A Work in Progress, Part I
I have been translating some text from Nakazato Shuguro's new book Okinawa Traditional Karate: Shorin Ryu Kata. While most of the book contains pictures of Nakazato Sensei performing kata, there is an extend section on his views of karate, his life, and more important for my research, on Chibana Choshin. My grasp of Japanese is loose and slipping fast having been away from the country and its language for a while, so what follows is a rough, paraphrased translation of the first major section in his book on Chibana Sensei. Everything about the translation is not very precise. This translation encompasses pages 217-219.
Meeting Chibana Sensei
On August 15 in Showa 20th year (1945), I met the end of the war in
At that time, the suburban residents of Kansai (2) who were originally from Okinawa banded together and formed the Nansei Shotou Federation (3); I, who had become the youth department manager for the federation, was in
I returned to my hometown of
Chibana Sensei was wearing an HBT (9) uniform he had received from the military garrison, and he also wore big shoes. But, my very first impression of him was the feeling of a man from a stern karate family who was also a gentle gentleman. He was considerably older than me, but his manner of speech was polite, his demeanor was soft, and you intuitively knew that he was worthy of respect. Knowing that I had been learning karate in
Chibana Choshin Sensei was born in Meiji 18th year (1885), and his family was a Tori Hori sakeya family (10). He was an apprentice of Itosu Ankoh, who was a personal pupil of Matsumura Sokon; and even while still Itosu’s student, he was known as a karate expert. When Chibana Sensei opened his first dojo in
(1) Nakazato Shuguro served in the Imperial Army as a member of the cavalry.
(2) Kansai is the southern-central region of Japan featuring the prominent cities Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and Nara. The region has a distinctive group of dialects known as Kansai-ben with Osaka-ben being one of the most notorious of the Kansai dialects; it is an informal equivalent of a Southern accent. Okinawans from Kansai must have stuck out amongst other Japanese like sore thumbs, futher marginalizing them from the rest of mainstream Japanese society.
(3) Nansei Shotou literally means “Southwestern Island People.” This is obvious reference to their geographical location relative to
(4) Amami is a city on Amami Oshima in Kagoshima prefecture in the Kyushu part of Japan. Amami Oshima was an island of the Amami Island Chain belonging to the Ryukyu Kingdom until its annexation by the Satsuma clan in 1624. Because of this storied history, Nakazato Sensei probably exploited a shared sense of solidarity with the Amami people. Okinawa was under U.S. military control following the end of World War II, and in the years after 1945 there was hope that at the end of U.S. occupation, Okinawa would regain its independence from both Japan and the U.S. and become a sovereign nation again. In 1972, events did not play out as hoped following reversion of governance of Okinawa to Japan.
(5) More than 10,000 Okinawan civilians fled to or were escorted by the
(6) I have not been able to find the kanji for this gentleman’s name in any dictionary at my disposal, nor have I been able to figure out the proper reading.
(7) Tsubo refers to the area encompassed by two tatami mats laid side-by-side. One tsubo is approximately 3.3 square meters or 35.6 square feet.
(8) Yanbaru is an area on the northern part of Okinawa renowned for its forest.
(9) HBT is the acronym for herringbone twill, the uniform initially utilized by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for field work in 1941; in 1942 it had become the USMC battle dress uniform. Below is a photo of the HBT uniform from http://www.olive-drab.com.
(10) With the abdication of the Ryukyu king in 1879 and the effective dismantling of the monarchy and caste system, all former royal families and nobility lost both their titles and their means of employment. According to Mr. Masahiro Nakamoto, while former nobility were awarded modest stipends from the remains of the royal treasury, they still had to find work. Many peichin families of Shuri became sake brewers; most of the peichin families lived in Tori Hori. The Chibana family wealth is assessed as moderate judging from the site and size of the plot of land near the present day residence that belonged to Chibana Choshin – a four story apartment building now stands on the land.
(11) More than likely refers to the Tode Research Club founded in 1918 by Chibana and the others listed.