.

 

Return to the top page of the series

About the estimated new photo of Itosu Ankō
2019.09.13

  On September 12, the Okinawa Prefecture Karate promotion division unveiled a new special exhibition inside the Okinawa Karate Kaikan’s special exhibit room. It is titled “To pass down, and spread karate!”

 

 

  On the commemoration of the opening, a lecture titled “A new hypothesis on the Itosu Ankō photo” was given by part-time staff and karate researcher at the Karate promotion division, Nakamura Akira. We are hereby introducing the content of the lecture based on documents produced during the lecture.

  After an announcement at the Okinawa Karate Academy held in March this year (See: Itosu Ankō – Re-examination of the photo), Mr. Nakamura continued to collect and verify photographic materials. End of March, he noticed that there were  many Okinawa-related historical materials in the Nakajō Bunko collection preserved in Kochi City’s Library (also known as Otepia Kochi Library).

  The Nakajō Bunko is a collection made of old documents property of the Nakajō Family, an old family of Kochi Prefecture. Nakajō Naomasa (1868-1925)  was a teacher at the Okinawa Prefecture Middle School. According to Mr. Nakamura’s research, he might be the first non-Okinawa to have learn karate (1).

  As the investigation went on, it came out that there were 45 Okinawa related photographs in the collection. Among them, five school-related photographs titled “Okinawa Prefectural Middle School Teachers and Students” were found.

  From there, Mr. Nakamura conducted a detailed investigation based on the persons present in the pictures and revealed the year each photograph was taken.

  The result of his studies shows that the five photos are from the 15th up to the 19th graduation ceremonies of the school from March 1903 to March 1907. It appears that the presence of Henry Amoore (2), a professor of English for three years from 1905, was the hint that allowed the establishing of the chronology of the photographs.

  According to the history of Okinawa Prefectural Middle School, karate instruction with Itosu as karate professor started from January 1905. There is thus a possibility that he appears in a graduation photo after the 17th graduation ceremony of March 1905. Therefore, 3 of the 5 found photos found are subject photos. In two of them, a person who could be estimated as being Itosu is nowhere to be found.

  Born in 1831, Itosu Ankō was 74 years old in 1905, and there is only one person who can be viewed as a person of such age. Looking at the 17th graduation photo dated of 1905, Nakamura determined that the person standing at the right end of the second row using a cane on the right hand is this man, i.e. Itosu Ankō.

 

 

  However, no such person has been confirmed in graduation photo after 1908.

  In his memoirs, Kamimura Kōtarō who graduated in 1907 recalls that Itosu was a "80-year-old venerable old man with a bow shape back who walked with a stick”. As far as one can see, there is no other man that matches this description. This recollection of Kamimura further enhances the probability of the comment “this is the man known as Itosu Ankō”.

  Itosu Noboru (76), the great-grandson of Itosu Ankō came to the lecture venue. Although not a karateka, he commented, “I heard that my great-grandfather was a person who hated conflict. I'm glad that the photo was found and hope it will be confirmed soon”.

 

 

(1) According to Nakamura's research, Mr. Nakajō resided in Okinawa from 1902 to 1907. Nakayoshi Yoshimitsu wrote an article titled “The founder of karate gymnastics, pride of the middle school - Our member’s motivation - In honor of our classmate Mr. Matsuda” (‘Yoshu’ No. 35 of 1934). In it he recalls: “First of all, when karate was included in the school under the teaching of modern karate master the venerable Itosu, the staff were first trained. The enthusiastic training shown by the vice principal at that time Nakajō sensei became famous among all students”. In addition, Yamauchi Seihin stated in “Karate Zuisō – essays” (‘Gekkan Karatedō’ Vol. 1, No. 3 of 1956) “A small and clumsy person, Nakajō was the vice principal. Although he was not particularly gifted in karate, his zeal was impressing.”

 

(2) According to the information sign raised in the Tomari International Cemetery by Naha City Cultural Property Division, Englishman Henry Amoore was an English teacher at the Okinawa Prefectural Middle School in 1908. On his grave is engraved in English “Born on June 20, 1840 - Died on February 16, 1908 - Teacher at Okinawa Prefectural Middle School”.

 

 

Note: The graduation photo of 1905 is the property of the Kochi City Library and we do not have the authorization yet to publish it. We will do so once we receive the proper authorization.