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Satsuma Muskets
By Renshi Mobley
October 2009

By Renshi Mobley
February 2008

On the evening of July 25, 2009, in Baltimore, a TABI was conducted at the Avengers DOJO.  Since then several people have asked myself why do we conduct this martial arts ritual?  Is ritual really necessary?  Why do we put emphasis on past martial arts ceremonies?  Why go through all the trouble?  We live in the 21st century, not the 17th century.  After all, modern technology enabled us to train in martial arts many dimensions more than the old ways of antiquity. 

The word TABI is interpreted as a “journey in search of wisdom.”  A TABI is a clandestine (secret) ritual that only selected Avengers members may attend, as authorized by Hanshi Hawkins.  Hanshi Hawkins, alone, determines who is worthy enough to attend a TABI.  A martial artist must be skilled and be able to demonstrate and live by the 27 leadership attributes as outlined in the Avengers Dantai. 1

The Avengers Dantai conducts this ritual to commemorate the gallant sacrifices made by Shorin-ryu martial artists from the Japanese time periods Edo (1603-1868) through Meiji (1868-1912).  In the year 1609, during the Edo period, the Shimazu Shogun family, from Japan, led a military expedition, consisting of the Satsuma Samurai Clan, against the islands of Ryukyu (modern day Okinawa).  From that time to the late 19th century, during the Meiji period, Japanese Samurai raped, pillaged, and assailed the island natives throughout Okinawa. 


During this period the conquering Japanese dominated the Okinawa natives in tyranny.  The ruling Shogun, Lord Shimazu, established a law prohibiting any natives possessing weapons and outlawed any form of martial arts.   Self-preservation was very necessary!  This law encouraged the native men on the island to practice and train in secret, using farm tools as weapons, and learning Chinese and indigenous martial arts.  If the Samurai ever discovered them practicing martial arts, they would severely punish the natives, sometimes beheading them.  Therefore, during this time period martial arts were forbidden, even as a sport, so secret training sessions took place, normally during hours of limited visibility. To deny the Samurai visibility of their martial arts training, the natives used secluded locations such as cemeteries, back yards, and thick concealed wooded areas.    The natives considered clandestine martial arts training the most feasible means to protect their family and friends from the oppressive Samurai.   For two centuries these clandestine martial arts training activities continued. Life or death was often the outcome. The importance of this reality cannot be overstated.

The Avengers Dantai stresses this level of importance when learning and training in martial arts.  Proficiency is the Avengers Dantai “5th leadership attribute.” We follow this by devoting ourselves to high standards of mind, spirit, and body training.  During antiquity there was an academic system that focused on enriching the total person by balancing mind, body, and spirit.  This ancient Asian society tradition was referred to as “Teshimi Gakumun” (Te – translates to hand / Shimi translates to calligraphy which implies “scholarly pursuit” / Gakumun translates to study). It is the Avengers goal to embrace this wise aged concept.  Our karate-ka will receive academic (mind), emotion and motivation (spirit), and physical (body) training (conditioning). 

The Riley Hawkins Avengers Foundation has early childhood educators.  They are given a mission of tutoring our karate-ka’s scholastic skills to reinforce what they learned or didn’t learn in grade school.  All of our karate-ka will maintain or exceed high academic grade standards in school.  Achieving high scholastic grades is part of our belt rank promotion standard for grade school karate-ka. 

Positive strength training of each karate-ka’s emotions and motivation we believe is essential.  Our “spirit training” is not the religious definition, but rather the concept definition of “The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings that deals with personal character and temperament.”  We will nourish our grade school karate-ka’s character and temperament with positive implementation of ethical principles, which support the idea that lying, cheating, and stealing is only for weak people that have low standards.  We train our karate-ka to only espouse positive emotions and motivation.

We will challenge the karate-ka’s physical body while abhorring obesity and laziness.  The Avengers find it appalling that many grade schools today have ridden physical fitness education from its academic curriculum.  We believe that training the body reinforces training of the mind and spirit.  Many martial arts masters who learned in a Teshimi Gakumun academy viewed the arts as a way of life. Similarly, members of the Avengers Dantai view martial arts as a “way of life” as oppose to only a “sport or hobby.”  We dedicate our martial arts mind, body, and spirit by embracing community support, setting high standards of character, leading by positive example that is worthy of emulation, and caring for all who we encounter.

In closing, we conduct the TABI to commemorate past Okinawa natives high standards, gallantry, dedication, and clandestine way training, along with their love and concern for community, to link our challenging commitments of today.   Only a selected few Avengers are brought into the Avengers Dantai and receive special martial arts licenses called Menkyo Makimono’s to lead karate-ka in the Avengers.  These few special licensed Avengers are chosen to become aware of our past, act on the present, and prepare our karate-ka for the future!

What is the origin of the Pinan Kata?
By Renshi Mobley
February 2008
Martial Arts researching authors suggest part or all of the Pinan Kata series is derived from the ancient kata Channan 1 or Kusanku Dai 2, or both. Author Joe Smith suggests that some or all the Pinan Kata series was derived from the ancient kata Channan. On the other hand, other researchers suggest that some or all of the Pinan Kata derives from other advanced kata like Kusanku, thereby enabling him to simplify the teaching of kata to high school students. Introduction Itosu Anko (1832-1915), around 1907, developed the series of five basic kata called Pinan for inclusion in the karate curriculum of the Okinawan school system. However, the actual history of the Pinan Kata has been the subject of intense curiosity as of late. There are basically two schools of thought, one that Itosu Anko developed them from the older classical forms that were cultivated in and around the Shuri area, and the other that Itosu was re-working a longer Chinese form called Channan.

Unfortunately, most of the written references to the Channan/Pinan phenomenon in the English language are basically re-hashes of the same uncorroborated oral testimony. This article will examine the primary literature written by direct students of Itosu, as well as more recent research in the Japanese language, in an effort to solve the "mystery" of Channan.
Itosu Anko In order to understand the Pinan phenomenon, perhaps it is best to start off with a capsule biography of their architect, Itosu Anko (1832-1915). Many sources state that Itosu was born in the Yamakawa section of Shuri (Bishop, 1999; Okinawa Prefecture, 1994; Okinawa Prefecture, 1995), however, noted Japanese martial arts historian Iwai Stucco states that he was actually born in Gibe, Shuri, and later relocated to Kawakawa (Iwai, 1992). He is commonly believed to have studied under Matsumura Soon (1809-1901), but also appears to have had other influences, such as Anathema of Naha (Iwai, 1992; Motorbus, 1932), Mats Mora Kusanku of Tomari and a master named Gusukuma (Nihon Karate Kenkyukai, 1956).

There does not seem to be much detail about Itosu's early life, except for the fact that he was a student of the Ryukyuan civil fighting traditions. At around age 23, he passed the civil service examinations and was employed by the Royal government (Iwai, 1992). It seems as if Itosu gained his position as a clerical scribe for the King through an introduction by his friend and fellow karate master Asato Anko (Funakoshi, 1988). Itosu stayed with the Royal government until the Meiji Restoration, when the Ryukyu Kingdome became Okinawa Prefecture. Itosu stayed on and worked for the Okinawan Prefectural government until 1885 (Iwai, 1992).

There is some controversy as to when Itosu became a student of Matsumura. Some say that he first met Matsumura when Itosu was in his late 20s (Iwai, 1992), whereas others maintain that Itosu was older than 35 when he began studying from Matsumura (Fujiwara, 1990). Matsumura appears to have been friendly with Itosu's father (Iwai, 1992).

Be that as it may, Itosu is said to have mastered the Naifanchi kata (Nihon Karate Kenkyukai, 1950; Okinawa Pref., 1995). In fact, one direct student of Itosu, namely Funakoshi Gichin, recalled 10 years of studying nothing but the three Naifuanchi kata under the eminent master (Funakoshi, 1976).

Again, there is some controversy as to where Itosu had learned the Naifuanchi kata. Some give credit to Matsumura for teaching this kata to Itosu (Murakami, 1991). However, others say differently, and here is where we first start to see reference to Channan, as the name of a person. It is said that a Chinese sailor who was shipwrecked on Okinawa hid in a cave at Tomari. It was from this man that Itosu supposedly learned the Naifuanchi kata, among other things (Gima, et al, 1986).
In either case, it is known that Itosu was among the first to teach karate (toudi) publicly, and began teaching karate as physical education in the school system as early as 1901, where he taught at the Shuri Jinjo Primary School (Iwai, 1992; Okinawa Pref., 1994). He also went on to teach at Shuri Dai-ichi Middle School and the Okinawa Prefectural Men's Normal School in 1905 (Bishop, 1999; Okinawa Pref., 1994, 1995).

In addition to his "spearheading a crusade" (McCarthy, 1996) to modernize toudi practices and get it taught in the school system, Itosu was also known for his physical strength. It is said that he was able to crush a bamboo stalk in his hands (Funakoshi, 1976, 1988), once wrestled a raging bull to the ground and calmed it (Nagamine, 1986) and one could strike his arms with 2-inch thick poles and he would not budge (Iwai, 1992).

Itosu's unique contributions to the art of Karatedo include not only his 1908 letter to the Japanese Ministry of Education and Ministry of War, expounding on the 10 precepts of Toudi training, but also the creation of several kata. These include not only the Pinan series, but also Naifuanchi Nidan and Sandan (Kinjo, 1991; Murakami, 1991), and possibly Kusanku Sho and Passai Sho (Iwai, 1992).

Another kata that has often been attributed to Itosu is the Shiho Kusanku Kata (Kinjo, 1956a; Mabuni, 1938), but more recent evidence points to the actual originator of this paradigm to have been Mabuni Kenwa himself (Sells, 1995). In addition to creating several kata, the other kata that Itosu taught, such as Chinto, Useishi (Gojushiho), Passai Dai, and Kusanku Dai, etc., had been changed from their original guises, in order to make them more palatable to his physical education classes (Kinjo, 1991).

Itosu Anko passed away in March 1915, leaving behind a legacy that very few today even recognize or comprehend.

Early Written References to Channan and Pinan
References to Channan can be found as far back as 1934. In the karate research journal entitled Karate no Kenkyu, published by Nakasone Genwa, Motobu Choki is quoted referring to the Channan and the Pinan kata: "(Sic.) I was interested in the martial arts since I was a child, and studied under many teachers. I studied with Itosu Sensei for 7-8 years. At first, he lived in Urasoe, then moved to Nakashima Oshima in Naha, then on to Shikina, and finally to the villa of Baron Ie. He spent his final years living near the middle school. I visited him one day at his home near the school, where we sat talking about the martial arts and current affairs. While I was there, 2-3 students also dropped by and sat talking with us. Itosu Sensei turned to the students and said 'show us a kata.' The kata that they performed was very similar to the Channan kata that I knew, but there were some differences also. Upon asking the student what the kata was, he replied 'It is Pinan no Kata.' The students left shortly after that, upon which I turned to Itosu Sensei and said 'I learned a kata called Channan, but the kata that those students just performed now was different. What is going on?' Itosu Sensei replied 'Yes, the kata is slightly different, but the kata that you just saw is the kata that I have decided upon. The students all told me that the name Pinan is better, so I went along with the opinions of the young people.' These kata, which were developed by Itosu Sensei, underwent change even during his own lifetime." (Murakami, 1991; 120) There is also reference to Pinan being called Channan in its early years in the 1938 publication Kobo Kenpo Karatedo Nyumon by Mabuni Kenwa and Nakasone Genwa. Mabuni and Nakasone write that those people who learned this kata as Channan still taught it under that name (Mabuni, et al, 1938).

Kinjo Hiroshi, one of Japan's most senior teachers and historians of the Okinawan fighting traditions, and a direct student of three of Itosu's students, namely Hanashiro Chomo, Oshiro Chojo, and Tokuda Anbun, wrote a series of articles on the Pinan kata in Gekkan Karatedo magazine in the mid 1950s. In the first installment he maintains that the Pinan kata were originally called Channan, and there were some technical differences between Channan and the updated versions known as Pinan (Kinjo, 1956a).

Again according to Kinjo Hiroshi, Miyagi Hisateru, a former student of Itosu who graduated from the Okinawa Prefectural Normal School in 1916, stated that when he was studying under the old master, Itosu only really taught the first three Pinan with any real enthusiasm, and that the last two seem to have been rather neglected at that time (Kinjo, 1956b). Although one can speculate about what this means, it is nevertheless a very interesting piece of testimony by someone who was "there."

Sakagami Ryusho, in his 1978 Karatedo Kata Taikan as well as Miyagi Tokumasa in his 1987 Karate no Rekishi both give extensive kata lists, and both list a kata known as Yoshimura no Channan (Miyagi, 1987; Sakagami, 1978). It is unknown who Yoshimura was, but he may have been a student of Itosu.

American karate historian Ernest Estrada has also stated that Kyoda Juhatsu (1887-1968), a direct student of Higashionna Kanryo, Wu Xianhui (Jpn. Go Kenki), Yabu Kentsu, etc. and the founder of the To'onryu karatedo system, also knew and taught a series of two basic blocking, punching and kicking exercises known as Channan (Estrada, 1998).
Shiraguma no Kata
According to Iwai Tsukuo, one of Japan's most noted Budo researchers and teacher of Motobu Choki's karate in Gunma Prefecture, Motoburyu Karatejutsu, which is being preserved by Choki's son Motobu Chosei in Osaka, contains what is known as Shiraguma no Kata, which he maintains used to be called Channan. He also states that this kata is "somewhat similar to the Pinan, yet different." (Iwai, 1997).

The Other Side of the Coin

The flip side to this theory states that Itosu did not create the Pinan kata, but actually remodeled older Chinese-based hsing/kata called Channan. This theory states that Itosu learned a series of Chinese Quan-fa hsing from a shipwrecked Chinese at Tomari, and reworked them into five smaller components, re-naming them Pinan because the Chinese pronunciation "Chiang-Nan" was too difficult (Bishop, 1999).
It has been argued that the source for these Channan kata was a Chinese from an area called Annan, or a man named Annan (Bishop, 1999). On the other hand, others say that the man's name was Channan (Iwai, 1992). Still others go into even more detail, stating that Itosu learned these hsing/kata from a man named Channan, and named them after their source, later adding elements of the Kusanku Dai kata to create the Pinan (Gima, et al, 1986; Kinjo. 1999).
There is also interesting oral testimony passed down in the Tomari-di tradition that is propagated in the Okinawa Gojuryu Tomaridi Karatedo Association of Tokashiki Iken that states that Itosu learned the Channan/Pinan kata from a Chinese at Tomari in one day. The proponents of Tomari-di said that there was no need to learn "over-night kata" and that this is the reason that the Tomari traditions did not include instruction in the Pinan kata (Okinawa Pref., 1995).
This sentiment also echoes the statement by one of Itosu's top students, Yabu Kentsu, made to his students:
"(sic) If you have time to practice the Pinan, practice Kushanku instead (Gima, et al, 1986, p. 86)."


While more research, such as in-depth technical analysis of Motobu's Shiraguma no Kata needs to be done, the evidence at hand seems to point not to a "long lost kata" but rather to the constant and inevitable evolution of a martial art.
Although there is opposition, most of the primary written materials point to the fact that Itosu was indeed the originator of the Channan/Pinan tradition, based upon his own research, experience, and analyses.
However, in either case, Itosu Anko and his efforts left a lasting mark on the fighting traditions of old Okinawa, and will probably always be remembered as one of the visionaries who were able to lift the veil of secrecy that once enshrouded karatedo.

What is the origin of Shorin-ryu?
By Renshi Mobley
April 2008

Prior to identifying who was the father of Shorin-ryu, it is necessary to define what is Shorin-ryu. Shorin is the pronunciation of the Chinese Shaolin in Hogun ("Hogen" is standard Japanese for "dialect"; the suffix "-ben" is also used, but the modern use of the word "Hogen" is current Okinawan local "slang" for Uchinanchuguchi, TFA.) Hogen is the primary dialect of Okinawa, although now an almost dead language due to the taking over of Okinawa by Japan. The word ryu means "Association". Therefore, Shorin-ryu ("Shaolin association" or "small pine forest") reflects the Chinese influences intrinsic to the art.1 In other words; the Shaolin Temple is pronounced the Shorin Temple in Okinawan language dialect of Hogen.

Shorin-ryu is a specific style of Okinawa-te. Okinawa-te (means Okinawan fist) is an indigenous martial arts system of Okinawa that has many styles, to include but not limited to, such as Shorin-ryu, Shito-ryu, Isshin-ryu, Goju-ryu, Wado-ryu, Uechi-ryu, and many others. Many martial arts historians recognize Tode Sakagawa as the “Father of Okinawa-te.” This can certainly be challenged because there were many martial artists who were trained by Chinese martial arts masters prior to the birth of Sakagawa, such as Matsu Higa, Chatan Yara, Peichin Takehara, Shinjo Choken, to include numerous others. Probably the reason for recognizing Sakagawa as the “Father of Okinawa-te” is because little history is known about his predecessors. His predecessors were virtually invisible in regards to history because martial arts were hidden under a veil of secrecy. This veil of secrecy was necessary because after the “Satsuma Clan, from Japan, invaded Okinawa making the island a “suzerain,” established law that no Okinawa native be allowed to practice martial arts. The penalty for disobeying this law was death! Two major secret societies, Tsuan Fa and To De, joined to form one single alliance against the Japanese occupiers. The direct consequence of which was the emergence of a new lethal martial art, which arose as a combination of all existing conceptions, and which was first called simply TE then later Okinawa-te.2 Therefore, many historians credit Sakagawa as the “Modern Father of Okinawa-te.” This is in spite of there were many before him that secretly taught indigenous martial arts on Okinawa.

Okinawa martial arts systems evolved into 3 major village systems, Shuri-te, Tomari-te, and Naha-te. Many martial arts historians recognize Soken “Bushi” Matsumura as the “Father of Shuri-te Shorin-ryu” () (Shorin-ryu?) and Kosaku Matsumora as the “Father of Tomari-te Shorin-ryu.” The other prominent Okinawan martial arts system Naha-ta (Goju-ryu, founded by Chogun Miyagi is a subsystem of this art), was formalized by Higaonna Kanryo in the 1880s. Shuri-te, Tomari-te, and Naha-te are the 3 most popular Okinawa martial arts system.

Orthodox Shorin-ryu Systems?
By Renshi Mobley
June 2008

Shorin-ryu Dojo’s - There are many Shorin-ryu Dojo’s located throughout the world that developed popular systems of Shorin-ryu. After the late great Tode Sakagawa’s death, some of his “Deshis” (students) changed the name of their system. Branches began to evolve such as Sukunaihayashi 1, Ryukyu Kenpo 2, Matsumura Kenpo 3, Okinawa Kenpo 4, Matsubayashi 5, Kobayashi 6, Shobayashi 7, Matsumura Ryu 8, Matsumura Seito 9, but there are many others, most with long and distinguished histories tracing back to Sakagawa and his “Deshis”, such as Bushi Satunuku Ukuda, Satunuku Macabe Chokun (nicknamed Mabai Changwa), Bushi Matsumoto of Urazoe, Kojo of Kumemura (nicknamed Kugushiku of Kuninda), Yamaguchi of the East (Bushi Sakumoto), Usume of Anday (nicknamed aged man), and Bushi Chikatosinunjo (Soken) Matsumura.10
Absolute Shorin-ryu Orthodoxy – There is no such thing. All systems of Shorin-ryu experienced modifications in kata, fighting techniques, philosophy, doctrine, and organizational procedure & methods. At times Sakagawa’s “Deshis” modified his version of martial arts to often form different but similar versions of their own. Most Shorin-ryu kata origin derives from China centuries ago. The amount of changes in kata that has occurred is mind-boggling. Even Sakagawa himself modified the Tode (Chinese fist) system by incorporating Okinawa-te with it to create Shorin-ryu. Century’s forward, Shorin-ryu systems transitioned into systems that were complemented with techniques from other different and diverse Okinawa-te systems. Chinese envoys that visited Tomari centuries ago, at times, instructed kata differently from that of envoys visiting Shuri. Why was this so? This occurred probably because of geographic regional preference in China. After all, this happens in virtually any organization in the world, to include the United States. Particularly worth relating is, “In NBA basketball there is the west coast offense”. In the sport of boxing Philadelphia use to be considered the Mecca of the boxing for the east coast while Los Angeles was the Mecca for the west coast. Back to my main point, Shorin-ryu is analogous to the previous examples I commented on. Different styles of Shorin-ryu were and are real in Okinawa as well as the rest of the world.

Supporting my claim that there is no such thing as “Shorin-ryu Orthodoxy” is the noteworthy fact of different kata versions, to include but not limited to, such as Passai, Kusanku, and Pinan Kata’s.

Passai has many Okinawa regional versions such as, Matsumura -no- Paisai, Matsumora -no- Paisai, and Oyadomari -no- Paisai. There are many more versions of this Kata. Passai is the Okinawa name (pronounced Bassai in Japanese styles) of a group of kata practiced in different styles of Shorin-ryu, including and various Korean martial arts (Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do, and Soo Bank Do). There are several variations of these kata, including Passai sho (minor) and Passai dai (major). In Korean, the kata has several names: Bassahee, Bal Se, Pal Che, Palsek, Bal Sae, Ba Sa Hee, and Bal Sak. 11

Kusanku, also called Kankudai (translated as gazing heavenward, viewing the sky, or contemplating the sky), is an open hand kata that is studied by many practitioners of Okinawan and Japanese karate. The name Kusanku/Kosokun, is used in Okinawan systems of karate, and refers to a person by the name of Kusanku, a Chinese diplomat from the Fukien province of China, who is believed to have traveled to Okinawa to teach his system of fighting.12 In the Tomari region this kata is often called “Yara no Kusanku” (named after Chatan Yara). Yara reportedly was sent to China when he was 12 years old to train in martial arts and was apprenticed to a man named Wong Chung-Yoh and studied with him for the next 20 years. Also, he studied under Kusanku. In addition Yara was the Sensei of Takara Peichin, Sakagawa’s first Sensei.13 Why was his version of this kata different than Sakagawa’s version? Yara and Sakagawa both learned this kata from Kusanku but they both taught different versions of the kata. Geographically Sakagawa was Matsumura’s Sensei and taught him in the Shuri district, while Yara a Sensei of Matsumora and taught him in the Tomari district. Sensei Funakoshi modified and renamed this kata “Kanku” during the 1930’s. This kata is also practiced in Tang Soo Do (Korean Karate Do) and is often pronounced "Kong Sang Koon" hyung.

The Shorinkan kata, Pinan Shodan, some credit the karate legend and educator Itosu Yatsunuku for developing, varies from some other Shuri-based systems with a mae geri instead of side kick in movement eight. Shiroma Jiro, Hachidan/Shorin-ryu, described that Chibana began to alter some of the movements in the Matsumura/Itosu kata syllabus, which caused a stir with some of the older senior students. Higa Yuchoku and Miyahira Katsuya were worried about the effects of not preserving the true kata as it had been passed on. Shiroma remarked that Chibana altered the kata slightly from the original versions for example; he changed the kick within the kata Pinan Shodan and Yondan from yoko geri from mae geri to make it more "Japanese." It was changed back later. However, Nakazato Shugoro, Hanshi, remarked that Chibana began teaching Itosu's Shuri-te as it was passed on to him and Chibana spoke of the importance of preserving kata exactly as it was learned from forefathers of karate.14 In addition, a single kata may have several different versions. In other words, students of different styles of karate may perform a particular karate kata in a different manner. Many karate katas have counterparts in more than one style. Furthermore, individual schools within a single karate style may incorporate small variations in how they teach and practice the same kata. Often, these differences serve to identify the teachings and students of specific Instructors. Students wishing to expand their knowledge as much as possible may seek to become familiar with these different versions of kata.15

Hawkins Avengers Shorin-ryu – our system of Shorin-ryu is an amalgamation of various Shorin-ryu systems. Hanshi Hawkins adopted kata, fighting techniques, philosophy, doctrine, and organizational procedure & methods from selected Shorin-ryu systems, to include other Okinawa systems, to enhance the Avengers martial arts enrichment. For example, Kata’s Geikei-sai (H-kata #4), Seisan, and Saifa are Goju-ryu kata’s from the Nahe-te system but Hanshi Hawkins added them to the Avengers repertoire. Another example of kata acceptance and incorporation is how Hawkins Avengers includes Shuri-te and Tomari-te kata’s in our repertoire. Other Okinawa martial arts Sensei have taken a similar approach, such as Chitose Tsuyoshi (founder of Chito-ryu) and Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shito-ryu).

Also worth mentioning, decades ago, during the 1960’s & 70’s, the late great Kempo master, Sifu Daniel Pai, instructed Okinawa White Lotus Kempo techniques in Kumite and Ippon Kumite to Hanshi Hawkins, thereby enriching our Hanshi’s martial arts edification. Finally, after acquiring all these different & diverse skills and knowledge of Shorin-ryu and other Okinawa martial arts, Hanshi Hawkins incorporated them, to include from his personal experience, developed indigenous physical and mental self-defense skills, adaptable for urban environment application. It is the Hawkins Avengers Dantai’s believe that Hanshi Hawkins passion to reach out and learn from different and diverse Shorin-ryu and other Okinawa systems that we have a more cosmopolitan perspective of martial arts than most other martial arts organizations.

In summary, my purpose for providing this research is to hopefully broaden one’s perspective concerning different Shorin-ryu systems and to rid one from being mislead by martial artist from other Shorin-ryu systems who wrongfully attempt to persuade you to believe that they have “the legitimate Shorin-ryu system and that our system is illegitimate. In closing, to legitimize a particular Shorin-ryu system as “absolute orthodox” is analogous to a person legitimizing his/her particular religion as absolute orthodox. Religion is supported by historical scribes who interpret faith different based on oral tradition. To say my religious faith is right and yours is wrong is based on opinion, not fact. Martial arts scholars and historians often research dates, people, places, and situations but often come up with different findings. After all, it is often said that history is, “His Story”.

To Tell the Truth
Will the real Hanshi please stand-up?
By Renshi Mobley
August 2008

*Renshi Mobley’s note – Confusion exists amongst Shorin-ryu martial artists concerning who is the bona-fide successor of the late Chosin Chibana. Various Kobayashi Shorin-ryu martial artists contend that Nakazato is the rightful successor, while others state that Miyahira is. Officially Miyahira is the successor because upon the death of Chosin Chibana, he formally received the HANKO (official seals of the organization) and was voted president of the Okinawa Shorinryu Karatedo Kyokai in March of 1969. However, since Chibana’s passing, financially Nakazato has promoted “Shobayashi Shorin-ryu” to a much larger degree than Miyahira, therefore Nakazato bears the pun as the “true financial successor” of Chibana.

The below information is authored by Okinawa Shorin-ryu Kyoshi Ernest Estrada.

In 1989, Master Katsuya Miyahira, the President of the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Shido-kan, was honored by the Japan Martial Arts Association for contributing distinguished services to the martial arts. To commemorate this occasion, I would like to write about Master Miyahira's martial arts career from it's beginning. Master Miyahira was born in Nishihara, one of the villages directly controlled by the King's court, where martial arts had always been popular among the residents. He first learned martial arts from his father who had graduated from the Toyama Army School and was good at swordplay and gymnastics. Entering the First Junior High School, Master Miyahira began focusing on karate.

He became a student at the dojo of Choshin Chibana Sensei, which was located at Nakijin Goten of Yoshitsugu Teishi; there he received influences from the dojo's senior pupils, such as Kangi Shoya, Yasuyoshi Kamikosu, Tsuguyoshi Miyagi, Chozo Nakama and Shinji Tawada. I have heard that Master Miyahira also learned karate at the First Junior High with Anbun Tokuda Sensei and his teacher who taught him the spirit of martial arts that has kindness among rigor. Both Chibana Sensei and Tokuda Sensei were among the best students of Anko Itosu Sensei, the master of the Shuri style (Shuri-te). This situation enabled Master Miyahira to learn the traditional kata’s of the Shuri-te both at the town dojo and at school.

Traditional Shuri-te focuses on Atemi. The central idea is that blocking (uke) means not only to defend oneself against an attack by his opponent, but also to simultaneously crush the attack. Idealistically, one should train the hands and feet so as to achieve the condition in which strength and flexibility coexist, just as steel has both hardness and springiness in it. Thus, using a punching board (makiwara), one should hit it more than two hundred times a day with each hand, mixing several kinds of punching (tsuki) methods, aiming at simultaneous occurrence of offense and defense.

Master Miyahira trained himself, closely following the Shuri-te's traditional methods. In 1948, soon after the end of the World War II, he opened a karate dojo in his hometown of Nishihara, intending to train the youth to be strong persons who could live through any difficulties. Master Miyahira set his dojo's rules as follows:

- Try to perfect one's own personality?- Cultivate the spirit of making constant efforts?- Admonish one's own youthful ardor?- Value good manors based on these rules, he created his basic concepts of karate: "Following the reason and the law" and "coexisting and co-flourishing". He named his dojo Shidokan, hoping to instruct the youth who aspired to learn the way of karate. After moving to Naha City in September 1952, he continued his effort to popularize the Shuri-te, and also visited the Philippines to teach and propagate karate there. In June 1974, Master Miyahira participated in the First Karate World Championship and received an award for his distinguished service in karate.

During the same period, Master Miyahira took office as the president of the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate Association and strived to make the association grow. Invited by the Brazil Shorin-ryu Karate Association, the Argentina Shorin-ryu Karate Association, and the North America Shorin-ryu Shidokan, he energetically visited these places to teach and popularize karate overseas. In 1982, he became a councilor of the Japan Karate Federation and devoted his energies to help make Japanese karate grow. He also took part in the Japan-China International Martial Arts Tournament as the leader of the Japanese team, making an effort for the goodwill exchange. In the karate division at the 42nd National Athletic Meet in 1987, the Okinawa team led by Master Miyahira, finished first overall, the victory earning Master Miyahira a special award for his distinguished service by the Okinawa Amateur Sports Association. Then came this year's award for distinguished services in martial arts.

For the past several decades, I have been inspired by Master Miyahira's persistent effort to attain the higher ground in karate and in karate only, wishing to some day surpass him. It seems, however, that every moment I feel as if I can catch up with him, he is already gone far ahead of me; it is like building a ladder to reach the sky. I wonder if Master Miyahira is teaching me, with his own way of life, that there is no end for the quest for perfect karate.

As an elder in the world of karate, Mr. Miyahira is in charge of the Okinawa Karate Conference and still gives his students lessons as well. In several symposiums held by the Karate Shinbun newspaper and the Ryukyu Shinpo newspaper, and also in his lectures, Mr. Miyahira has openly stated his own ideas about the future of Okinawa karate. Since those ideas are very suggestive, we will quote one of them here: ??"During the World Uchinanchu Tournament, the Karate/Ancient Martial Arts Exchange Festival was a big success. This is a big step for a future full-scale world championship" (From the symposium "The Future Okinawa Karate", The Karate Shinbun: September, 1990).

When the karate lecture series for the general public took place for the first time (February~October, 1991), Master Katsuya Miyahira (President of the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate Association) taught the Shorin-ryu to about seventy people in one of the medium sized conference rooms of the Ryukyu Shinpo. Despite such a difficult theme as the lecture about karate, the seemingly small conference room was filled with eager karate fans and athletes. Master Miyahira explained to his audience the history of the Shorin Ryu and its characteristics by speaking about Choshin Chibana, his own master. The main difference between Mr. Miyahira's lecture and others' was that he mentioned Choshin Chibana's family tree in great detail. Choshin Chibana came from Suridennai and belonged to the high-rank warrior class. Out of his family line appeared many talented men who later became leaders of the society in different fields. One reason why Mr. Miyahira talked about the details of Chibana's life is to let his audience clearly understand the Shorin Ryu; another reason is probably based on his own unique philosophy for karate.

As far as “literary correctness” of Kobayashi Shorin-ryu is concerned, Hanshi Miyahira often states, "Now the Japanese call it Kobayashi style but that is incorrect...but that is all right because only people who do not know Okinawan karate will call it by that name. Since they do not know, you must gently remind them or the Okinawan people will laugh at their ignorance. After all, it is funny. Many foreign people call it Kobayashi Shorin-ryu; that is just like saying Shorin Shorin-ryu. It doesn't make much sense."

Mr. Miyahira often teaches the "virtue of martial arts" to young people. At the end of his lecture, he explained the value of karate, quoting the "Seven Virtues of Martial Arts" from one of the Chinese military strategy books. The quotation reads as follows:??"Martial arts forbids violence, suppresses an uprising, keeps one from corruption, establishes honor for one, pacifies the public, makes harmony among people, and makes one rich. These are the seven virtues of martial arts”. The martial arts (karate) can, according to Mr. Miyahira, be a helpful tool for one's life: it adds value to one's ability, secures a sure means of living, and even makes one rich. This interpretation may sound vulgar, but it shows that Mr. Miyahira focuses not only on the spirituality of karate, but also on its practicality. Even today, many karate experts tend to hold on to the volunteer spirit as their mottos, believing that one should not use karate as a tool for making a fortune, or as a means of living. This kind of Puritanism has been preventing Okinawa karate from flourishing in popularity and achieving economical success in dojo management.

The teaching of Itosu, however, does not insist on such Puritanism in karate; it seems to say that the more respectable a karate expert is, the more successful he should be socially and economically. Here we can see the will of Master Miyahira who, by having learned from Master Itosu, now instructs his students in accordance with his ideas: "Following the reason and the law" and "coexisting and co-flourishing".

Mr. Miyahira speaks about the Shorin-ryu as follows. In 1908, his teacher Anko Itosu submitted a petition to the prefectural officials of Okinawa to introduce karate into the regular public school curriculum. This petition of Itosu is called the "Ten Articles of Karate". Mr. Miyahira says that this is all one should know about the Shorin-ryu. Though it may be a little too long, we would like to present its contents here:
In the introduction, Itosu tells the history of karate (China Hand). It begins with the following sentences: "Karate came from neither Confucianism nor Buddhism. It started as the Classic Shorin-ryu and the Shorei-ryu, both of which came from China. Since these two methods have their merits and demerits, it is important to preserve and inherit them as they are". The paragraph continues as Itosu describes the purposes and training methods of karate, insisting that it be taken into the school education.

His first article says that though karate's aim is to strengthen one's body, however the main reason for this is not to meet one's own needs but to serve the society. Thus a karate athlete has to know that even if he were to be confronted with violence, he should never hurt his opponent.

The second article tells that karate strengthens bones and muscles of the body, making it as strong as iron and stone, so as to use the hands and feet in place of a spear or a sword. Itosu claims that such achievement is possible if one begins training his body when he is still in elementary school. Itosu then says that it would help Japan to build the society of soldiers, the ideal of Itosu's time when the whole nation was working hard to enrich and strengthen the country.

The third article explains that though one cannot be a karate expert in a short time, a mere one to two hours vigorous daily training would make one's physique incomparable to a normal person in three to four years. From that point on, many would continue pursuing the career of karate for life.

The fourth article claims that since the hands and feet are the most essential weapons in karate, one should train his by punching a makiwara every day. The point is to punch it one to two hundred times a day.
Itosu thus keeps explaining the essence of karate. His fifth article describes the correct positions; another points out the wrong training methods, warning, for example, that too much tension in muscles can harm the blood circulation. We can understand Mr. Miyahira's claim that this letter of Itosu alone works as the bible of the Shorin-ryu.

Originally there was no clear distinction among various schools of karate (ryu). The style developed and handed down from generation to generation in Shuri has been called the Shuri-te, the one in Naha the Naha-te, and the one in Tomari the Tomari-te. Shuri flourished as Okinawa's capital city for a long time. As the center of history, culture and politics, Shuri has produced many famous martial artists such as Kanga Sakugawa AKA Karate Sakugawa, Choken Makabe AKA Makabe Chansho, Sokon Matsumura AKA Warrior Matsumura, and Master Anko Itosu. Master Choshin Chibana learned one of the traditional ways of karate from Master Anko Itosu, who in turn had learned it from Master Sokon Matsumura. In 1933, Master Chibana named the said way of karate the Shorin-ryu in order to distinguish it from the Shuri-te's other ryus and thus became its founder.

The characteristics of the Shorin-ryu are detailed in the "Ten Articles of Karate", the petition submitted in 1908 by Master Anko Itosu, Master Choshin Chibana's teacher, to the education department of Okinawa Prefecture. The Shorin-ryu teaches stances and breathing methods that are natural and relaxed. It also teaches a unique method of taking in power and releasing it: one takes in power from inside outward. This method makes concentration of power easy, which, combined with the quickness of movement, increases the force of an attack. The basic training is the Naihanchi: one trains his hands mainly by punching a makiwara to increase the destroying force of an attack. Also when attacked, one should smash up the opponent as well as defend oneself; this enables one to learn the technique of attack/defense combination.

Currently, there are 24 dojo’s belonging to the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate Association, for which Mr. Miyahira acts as the president in the Okinawa prefecture. More branch Dojo’s exist outside of Okinawa and abroad, as the popularity of the Shorin-ryu is increasing worldwide.

At the Bick Symposium Mr. Miyahira said: "It is important to develop the unique characteristics of each ryu of karate, but the most important thing today is to create an instruction plan that can be applied to any ryu. In order to achieve this, we have to educate our future instructors and found a karate university. It is possible to hold a world championship in three to five years. We should organize a task force to make the idea come true".

Miyahira Katsuya (Shorin-ryu)
The following are the teachings of Miyahira Katsuya, the present president of the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do Association and one of the senior most students of Chibana Choshin. Miyahira teaches in Naha, Okinawa, and has contributed a number of outstanding students to the Shorin-ryu system. Miyahira Sensei began training with Chibana Sensei in 1933 and was promoted to 9-Dan Hanshi in 1967. Upon the death of his teacher, he formally received the HANKO (official seals of the organization) and was voted president of the Okinawa Shorinryu Karatedo Kyokai in March of 1969.

Thoughts on sparring
I believe that free style sparring is essential to the advanced development of a student but only after the student's techniques are a part of their self. I must also state that the karate student's sparring techniques must come from the kata. This takes many years to develop and I do not allow a student to spar until they reach the sandan (third degree black belt) level. At this stage of their development, sparring can be helpful. Below the sandan level, free style sparring is too dangerous and will even hinder a student's development.

I teach my students to be concerned with the mastery of the traditional kata and unless they master the kata they can never hope to become proficient in the study of karate-do. When a student reaches a point in their development where they have a good understanding of the kata, I then introduce the techniques of semi-free sparring. These are prearranged techniques that test the student's ability to judge distances and application of blocks and counterattacks. Later we introduce a limited type of free style sparring where we limit the areas of attack.

Thought on Correct Attitude
Some modern-day teachers are trying to develop the karate attitude through methods of tournament competition. The old way has always been self-competition and self-study. One might become a good fighter but we cannot say that they are practicing budo karate. This type of individual is much too limited. A student's training must always be in balance.

Thoughts on Kata
Kata is never concrete in performance or interpretation. It changes either knowingly, unknowingly or through the passage of time. Sometime the changes are small -- like changing the emphasis of punching to kicking or to quick movements or to slow, steady movements. An instructor may favor one technique over another and tell his students to emphasize it more than it was originally taught. The kata is still the same but a change has now taken place either consciously or unconsciously. These minor changes have not really changed the style. These changes cannot be prevented either, for in most cases the change occurs over a long period of time.

Thoughts on Karate Styles
If you really look at the various names of the modern styles, it has no real meaning. Styles are based on the teachings of an individual. If the individual is good, then of course the style will be good. In the end, group styles are meaningless. You say that your style is better then this style or that style; let us see if you can prove it! A punch or kick can only be done in a limited number of ways that are combative. It is like a rifleman who shoots at a target. If he hits the target do you say that the rifle is a good shot or do you say that the man is a good shot? The rifle may be the most expensive and best rifle made but if the shooter is no good then the rifle will not hit the target. The rifle is the style and the shooter is the practitioner.

Miyahira Katsuya, Chosin Chibana’s senior student, has no children. He has one brother who studied karate but he is a company president and has very little to do with karate. Miyahira still teaches Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. He has always taught like that and has not changed his teaching times in over thirty years. On Okinawa, Miyahira is a recognized training partner of the great Motobu Choki.
Miyahira Katsuya has a habit of punching the tatami when bored, tired or nervous. This habit goes back to his childhood. In the 1930's Chibana took Miyahira to visit Itosu's granddaughter that still lived in the Itosu family home. They sat and talked at great lengths about the great Itosu. Finally, they started talking about the difficult times at the time of Itosu's death in 1915.

At this, Miyahira began to lose interest and unconsciously began to pound the tatami with his fist. The granddaughter immediately stopped her conversation with Chibana and looked at Miyahira. She then said, "That's a funny habit you have there. My grandfather use to do the same thing when he was bored!" ??The Toe-Tipped Kick?- the two major styles of Shorin-ryu (often referred to as Chibana style Shorin-ryu and Matsubayashi-ryu) perform 85% of their front kicks (shomen geri) with what is called "tsumasaki geri" (toe-tipped kick). Of the kicks that are performed in basics and in kata, 85% are chudan shomen geri (middle area front kicks) and are done with the toe-tipped kick.

The other 15% are called jodan shomen geri (high front kicks) and are performed with the ball of the foot. The toe-tipped is usually not performed or practiced in Japan due to the difficulty of the kick. The Japanese prefer the ball of the foot kick and the instep kick due to the fact that they feel it is easier to "master." Nowadays, it is also rare to find an American Okinawan stylist who works on the toe-tipped kick. They, too, have sought to learn "the easier way."

Even today in Okinawa, the native practitioners still prefer the toe-tipped kick with the instep kick as a standby technique. Both of these kicks are diligently practiced on the makiwara and with training partners. The toe-tipped kick is performed straight in with the back and head straight. Tradition also indicates that when bringing the foot up for the kick, that it must be brought up to the opposite knee with the kicking foot pointed to a 90 degree angle forward (toward your opponent) before actually snapping the foot outward.

Shorin-ryu Maxims

The following also comes from the teachings of Miyahira Katsuya, Shorin-ryu Hanshi 10th Dan and president of the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do Kyokai. These maxims are written on the wall of his dojo and are a guide to help his students in a better understanding of the "Proper Spirit in Karate-do Training."

The Proper Spirit In Karate-do Training
1. You should thoroughly understand and pay strict attention to your teacher's corrections and apply them correctly.
2. You can attain perfection by exercising patience and through constant training.
3. In learning the basic techniques, learn to apply them, adopt them and finally transform them to your own taste but always according to the correct theory of basic techniques.
4. You should listen to and accept the corrections of the more senior or advanced students.
5. Try to assimilate everything good in your peers and use it to correct that which is inconsistent in you.
6. When teaching you should always be kind but firm and strict with your juniors.

Shorin-ryu Conduct
The following is taken from the teachings of Miyahira Katsuya (Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do Hanshi 10-Dan) and are found on display in his karate training hall located in Kokuba Naha, Okinawa:

Rules for Proper Conduct In The Training Hall
1. To acquire experience and understanding, take seriously all advice given to you.
2. Never judge or take a person lightly.
3. Accept with an open mind the opinions and remarks of others, if they prove to be earnest, just and correct.
4. Be honest, fair and true whenever you ponder over or reason out a problem or theory.
5. When you are not training, quietly sit by the edge of the dojo and watch the activities of your fellow students and how they are corrected.

Anko Itosu – fighter or bodybuilder?
By Renshi Mobley
November 2007

Anko (Yasutsune Itosu) (1831-1915) is one of the most influential early 20th century karate pioneers. (1) For those knowledgeable in karate history, his name to you is legend.

It was Itosu who first started teaching karate to the public and was one of the teachers of Gichen Funakoshi (who many know as the father of Japanese karate), as well as many other founders of the karate we know today. He was the creator of the Pinan Kata series, and he modified of many other kata practiced throughout karate today.

But what is the history behind this man? What’s his legacy? Records identify Itosu born in the Gibo section of Shuri (the capital city), Okinawa, in 1831 and died on January 26, 1915. His first name was Anko (the Kanji for which may be alternately read in Japanese as Yasutsune and his last name Shishu read as Itosu). He is probably most commonly known by the name Anko Itosu. He was born to a prominent family and was well educated in the classics of Chinese literature. He was short by modern standards, but in Okinawa at the time his approximately five feet of height was average. Some sources describe him as stocky with a barrel chest and very strong. He also had immense discipline.

After taking and passing civil service exams, he became a clerk for the Ryukyu government. At least one source he was a secretary to the last King of the Ryukyus (the island chain of which Okinawa was the capital), Sho Tai (the monarchy ended in 1879 when the islands officially became part of Japan). It was through the assistance of his good friend Anko Azato that he progressed to a position of prominence in Ryukyu governmental administration. This was a bond of friendship that existed throughout their lives, and they are often described together by Gichin Funakoshi, who studied under both of these masters. By all accounts he was built strongly, and there are many tales of his incredible punching ability.

The early training of this martial arts legend is shrouded in mystery. Many martial historians refer to Itosu as having been a disciple of the Great Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura. Matsumura was the most influential martial artist of his time who helped bring karate into the modern era as exponent of Shuri-te (meaning Shuri hands or art). It was Matsumura who was a student of Tode Sakagawa (1733-1815) who in turn studied under Kusanku -- after which the famous kata is named (Konku).

Was Itosu the link to this heritage, an interpreter of Matsumura's karate? Upon closer examination this appears to be incorrect, or at least overstated.

Any senior martial artist who validates this martial artist as a legend should ask the question, “What constitutes him as a legend?” The history of this great martial artist is relatively recent; he died less than a century ago. Therefore the credibility of recent research should probably be more believable than centuries old martial arts legends, which often get distorted because of “time allowing people to adulterate the truth.” Unlike his legendary martial arts predecessors, such as Tode Sakagawa, Bushi Matsumura, and others whose birth dates and life situation experiences have been distorted by authors and historians, Itosu’s life is generally known and well documented.

Often Okinawa martial arts tradition recounts many legendary heroic tales of martial artists gallantly fighting resulting in glorious victories. However, Itosu has nothing documented concerning physical confrontations and gallantry. He was the early master of karate whose courage prevented him from being in a fight. The late great founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu, Shoshin Nagamine stated that, “In Itosu’s eighty five years there was not a single episode describing such an encounter. Highly skilled in the fighting traditions, the very fact that Itosu avoided physical confrontation, especially during the time of his generation, is in itself testimony that he was a man of eminent virtue.” In spite of Itosu’s diligent makiwara training and polished martial arts skills, “I know of no episodes of him ever fighting or even having an argument throughout his entire life. 1

As a child, Itosu was small and introverted compared to boys of his age. It has been suggested that his size and strict upbringing, attributed to him being so quiet during his childhood. He was well educated in Chinese classics and calligraphy. Itosu had a high aptitude in writing skills, which guided him to attain a position as an administrative secretary. He was a passionate Confucian who prayed several times during the day.

The question then becomes how do we ascertain the truth when so much of martial history is based on oral accounts and opinions? While we may never know the truth for sure, we should look to accounts of those who actually trained under Itosu for significant periods of time. One such account comes from Choki Motobu (one of Okinawa's greatest early twentieth century karate masters) who spent eight to nine years under Itosu. In his 1932 book, "Watashi no Tode Jutsu," Motobu is quoted as saying: "Sensei Itosu was a pupil of Sensei Matsumura, but he was disliked by his teacher for he was very slow (speed of movement). There (in the dojo) for although Itosu sensei was diligent in his practice his teacher did not care about him so he (Itsou) left and went to sensei Nagahama." According Motobu, while Sensei Nagahama was quite well known and very diligent, his method or idea of teaching was entirely different from master Matsumura. Nagahama stressed just building of the body. Apparently Itosu adjusted well and trained hard for Motobu reports that Nagahama referred to Itosu as his disciple and "right hand man." It must have been a shock when Nagahama told Itosu on his deathbed (as reported by Motobu), that he had actually only taught him (Itosu) strength building and had never once given thought to actual combat. In other words, his method lacked the idea of liberty in motion and alertness in action, and therefore he wanted him to go back to master Matsumura.

Furthermore, Funakoshi says on page 18 of his text (reprinted as "Tote Jitsu" in 1925), "It is confirmed through written documents and collections that .....(2) ASATO followed MATSUMURA and ITOSU followed GUSUKUMA, according to what has been told through generations."In his later text, "Karate-do Kyohan" (page 8, 1973 edition), Funakoshi says again that, "It is stated that ...... (3) masters AZATO and ITOSU were students of MATSUMURA and GUSUKUMA respectively. It is likely that through his instruction many of the seeds were planted for using tode (an early name for karate) as a method of physical and mental strengthening. These seeds combined with Itosu's unique perspective and experience came to fruition in the Okinawan school system as a method of developing the youth of Okinawa. Itosu likely realized, as Nagahama suggested, that he needed further training in combative principles. It would have been highly unlikely for Itosu to return to the Matsumura, however, since he had previously left him. The question then becomes, "Where did Itosu go next?"

If we look at the words of Gichin Funakoshi (the great karate pioneer who is often referred to as the "Father of Japanese Karate.") who is regarded as a top student of both Anko Azato and Anko Itosu, we find that Anko Itosu became a disciple of GUSUKUMA OF TOMARI! (sometimes known as Shiroma). On page 18 of his text (reprinted as "Tote Jitsu" in 1925) Funakoshi states, "It is confirmed through written documents and collections that...(2) ASATO followed MATSUMURA and ITOSU followed GUSUKUMA, according to what has been told through generations." In his later text, "Karate-do Kyohan" (page 8, 1973 edition), who instructed this writer and to whom the writer is greatly indebted". Thus through the combined weight of the statements made by two direct long term students of Anko Itosu (Motobu and Funakoshi), we can logically come to the conclusion that Anko Shishu (Anko Itosu) began his training under Matsumura, left to become a disciple of Nagahama of Naha (a seaport city near Shuri, the capital), and upon Nagahama's death became a disciple of GUSUKUMA of TOMARI.

This would explain the inclusion of the Tomari (a seaport village near the capital Shuri) (4) kata Rohai and Wanshu within the Itosu curriculum. Sokon Matumura was not known to have taught or passed on these forms. To explain the presence of these kata in the Itosu curriculum, other historians have theorized that Itosu, as student of Matsumura, must have therefore trained briefly, side by side, with Kosako Matumora of Tomari sometime after 1873. But, the more logical explanation is to assume that Motobu and Funakoshi are correct in stating that Itosu had studied with Gusukuma. He was a Tomari instructor, and both katas are recorgnized as Tomari kata. Itosu continued to teach Wanshu as well as Rohai, which developed into three versions based on the original Tumaidi (Tomari te) prototype. Then there is the kata Seisan. It was a kata taught by Soken Matsumura. If Itosu's primary karate teacher had been Matsumura, surely he would also have taught this kata. But he did not. An explanation for the absence of Seisan can be found in the existing Tomari te (Tumaidi) traditions. For example, the continuing Tomari traditions as were passed down through the Oyadomari brothers of Tomari (5), as well as those of the Matsumora ha Tumaidi (Tomari te) as passed down to Tokashiki Iken (6), also lack the kata Seisan, as does the tode passed on by Itosu. Seisan was not a Tomari kata. (7)

In any event, all the forms Itosu apparently borrowed from the Tomari curriculum appear to have been heavily altered when compared to the existing Tomari traditions. Given the existing Tumaidi forms, one can see that Itosu utilized the sum of the knowledge given to him and further altered it to reflect his experience and objectives. It is also interesting to contrast Itosu's kata and how they are performed as compared to the kata of Tomari (Tumaidi) as practiced today. (8)

When one compares the kata of Tumaidi (9) with those traced to Anko Itosu, one is struck by the greater use of open hand techniques and the more upright stances in the Tomari tradition. The kata themselves are performed with a much more relaxed and lighter feel. There is also greater emphasis placed upon the use of koshi (hip area) -- the lower back/hips/pelvic girdle move in more of a figure eight pattern and on multiple planes as opposed to rotating around a horizontal axis as is found in the Itosu heritage.

In his book "Okinawan Karate: Teachers, Styles And Secret Techniques," Mark Bishop contrasted the karate of Azato (Matsumura heritage mixed with a swordsmanship perspective) and Itosu:

"While Azato believed the hands and feet should be like bladed weapons and that one should avoid all contact of an opponent's strike, Itosu held the idea that the body did not have to be so mobile and should be able to take the hardest of blows. Chosin Chibana (a long time student of Itosu) once said that Itosu indeed have a very powerful punch, but Matsumura had once said to Itosu: 'With your strong punch you can knock anything down, but you can't so much as touch me.'"

Itosu's Legacy

It is through the efforts of this "Father of Modern Okinawan Karate" that many basic exercises and forms were simplified and organized into a curriculum suitable for the mass instruction of students. In addition to placing importance on basics, Itosu took the Channan forms he had previously devised (or had been taught him, according to historians), altered them slightly and renamed them Pinan, which he thought would be more appealing to students. Nakasone Genwa, 1934, and “Kobo Kenpo Karate-do Nyumon” by Mabuni Kenwa and Nakasone Genwa, 1938, evidence this in such journals as “Karate No Kenkyu”. Let it never be said that Itosu lacked enthusiasm, for he didn't stop at the Pinans. He went on to supplement Naifanchi by the creation of a Nidan and Sandan (Kinjo 1991, Murakami 1991) and possibly Kusanku Sho and Passai Sho (Iwai 1992) as well!

Even though questions persist about Itosu's lineage, there is no doubt about the profound and universal impact he had on the development of karate in Okinawa. It was Itosu who brought Karate from the shadows into the light of public study. (4) In 1901 he began instructing karate at the Shuri Jinjo Primary school (Iwai 1992, Okinawa Pref. 1994) and taught at the Dai Ichi middle school and the Okinawa prefectural Men's Normal School in 1905 (Bishop 1999, Okinawa Pref. 1994, 1995). It is perhaps one of the greatest testaments to the skill of this karate-ka that he developed such a group of superb students, who in turn promoted his art. The karate that descended from Itosu represents one of the great Okinawan karate heritages known as Shorin-ryu. His students comprise a virtual "who's who" of the founding fathers of modern karate. They include: Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro, Jiro Shiroma, Chojo Oshiro, Shigeru Nakamura Anbun Tokuda, Moden Yabiku, Kenwa Mabuni, Gichin Funakoshi, Chosin Chibana, Moden Yabiku, and Choki Motobu (who contrary to popular stories spent some eight years of training under Itosu).

In October of 1908 Itosu realized it was time for Karate to reach beyond the shores of Okinawa to the heart of Japan itself. It was to this end that he wrote his famous letter of Ten Precepts (Tode Jukun) to draw the attention of both the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of War. After demonstrations were held for several naval vessels, the most important of which was the 1912 visit of Admiral Dewa, karate emerged as an attractive vehicle for developing young fighting men for the imperialistic Japanese government of the period.

On January 26, 1915 a great light in the martial world was extinguished when Anko Itosu drew his last breath at the age of eighty- five. It is a shame that he did not live to see the art he so vigorously propagated achieve its worldwide popularity, and to see his crusade vigorously pursued on the mainland by his student Gichen Funakoshi.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shorin-ryu, para 1
2. http://www.okinawakarate.com/enmapsite/history/history.html, middle ages, para
3. http://www.karatedohistory.com/styles.html, Sukunaihayashi
4. http://okinawakenpodssi.com/masterodo.htm, Ryukyu Kenpo
5. http://www.matsumurakenpo.org/history/hist3.html, Matsumura Kenpo
6. http://www.matsumurakenpo.org/history/hist3.html, Matsumura Kenpo
7. http://www.matsumurakenpo.org/history/hist3.html, Matsumura Kenpo
8.http://www.okinawakenpokarate.com/history.asp, Okinawa Kenpo
9.http://www.shorin.info/5.html, Matsubayashi
10.http://www.shorin.info/6.html, Kobayashi
11. http://www.shorin.info/7.html, Shobayashi
12.http://www.shorin.info/8.html, Matsumura Ryu
13. http://www.shorin.info/9.html, Matsumura Seito
14. http://www.matsumuraorthodox.com/matsumura.htm, Sakagawa’s Deshis
15.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bassai_shoPassai, Passai Kata
16.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kusanku_%28kata%29, Kusanku Kata
17. http://www.newsfinder.org/site/more/chatan_yara/, Chatan Yara
18.http://shorinryushorinkanindia.com/osskkai.htm, Chibana altering Pinan Shodan & Nidan
19.http://homepage.eircom.net/~nmalone/meaning.htm, different versions of kata
21. Estrada, E. (1998). Personal Communication.
Fujiwara, R. (1990). Kakutogi no Rekishi (History of Martial Arts).Tokyo: Baseball Magazine.
Funakoshi G. (1976) Karatedo: My Way of Life. Tokyo: Kodansha International.
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Iwai T. (1992). Koden Ryukyu Karatejutsu (Old-Style Ryukyu Karate-jutsu). Tokyo: Airyudo.
Iwai T. (1997) Personal Communication
Kinjo A. (1999) Karate-den Shinroku (True Record of Karate's Transmission).
Naha: Okinawa Tosho Center. Kinjo H. (1956a). "Pinan no Kenkyu (Study of Pinan) Part 1."
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Kinjo H. (1956b). "Pinan no Kenkyu (Study of Pinan) Part 2."
Gekkan Karatedo August 1956. Tokyo: Karate Jiho-sha.
Kinjo H. (1991) Yomigaeru Dento Karate 1 Kihon (Return to Traditional Karate Vol. 1, Basic Techniques) - video presentation. Tokyo: Quest, Ltd.
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McCarthy, P. (1999) Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts: Koryu Uchinadi, Vol. 2. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle, Co.
Motobu C. (1926) Okinawa Kenpo Toudijutsu: Kumite-hen. Osaka: Toudi Fukyukai.
Motobu C. (1932) Watashi no Toudijutsu (My Karate). Tokyo: Toudi Fukyukai.
Murakami K. (1996). Karate no Kokoro to Waza (The Spirit and Technique of Karate). Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha. Nihon Karate
Kenkyukai (1956) Zoku: Karatedo Nyumon. Tokyo: Wakaba Shobo.
Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education (1994). Karatedo Kobudo Kihon Chosa Hokokusho (Report of Basic Research on Karatedo and Kobudo).Naha: 1994.
Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education (1995). Karatedo Kobudo Kihon Chosa Hokokusho II (Report of Basic Research on Karatedo and Kobudo Part II). Naha: 1995.
Sakagami R. (1978) Karatedo Kata Taikan (Encyclopedia of Karatedo Kata. Tokyo: Nichibosha.
About the author: Joe Swift
Joe Swift, native of New York State (USA), has lived in Japan since 1994. He works as a translator/interpreter, and serves as an assistant instructor at the Mushinkan Okinawa Karate Kobudo Dojo in Kanazawa.
22.Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters, 2000, Chapter 5, pgs 46-49, Shoshin Nagamine
23. http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=1 Fighting Arts Aticle
24. Hanshi, 10th Dan?b. 1918, referencehttp://www.ihadojo.com/Origins/miyahira.htm