Traditional Okinawan Karate-Do and Kobudo
Anko Itosu (1831 - 1915)
A foremost disciple of Bushi Matsumura, Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu was educated in the Chinese classics and art of calligraphy and held the position of Secretary for the Administrative Office of the Ryukyu Kingdom. His prominent students (Kentsu Yabu, Gichin Funakoshi, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Choshin Chibana, Anbun Tokuda, Chojo Oshiro, Kenwa Mabuni, Shinpan Gusukuma) would influence karate-do for many years to come.
Within the "Ten Articles of Karate," (the letter submitted in 1908 by Anko Itosu, to the education department of Okinawa Prefecture, petitioning the introduction of karate into the regular public school curriculum), essential characteristics of Shorin-ryu are detailed. In Shorin-ryu, natural and relaxed stances and breathing methods are taught along with a unique method of taking in power and releasing it. The practitioner takes in power from inside outward, making concentration of power easy and which, combined with the quickness of movement, increases the force of an attack.
Chibana Choshin (1885 - 1969)
Chibana Choshin, the originator of shorin-ryu ("the small forest style") was born on June 5, 1885, at Tottori-cho in Shuri City, Okinawa. He began training with Itosu "Ankoh" in 1900, after dropping out of the Okinawa Kenritsu Dai-Ichi Chu-gakko (high school). He was then 15 years old.
He studied with Itosu until his teacher's demise on January 26, 1915, at the age of 85. Five years after his teacher's death, he began teaching on his own. His first training hall was located at Tottori-bori and as his reputation spread, he was able to open up a second training hall in Kumo-cho, Naha.
Chibana remained on the island of Okinawa during World War II and narrowly escaped death when Shuri was destroyed by the Americans in 1945. After the war, he once again began teaching Shorin-ryu in Giho-cho which is a section of Shuri City. During February, 1954, until December, 1958, he was also the Chief Karate-do Instructor for the Shuri City Police Department. On May 5, 1956, the Okinawa Karate-do Association was formed and he was appointed its first president.
Chibana's reputation as a karate master continued to spread, not only in Okinawa but also in mainland Japan. By 1957, he had received the title of Hanshi (High Master) from the Dai Nippon Butokukai (The Greater Japan Martial Virtue Association) and in 1960, he received the First Sports Award from the Okinawa Times Newspaper for his overall accomplishments in the study and practice of traditional Okinawan Karate-do.
On April 29, 1968, Chibana-sensei brought further honor to Okinawan Karate-do by being awarded the 4th Order of Merit by the Emperor of Japan in recognition of his devotion to the study and practice of Okinawan karate-do.
In 1964, Chibana was advised that he had terminal cancer of the throat. But, because of his dedication to the art of Okinawa Shorin-ryu, he continued to teach even though his body began to weaken as the cancer spread. By 1966, he was admitted into Tokyo's Cancer Research Center for radiation treatment in an attempt to arrest the spread. After some improvement, Chibana once again resumed his teaching of Okinawa Shorin-ryu with his grandson, Nakazato Akira (Shorin-ryu 7-Dan).
By the end of 1968, Chibana-sensei's condition became worse and he returned to Ohama Hospital. Despite the doctors' efforts to save his life, he died at 6:40 a.m. on the 26th of February, 1969, at the advanced age of 83.
Shugoro Nakazato was born in Naha-city Okinawa on August 14, 1919. While attending normal school in Osaka Japan in 1935, he began his study of Karate at the age of 16 under the instruction of Ishu Selichl. Nakazato studied under Sensei Ishu for 6 years. During the war, he was in the Japanese calvary.
After the war was over, Nakazato returned to his home in Okinawa to find his family a casualty of war. In June of 1946, he began his study of Karate under Choshin Chibana, who was the Menkyo inheritor of Anko Itotsu. In 1948 Chibana's Shuri dojo closed but Nakazato continued his study with Master Chibana. For one year Chibana gave Nakazato personal tutoring at Chibana's home.
In 1951 Nakazato was instrumental in helping Chibana open his new DAI ICHI DOJO in Naha City at Matsuo. Chibana continued his personal tutoring of Nakazato at the Dai Ichi Dojo until January 10, 1954 when Nakazato received his Shihan Menkyojo at which time he became Master Chibana's Shihan Dai (assistant). After work as the Shihan Dai in the Dai Ichi Dojo under Chibana for one and half years, Nakazato was commissioned by Chibana to find the Shorin-Ryu. ShorinKan Nakazato dojo in Naha City at Aza.
Nakazato was appointed as one of the directors of the Okinawan Karate Federation when it was formed in 1956 with the four major (shiryuha) systems of Karate in Okinawa Goju-Ryu; Uechi-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu, Matsubayshi-Ryu. All during this time Nakazato devoted all of his time and energy to teaching and perfecting Shorin-Ryu Karate-do. In 1960 the Okinawan Karate Federation promoted him to Eight Degree Black Belt and Kyoshi. Seven years later Nakazato continued his climb to the top of the Shorin-Ryu hierarchy when Master Chibana and the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate-do Kyokai promoted him to Hanshi and 9th Degree Black Belt.
Nakazato began his study of weapons almost from the beginning of his training in 1935. He was trained in the sai, bo, nunchaku, tonfa, and nicho kama, but he specialized in Bojutsu for 4 years. Throughout his career he has given of his knowledge very willingly. He has demonstrated his technique of Karate all over the world, in Europe, India, Africa, mainland Japan, and he has made at least 8 trips to America. When Master Chibana passed away, Shugoro Nakazato inherited the Leadership of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-do, thus becoming a (10) TENTH DEGREE BLACK BELT.
Robert Herten began training in Karate almost 50 years ago. While in the U.S. Air Forces from 1963 to 1967 Robert Herten was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, it was there that he began training in the Shorin Ryu style of Karate. His teacher was Master Shugoro Nakazato. Hanshi Robert Herten opened his first karate school in Totowa, New Jersey in 1969. Herten was promoted to 1st degree Black Belt in 1964 and to 9th degree Black Belt in October 2013.
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