DID YOU KNOW?

Shōshin at the tomb of the Teruya family, where Teruya Kishin, forefather of Tomrai-te, taught his disciple Matsumora Kōsaku. Original photograph documented by Andreas Quast at the Kodokan dojo in Naha Kumoji.

Nagamine Shōshin at the tomb of the Teruya family, where Teruya Kishin, forefather of Tomari-te, taught his disciple Matsumora Kōsaku. Original photograph documented by Andreas Quast at the Kodokan dojo in Naha Kumoji.

In 1936 Nagamine Shōshin knocked at the door of Motobu Chōki and was accepted to receive instruction in his unique kumite, fragments of which are still found in today’s “Seven Yakusoku Kumite” of the Matsubayashi-ryū. During social intercourse at that time, Motobu Chōki, Yabu Kentsū, and Hanashiro Chōmo were all unanimously of the opinion that “The kata lose their form in the karate of Tōkyō.” Having mastered the authentic traditions of the kata and wishing to protect and hand them down, once he had returned home to Okinawa, Nagamine opened a full-fledged dōjō in Tomari already in 1937.

In 1940, at the age of 35, Nagamine Shōshin was awarded the title of renshi in karate-jutsu by the Dai Nippon Butokukai. At that time, he was the only person in all of Okinawa Prefecture who held such a title, and the only person among all of the 60 000 Japanese police officers. As of March 1942 there were 23 title holders in all of Japan who had been awarded the title of renshi in karate-jutsu. Besides Nagamine himself, this included Mabuni Kenwa (Shito-ryū), Funakoshi Gichin (Shōtōkan), Funakoshi Gigō (Shōtōkan), and Ōtsuka Hironori (Wadō-ryū).

Shōshin. Original photograph documented by Andreas Quast at the Kodokan dojo in Naha Kumoji.

Nagamine Shōshin. Original photograph documented by Andreas Quast at the Kodokan dojo in Naha Kumoji.

With the end of WWII, as a police officer, Nagamine together with three colleagues became a prisoner of war in Gushikami in the southern part of Okinawa. While living a miserable life day after day, one day he happened to find a book by Funakoshi Gichin in the streets. This encounter once again sparked his tenacity to practice karate. When in 1947 he returned to Naha City, he promptly began to enlarge his residential building to which he hung a signboard saying “Matsubayashi-ryū Dōjō”. In 1951 he began to serve as the head of Motobu Police Station and in 1952, in the rank of a police superintendent, he retired. He was 46 years old at that time.

In 1950 and 1952, Nagamine also wrote the first postwar articles about karate published in Okinawa.

And in January 1953 he opened a one hundred tatami large full-fledged karate dōjō in the center of Naha’s then hospital district of Kumoji and since then devoted himself fully to the instruction and education of karate. Quite successful, I may add.

The former Dojo building in Naha Kumoji. It was a big old wooden house with living quarters for family and students, kitchen, changing rooms, socializing space, dojo itself and so on.

The former Dojo building in Naha Kumoji. It was a big old wooden house with living quarters for family and students, kitchen, changing rooms, socializing space, dojo itself and so on. In the front there was a space rented to an Izakaya named Manmaru Shoten, a wonderful little eat and drinking place run by persons from Miyako Island. Original photo by the author.

Biblio:

  • Dai Nippon Butokukai: Name list of successful candidates in karate-jutsu of the as of March 1942.
  • Gima Shinkin & Fujiwara Ryōzō 1986: 275.
  • Uechi Kan’ei, Takamiyagi Shigeru 1977: 694 – 698.
  • Okinawa Times, July 1, 1976: Introductory article about Nagamine Shōshin.

© 2019, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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