Thursday, 5 April
Thursday morning found me a little short on yen, so I did a lot of footwork around
After making our way back to the hotel, Sensei and I swung by Shureido once more and had coffee again with Nakasone-san. At this point, I think I can say that I’ve had more coffee at Shureido than I’ve had in my entire life. I accidentally left my historian hat at the hotel because I somehow got absorbed in looking for T-shirts and didn’t catch most of what Sensei and Nakasone-san were talking about. They then discussed a little about our plans for the day and we mentioned that we were going to visit Oshiro Nobuko, wife of Uechi Ryu’s Yonamine Kosuke and teacher of Higa Yuchoku style Shorin Ryu. They provided us with directions to the dojo and after a little more talking, we went on our way.
We took a cab out to
We made our way to Chatan to visit the dojo of Shimabukuro Zenpo Sensei, of Seibukan. We talked for a while in his dojo and I was very impressed by his fluent English. My instructor has apparently met him on occasion, and his father, Zenryo, would always visit Chibana Sensei very frequently and that the only other person who visited more often (when Chibana Sensei was in good health) was Nakama Chozo Sensei. In some ways, it seemed like my instructor and Shimabukuro Sensei were kindred spirits of a sort, both being similar in age and both trying to preserve what they learned from the last of the old masters in a world embracing modern karate. As it was, he was someone that we could ask direct questions to and get direct answers.
We talked both at his dojo as well as at McDonald’s (a late night place to get coffee). Not having had food in a while, I unashamedly ordered a cheeseburger in lieu of the coffee, although it wasn’t quite filling especially after I tossed the bun. Shimabukuro Sensei mentioned that Nakama Sensei taught him a version of Patsai called Patsai Gua, but he was unsure where Nakama Sensei learned it from. He said that while Nakama Sensei would stay with the Shimabukuro family during the week when he had a job working at the nearby military base messhall and would visit his family on the weekends. A lot of his training from Nakama Sensei occurred during this period. The other main source of karate training was Kyan-style karate from his father. Chibana Sensei would remark that Shimabukuro Zenryo Sensei’s karate was “true Kyan” karate. Chibana Sensei would also always say that karate should be learned with the body, so it was nice to hear Shimabukuro Sensei say the exact same thing. He also stated the kata should keep their original meaning; something Chibana Sensei would always say. Adding credence to the notion that Chibana Sensei never called his style “Kobayashi”, he mentioned that one time Nakazato Shugoro Sensei got upset when he accidentally referred to it as Kobayashi Shorin Ryu. It seems likes the closer a student was to Chibana Sensei, the more likely that student is to call their karate Shorin Ryu as opposed to Kobayashi Ryu or Kobayashi Shorin Ryu.
When speaking about Chibana Sensei, Shimabukuro Sensei echoed the sentiments that I have heard others say: his fighting was very strong and his kata was very clean. By “clean” (he used the Japanese term “kirei”… not to be confused with “pretty”), he meant that it was efficient and devoid of any extraneous movements. It always amazes me that with as much respect that everyone on Okinawa speaks about Chibana Sensei and as much as they acknowledge his seniority in karate and fighting prowess on Okinawa during his lifetime, such little is written or known about him in the wider English or Japanese circles. And sadly, even much of what is written in English tends to be incorrect… but I digress.
After we all talked for quite a good while, Shimabukuro Sensei kindly drove us all the way to our hotel and dropped us off. After Sensei and I chowed down on some big macs (minus the buns) I bought earlier (I made some lame excuse about buying breakfast for the next day), we turned in for the night.
To be continued in Part 5
karate Martial Arts martial-arts Self Defense fighting personal combat traditional karate Shorin Ryu Okinawan karate martial arts Okinawa Japan karate history Chosin Chibana Chibana Chosin Chibana Choshin Goju Ryu Shureido zenpo shimabukuro shimabukuro zempo Nakama Chozo Higa Yuchoku Yuchoku Higa Oshiro Nobuko Nobuko Oshiro