ere’s one snippet from my archives. It’s one of the oldest newspaper articles on Karate, from Ryūkyū Shinpō, January 21, 1914. I copied it some years ago at Okinawa Prefectural Library.
When this newspaper published the article series “Okinawa no Bugi” by Mr. Shoto (Funakoshi Gichin) and its discussions with Asato Okina (Asato Anko), the readers followed it with great interest. This encouraged us to further investigate the Bushidō, and so we here present two or three anecdotes of Bushi Higa.
Bushi Higa was the father of Higa Toku, the former school principal of Urasoe, and according to conversations with Asato Okina [Asato Anko], he was a famous karate master. In his days there was no one among the people of Shuri and Naha who did not know him. At the age of 16, he was elected flag bearer of the eastern team for the big annual tug of war. Although it is said that the flag bearers at the tug of war without exception had to be men of great physical strength, Higa accomplished this task although he was only a 16 year old boy.
Higa studied Karate [Todi] from the Chinese Waishinzan, and finally fathomed the ultimate secret of this art. At the time when the investiture envoys from China came for the coronation of the King of Ryukyu, he carried out competitions in these skills [of Karate] with the Chinese, and they were astonished by his extraordinary skill.
At that time in Naha there were the communities Nishi, Higashi, Izumisaki, Wakita, Kumoji, Fukaji etc., which sometimes were hostile to each other. Especially between Nishi and Higashi there was a bitter enmity. At the time of the great tug of war dispute and brawl were often included and it was not always possible to prevent these without further ado.
At the age of about thirty years Higa took part in the tug of war in Kume, when a brawl broke out as usual. As Nishi and Kume had their forces united, and Higashi was at risk of being surrounded, trapped, and attacked, Bushi Higa immediately thought out a plan: Higashi aligned their attack to one side against the Kume troops and struck a breach trough the enemy lines. Having escaped the danger safe and sound, on their way home the Higashi troops started singing a song of victory. The fact that Higa lost a front tooth during the brawl shows that it had indeed been a fierce battle.
It is said that the martial arts students of that time put their Bujutsu teachers to the test, which is a little known fact among the general public. Higa’s best student was Shimabukuro Pēchin. In order to personally put there Higa to the test, one day Shimabukuro invited him to celebrate in the Tsuji district. Higa knew nothing of his student’s plan, who constantly encouraged him to drink faster. Finally, Higa made on his way home drunk.
When he reached the gate at Nakamichi no Ue, suddenly someone from behind attacked him with a strike. Higa turned around on account of the Blitz and saw a tall man, whose face was covered with a towel and a fist as hard as a top shell.
Sober on the spot Higa assumed posture, parried the blow of the great man with his right, and parried with his left, and finally finished with a secret trick throwing the big man down, who fell on his head. The big man slowly realized that his live was at risk, ripped the towel from his face and profusely apologized for his rudeness. Recognizing his own disciple Shimabukuru, Higa smiled and said “From now on you will have respect.”
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