Special feature articles

Martial arts demonstration in front of the king at Shuri Castle

 While there are some anecdotes about Ryūkyū Kings and karate, like the ones relating to Matsumura Sōkon, martial arts related events mentioning specific areas of Shuri Castle are rare.

 In 1866 was held the Sakuho ceremony of the last king of the Ryūkyū, Shō Tai. The following year, as the ceremony was completed successfully, a celebration was held at Uchaya Udun. Following the event, a karate and kobujutsu performance was held in front of the king in front of “Akata Ujō” gate.

 (This event was introduced by curator Mrs. Sakihara Kyōko during a 2019 karate-related historic site tour. She also pinpointed that based on prewar records on Shuri Castle, the “Akata Ujō” gate originally referred to the “Bifukumon” gate and later the “Keiseimon” gate.)


 To support this historical fact, the records “Tāfākū” of Kumemura - Kume Village mentions the program “Sanruchu Narabi Shogei Bangumi” which included martial arts demonstrations performed at the Uchaya Udun palace in Sakiyama in March 1867 and the later demonstration in front of the king.

  Reference: “After proceeding according to the various programs and finishing by 7 o’clock, flagpoles were raised and a tug-of-war procession was formed in Kumemura in order to welcome the Sanruchu performers. Reaching Sakiyama Baba, the performers fully dressed joined in the procession to really create a Kumemura on parade. On the way back, they approached Akata Ujō where the king had hanged a script on the gate and was resting. Through the king’s envoy, the performers were asked to once again demonstrate their martial skills. As told, they performed 5 demonstrations in the street in front of the gate for the lord’s leisure. They then went back to Kumemura living from Tennōji, passing through the town and exiting from Shimo Ayajō (1).” (“Collection of writings of Shimabukuro Zenpatsu”, published in 1956.)


Keiseimon (upper photo in orange) and Bifukumon (lower image in blue)

These two gates are located on the east side of Shuri castle and are considered back gates.

(Source: Shuri Castle Guided Tour 12th episode “Keiseimon and Bifukumon” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lHcdPHnm8I)


(1) Tennōji was a Rinzai sect temple during the Ryūkyū Kingdom era where the Shō queen was later enshrined. The site of the temple is located close to where the Shuri Church stands today, not far from Shuri Tonokura Post Office.

During the Ryūkyū Kingdom era, the road from Naha Port, the gateway to the sea, to Shuri Castle via Sogenji Temple in Tomari was the most famous public road in the kingdom. In particular, the wide road centered between “Shimo Ayajō” (another name for Chuzanmon gate– approximately where stand the store Shuri Ryusen next to Shuri Senior High School) and “Ui no Ayajō” (another name for Shureimon gate) was called “Ayajō Ufumichi”.

(Source: Naha City Museum of History, translation by OKIC)

“Okinawa no Kenshi” video collection

 Following the “Okinawa no Bushi” video collection from Mr. Yamaguchi Masafune that we presented last month, here is another video collection titled “Okinawa no Kenshi” in Japanese. Released on YouTube, features some rare videos like Maeda Bō, kama by Miyazato Eikō sensei and a demonstration by Uezu Angi sensei.


Okinawa no Kenshi -1 / 1994

Shōrin-ryū Risshikan – Kiyūna Chōkō sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -2 / 1998

Ryūei-ryū Ryūhōkai - Sakumoto Tsuguo sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -3 / 1993

Okikukai – Sakiyama Takao sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -4 / 1994

Funakoshi Shōrin-ryū – Yoza Masao – Kata “Chintē”



Okinawa no Kenshi -5 / 1993

Ryūkyū Kobudō Hōzon Shinkōkai Hdqrs Shinbukan – Kinjō Kiyoharu sensei – Kata “Urashī nu kun”



Okinawa no Kenshi -6 / 1993

Maeda Bōjutsu – Kobudō Kenkyūkai – Arakaki Kastunori – “Maeda no bō”



Okinawa no Kenshi -7 / 1993

Ryūkyū Kobudō Hōzon Shinkōkai Hdqrs Shinbukan – Akamine Hiroshi sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -8 / 1998

Demonstration by Oshiro Yuzuru sensei for Takamine Chōboku sensei, advisor of the Gōjū-ryū International Karate Kobudō Federation



Okinawa no Kenshi -9 / 1993

Kōdōkan Hdqrs – Yamashiro Ken-ichi sensei – Kata “Hakutsuru-ken Ni”



Okinawa no Kenshi -10 / 1993

Gōjū-ryū Meibukan Ueda Dōjō – Hokama Yasuaki sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -11/ 1998

Ryūkyū Kobudō Eiryūkai Miyazato Hdqrs – Miyazato Eikō sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -12/ 1993

Gōjū-ryū Shōdōkan Gibo Dōjō – Gibo Seiki sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -13/ 1997

Okinawa Gōjū-ryū Canada – Kinjo Yoshitaka sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -14/ 1993

Uechi-ryū Kubagawa Shūbukan – Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkōkai Kubagawa Branch – Kinjō Masakazu sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -15/ 1996

Gōjū-ryū Karatedō Okinawa Kenshinkai Nakachi Dōjō – Higa Masaru sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -16/ 1997

Uechi-ryū France – Takayasu Hidemi sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -17/ 1997

Gōjū-ryū Brazil – Yonamine Yasunori sensei



Okinawa no Kenshi -18/ 1993

Shōrin-ryū Myobukan Hdqrs Motomura sensei – Kata “Sērū”



Okinawa no Kenshi -19/ 1992

Okinawa Isshin-ryū Karate Kobudō – Uezu Angi sensei


Kuchi busā, by Nakaima Genkai sensei

 A “Bushi” (pronounced busā in Okinawan language) is a master. It is used for someone who excells in Bugei - martial arts, karate and the likes, or to designate a powerful person. It has the meaning of Samurai. (Okinawa language dictionary)

 “Kuchi bu” is someone who talks big and pretends to be very strong, but in reality, who is useless.

 Among British sayings, there are “Saying is one thing and doing another” and “Actions speak louder than words.” After all, only talking brings nothing. It is the same as the French proverb that says “More noise than work. If behaving as a “Kuchi bu”, one may finally be abandoned by friends as “a too long (eloquent) tongue can ruin even a big man” (Japanese saying).

(The sign reads “Fugen-jikkō” for “Say nothing and act”)



"Complete collection of Okinawan sayings"

Author: Nakaima Genkai

Published: 1971

Publisher: Okinawa Bunkyō Publishing


About Nakaima Genkai

 Born in Kume, Naha City in 1908, Nakaima Genkai studied under Miyagi Chōjun, the founder of Gōjū-ryū from the age of 15 in 1923. Later on in 1952, he helped establish the Karatedō Gōjū-ryū Promotion Association which would be chaired by Miyagi Chōjun. In 1973, he performed Sanchin during the “Gōjū-ryū Founder Miyagi Chōjun 20th Anniversary Festival Demonstration”. His demonstration rendered shirtless wearing only a short pants can be seen at this link (the demonstration starts at 4:31).

(Source: Okinawa Karate Kobudō Encyclopedia)

 During the celebration of the establishment of the Okinawa Dentō Karatedō Shinkōkai in 2008, a similar photo of Nakaima Genkai was presented to his son Nakaima Hirokazu, the then governor of the Okinawa prefecture.

Vice-chairman of Naha Assembly (Source: “Naha City Assembly History”)

 In public life, Mr. Nakaima, who graduated from the prefecture normal school, was elected in the 1st Naha City Assembly election in February 1948 and served as vice-chairman for two years from September 1948 to September 1950. In 1955, he was again elected as a member of the Naha City Assembly together with karate masters Nagamine Shōshin and Higa Yūchoku.

 Having held many positions during his carrier and authored many books, Mr. Nakaima is also remembered for he was the second fame caster of Radio Okinawa’s news program titled “Hōgen news” from 1973 to 1981, a unique program nationwide broadcasted in Okinawan language.



“Okinawa no Bushi” video collection


 Many masters’ videos were released by Yamaguchi Seishu on YouTube under the title “Okinawa no Bushi”. For none Japanese readers, we are listing them below. Among them, there are some rare demonstrations of China Teikichi sensei, Tōma Shian sensei and Nakamura Ankichi sensei among others. Please enjoy!


Okinawa no Onna Bushi – 1 / 1992

Shuri castle festival, Shōrin-ryū Ōnaga Dōjō – Ōnaga Michiko sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 2 / 1995

Okinawa Karate – Kobudō Seminar Matsubayashi-ryū – Makishi Yasuharu sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 3 / 1992

1st Karatedō Achievement Award ceremony – Demonstration by heir of the awardees – Matsubayashi-ryu 2nd Sōke Nagamine Takayoshi sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 4 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Ryūkyū Shōrin-ryū Chairman Shimabukuro Eizō sensei – Chanmī gwa nu Chintō



Okinawa no Bushi – 5 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Head of Seidōkan Tōma Shian sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 6 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Shōrin-ryū Kyūdōkan Ōshiro Ikkō sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 7 / 1994

17th All Okinawa Karatedō Tournament – Guest demonstration by Gōjū-ryū Ryūshōkai chairman Senaha Shigetoshi sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 8 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Shōrin-ryū Buseikan China Teikichi sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 9 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Matsubayashi-ryū (presently Shōgen-ryū) Tamaki Tsuyoshi sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 10 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Head of Chinese Dengen Bumon Kinjō Akio sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 11 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Mōdi Gassen Karatekai chairman Shiroma Kiyonari (Seihan) sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 12 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Okinawa Dentō Kobudō Hozonkai Nojima Eishū sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 13 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Shōrin-ryū Butokukan chairman Gibu Sokuichi sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 14 / 1992

Shuri castle festival - Shōrin-ryū Myōbukan Gima Zenshū sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 15 / 1993

1st Tomigusuku Village China Ryūkyū Martial Arts Festival – Uechi-ryū Tomigusuku Shūbukan Senaga Yoshitsune sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 16 / 1992

1st Karatedō Achievement Award ceremony – Demonstration by heir of the awardees – 2nd Sōke Yagi Meitatsu sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 17 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Ryūkyū Kobudō Ryūkonkai Nakasone Zenei sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 18 / 1992

1st Karatedō Achievement Award ceremony – Demonstration by heir of the awardees –Shōrin-ryū Kyūdōkan 2nd chairman Higa Minoru sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 19 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Okinawa Isshin-ryū Karate kobudō Association chairman Uezu Angi sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 20 / 1992

Shuri castle festival – All Okinawa Kobudō Federation Kōdōkan Gakiya Yoshiaki sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 21/ 1998

Okinawa Prefectural Budōkan’ s Kagami-biraki ceremony and beginning of training – Shōrin-ryū Shidōkan Maeshiro Morinobu sensei (kata) and Kohagura Masakazu sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 22 / 1992

Shuri castle festival – Okinawa Kōnan-ryū Seibukan 2nd chairman Itozaku Seishō sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 23 / 1992

Shuri castle festival – Okinawa Kōnan-ryū Shureikan chairman Maeshiro Shusei sensei



Okinawa no Bushi - 24 / 1993

4th Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Reihōkan chairman Ahagon Naonobu sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 25 / 1994

17th All Okinawa Karatedō Tournament – Guest demonstration by Shōrin-ryū Shōrinkan Kyokai Nakama Nobutoshi sensei, Akamine Masao sensei and Maeshiro Yukihiro sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 26 / 1993

30th anniversary of Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Myōbukan headquarters – Guest demonstration by Okinawa Gōjū-ryū Tomari-te Karatedō Association chairman Tokashiki Iken sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 27 / 1993

30th anniversary of Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Myōbukan headquarters – Guest demonstration by Okinawa Dentō Kobudō Hozonkai Bunbukan Headquarters chairman Nakamoto Masahiro sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 28 / 1993

4th All Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Bugeisai – Okinawa Shuri-te karatedō Kyokai Nakamura Ankichi sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 29 / 1993

30th anniversary of Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Myōbukan headquarters – Guest demonstration by Uechi-ryū Karatedō Kenyūkai Shinjō Kiyohide sensei



Okinawa no Bushi – 30 / 1993

30th anniversary of Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Myōbukan headquarters – Shōrin-ryū Myōbukan chaiman Matsuda Yoshimasa sensei



and many more…



Folktale: Why tigers can’t climb trees

 The Okinawan folktale “Tora ga ki nobori no dekinai riyū” (Why tigers can't climb trees) can be found on the Hukumusume website (http://hukumusume.com/). We translated and present it below with the authorization of Hukumusume. Go there to listen to the original Japanese narration.

Audio file:

[audio mp3="https://okic.okinawa/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/WTTCT.mp3"][/audio]



Why tigers can't climb trees

 Once upon a time, a tiger expert in Chinese martial arts came to Okinawa as he heard that Okinawa’s karate was powerful.

 Arriving in an Okinawan town, the tiger spoke in an arrogant manner.

 “I am a master of Chinese martial arts. It is a match between Chinese martial arts and karate to see which one is stronger!”


 “What's wrong? Are you fearing my Chinese martial arts?!”


 Having never seen such a big tiger before, the Okinawan animals are scared and no one tries to compete.

 “If no one competes, Okinawa will be mine!”

 At that moment, a small wildcat stepped forward in front of the tiger.

 “Okay, I will take you on.”

 This wildcat is an Okinawa karate master.

 Looking at the wildcat less than his size, the tiger cackled.

 “Gahahahaha. A little dwarf like you, challenging me? Okay, for you, just one throw. YAAHH!”

 The tiger jumped at the wildcat, but as the wildcat dodges lightly the tiger's attack, he completely beat the large tiger.

 “What? ... Not yet, it’s just the start!”

 The tiger again aimed at a bout, but no matter how many times it tries, he is no match for the wildcat.

 Admitting his loss, the tiger asked the wildcat joining both hands together.

 “Master! Please, teach me your Okinawa karate!”

 “Okay. Training is hard, but do your best.”

 And so, the tiger was allowed to become a disciple of the wildcat and began to practice karate.

 Having started karate, the tiger, who originally had a talent for martial arts, improved very fast.

 Now that a year has passed, the tiger is the second karate expert after the wildcat.

 Understanding the situation, the wildcat thought,

 “At this pace, the tiger will become stronger than me. If it happens, one day, he may defeat me and rule Okinawa.”

 And so, he didn't teach one of the many lethal techniques of karate.

 One day, the bad premonition of the wildcat came true, and the tiger challenged the wildcat.

 “Master. I became stronger than you. Now is the time to defeat you and rule Okinawa!”

 “All right. I will do my best to defeat you and send you back to China.”

 The karate skills of the tiger and the wildcat were equal, but as the tiger was originally advantaged as he excelled in Chinese martial arts, he gradually dominated the bout.

 “Not good, if this goes on, I will lose…”

 As he thought so, the wildcat used the special karate move that he did not teach the tiger.

 That is, tree climbing.

 As the wildcat lightly climbed the tree, he waited for the tiger from above.

 “Hey master, are you escaping to such a place and surrender?”

 The tiger chased the wildcat and also aimed at climbing the tree, but the tiger, who was not taught to climb trees, has a hard time to even cling to the tree.

 “There is the chance!

 The wildcat slammed the immobile tiger clinging to the tree and sent him back to China.

 And so it is. The tiger is a very strong animal who excels in Chinese martial arts and Okinawa karate, but as the wildcat didn't teach him to climb trees, he is said that he is still not good at climbing trees.

 The end.