Kobudō 8: Kyan Shinei and Kaneshima Shinei
November 25, 1961
Eager to share with the younger generation
Kyan Shinei (49)
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)
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)
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