Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Chibana Chosin Sensei DVD Review

Recently, there was a DVD released showing footage of Chibana Sensei performing kata. This DVD was made using footage taken by Clarence Lee, who visited Okinawa in the late 1960s. I purchased this DVD and what follows is the review I placed on Amazon.com.

It is great to see this footage of Chibana Sensei finally released. It is unfortunate that this footage was taken so near to Chibana Sensei's death (footage is actually from 1968). It is my understanding that on the morning this footage was taken, Chibana Sensei was so ill his wife had to help him put on his gi. This is testimony to his pure strength of will in performing the kata with that much dedication and focus.

There is other footage of Chibana Sensei doing the Patsai kata in 1962, but it is not publicly available. The difference between this Patsai kata footage and Mr. Lee's footage taken in 1968 is rather striking, as the 1962 film displays Chibana Sensei’s legendary power, strength, and efficiency for which he was widely respected.

I will limit my critique to clearing up some historical inaccuracies from the video.

Chibana Sensei's name is Chibana Chosin or Choshin, not Chosen. I am not sure why they chose to write "Chosen".

Chibana Sensei’s hometown was Torihori, not Toribora. Spellings of his hometown such as Toribora or Tottori-cho are inaccurate.

Chibana Sensei was not born to a modest family nor did he work the fields as a boy to support his family's livelihood. His family was nobility from the pre-Meiji era and was extremely successful in the sake business.

It is my understanding that the senior students of Itosu Sensei (Yabu Kentsu, Funakoshi Gichin, Hanashiro Chomo, etc.) were all teaching at the public schools by the time Chibana Sensei started tutelage under Itosu Sensei. Itosu Sensei's senior students did meet to have training sessions periodically after Itosu Sensei's death. It would probably be a stretch to call Funakoshi Gichin a "training partner." Chibana Sensei always referred to Funakoshi Sensei as his sempai. That being said, Chibana Sensei's training with Itosu Sensei was probably more personal because of the Chibana family’s relationship to the Itosu family through marriage.

Chibana Sensei did not pass away on 16 October 1969, he passed away on 26 February 1969.

Miyahira Katsuya was not appointed successor by Chibana Sensei, he was voted in after Chibana Sensei passed away, despite Chibana Sensei’s wish for his grandson to become the atotsugi (successor).

Chibana Sensei never used “Kobayashi” to refer to his karate. While it can be pronounced that way, it was meant to be “Shorin” as tribute to the Shaolin temple (Shorin is the Japanese/Okinawan pronunciation of Shaolin). However, he believed strongly that Shorin Ryu was largely Okinawan and purposely modified the first character from the Chinese “Shao/Sho” so it would retain its originality.

Despite all this, nothing can take away from the fact that this is genuine footage of Chibana Sensei. I only rated this three stars [of five] because I was disappointed with the other content and general presentation.

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Jim said...

Miyahira Sensei was Chibana's most senior student, he started under Chibana in 1933. Higa Sensei Started with Chibana in the late 1940's. Nakama Sensei was also a late 40's student and like Higa studied Goju Ryu and other styles.
Nakazato was also a late starter in ~1948 under Chibana. Miyahira was the most senior student (1933-1969). There was no designated "successor" from Chibana that is why the the "Okinawa Shorin Ryu Kyyokai" selected the senior most student.
If you have any evidence of your claim that Chibana Sensei wanted his grandson to become successor, please present it..?

This is total crap. You can check with the few remaining Chibana student's/Sensei's: Miyahira Katsuya, Ishikawa Seitoku, Shimabubukuro Katsuyuki, Iha Seikichi, Shimabukuro Kasei, all 10 Dan / Hanchi's. Your post is rediculous.


Bujutsu Blogger said...

From the words of Sensei Pat Nakata, close student (virtual uchi-deshi) of Chibana Sensei during the 1960s with personal direct knowledge of the people in question:

Miyahira Katsuya was Chibana Sensei's most senior student on a continued basis, but Nakama Chozo studied with Chibana Sensei from about 1912, just before Itosu Ankoh passed away. Chibana Sensei stopped teaching after Itosu Sensei's passing for about 5 years, so Nakama Sensei looked elsewhere for an instructor. When Nakama Sensei was studying under Motobu Choki Sensei,was he was urged by Motobu Sensei to also study with Chibana Sensei to refine his Kata.

Chibana Sensei designated seniority by the awarding of the "Shihan no Menjo" . The first to get his "Shihan no Menjo" was Higa Yuchoku Sensei, followed by Nakama Chozo Sensei, and Nakazato Shugoro Sensei and Miyahira Katsuya Sensei, both receiving theirs at the same time.

If one would consider rank, the same would hold true. Higa Sensei got his Kyudan first, followed by Nakama Sensei, and again Nakazato Sensei and Miyahira Sensei received their Kyudan at the same time, just before Chibana Sensei's passing. We are not disputing that Miyahira Sensei was the most senior of Chibana Sensei's students, but it is false that he was appointed by Chibana Sensei to become the head of the organization. The people in the selection committee did not consider seniority, but age was the determining factor. When it became a choice between Miyahira Sensei and Nakazato Sensei, the choice was Miyahira Sensei because Miyahira Sensei was 2 years older than Nakazato Sensei.

Incidentally, Nakama Sensei never studied Goju-ryu Karate. The ones' that could verify that Akira was chosen to succeed Chibana Sensei are Nagaishi Fumio Sensei, Nakamoto Masahiro Sensei, Shimabukuro Zempo Sensei, and Murakami Katsumi Sensei.

The so-called remaining Chibana Sensei students were not Chibana Sensei's direct students, but rather Miyahira Sensei students that claim to have trained with Chibana Sensei. Furthermore, the fact that all these people seem to have been given a Judan by Miyahira Sensei seems far out of the ordinary. Chibana Sensei never gave a Judan to any of his students, because that was only given if they were to become the head of the organization.

We have no ties to any of the different Chibana Chosin organizations. In other words, we have no personal agendas. This leaves us to speak the truth. Chibana Sensei would be very disappointed to see all this bickering and political maneuvering. In this case, I don't know how the truth would hurt.

---Pat Nakata

As you can tell from my profile, my name is John Oberle and my instructor's name is Pat Nakata. His instructor was Chibana Sensei. May I inquire as to your full name and lineage? I hope the above post cleared up any misunderstanding you may have had about the other one. Bottom line: We never disputed that Miyahira was chosen by the committee. We are simply saying that it was based more upon age rather than seniority and a little known fact is that Chibana Sensei wished for his grandson Akira to take over the organization after his death. I look forward to your response.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know more about Shimabuku Katsuyuki sesei, if anyone has information to share. What little I know is that he started with Chibana sensei, ran a branch dojo for him in the Daido area of Naha, and later trained with Higa Yuchoku sensei until eventually leaving the Kyudokan.

Thanks for any info you are able to share.

Bujutsu Blogger said...

Dear anonymous (aww, you could've given a name),

It is interesting that you ask that question. In the August edition of Karate-do monthly, a Japanese publication, there was a feature section on Chibana Sensei. One of these articles was written by Hiroshi Kinjo and had photos of Chibana Sensei doing the Naihanchi (different than the Chibana Sensei Naihanchi set my instructor had published in Classical Fighting Arts Issue #10 last year).

The other article was written by none other than Shimabuku Katsuyuki. To be honest, I enjoyed this one more than the one written by Hiroshi Kinjo. Most of it contains anecdotes I had heard from other places, but there were maybe a couple of stories I had not heard, so it was a good read. He still seems to be teaching and there's a picture of him without a shirt and he still looks darn good for 80 years old.

His article does state that he started training with Kyoda Juuhatsu (a disciple of Higashionna Kanryo)for several periods. It was later that he started training with Chibana Sensei when he returned to Okinawa in Showa 23 (1948). This is purely my own speculation, but the approach in the article made it sound like most of the anecdotes were told to him by Higa Sensei and that he may have been "closer" to Higa Sensei than Chibana Sensei. There is a photo of him at the Chibana Sensei dojo, and I'm sure he did train with Chibana Sensei for a while. It says he is the vice president of the Okinawa Shorin Ryuu Karatedo Kyoukai (although there are a couple of these).

Are you a fellow Chibana lineage student? I would love to hear more about you as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. He does continue to train, the man moves and hits like no 80-year-old I've ever seen. To the best of my knowledge he turned his dojo over to his brother years ago.

I do not practice Shorin, but some friends study ti at the Onaga dojo in Naha.

buy cialis said...

Chibana Sensei is the most incredible martial artist around the world, his performance is always so stunning.