In 2021, a list of “100 Footprints of Modern Karate” were published in the Okinawa Times. Footprint Number 1 refers to December 1, 1890, when Yabu Kentsū, Hanashiro Chōmo, Gabu Masae, Kudeken Kenyū and others volunteered to join the Imperial Army NCO School. According to Yabu Kentsū himself, he made use of karate while enrolled in the NCO school.
BEcause the school is not well known, I provide a description of the NCO school below.
The Imperial Army NCO School
The Imperial Army NCO School was an institution for training non-commissioned officers in the Imperial Japanese Army from December 1871 to November 30, 1899. Its predecessor was the Training Corps (Kyōdōtai) which was set up in the Osaka Military Academy (the later Imperial Japanese Army Academy) in May 1870. In December 1871, the corps was renamed to NCO School (kyōdōdan) and moved to Tokyo, and in October 1873, it was separated from the military academy and came under the direct control of the Ministry of the Army until it was abolished in 1899. Facilities were set up in Kōnodai (currently Ichikawa City) in Higashi-Katsushika County, Chiba Prefecture.
According to the General Rules of the Imperial Army NCO School and the Regulations of the Imperial Army NCO School revised on October 31, 1874, the outline of the Imperial Army NCO School was as follows.
The Imperial Army NCO School is an army corps that educates and cultivates those who should be appointed as non-commissioned officers of the army. The types of troops are classified into the following six departments. The number in parentheses is the number of people hired every year.
- Artillery (about 193 people)
- Combat engineers (about 78 people)
- Infantry (about 1,335 people)
- Cavalry (about 24 people)
- Transportation corps (about 30 people)
- Marching band and trumpeters (about 30 people)
During the training, the students were not allowed to return home or take holiday at all in order to concentrate on their study and to complete the course. When appointed as a non-commissioned officer, they had a military service term of seven years.
After graduating, those who excelled in scholarship, and especially those who were highly moral, were selected and transferred to the department of commissioned officers of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. For this reason, the Imperial Army NCO School was not only a training institution for non-commissioned officers, but also a gateway for those who were aiming for career advancement in the army. In fact, many generals were produced from those who originated from the Imperial Army NCO School and who went through the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. As an example, Mutō Nobuyoshi rose to the rank of a Field Marshal.
Conditions of employment
The students of the Imperial Army NCO School were selected from among those who volunteered to join the Imperial Guards and as common garrison soldiers, and were chosen from among those who volunteered from among the nobility, persons with samurai ancestors, and commoners.
The requirements were as follows.
- Age: 18 to 25 years old. Marching band and trumpeters: from 15 to 23 years old.
- Height: about 151.5 cm or more. Artillery about 157.6 cm or more.
- Body: Able-bodied physique. Marching band and trumpeters are people with dense dentition.
- Writing: Those with unhindered written correspondence ability.
- Reading: Those who understand the military drill books. However, this does not apply to marching band and trumpeters.
- Arithmetic: Those who can use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. However, this does not matter for marching band and trumpeters.
The following officials were set up at the headquarters of the Imperial Army NCO School.
- Deputy Director
- Secretary (divided into 3 sections)
- Accountant (divided into 3 sections)
- Instructor (divided into 4 sections)
The following corps were set up in the Imperial Army NCO School.
- Artillery battalion (also served as a school for coastal seacoast artillery)
- Engineer battalion
- Infantry battalion
- Cavalry battalion (also served as a school for the transportation corps)
- Marching band (also served as a school for trumpeters)
The era from 1890 to 1899
According to the Regulations of the Imperial Army NCO School (Imperial edict No. 47, 1890), the outline was as follows: The purpose of the Imperial Army NCO School was to select persons from among nobility, family or person with samurai ancestors, and commoners, who volunteered to become non-commissioned officers of the infantry, cavalry, field artillery, combat engineers, and transportation corps, and to provide them with the education necessary to become a non-commissioned officer.
The semester started every year in December, and the period of study for each class was as follows.
- Infantry: 16 months
- Cavalry: 18 months
- Field artillery: 20 months
- Combat engineering: 20 months
- Transportation corps: 18 months
During the training, the persons were not allowed to return home or take holidays. Those who passed the final exam at the end of the semester were given a certificate of graduation from the Imperial Japanese Army NCO School and appointed to the rank of a staff sergeant.
There were the following staff members.
- Leader: Infantry Colonel or Infantry Lieutenant Colonel. Also serves as a commanding officer of the infantry students.
- Adjutant: 1 Captain, 1 First Lieutenant
- Hospital Director: 2 Surgeon Lieutenant-colonels
- Student commanding officers: 1 Major, 3 Captains
- Corps officers: 4 Captains, 20 First Lieutenants
- Infantry Student Corps Adjutant: 1 First Lieutenant
- Artillery Student Corps Adjutant: 1 First Lieutenant
- Army treasurer: 6 persons
- Military physician / surgeon: 8 persons
- Pharmacist: 1 person
- Veterinarian: 3 persons
- Major General Soga Sukenori: February 6, 1873-
- Colonel Fukuhara Kazukatsu: June 10, 1873-
- Colonel Takashima Tomonosuke: February 7, 1875-
- Colonel Watanabe Hiroshi: March 16, 1881-
- Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Hatano Takeshi: March 26, 1890-November 22, 1892
- Infantry Colonel Okihara Kōfu: November 22, 1892-May 3, 1893
- Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Yamanaka Nobuyoshi: May 3, 1893-December 26, 1895 (Promotion to Colonel in December 1894)
- Infantry Colonel Oki Shigeyoshi: December 26, 1895-February 17, 1897
- Infantry Colonel Nishijima Sukeyoshi: February 17, 1897-March 3, 1898
- Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Sunaga Takeyoshi: March 3, 1898-October 1
- Infantry Colonel Obata Shigeru: October 1, 1898-November 30, 1899
Chairman for the liquidation of the NCO School
- Infantry Colonel Obata Shigeru: November 30, 1899-
Graduates of the NCO School
Those who have risen to the rank of a general
- Mutō Nobuyoshi: General 1925, Marshal May 3, 1933.
- Tanaka Giichi
- Nakamura Satoru: Joined in July 1872, Corporal of the Army in November 1873, and General in January 1915.
- Kamio Mitsuomi: Joined in October 1872, Infantry Sergeant in February 1884, and General in June 1916.
- Sameshima Shigeo: Joined in January 1873, Corporal of the Army in June of 1873, and General of the Army on September 6, 1911.
- Kawai Misao: Joined in 1873, and General in 1922.
- Kikuchi Shinnosuke: Joined in October 1883, and General in 1923.
- Shirakawa Yoshinori: Joined in January 1884, Staff Sergeant of the Army Engineer Corps in January 1886, and General in March 1925.
- Suzuki Soroku
- Kishimoto Shikataro: General in 1929.
Those who have risen to lieutenant general
- Furukawa Nobuyoshi: Lieutenant General in March 1906
- Kigoshi Yasutsuna: Trained and became Sergeant in September 1874, Lieutenant General in 1904.
- Tōjō Hidenori
- Hayashi Taichiro: Trained and sergeant in October 1878, Lieutenant General in 1911.
- Kusuzo Tsujimura: Trained in July 1879, sergeant, Lieutenant General in 1913.
- Senba Taro: Lieutenant General in November 1910.
- Hagino Suekichi: Lieutenant General in March 1914.
- Asakawa Toshiyasu: Lieutenant General in August 1914.
- Shiba Katsusaburo: Lieutenant General in February 1915.
- Koike Yasuyuki: Lieutenant General in May 1916.
- Wada Kameji: Trained in May 1889, and Lieutenant General in August 1923.
- Ushijima Sadao: Joined in December 1893, and Lieutenant General in August 1931.
- Ryokaku Saburo: Lieutenant General in June 1921.
Those who have risen to thr rank of major general
- Okuyama Yoshiaki: Joined in 1872, and Major General in 1906.
- Hayakawa Akiyoshi: Major General in 1903.
- Higuchi Kiyoshi: Joined in 1878, and Major General in 1915.
- Yokota Sotaro: Joined in 1876, and Major General in 1908.
- Watanabe Kenji: Joined in 1885, and Major General in 1915.
- Izu Tsuneo: Major General in 1910.
- Masatsune Kusao: Graduated from the infantry department in 1882, and Major General in 1912.
Those who have risen to the rank of junior officer
- Tokio Zenzaburo: Enrolled in the Engineering Corps of the Imperial Army NCO School in 1874, graduated in April 1876, and became a colonel in combat engineering in 1904.
- Iwakura Kumeo: applied as an combat engineer of the Imperial Army NCO School in 1884, artillery colonel in 1910.
- Ogoshi Kanekichi: Joined in 1885, and lieutenant colonel in 1905 (Meiji 38).
- Nezu Hajime: Major
- Fujimaki Taneie: Enrolled in the infantry corps of the NCO School in 1872, major in 1874, and Infantry Captain in 1890.
- Arao Sei: Joined the artillery corps in 1878 and became a captain.
- Taizo Fukushima: Graduated from the Imperial Army NCO School in 1888, graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and in 1898 became captain.
- Benzō Hiraishi: Entered the infantry corps of the NCO School in 1893, became Major.
- Kannari Bunkichi: Infantry Captain in 1901.
- Shirase Nobu: Graduated from the the NCO School in 1881, Lieutenant.
- Yabu Kentsū: Lieutenant
- Hasegawa Jukichi: Joined in 1886, Cavalry Major.
- Noda Masanobu: second lieutenant
- Shibasaki Yoshitaro: Later Army engineer
- Takeuchi Kakuji: Dropped out. Later, he became a doctor of law, a lawyer, and the president of Hōsei University.
- Sakata Tasuku: November 1899 (Meiji 32) Sergeant of the cavalry. Later, the director of Kantō Gakuin University.
- Iizuka Unro: Later a calligrapher
- Umezawa Michiharu: In March 1872, with the Imperial Army NCO School.
- Fukuhara Kazukatsu: In June 1873, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army NCO School (Colonel).
- Kosuga Tomofuchi: Instructor at the Imperial Army NCO School in May 1877.
- Fukushima Yasumasa: March-December 1879, with the Imperial Army NCO School Infantry Battalion (Infantry Lieutenant).
- Nagaoka Gaishi: In June 1880, Captain of the the Imperial Army NCO School (Infantry Second Lieutenant).
- Akinori Nagamochi: March 1881-October 1884, Deputy Director of the Imperial Army NCO School.
- Yamauchi Michiyoshi: October 1884-December 1888, Deputy Director of the Imperial Army NCO School.
- Manabe Yasushi: Once served in the Imperial Army NCO School.
- Toyobe Shinsaku: Once platoon commander of the cavalry of the Imperial Army NCO School.