Special feature articles

1969 article on master Yagi and Sūpārinpe
2020.06.19

Okinawa Kōkai no Yūbe
National special invitation exemplary demonstration (Part III)

(Published on September 23, 1969)

Striving to spread karate

Yagi Meitoku Hanshi (Gōjū-ryū Meibukan)
Sūpārinpe

 

 When Mr. Yagi was told that he had passed entrance to middle school (Nicchu) (1), he was immediately taken by his grandfather to become a student of Gōjū-ryū Miyagi Chōjun sensei. His grandfather had studied kanji and karate in the province of Fujian, China. Since he was a descendant of Jana Uēkata who was well versed in the pen and the sword, his grandfather believed that martial arts were compulsory and Mr. Yagi was forced to learn karate.

 Mr. Yagi received tuition from the age of 14 years old until after the war, when Miyagi was still alive. Miyagi sensei was a very strict person, and rather than teaching karate at the beginning, he had people sit and listen to him for one to two hours. As this was both mentally and physically difficult, it is said that not many students stayed for a long time. However, it was the master’s principle to teach only the ones who would keep up with him.

 Since being in fourth grade at Nicchu, Yagi Hanshi instructed students at a club in Kume district, and after the war he has worked on popularizing karate teaching at the Budō hall of the Customs office. Currently, he has built the Meibukan in his home in Kume district and is working on nurturing the successors of Gōjū-ryū.

 Yagi Hanshi will demonstrate Sūpārinpe that he learned from Miyagi sensei. In kanji, this kata’s name is written “One hundred eight hands” and is also called hyaku hachi no te (108 hands). By the way, the watch-night bell also rings 108 times. As Goju-ryu's Sūpārinpe is the last kata to be taught, it is a kata learned by 5th dan and higher people. It is a long and very sober kata which doesn’t have the flashiness of Kūsankū or Passai.

 Yagi Hanshi said, “I have shown this kata to mainland Japan’s Gōjū-ryū dōjō as I had filmed it with an 8 millimeter camera, but with the coming special demonstration at the Nippon Budōkan, I wish to perform in front of many karate people and it would be great if it could serve as a reference for Gōjū-ryū.”

 Vice Chairman of All Okinawa Karatedō Federation, Gōjū-kai Chairman, from Kume district, Naha City, 57 years old.

 

 

Notes:

(1) Nicchu was the 2nd middle school of the Okinawa Prefecture, while Icchu was the 1st middle school. They are respectively today’s Naha Senior High School and Shuri Senior High School.

 

1969 article on master Higa and Passai Dai
2020.05.22

Okinawa Kōkai no Yūbe
National special invitation exemplary demonstration (Part III)

(Published on September 23, 1969)

 

Performig with pride

Higa Yūchoku Hanshi (Shōrin-ryū Kyūdōkan)
Passai Dai

 

  Although Higa Hanshi is a robust type of man, when young he was stooped and weak. Then, at the age of seventeen, he was introduced to his father's friend Mr. Shiroma Jirō and started karate to develop physical strength. After receiving tuition from Mr. Shiroma for five years, he also received guidance from Shinzato Jin-an sensei of Gōjū-ryū and Miyahira Seiei sensei.

  After the war, having had his kata Passai Dai and Naihanchi Sandan checked by Chibana Chōshin sensei, he became a student at Chibana sensei’s. While Higa Hanshi received guidance of Gōjū-ryū before the war and Shōrin-ryū after the war, even today his use of the waist and his way of stepping among others are filled with Gōjū-ryū’s blood. The Passai Dai that Higa Hanshi will perform is Chibana sensei’s specialty. Higa Hanshi is also eager to proudly perform at this performance.

  It is said that this Passai Dai was created by Matsumura Sōkon sensei, who served as an instructor during the Ryūkyūan dynasty. It is a representative kata of “Shurite”. It is said that at his time King Shō Kō (Buddhist Lord) (1) also exerted himself in the training of Passai Dai.

  Higa Hanshi has been working hard on researching karatedō for more than 40 years, and today, as the chairman of the board of the All Okinawa Karatedō Federation (2), he is also putting a lot of effort into nurturing the karate of the cradle. Higa Hanshi said, “Okinawa’s karatedō is in the spotlight of the world. However honestly, there are many worries about karatedō like the differences in styles and various complicated problems. Particularly, competitive karate, which is contrary to Okinawa's view on karate, is popular in mainland Japan. While we need to establish a firm direction for the future of karatedō, we also need to exert ourselves in strengthening our federation’s organization and strive for the sound development of karatedō.” Born in Wakasa district, Naha City, 59 years old.

 

Notes:

(1) On the monument in the graveyard of the Matsumura family is written “He served as a guard of the royal government for three generations, including the 17th King Shō Kō, the 18th King Shō Iku and the 19th King Shō Tai of the second Shō Dynasty. Although the character is different, it is probably King Shō Kō who served as king from 1804 to 1834.

(2) In Japanese, Rijichō of the Zen Okinawa Karatedō Renmei

 

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1969 article on master Shimabukuro and Ānankū
2020.05.08

Okinawa Kōkai no Yūbe
National special invitation exemplary demonstration (Part II)

(Published on September 21, 1969)

 

 

The agile action of Mr. Shimabukuro
Shimabukuro Zenryō Hanshi (
Head of Shōrin-ryū Seibukan Dōjō)
Ānankū

 

  A small man of approximately 150 cm (1). Having been a fan of karate since his childhood, he was a mischievous student who, using the classroom wall as a substitute for makiwara, was looking forward to drilling holes while the teacher was in the staff room. In 1933, he moved from Kubagawa Shuri City to the current district of Jagaru in Chatan Village.

  While working in the confectionery wholesale in Jagaru from the age of seventeen, Shimabukuro Hanshi visited the home of karatedō master Kyan Chōtoku sensei who lived at that time next to Hija bridge in Kadena Village. Shimabukuro Hanshi recalls “For 8 years until the age of 24 years old, I travelled by bicycle to receive the master’s instruction. The hard karate life of those days is a happy memory of my young years.”

  Although he runs the Shōrin-ryū (1) Seibukan Dōjō in Jagaru, there are also many foreigner students due to the area. Foreigners park their deluxe cars next to the entrance of the dōjō. Shimabukuro Hanshi said, “It's a difference of times. We didn't dream of it when we were young. A dōjō is a good thing.” Regardless of his small body, huge foreigners are being conditioned. The eldest son, Mr. Zenpo (27 years old) is also a Renshi instructor. While he works at a foreign trading company, he absorbedly acts as his father’s assistant to instruct the students in the evening.

  Shimabukuro Hanshi will perform Ānankū, which he learned from Kyan sensei. It seems that Ānankū is based on the motto “the quickest possible movement”, and this kata is a favorite of Shimabukuro Hanshi. Rather than being a powerful performance, Shimabukuro Hansi's agile movements in performing Ānankū may be noticed by small build persons. He is 61 years old.

 

[Correction] In the introduction of Nagamine Hanshi, it was written that Nagamine Hanshi received instruction from both Matsumora Kōsaku and Matsumura Sōkon. Correctly it should have say that he received instruction from direct students of these masters, namely Motobu Chōki and Kyan Chōtoku.

 

Notes:  

  1. Five shaku is approximately 152 cm.
  2. This Shōrin-ryū can also be pronounced Sukunai-hayashi-ryū to differentiate it from the Shōrin-ryū founded by Chibana Chōshin.
  3. In the book 'Shorin Ryu Seibukan - Kyan’s Karate' by Shimabukuro Zenpo and Dan Smith, it is written: "He did not start karate training until he was 27 years old. (...) He continued to train until the war came to Okinawa in April of 1945".

 

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1969 article on master Kushi and Wankan
2020.04.20

Okinawa Kōkai no Yūbe
National special invitation exemplary demonstration (Part II)

(Published on September 21, 1969)

 

 

The theorist of the karate world
Kushi
Jokei Hanshi (Matsubayashi-ryū dōjō instructor)
Wankan

 

 He is a direct disciple of Nagamine Shōshin Hanshi. An expert in Okinawa sumō, Kushi Hanshi was a classmate of Nagamine Hanshi at Naha Commercial School (1). At that time, Mr. Nagamine was already devoting himself to the training of karate. Following his repeated suggestions, Mr. Kushi became fascinated by karate, a lifelong learning sport. Since then he received instruction from Mr. Nagamine, and today, he is passionate about teaching the juniors at the Nagamine Dōjō as a Matsubayashi-ryū instructor.

 Blessed with a solid physical strength, he is a sumō wrestler who before the war won three times the Naminoue Dedicatory Sumō Tournament. Even in karatedō, he was able to greatly improve his skills because of his predisposition. In 1944, on the recommendation of the Okinawa branch of the Butokukai, he was supposed to go to the title/rank examination board in Kyōto, but the war didn’t allow him to do so. Said to be the theorist of the Okinawa karate world, the writing activities of Kushi Hanshi in the field of karatedō are also always receiving much attention from related parties.

 Sportification of karatedō as it can be seen on the mainland have been criticized for losing the essence of karate. At the demonstration, he will display his favorite kata Wankan (Wankwan). Wankan is said to be a “Tomari type of Tī” but the creator is unknown. However, it is said to be a kata that has a long history. This is because the new kata, such as Pin-an and the likes created by Mr. Itosu Sōkō (2) start from the left. However Wankan starts from the right, like Kūsankū, so it is presumed to be an old kata.

 One characteristic of this kata is that it contains many makite (machidī) techniques, in which the performer catch the hand that attacked and without letting it escape strikes a deadly blow. It is said to be a kata particularly suitable for people with large body, and the dynamic performance of Kushi Hanshi is interesting. He was born in Tomari, Naha and is 61 years old.

 

Notes:

  1. At that time, Naha City Business School. Today, it is the Okinawa Prefectural Naha Business Senior High School, located next to Matsuyama Park in Naha City.
  2. As written in the original text. Most likely to be Itosu Ankō.
  3. Part two of the article introducing Shimabukuro Zenryō sensei will soon be available.
1969 article on masters Kaneshima and Nagamine
2020.04.14

Okinawa Kōkai no Yūbe
National special invitation exemplary demonstration (Part I)

(Published on September 20, 1969)

 

(@ The Okinawa Times Newspaper)


 On October 10th at the Nippon Budōkan, the “Okinawa Kōkai no Yūbe - Okinawa Public Evening”, an exemplary demonstration of karate will be shown to nationwide karate fans. On the 25th, it will be performed at the Okinawa Times Hall. Members to be dispatch to Japan and the program have already been decided, and every demonstrators are determined to demonstrate the “true essence” of authentic karatedō in their first all-Japan performance. So, we have asked six hanshi who are authorities of the Okinawa karatedō world to introduce themselves and their demonstrations.

 

Rōchin is one of the “secret techniques”
Kaneshima Shinsuke Hanshi-sei (Head of Tozan-ryū Shindōkan)

 

 A 73-year-old senior, the only “Hanshi-sei” (1) in the Okinawa karatedō world. Born in a family that has been dedicated to karate since his ancestors, Kaneshima Hanshi-sei started karate when he was fifteen, in a privileged environment. For the first four years, he was trained by Motobu Chōyū sensei, and then went to Taiwan for more karate training. In Taiwan, he became a student of Toyama Chōgi sensei, a native of Shuri, and studied for more than two years. At present in his Yonabaru Town house, having chosen the name Tozan-ryū, and despite his old age, he is passionate about teaching his juniors with his strong physical strength developed through karate training.

 For this public demonstration, he will perform Rōchin (2) taught by Toyama sensei. Rōchin is a painstaking work of Toyama sensei, and many various techniques to protect oneself have been incorporated in this kata. It seems it is today one of the “secret techniques” of Kaneshima Hanshi-sei, and he has taught it only to one Okinawan disciple and one disciple in Kumamoto. In response to the cameraman's request, he performed Rōchin in his home dōjō. Through his secret technique's performance, Kaneshima Hanshi-sei showed an even more serious expression.

 Kaneshima Hanshi-sei has been looking forward to demonstrate Rōchin to the nationwide public and has train hard. He said: “On the mainland, karate has been turned into a competition. Therefore those who reach 40 years old become referees and don't sweat anymore. No doubt they will be surprised by a grandpa's performance, but this is why I have to show a further more powerful performance.”

 As the chairman of the Federation (3), he aims at ❶ Unity in the common interests where authentic karate goes beyond styles, Introducing correct karatedō outside the prefecture.

 

Notes:

  1. Hanshi-sei: In the JKF “Karate Shinbun” dated of August 20, 1969 can be found an article titled “Current Status of the Karate World in Okinawa”. In it, Director Yamaguchi Gōgen, Chairman Kaneshima, Toguchi Seikichi Shihan, Vice-chairman Yagi discuss the future issues that karate faces. At the beginning of the article, Mr. Yagi said, “Okinawa karate is currently divided into five groups: Shōrin, Sukunai-hayashi, Matsubayashi, Uechi, and Gōjū. There are thirty dōjōs. Ranks are up to Godan (5th dan) and above this they are divided into three groups: Renshi, Kyōshi and Hanshi. Hanshi who are over 70 years old are given the title of Hanshi-sei.” <Note: Currently, Chairman Kaneshima is the only Hanshi-sei. >
  2. Rōchin: in the text, this kata is written both in katakana and 2 kanji that can be translated as Dragon advance or march.
  3. The Zen (All) Okinawa Karatedō Renmei (Federation). Established on February 26, 1967. Nagamine Shōshin was the first Chairman while Mr. Kaneshima served as the 2nd chairman from 1969 to 1971.

 

Mr. Nagamine - Performing the true Kūsankū
Nagamine Shōshin Hanshi (Head of Matsubayashi-ryū Nagamine Dōjō)

 Since the age of seventeen and for about forty years, he has been devoting himself to karate. After receiving karatedō tuition from the great seniors Arakaki Ankichi and Kyan Chōtoku, he has also received instruction from Tomari’s Matsumora Kōsaku and Shuri’s Matsumura Sōkon (1). For this reason, he took the character “Matsu” from both men’s surnames, and immediately after the end of the war, he opened his present Matsubayashi-ryū dōjō in Miebashi district of Naha City. Until last year, he served as the first chairman of the Zen Okinawa Karatedō Renmei. While striving for the healthy upbringing of the birthplace’s world of karatedō, he teaches his juniors the traditional kata of “Tomarite” and “Shurite”.

 Passai, Chintō, and Kūsankū are three of his special techniques, but at the Nippon Budōkan, he will perform Kūsankū. Speaking of Kūsankū, although not a word that novices are aware of, it is an old kata that has been popular as Kūsankū. According to the Ōshima's records, the origin of Kūsankū traces back to 200 years ago, when a Chinese envoy by the name of Kūsankū performed in the Ryūkyū dynasty. As it seems to be a kata to defeat large men, it is favored by agile people. Nagamine Hanshi is a small man but yet still performs Kūsankū with the lightness of a young man. The characteristics are the kicks and the cross-shaped enbusen. Also, because it is a long performance, it could be compared to the Ryūkyūan dance Nufa bushi (2).

 According to Nagamine Hanshi, "Because match oriented karate is becoming popular on the mainland, this kata Kūsankū also is spreading in a chaotic way. Using the chance of demonstrating at the Nippon Budōkan, I would like to show the correct form there.” His expression looks like he would like to go straight ahead right away. He is 62 years old from Tomari, a place where karate was flourishing.

 

Notes:

  1. [Correction] In the introduction of Nagamine Hanshi, it was written that Nagamine Hanshi received instruction from both Matsumora Kōsaku and Matsumura Sōkon. Correctly it should have say that he received instruction from direct students of these masters, namely Motobu Chōki and Kyan Chōtoku, (Correction printed in the newspaper of September 21)
  2. Onna odori: Beautiful and elegant, the onna odori is the most important genre in the classical dance. A group of seven dances called "nana odori" are known for their great beauty - Shudun, Nufa bushi, Tsuikuten bushi, Yanagi, Amakawa, Kasekake and Nuchibana. (…) The onna odori consists of three dances: a beginning, a central and a concluding dance. The dances are performed to the lyrics of the ryuka, so selected that the dances have a thematic development and tell a story. In the kingdom Period, the onna odori was danced by men, but today the dances are performed by women. (Source: Keys to Okinawan culture – Published in 1992 by the Okinawa Prefecture Government)

 

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