Tokuda Antei’s Memorandum

As can be seen in newspaper accounts, karate spread and developed as a compulsory subject of physical education. On January 25, 1911 (Meiji 44), the sole daily newspaper within Okinawa prefecture at the time published the following article:

The Karate Convention of the Normal School

Yesterday from 2 p.m. in the school’s courtyard the karate convention of the pupils of the just mentioned school commenced. Yabu Kentsū was named the instructor. First, up to 80 sets of karate were performed by the pupils. Furthermore about 4 sets of kumite were also performed. Afterwards 5 sets of karate were demonstrated by middle school pupils as distinguished guests. Finally, [the following was demonstrated] by masters in this field of study kindly present on this day:

  • Sēsan by Funakoshi Gichin,
  • Passai by Mr. Kiyuna,
  • Gojūshiho (AKA Ūsēshi) by Yabu Kentsū,
  • Naihanchi by Mr. Itokazu,

and the like.

And with this the convention was concluded. These are all things of undeniable reputation within this prefecture’s karate circles, but are also things which could not be seen as easily as during this day’s demonstrations.

The kinds [=kata] of karate are the 15 types:

  • Nanhanchi [=Naifanchi]
  • Pinan
  • Chintō
  • Wansū
  • Passai
  • Ronsū [=Chinsū]
  • Kūsankū
  • Rōhai
  • Gojūshiho (AKA Ūsēshi)
  • Jitte
  • Nantei [=Chintē]
  • Jī [=Jiin]
  • Sēsan
  • Wandō [=Wandau]
  • Jūmu [=Jion]

Among the pupils who excelled in these fifteen types the following persons were presented an award of excellence. […]

Altogether sixty-eight pupils were presented the award of excellence. Among them was Tokuda Antei (1884–1979).

Tokuda entered the Prefectural Middle School in 1905 and graduated in 1910, in the 22nd graduation class. As can be seen in the chronological records of the Prefectural Middle School as well as in newspaper articles, karate had been introduced as a compulsory subject of physical education in the Prefectural Middle School in the year of Tokuda’s entrance, so he became acquainted with it for a period of five years. After graduation from the Prefectural Middle School he matriculated in the evening course of the Normal School (teacher college), which was a one year course to become a primary school teacher. There he was also a member of the Normal School karate club and also received instruction in karate until his graduation in 1911.

During the six years from 1905 to 1911, Tokuda received instruction from Itosu Ankō. He is therefore a contemporary witness of the invention of school karate by Itosu Ankō.

Well, the introduction and spread of karate to mainland Japan is usually dated to have begun with Funakoshi Gichin’s demonstration at the 1st Physical Education Exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education in 1922. However, according to a memorandum by above mentioned Tokuda Antei, karate had already been introduced in 1908 at the Kyōto Butokuden.

Tokuda Antei’s Memorandum

Miscellaneous thoughts on karate.

By Tokuda Antei

My memories are numerous, but I would like to mention mainly those about physical training. During my school years, karatejūdōsumō and the like were performed for the first time. Karate began with both Hanashiro and Yabu senseis and about twenty volunteer students. Practice took place inside the grounds of the Okinawa Ginko Bank, on the remains of the former National Academy (Kokugaku) of Ryūkyū in Shuri Tōnokura. Practice commenced with techniques such as the fundamental Naihanchi. Occasionally we went to the house of venerable old man Higaonna [Kanryō] in Naha, where we practiced Sanchin, and later we welcomed venerable old man Itosu at school and received instruction. Moreover, during times of physical exercises (taiso), karate was also adopted and in this way the so-called “physical exercise karate” (karate-taisō) was born. Later, team or individual kumite was demonstrated at athletic meets and the like. I also coached as an assistant instructor. During the summer lecture meetings at venerable old man Itosu’s home, with Hanashiro sensei as the initiator, and Yabu, Funakoshi and other warriors (bujin), all sorts of performances were seen performed. Staff members also increased more and more and I remember Kuniyoshi Seikun and Taira Kana, both from Naha, as well as others. At times me and Kanemoto Seijin visited Yamannī Usumē (i.e. venerable old man Chinen Sanrā) from Shuri Kinjō, venerable old man Kiyuna from Tamaudun as well as other warriors (bujin). As a result we received a lot of answers and corrections to our questions. Every time inspectors of the school and prefectural offices appeared, staff members performed and tried to introduce karate to them. If I remember correctly it was in my 5th year at middle school [i.e. in 1910] when famous rear admiral Yashiro [Rokurō, 1860–1930, admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and Navy Minister] visited our school and he was astonished by our amazingly developed physique and he said that at some point in the future he will try to have it [karate] adopted by the central government. When I participated as a jūdō athlete at the Butokuden [in 1908] I also performed school karate in front of Kanō Jigorō sensei and answered several of his questions. […] Venerable old man Itosu always said to me “Your remarkable progress in jūdō is due to your karate!” [the remainder was omitted]

The above memorandum was published in the magazine “Yōshū”, published in 1961 on occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the founding of the Shuri (Senior) High School.

Karate-taiso

Note: The above is an adaption of text and research written and published by Kinjo Hiroshi in “Karate1 kare Karate2 made”.

© 2017, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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