The Chibana Project

A blog where I post my research on a certain Okinawan named Chibana Choshin.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Work In Progress Part II - Not Really in Progress

In August of 2006, I set out to translate Shuguro Nakazato's Okinawa Traditional Karate: Shorin Ryu Kata figuring there would be much about Chibana Sensei within the book. As I waded through an attempt at translation, I lost interest primarily because the book was - appropriately I would respectfully add - a mini biographical account of the life of Shuguro Nakazato. He begins speaking about Chibana Sensei on page 217 of the book. By page 220, the focus begins to return to him, and my translation ends.

I was recently contacted for the rest of my translation notes from the book. Rather than just sharing with one individual, I thought I would post it here. This fragment is interesting for a couple reasons: first, Nakazato Sensei's narrative brings out the true Uchinanchu essence of Chibana Sensei. Second, just as with that first fragment I translated five years ago, you see Nakazato Sensei's love and respect for his master.

What follows is pages 219 through most of 220 ( a direct continuation of my post from August 2006 ). Any errors in translation are mine.

Shortly thereafter, because Sensei had left Chinen to return to his birthplace of Shuri's Tori-Hori district, Sensei had opened his first dojo there in Taisho 7th year (1918). In the time when Chibana Sensei opened his dojo in Shuri Tori-Hori village, Funakoshi Gichin, Oshiro Chojo, Yabu Kentsu, Hanashiro Chomo, Tokuda Anbun, and others whose illustrious names carried weight in the karate world founded the Karate Research Club dedicated to furthering the research of karate ideas and technique training.

Chibana Chosin Sensei regularly said, "Karate is the way of cultivating the mind," and spoke of the essence of karatedo hidden in Okinawan song (1). Sensei used to say this old Okinawan saying, and would emphasize this with a thumping that resounded off his chest, renewing the importance of endurance and giving you something thoroughly to consider (2).

I intentionally learned the bokusho style of writing the character "endure" because I was so deeply impressed with my teacher's ways (3). I also frequently write another character: "knowledge." Karatedo's foundation is surely perseverance because I think in order to excel at the techniques, the way one must master is "endurance" and "knowledge" without conflict.

That's why I think these two characters "endurance" and "knowledge" are karate's ideal and practicing these characters expressed that sentiment.

The purpose of the pursuit of karate surely exists in "perseverance," and in order to "be absorbed in karate and risk life on karate" the spirit of "knowledge" is necessary and essential.

Master Chibana Chosin Sensei said very elegantly, "In karate I live, in karate I die." But, the ones supporting that kind of lifestyle are understanding families and respectful students. Everytime there was something needed, his students endeavored to meet that need as much as possible (4).

Two years after I began training in Showa 23d year (1948), Chibana Chosin Sensei founded the Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate Association and became its first president. When I began training, I soon became an uchi-deshi, and as such I soon underwent various hardships (5). After the war, when Sensei was building his home in Tori-Hori, there was a shortage of goods and supplies.


(1) One of Chibana Sensei's five precepts from Karatedo no Kokoro e was "Through physical training, one can cultivate the mind."
(2) This is likely a reference to the proverb: 忍ぶで忍ばらんことあゆみ、忍ばらん忍びすしど忍び (Shinobu de shinobaran koto ayumi, shinobaran shinobi sushido shinobi). I cannot make this make sense in English.
(3) Bokusho (墨書) is an abstract, post-modern form of calligraphy from the post WWII era in Japan.
(4) Personal Note: After hearing his story with my own ears, Nakazato Sensei did much more than he would ever publicly acknowledge to support Chibana Sensei.
(5) Uchi-deshi is a live-in student. Requirements to become an uchi-deshi vary from instructor to instructor but they generally share the themes of loyalty to the teacher and dedication to karate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Glad to see you are back translating and (hopefully!) doing more research on Chibana Dai-sensei!

Looking forward to seeing more of your findings on "The Chibana Project"!

In friendship,

Danny Emerick
Tallahassee, Florida

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's good to see you back! Looking forward to reading more from you. Are you still living in Okinawa?

Thank you for posting this.

Best Regards,

Larry Kientz

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Greenwood Jiu Jitsu said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Glad to see another of your translations.

1:18 PM  
Blogger gijoe said...

Thanks, everyone. I, unfortunately, no longer live in Okinawa, though I'm hoping to go back. As I mentioned, life happened over the years and I found myself letting The Chibana Project go as I focused on other things. I'm coming back around to devoting time to translating what I can find these days.

5:54 PM  

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