Okinawa, August 2018.
In the framework of the tour to Okinawa of the Seishinkan team, who carried out a tight schedule that ran from July 28 to August 23 and that included several activities among which the participation representing Chile in the “1st Okinawa Karate International Tournament” (Click here for further details) stands out, Karate and Kobudo seminars, visits to Tsuyoshi Uechi and Tokumura Kensho sensei and multiple trainings at Budokan and other places of historical relevance for Okinawan Karate.
Some of the places chosen by the team led by Osvaldo Rodriguez sensei were the Okinawa Prefectural Hall of Martial Arts (Budokan) Arena and the historic Matsuyama Koen (Matsuyama Park), both located in Naha, the island’s capital. The latter is known worldwide for a place of tremendous historical relevance for Karate, because it is said to be the exact place in Okinawa where it was born, around the 19th century, what was known at the time as “Tudi” (唐手) or “Chinese Hand” (唐 character once used by the Japanese and Uchinanchu / Ryukyuans to refer to the Chinese and later replaced by “空” to, among other things, achieve that karate was accepted in good way in mainland Japan after the deep anti-Chinese feeling that reigned at the time).
Trainings during visits to Kensho Tokumura sensei and Tsuyoshi Uechi sensei were completed and enriched a busy schedule of growth and future projects to help the growth of Okinawan Karate and Kobudo.
OKINAWA 2018: RANK PROMOTIONS
Mauricio Lopez (Seishinkan Terraustral Montessory School), Alfonso Lavanchy (Seishinkan representative in Santiago, Chile) y Joaquin Alvares (Hombu Dojo, Chile), Seishinkan South America Students, were promoted to 1st dan in Tokushinryu Kobudo by Tokumura Kensho sensei, after a very concentrated training process that began in 2017 with the official incorporation of Seishinkan as representatives of Tokushinryu Kobudo in South America and the first official visit to the Hombu Dojo in Okinawa.
In this opportunity, after several training sessions, our students were subjected to the exquisite and very critical eye of Tokumura Sensei who gave the great responsibility to these students, who now officially continue to enrich their path in budo through the practice of Tokushinryu Kobudo.
Diego Rodriguez sensei (Seishinkan / WUIKA Europe), who after graduating of Yon dan in 2013 at the hombu dojo, officially started the last stage of an explosive growth process both in the personal area, moving to live in northern Europe, professional area, through of the development of his career as a Physical Education Teacher abroad, as well as at the organizational level, assuming the official role of representation in Europe of the Seishinkan organization.
As a result of these efforts, relevant international cooperation projects have come to light mainly among the organizations Tokushinryu Kobudo & WUIKA Europe (World United Isshinryu Karate Association) led by Lars Andersen Sensei and Osvaldo Rodriguez Sensei, president of Seishinkan and representative of these organizations in South America. From 2014 to date, he has participated in several international events, giving seminars and competing in tournaments with the sole objective of showing, massifying and supporting the growth of Isshinryu and all its members in the region.
On his last trip to Okinawa in August of this year and having finished his participation in the “1st Okinawa Karate International Tournament” (Click here for further details), he took part in the Isshinryu training series with Uechi Tsuyoshi sensei and Osvaldo sensei at the Okinawa Prefectural Hall of Martial Arts (Budokan) Arena. After intense and long sessions held on consecutive days, Diego sensei is a graduate of 5th dan, Renshi Go, in Okinawa Isshinryu Karate, closing with this a very significant stage, full of growth and starting a new one with perspectives and challenges for our organization at the international level.
With these rank promotions, we conclude a very demanding tour in every sense, plenty of growth and deeply significant for all those who were part and could share, train and experience one of the most particular cultures in the world that also has one of its greatest cultural assets , the Okinawan Karate.
MATSUYAMA KOEN – Naha, Okinawa 2018
During the nearly 31 years of existence of Seishinkan Budo School, this is characterized by the constant search and development of deep sense and practical applications to what develops day by day in our dojos. Understanding the origin, therefore, of those arts practiced more than 700 years ago is a relevant part of the integral training delivered by our organization to all our students. That is the reason for being that partially justifies the joint efforts of students and directors in different parts of the world to carry out ambitious projects, constantly oriented to the practice and technical, spiritual and historical development.
In this line and with the constant intention of carrying out our Institutional Mission of “Constantly nourish our students with different knowledge regarding the practice of karate, orienting them to the maximum technical and theoretical development…“, We consider relevant in this opportunity to make a section with a brief historical review of what is considered one of the most emblematic places in cultural terms of what was once the Kingdom of Ryukyu and the result that had a long historical exchange history with the neighboring country China and particularly with the Fujian province.
Everything goes back the old Ryukyu Kingdom Period (1392-1879) the majority of Okinawa’s Chinese community resided in Naha’s Kumemura district. Shortly after the establishment of tributary trade relations with China, a group of Chinese from Fujian were granted to Ryūkyū by the Chinese Emperor and started to immigrate to Okinawa in 1392. They came to be known as the people from the ‘36 Clans of the Min-People’ (minren sanshiliu-xing 閩人三十六姓). Min 閩 refers to the lower valley of the Min River in Fujian 福建 Province, China. They settled in a small Chinese colony in Kume village 久米村.
In those days there was a magnificent park (now known as Matsuyama Koen) located between Naminoue Beach and what is now Fukushu Garden in Naha (福州園). Much of the Chinese community gathered there to enjoy various cultural activities, including martial arts, throughout the year. With much of these people coming directly from Fujian Province it’s not surprising to learn that most of the Quanfa/Kung Fu (拳法) was southern-style, and largely Fujian-based. The style practiced was White Crane, one of the five Fujian Southerm Chaolin Boxing traditions, with very particular movements that maintained a balance between the softness and hardness.
As this specific Quanfa was not native to Okinawa, local Chinese learned, practised and taught what had been handed down within their family or community for generations. Experts who traveled between China and Okinawa, periodically influenced local sources and existing practices by visiting military officials, posted to Shuri Castle and the Chinese Embassy, body guards and security personnel, all served to inspire local Chinese enthusiasts over time.
In 1979, the Ryukyu Kingdom’s abolition took place and with it the return to its province of all the Chinese experts and bureaucrats posted for years in the place. With the annexation of these territories to mainland Japan, anti-Chinese sentiment arrived and began to grow, not being an impediment for generations of Okinawans to continue with the idea / tradition of meeting in this place to continue practicing the Quanfa that had been taught to them and experiment with different practices with the intention of improving the understanding of it.
In spite of persisting even a strong Chinese influence in what until then was practiced, gradually began to take place a unique and particular approach that directly attaches to the culture of the Uchinanchu in those moments. The first signs of some katas practiced up to our days, traversed from generation to generation but still maintaining the roots in the practices carried out during this period, can be traced back to these years.
Among the enthusiasts who gathered at Matsuyama Koen stand out among many the names of Aragaki Seishō 新垣世璋 (1840–1918), Sakiyama Kitoku (1830-1914) and Higaona Kanryo 東恩納寛量. The latter is the one who in September of 1870 and with the help of Yoshimura Udun Chomei (Aji or prince), manages to get permission to embark on the trip to Fuzhou on the pretext of going as an official translator of Okinawan bureaucracies and thus initiating the path that would lead him to be recognized until today as one of the first students of Fujian White Crane Kung Fu under the tutelage of the master Ryu Ryu Ko ルールーコウ (1873 – 1915)(“The History of Karate” by Morio Higaona).
It should be noted that to this day there is a mantle of doubts that maintains no consensus among the men in Okinawa, about the true identity of Kanryo’s teacher. One of the evidences that supports these doubts is a monument outside the Fuzhou Gymnasium recorded that Ryu Ryu Ko, Kanryo’s Master, was a Crying Crane Kung Fu (whose main characteristic was deep breathing using the diaphragm to vocalize) grand master called Xie Chon Gxiang. In the words of Morio Higgaona sensei who was told that “Ryu Ryu Ko was a guard around 40 years old, tall, with powerful foot movements. Because of civil wars he went to many places and learned Crying Kung Fu. In the past, learning martial arts had to be covertly, which explains why his identity is a mystery today, we’ll never know exactly”.
Back in Matsuyama nowadays, vestiges connecting this story with Okinawa can still be found. Just in front of the park is the Fukushu-en Garden (or Chinese garden) and in the park itself there are monuments in honor of Higaona Kanryo 東恩納寛量, Miyagi Chogun 宮城 長順 (1988-1953) and in honor of the place where the town of Kuma village was born.
At present, many activities have been carried out to commemorate the historic good relations between both peoples.
In November 2017, on the occasion of commemorating the 20th anniversary of the “Friendly Province” treaty signed between Okinawa Prefecture and Fujian Province of China in 1997, Okinawa sent a delegation led by the governor of 73 people, including many karate masters, for a series of visits and receptions between 9 and 13 of that month.
Text by Diegoisshinryu – Images & Illusttations taken by the Bubishi and Seishinkan Europe
DIEGO RODRIGUEZ INZUNZA – SEISHINKAN BUDO EUROPE
Okinawa Traditional Isshinryu Karate Do