The Karate and Kobujutsu demonstrations for Kano Jigoro in 1927

Yesterday, Motobu Naoki Sensei presented new research about Kanō Jigorō’s visit to Okinawa in 1927, and the karate demonstrations presented to him. In it appears a part of an article originally written by Ishikawa Seitoku of Shōrin-ryū in 1999:

“Director Ishikawa: (omission) Kanō Jigorō Sensei had already seen Funakoshi Sensei’s karate in Tōkyō, but since he was coming to Okinawa, Motobu Sensei and Gusukuma Sensei decided they had to show him the karate of Okinawa. Therefore, they summoned Shimabukuro Tarō, a fourth-year student at the Commercial High School (in Naha), and with permission of the school, they had him demonstrate (the kata) Chintō.”

In the meantime, another source could be assigned to this event.

When I lived at the Kōdōkan dōjō of Matsubayashi-ryū, Nagamine Takayoshi Sensei allowed me to study the books and notes in his father’s study. Among the many works was a handwritten notebook by Nagamine Shōshin. In it, there is a short entry on Kanō Jigorō’s visit in 1927:

“Around Taishō 14 (1925), the Karate and Kobujutsu of Okinawan were introduced to Kanō Jigorō Sensei of Jūdō. The people who performed for him at that time were Motobu Chōki, Gusukuma Shinpan, Chibana Chōshin, Shimabukuro Tarō, and Ōshiro Chōjo.”

The date 1925 is not correct, but this entry can only refer to the same events of 1927. It is the same story as that of Ishikawa Seitoku presented above.

The entry in the Nagamine handbook.

Both sources name the same four people to have performed in front of Kanō Jigorō, namely Motobu Chōki, Gusukuma Shinpan, Shimabukuro Tarō, and Ōshiro Chōjo.

Besides these, Nagamine also mentioned Chibana Chōshin. However, if Chibana Sensei really performed in front of Kanō Jigorō, then Kobayashi-ryū circles would have made this known. Therefore, the mention of Chibana in this connection might have been an error. Maybe more information will come to light in the future.

BTW, Ishikawa Seitoku was designated “Intangible Cultural Property in the Field of Karate and Kobudo” by Okinawa Prefecture in 2013 and he was in very good terms with Nagamine Shōshin. In fact, Nagamine was the first ever person to have received this same honor in 1997. In 1996, Ishikawa appointed Nagamine as a consultant of his Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Karatedō Ryūbukan Headquarter dōjō. Moreover, not only was Nagamine close to Shimabukuro Tarō, but Ishikawa was also a student of Shimabukuro.

In January 1927, Nagamine was still at the Naha Commercial School, as was Shimabukuro Tarō, and they trained together. There was probably a lot of talk about Shimabukuro’s demonstration and the school, proud that one of their students demonstrated Karate for the great educator Kanō, probably announced it publicly.

© 2021, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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