2024 -- Year of the Dragon -- 62 Years in USA -- 37 Years in Israel
2024 -- Year of the Dragon -- 62 Years in USA -- 37 Years in Israel
Bodhidharma may be considered the seed that sprouts roots leading to the start of Karate, as he develops an exercise and fighting regiment to help strengthen and protect him during his perilous journey from India to China, across the Himalaya Mountains around 400 years after the start of the Common Era (CE).
Kūsankū was a Chinese martial artist who lived during the 18th century. He learned the art of Ch'uan Fa in China from a Shaolin monk. He was thought to have resided (and possibly studied martial arts) in Fujian province for much of his life. Around 1756, Kūsankū was sent to Ryukyu as an ambassador of the Qing Dynasty. He resided in the village of Kumemura, near Naha. During his stay in Ryukyu, Kūsankū instructed Kanga Sakugawa. Sakugawa trained under Kūsankū for six years. After Kūsankū's death (around 1762), Sakugawa developed and named the Kusanku kata in honor of his teacher.
As described in Master Shoshin Nagamine's book "The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do (Shorin-Ryu)", In 1904 Master Anko Itosu brought about the introduction of Karate into Okinawa's public schools, as a physical education requirement.
As described in Master Shoshin Nagamine's book "The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do (Shorin-Ryu)", in 1907 Master Anko Itosu composed the 5 Pinan Kata[s]. Master Itosu composed these by leveraging parts from our highest kata -- Kusanku. Master Itosu purpose for composing the Pinan Kata[s] was to provide less complex kata to teach high school students. Prior to these kata[s], the most basic kata taught were the Nihanchi Kata[s]. Master Ansei Ueshiro's favorite Pinan Kata was Pinan Yondan.
The Ten Precepts of Karate were written by Master Anko Itosu in 1908 as part of his letter to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of War in Japan, petitioning for the introduction of karate into the general public school curriculum beyond Okinawan shores (i.e., across Japan). These precepts are provided on this web site under the <Training> page.
As described in Master Shoshin Nagamine's book "The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do (Shorin-Ryu)", "in 1922, Gichin Funakoshi and Choki Motobu went to Tokyo and Osaka, japan, to ask the public's judgement on the worth of Okinawan karate. [This] introduction of karate into mainland Japan marked the beginning of the spread of this martial art throughout the world."
Masters Gichin Funakoshi (left) and Choki Motobu (right)
As described in the "Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal", Master Ansei Ueshiro was born in Kincho Yakuba (Kin), Okinawa, on April 20th, 1933. "This was a very turbulent time, as much of the world was deep in the Great Depression. Japan had invaded China and the roots of World War II were growing throughout civilization. This war would play a pivotal role in the history of Okinawa, karate, and Master Ueshiro's life... Master of Ueshiro was a direct blood descendant of this same Okinawan "Bushi" class of warriors [e.g., Anko Itosu, Bushi Matsumura, Chotku Kyan, Ankichi Arakaki]. He was first instructed in the art of karate by his father Anko Ueshiro along with Entasu Isaenta and Toguchi Seitoku. The karate knowledge and skills he obtained in these early years served as a strong foundation for the man who becameb the Chief Instructor at Master Nagamine's Hombu dojo and went to become one of the most influential martial artists in the United States."
As described in the "Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal", "The Twenty Precepts of Karate-Do were published by Master Gichin Funakoshi in 1938, codifying not just his teachings but those central to Okinawa karate for generations before him. The precepts also echo the more ancient Twenty-One precepts of the Japanese samurai. One may safely presume Master Ueshiro grew up with an appreciation for these precepts. By all accounts, he lived by them every day."
Genwa Nakasone wrote and published the book titled "The 20 Guiding Principles of Karate"in 1938 , under Gichin Funakoshi's oversight and approval. The 20 principals, presented in the images below, are explored in greater detail through this important text. Hanshi Robert Scaglione has drawn our attention to the following special excerpts from this book:
Guiding Principal #10, described on pages 63-64:
"One blow or kick given or taken can mean life or death. This concept forms the soul of Karate-do."
Per Hanshi Scaglione, research this well! Also explained in Chapter 6- "On Kumite ( Sparring)"- "Okinawan Karate-do"- by Shoshin Nagamine.
Guiding Principal #20, described on pages 113-114:
"Even a genius like Musashi who practiced diligently morning and night without rest for 37 years, first gained enlightenment at age fifty!"
"CONCEIT and LAZINESS are chains that impede OUR ADVANCEMENT!"
"We indulge in the absurd idea of becoming a MASTER in 5 or 10 years of leisurely karate practice!"
"This is why the final Principle cautions us to be constantly "MINDFUL, DILIGENT and RESOURCEFUL until we can penetrate the innermost levels of KARATE-DO.
-This may take 50 years, never 5 years of diligent practice!
Per Hanshi Scaglione, research this well!
-Enjoy every moment of the journey!.
As described in Master Shoshin Nagamine's book "The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do (Shorin-Ryu)", our first two Fukyugata [introductory forms] "...were composed by Master Shoshin Nagamine, the originator of Matsubayashi-ryu karate, and Chjun Miyagi, the originator of Goju-ryu karate, because the kata of the Shuri and Naha schools had been too difficult for beginners. In 1940, two of the compositions were authorized to be the formal basic kata by the special committee of Okinawa karate-do organized and summoned by Gen Hayakawa, then governor of Okinawa Prefecture."
Master Choshin Chibana introduced Kata Fukyugata-Ni to Shorin-Ryu.
As described in the "Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal", "The Battle of Okinawa began on April 21, 1945, the day after Master Ueshiro turned 12. This was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War and amongst the most violent battles in history. The battle devastated Okinawa and took the lives of over 120,000 Okinawans... [who were caught in the middle between the fighting armies of Japan and the United States led allies]... [the battle] was also responsible for the injuries that permanently disfigured Master Ueshiro's hands and severely burned a large portion of his body... after [the battle] the island was utterly improvished. For example, in September of this year, Master Chotoku Kyan died from malnutrition and fatigue."
As described in Master Shoshin Nagamine's book "The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do (Shorin-Ryu)", Master Nagamine built his "...dojo in Naha in January 1953, and named it Kodokan Karate-Do and Kobujutsu Dojo ("kobujutsu" means old Okinawan martial arts that use ancient-style weapons)." Master Nagamine assembled various Okinawan karateka, who survived the post World War II Battle of Okinawa, under this dojo; including Master Ansei Ueshiro. Master Nagamine named the Shorin-Ryu style taught at this dojo -- "Matsubayashi-Ryu" in honor of two primary masters, Sensei Sokon Matsumura of Shuri and Sensei Kosaku Matsumura of Tomari, who taught his teachers, Sensei Chotoku Kyan and Sensei Choki Motobu, respectively. Sensei Ankichi Arakaki, uncle of Master Ueshiro, was Master Nagamine's first teacher.
As described in the "Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal", "...despite his physical handicaps [from the World War II Battle of Okinawa], Master Ueshiro rose to prominence in the Nagamine Dojo, eventually becoming Chief Instructor. During this time, Master Ueshiro also established strong bonds with his training partners in the Nagamine Dojo, including Kensai Taba Sensei and Kishaba Sensei, and beyond the dojo with Santos Kina Sensei [Matsumura Orthodox] and Sekichi Iha Sensei [Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu]. He soon became famous on Okinawa for his mastery of kumite and the Bo and from 1958 to 1962 he was a world champion, retiring uncontested from competition... At the age of 27  Master Ueshiro was awarded San-dan rank [Sensei]... In the 1950s, Master Ueshiro started to train a select group of [United States military] servicemen. Among this group was James Wax, a man that would play a pivotal role in the proliferation of karate in the United States and in the life of Master Ueshiro."
As described in the "Shorin-Ryu Okinawan Karate Question and Answer Book" by William Cummins and Robert Scaglione (a.k.a., "The Red Book"), Fukyugata Sandan was composed by Master Ansei Ueshiro in the 1960s. This kata is unique to the Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA style, "...characterized by techniques emphasizing speed, combinations and strong, low stances. The low stance indicates getting in and under your opponent, forcefully invading his space and disrupting his balance. The blocks emphasize speed and combinations of defensive and offensive movements executed almost simultaneously. This combination of techniques results in a most powerful flow of movement culminating in a devastating strike. The kata maximizes one's strength and power and illustrates the "move forward" philosophy of the Shorin-Ryu system." The Red Book presents all 17 moves of Fukyugata-San with photo images of Master Ueshiro performing the kata in his later years (see pages 32-33). Moreover, the "Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal" presents in great detail Fukyugata-San across thirteen pages (see pages 30-42).