The Okinawan karateka Motobu Chōki (本部 朝基, 1870-1944), younger brother of karateka Motobu Chōyū, was born in Akahira Village in Shuri, Okinawa, then capital of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.
His father, Lord Motobu Chōshin (Motobu Aji Chōsin) was a descendant of the sixth son of the Okinawan King, Shō Shitsu (1629-1668), namely Shō Kōshin, also known as Prince Motobu Chōhei (1655-1687). Chōki was the third son of Motobu Udun (“Motobu Palace”), one of cadet branches of the royal Okinawan Shō family.
As the last of three sons, Motobu Chōki was not entitled to an education in his family’s style of Te (an earlier name for karate). Despite this Motobu was very interested in the art, spending much of his youth training on his own, hitting the makiwara, and lifting heavy stones to increase his strength. He is reported to have been very agile, which gained him the nickname Motobu no Saru, or “Motobu the Monkey.” He began practicing karate under Ankō Itosu and continued under Matsumura Sōkon, Sakuma Pechin and Kōsaku Matsumora.
Chotoku Kyan (喜屋武 朝徳 Kyan Chōtoku, born December 1870 in Shuri, Okinawa – September 20, 1945 in Ishikawa, Okinawa) was an Okinawan karate master who was famous for both his karate skills, and his colorful personal life. Chotoku Kyan (also spelled Chotoku Kiyan) was a large influence in the styles of karate that would become Shorin-Ryu and its related styles.
Chotoku Kyan was born as the first son of Chofu Kyan who was a steward to the Ryukyuan King before the realm’s official assimilation into Japan as the Okinawan Prefecture. Kyan was noted for being small in stature, suffering from asthma and frequently bed-ridden. He also had poor eyesight, which may have led to his early nickname Chan Migwa (squinty-eyed Chan).
Kyan’s father is noted as possibly having a background in karate and even teaching Kyan tegumi in his early years. When Kyan was 20 years old, he began his karate training under Ankoh Itosu, Kosaku Matsumora and Kokan Oyadomori. While at 30 years of age, he was considered a master of the karate styles known as Shuri-te and Tomari-te. The most long time student of Kyan was Zenryō Shimabukuro, who studied with Kyan for over 10 years. Kyan is also noted for encouraging his students to visit brothels and to engage in alcohol consumption at various times.
Kyan was a participant in the 1936 meeting of Okinawan masters, where the term “karate” was standardized, and other far-reaching decisions were made regarding martial arts of the island at the time.
Ankichi Arakaki 1899-1927 The first of 11 children, Ankichi Arakaki was born in November 1899, in Akata Village, Shuri. His family were sake (rice wine) brewers and, as such, enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle and eventually moved to Tori-hori Village.
Sensei Arakaki commenced his karate training at an early age, learning from Shinpan Gusukuma (his primary school teacher) and also Chomo Hanashiro (his junior high school teacher), before leaving school and intensifying his training under Chosin Chibana (founder of Kobayashi Shorin-ryu).
It was because of the wealth that his family enjoyed that Arakaki was able to devote a great deal of time to his training, and soon became very proficient, earning the nickname of ‘Uwayaguwa Ankichi’ (Ankichi of Uwayaguwa). His specialty was the development of the toe kick or tsumasaki-geri.
One story tells of the devastating effect of Arakaki’s toe kick: Once, when Sensei was around twenty years old, he and some friends were in a tea house in Tsuji drinking and having a good time. While getting up to go to the toilet, he accidentally bumped into a big man who insisted on picking a quarrel with him in the corridor on the second floor. Trying to ignore the man, Sensei was unable to get out of his way, which resulted in Sensei being shoved down the staircase. Being in such good physical condition, Arakaki was able to roll down the stairs avoiding injury. The enraged man leaped down the stairs and grabbed Arakaki by the arm, trying to yank him up in an effort to punch his face. Seizing the man’s arm with the other hand, Sensei drove his toes deeply into the armpit of his attacker, which resulted in the man dropping to the ground unconscious.
Needless to say, Sensei never returned to that tea house again. About six months later, while reading the newspaper one morning, Ankichi was shocked to see a story which described some big wrestler who had died as a result of injuries sustained by “some karate expert” at a tea house in Tsuji. The article went on to say that “survived by two daughters, both of whom were serious judoka, the family sought to revenge the death of their beloved father”. In spite of the man allegedly dying sometime after his encounter with Arakaki, the police were never called in, and a subsequent investigation was unable to provide the actual reason for his death
Around 1921, after discharge from his military service, he moved to the village of Kadena. Unfortunately, due to the fact that his father had died and the family business was profoundly affected by the recession which followed World War 1, Sensei Ankichi Arakaki contracted stomach ulcers and died on 28th December 1927. He was just 28 years old.
Shoshin Nagamine (長嶺 将真, Nagamine Shōshin, 1907-07-15–1997-11-02) was a Japanese author, soldier, police officer and karate master.Nagamine was born in Tomari, in Naha City, Okinawa. He was a small and sickly child, and he contracted a gastroenteric disorder in 1926, his second year of high school. He began a self-imposed diet and took up karate under the watchful eye of his next-door neighbour, Chojin Kuba. Nagamine soon became a picture of good health, crediting his recovery to “hard work both at school and training of Karate”. His health improved to such an extent that he became a leader of the school’s karate club, and his friends dubbed him Chaippaii Matsu, a nickname meaning “tenacious pine tree”.
After graduation in March 1928, he began to study martial arts full time, moving to Shuri and training under Taro Shimabuku and Ankichi Arakaki. Later that year, he was conscripted into the Japanese army in the 47th Infantry Division, and fought in China before receiving an honourable discharge in 1931.
Leaving the army, Nagamine sought an area in which his martial arts abilities would be useful, eventually settling on the police force. During his time as a police officer, Nagamine received further instruction in karate from Chotoku Kyan and Motobu Choki, and achieved the title of Renshi in 1940. By 1951, Nagamine was a Police Superintendent, of Motobu, and was training his own officers in karate.
Nagamine retired as a policeman in 1952, and in 1953 he returned to Naha City and set up his own dojo, which he named “Matsubayashi-Ryu Kododan Karate and Ancient Martial Arts Studies”. From the dojo he taught Matsubayashi-ryu, a karate school he had invented in 1947, and named in honour of Sokon Matsumura and Kosaku Matsumora. He continued to teach the discipline until his death in 1997.
Nagamine wrote two books in Japanese, The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do and Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters. The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do, which has been reprinted many times, was first published in the English language in 1976. Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters received its first English translation in 2000.
Matsubayashi-ryu (松林流), also known as Matsubayashi Shōrin-ryū, is a school of Okinawan Shōrin-ryū karate founded by Shōshin Nagamine (1907-1997) in 1947. Its curriculum includes 18 kata, 7 two-man yakusoku kumite (prearranged sparring) routines, and kobudō (weapons) practice.
Nagamine named his school in honor of masters whom he viewed as two of the most important forebears of Shōrin-ryū, Matsumura Sōkon and Kosaku Matsumora. He chose to name the school using kanji characters that can be prounounced in Japanese either as “Matsubayashi” or as “Shorin.” Therefore, it is correct to refer to the school as “Matsubayashi-ryū”, “Shōrin-ryū”, or “Matsubayashi Shōrin-ryū”. Most people today choose one of the “Matsubayashi” variants in order to avoid confusion with the other many schools of Shōrin-ryū. Nagamine Shōshin also credited Motobu Chōki as the teacher who inspired his seven Yakusoku kumite forms. Today, the official Matsubayashi-ryū organization is run by Shōshin Nagamine’s son, Takayoshi Nagamine, though there are many schools teaching Matsubayashi-ryū that are not officially affiliated with the Nagamine dojo.
Matsubayashi-ryū is one of the better-documented traditional karate styles, owing to Nagamine’s book, The Essence of Okinawan Karate-dō as well as Tales of the Masters.