The Signaling Arrow of Practice

The following is an edited collection of memories and stories of others I present here in a rather informal way. 

At times Miyagi Chōjun visited the main island in an effort to spread karate. His intention was to elevate Okinawa karate to the level of Japanese jūdō and kendō, which in fact were only completed around that time. On occasion of an invitation by the Jūdō department of the Imperial University of Kyōto, Chōjun for the first time crossed to the main island in December 1927. On the main island this event is referred to as shidō no kaburaya, that is, literally “the signaling arrow of practice,” referring to the original meaning of a signaling arrow marking the beginning of a military campaign.

Each year in May, demonstrations were held at the festival of martial virtues (butokusai) in Kyōto. The training for this event took place at the Ritsumeikan University. The demonstrations took place from May 4th to 8th, for 5 days, under the auspices of the Society of Martial Virtues of Great-Japan (Dai Nippon Butokukai). Venue was the “hall of martial virtues (butokuden)” in Kyōto’s Heian Shrine, featuring fencing (kenjutsu), jūdō, bōjutsu, sōjutsu etc.

According to the “Journal of the martial virtues” (Butokushi), tōdījutsu (karate-jutsu) was presented by Konishi Yasuhiro at the 33rd Butokusai in 1929. At the 34th Butokusai in 1930 “karate-jutsu” was demonstrated by Ueshima Sannosuke from Ōsaka and “karate (tōdī) kenpō” by Konishi Yasuhiro from Tōkyō. At the 35th Butokusai in 1931 it was “karate“ by Konishi Yasuhiro again.

When the Society of Martial Virtues of Great-Japan held its martial arts festivals, Chōjun would occasionally participate, giving demonstrations as an opportunity for the dissemination of karate on the main island. And it seems to have been Chōjun‘s hope to connect karate to Japanese pre-war budō through spreading it throughout the country. On Okinawa, too, conveyors supported Chōjun’s activities in this regard: Spreading the Okinawan folk culture of karate on the mainland was the desire and hope of many Okinawans.

In the year 1933, karate (tōdī) was recognized as a genus of budō by the Butokukai. In the document filed at that time the exact name is recorded as “Gōjū-ryū Karate (Tōdī)“.

1924: From a memory album of the graduates of the Commercial High School of Naha. Back row, 2nd from right: Yogi Jitsu'ei at the age of about 12 years.

1924: From a memory album of the graduates of the Commercial High School of Naha. Back row, 2nd from right: Yogi Jitsu’ei at the age of about 12 years.

At subsequent Butokusai, Chōjun gave demonstrations. At that time there was his student Yogi Jitsu’ei, who had joined Ritsumeikan University in 1934. Born in 1912 in the administrative district of Naha, Jitsu’ei had become a student of Miyagi Chōjun already in 1928 while still on Okinawa.

1935 Chōjun journeyed to Kyōto for the Butokusai demonstration, which was under auspices of the Society of Martial Virtues of Great-Japan (Dai Nippon Butokukai). At that occasion, Chōjun performed Sanchin, Sēsan, and Yakusoku kumite, and in the latter Jitsu’ei acted as his partner. Although Yakusoku kumite is a “prearranged duel”, Jitsu’ei recalled his sense of fear at that time, as Chōjun would occasionally attack ichigeki hissatsu, i.e. “with the firm intention to kill with one blow”.

Yogi Jitsu’ei reported,

“In 1934 I became a student at the Ritsumeikan University. In the following year I acted as a partner Miyagi Chōjun Sensei during the Butokusai. At that time there was the highly respected Jūdōka of the Butokukai named Isogai Hajime (1871-1947). I was studying together with his son at the Faculty of Laws at the time. He said to me, ‘Mr. Yogi, my father has praised your teacher very much. He must be really a first-class Budōka and personality’.”

Jitsu’ei further

“introduced Chōjun Sensei to the former rector of Ritsumeikan University, the master-teacher Nakagawa Kojūrō. On this occasion, Rector Nakagawa variously chatted about Karate (Tōdī) with Chōjun Sensei. Rector Nakagawa said to him, ‘as a memento of Ritsumeikan, I would like to present you this writing made by veteran Meiji statesman Saionji Kinmochi (1849–1940)’, which he later sent to Okinawa.”

Said Saionji was a Duke, Prime Minister, President of the Privy Council, Envoy, Minister of Culture, and Imperial Advisor.

On December 21, 1935, Jitsu’ei startet the “Tōdī Kenkyūkai” of the Ritsumeikan University, together with Yamaguchi Jitsumi (Gōgen), Nishikawa Ikutarō, Noda Ritsuo, and Wada Shōichi.

On January 20, 1936, the “program and rules of the Karate-dō Department of the Ritsumeikan University” was submitted to the University. Therein is reported of “the glorious teacher Miyagi Chōjun” and the “deputy masters Yogi Jitsu’ei and Yamaguchi Jitsumi (i.e. Gōgen)”.

In the context of cumulative results of negotiations, on 30 April 1937, the renaming of “Tōdī Kenkyūkai” to “Karate Department” was approved. Subsequently it was further adjusted to “Karate Kenpō department” and “Karate-dō Department“. Nowadays it is called “Karate Department of Ritsumeikan University”.

In 1937 Chōjun became the first person in the sphere karate who was awarded the title of kyōshi. The same year Jitsu’ei graduated from Ritsumeikan University. Afterwards he worked for the police of the city prefecture of Osaka.

In 1939, Ritsumeikan karate club members Ujita Shōzō (1917-1989), Nakamura Taisuke, Taniguchi Jō, Ioku Tetsuya and others practiced for a period of over two months under Miyagi Chōjun in his garden in Naha. At that time, Ujita also received training from Shinzato Jin’an († 1945), Chōjun’s top student and designated successor at the time. Immediately following this visit, Kagawa Haruyoshi from Kyōto also visited Okinawa and trained under Chōjun.

Also in 1939, Kisaki Tomoharu, Uchiage Kenzō, and Kitano joined the Ritsumeikan University Karate club.

Yogi Jitsu'ei

Yogi Jitsu’ei

1942, following an invitation Ritsumeikan’s Kisaki Tomoharu, Uchiage Kenzō, Kitano, Kimura and others trained with Miyagi Chōjun. Mentioned Kisaki Tomoharu, in an 1986 article recalled whom he considered his most important teachers:

“Besides my late Sensei (Miyagi Chōjun) I have been instructed by many others, like Yogi Jitsu’ei, Sō Neichū, Ujita Shōzō, and my good friend and competitor, Uchiage Kenzō, also enlightened me in many ways.”

The following had also been reported in writing:

In Kyōto it often rains. Even when sensei (Chōjun) went to buy gifts and travel souvenirs, the students kept an umbrella ready outside the store. Even when going to the toilet, as I said, the students stood ready at the entrance with an umbrella in their hands. Wherever they went, the students took the umbrella with them, and made ​​sure that Sensei would not get wet. Chōjun Sensei commented on this, ‘Such hospitable people you cannot find amongst all people from Okinawa’.”

In 1950, Jitsu’ei also acted as joint founder of the Zen Nihon Karate-dō Gōjūkai, together with Yamaguchi Gōgen. Later he opened a dōjō called Shinkōkan (hall of the promotion [of karate]).

Following his retirement from work, Jitsu’ei returned to Okinawa, where he continued to spread karate. He died at the age of 85 years.

It can thus be said that Yogi Jitsu’ei was at the center of the propagation of Gōjū-ryū karate on the main island. Jitsu’ei was a Budōka (Gōjū-ryū karate) and a police officer.

Sources:

  • Takamiyagi Shigeru, Shinzato Katsuhiko , Nakamoto Masahiro [Aut. And Publ.]: Okinawa Karate Kobudō Jiten. Tōkyō, Kashiwa Shobō 2008.
  • Shōko no ki: Kisaki Tomoharu Sensei o Shinobukai, 1997. 
  • Kisaki Tomoharu: Sēpai ni tsuite (On Sēpai), Part 1.-4. Karate gijutsu no shinzui. Gōjū-ryū Kaishugata: Miyagi Chōjun jikiden. Editor: Nagoya Shigeru. Appeared in: Kindai Karate, June-October 1986 (Issue no. 25-28). Tōkyō, Bēsubōru Magajin-sha 1986. 
  • Higaonna Morio, Miyagi An’ichi: Gōjū-ryū Karate-dō Shi. Nidai Kensei Higaonna Kanryō Miyagi Chōjun. Champ, Tōkyō 2001. 
  • Naha Shōgō Kōtōgakkō Sozugyō Kinen Arubam (Commemoration Album  of the Graduation of Naha Commercial High School), 1924. 

© 2014 – 2015, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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