O nas

Patterns of Dissemination of the Shito-ryu Shukokai

The “Japanisation” of Karate

This phenomenon describes the influx of concepts from Japan and started even before Karate was popularized in Honshu. The most famed proponent of this rather drastic change of the overall approach to Karate was Itosu Anko. Among others, Itosu was supported by three of his students, namely Kudeken Kenyu, Yabu Kentsu and Hanashiro Chomo, who were enlisted as the first Okinawan soldiers in the imperial army of Japan in 1890 (Wittwer 2007:33). In short, those proponents of the opening of Karate to a broader audience had big influence on the direction, Karate took. Hereby the ties these people had with the educational system of Okinawa and the military of the imperial Japanese army seem to have been especially important (cf.Stadelmann 2010; Stadelmann 2011).

The incorporation of Karate into the Physical Education of Okinawan schools was in this early spread of Karate the major medium to transmit the japanised Karate. A big proportion of the didactics of the modernized Karate was taken from the military physical education (heishiki taiso….). Especially the aforementioned students of Itosu, Yabu and Hanashiro seem to have been highly significant in this didactic shift, which included the introduction of fixed commands, the formalisation of the lessons with compulsory greeting ceremonials according to Japanese conventions, the definition of stances and techniques and the practice of kata in big groups (Stadelmann 2010: 19-21).

The spread of Karate and the Japanese military

In 1910 a karate-presentation for the officers of a ship of the Japanese Marine forces was conducted, when it entered the harbour of Naha, the contemporary capital of Okinawa. The captain of said ship was Yashiro Rokuro and a devoted practitioner of Martial arts, especially Judo, and ordered his officers to practice Karate, more specifically the kata nahanchi… under the supervision of Yabu. This was followed by another course for marine personal in 1912, when Funakoshi Gichin, who was one of the most essential figures in the dissemination of Karate, conducted a course for officers under the command of Dewa Shigeto, who was stationed in Okinawa at the time. Furthermore Kanna Kenwa…. (1877-1950), an Okinawan marine officer in the Japanese Military played a role in the spread of Karate to Tokyo. He vouched for Funakoshi to move to Tokyo in 1922 in order to popularize Karate and recommended to shift the sole focus of Karate from kata to other forms of training and to take Judo and Kendo as role models therefore. Likewise, he also recommended the introduction of competitions, as they were already common in Judo at the time, in order to make the okinawan discipline more accessible to the Japanese public (Fujiwara und Gima 1986:84; OKKJ 2008:413).).

Public demonstrations

In terms of marketing, public demonstrations were of course important. These proved to be a successful method in Okinawa already and were also the first official representation of Karate at the Japanese main Islands. This took place in 1917, where Funakoshi led a demonstration of Karate in Kyoto and was repeated in 1922, where Funakoshi was sent by the Okinawan Ministry of Education to conduct a further demonstration in Tokyo at an annual sports exhibition (dai ichi undo taiiku tenrankai………), after which Funakoshi settled in Tokyo (OKKJ 2008: 506-507).

As a result of Funakoshi’s demonstration in 1922, he was invited to demonstrate Karate at the Kodokan …, the major location for aficionados of Judo, where he reportedly impressed Kano Jigoro, the founder of Judo, who himself was a very influential person at the time. This led to the circumstance that Karate was enabled to profit from the strong network, the Judo community had built up and Kano is said to have supported other practitioners of Karate, namely Mabuni and Miyagi, to take part in the popularisation at the Japanese main islands. Intense exchange between practitioners of Judo and Karate had the effect that Karate could use the well established networks of the Judo community which spread to the Japanese military, law enforcement, bureaucracy and the universities from which the spread of Karate profited extraordinarily (cf. Wittwer 2007; OKKJ 2008; Fujiwara und Gima 1986) .

Schools and the spread of Karate

Another example for successful lobbying and networking further led to the introduction of Karate in Schools in Okinawa. The first Karate-clubs at okinawan schools were established from the 1890ies onwards and Karate became an official part of the school program at the Okinawa Shihan Gakko……, an institution, where the future teachers of Okinawa were to be educated, in 1902. As official part of the curriculum, Karate was first taught by Itosu in 1901 at the Shuri Jinjo Shogakko……., a primary school. Subsequently, Karate was introduced at several school in Okinawa and the aforementioned Yabu and Hanashiro were among the first and
most influential teachers of Karate at okinawan schools. By 1924, Karate was a compulsory subject at seven schools in Okinawa, whose paradigms mainly followed that of Itosu (cf. Stadelmann 2010).

The main dissemination strategy of Karate in Okinawa, which aimed at its popularisation among the youth, was not continued in Honshu, though. In its early stages Karate was mainly popularized through the foundation of clubs and interest groups at universities.

Hereby the likes of Funakoshi in Tokyo and Mabuni in Osaka were among the most integral persons to further foster this dissemination that started with the initiation of a university-Karateclub at the Keio university in 1922. Furthermore, from 1924 on several Karate-clubs and research societies were founded that secured the institutional and organisational spread of Karate. On a related note, Tani Chojiro, whose role will be presented in more detail afterwards, was familiarized with Karate through one of such early university clubs (cf. Bittmann 2000).

Between the years 1924 and 1935, 7 major universities opened Karate-clubs in Kansai. All of these were either located in Osaka or Kyoto. Among these pioneers of Karate in Kansai was also the Kyoto-based Doshisha university, at which Tani learned Karate under Mabuni (cf. OKKJ 2008).

The emergence of Shukokai

While the Itosu-group laid the foundation to integrate Karate into the modern Japanese martial arts, by introducing it to the school system, it were the likes of Mabuni and Funakoshi who were successful in establishing Karate in Honshu and integrated it into the conventional Japanese martial arts so consistently that Karate was recognized by the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, the then official board for Japanese martial arts, as Japanese martial art in 1931 (cf. Bittmann 2000).

This finally brings me to the development of Shukokai. Shukokai was founded in the late 1940ies, in a transitional phase, where the old approaches ceased to be feasible and new ones were yet to be realized. Furthermore, martial arts in general were in a severe crisis in Japan since they were prohibited between 1946 and 1952 by the American Military Administration. For Karate this was even a bigger problem, as it was not yet firmly grounded in the Japanese society (cf. Nakamine 1998).

At the beginning of Shukokai stands of course Mabuni Kenwa, the teacher of Tani Chojiro. Mabuni was one of the most important figures in the spread of Karate in Kansai, using similar mechanisms as Funakoshi did in Kanto to popularize Karate.

Mabuni was born in 1889 in the city of Shuri, which was located in Okinawa. He became a student of Itosu at the age of 14. Under Itosu, Mabuni studied shuri-te, which formed the basis for the later Shotokan. On the other hand, Mabuni also learned concepts of naha-te… through Higaonna Kanryo, from the age of 18 onwards and presumably, this will have taken place in a rather traditional fashion. Mabuni was introduced to Higaonna by Miyagi Chojun, the founder Goju-ryu, who also had an important role in the spread of Karate. This acquaintance led to Mabuni’s study of naha-te for about 2 years, while continuing to study shuri-te (cf. Bittmann 2000) .

From 1909-1912 he left Okinawa and was drafted to military service in Kumamoto in the south-west of the Japanese main islands and came accordingly in contact with the same training paradigms, as Yabu did. After returning to Okinawa, he founded the Karate Kenkyukai (Society for the research of Karate) in 1918 to which Yabu and Hanashiro contributed, as well as a variety of different students of Itosu. From 1924 on Mabuni started to teach at two schools in Okinawa, one being the aforementioned Shihan Gakko (the other being the Kenritsu Suisan Gakko), before he founded his own Dojo, as well as the so called Karate Kenkyu Kurabu (Karate Research club) in 1925. As already mentioned, this served to popularize Karate, which was also necessary in Okinawa, as Karate prior to the mid of the 19th century was only taught within the Okinawan nobility (cf. Wittwer 2007). Nevertheless, Mabuni eventually moved to the Japanese main Islands Honshu in 1928, where he was first accommodated in Tokyo, before moving to¨Osaka in 1929. This resulted in Mabuni, teaching Karate at various universities from the 1930ies, the first being the Karate club of the Kansai University, but also at the Doshisha University, where Tani Chojiro was educated. In the following years Mabuni settled down in Osaka, including the opening of a Dojo, the Yoshukan. He continued to teach at his Dojo, a well as at several universities in the Kansai area, until he died in March 23 1952 at the age of 62 in Osaka (cf. OKKJ 2008).

There is some uncertainty, as about when Mabuni started to call his school Shito-ryu. According to the Japanese Okinawa Karate Kobudo Jiten, this happened, when Mabuni founded the Yoshukan. According to the German scholar Heiko Bittman though, the term came into use around 1938. What is not argued though is that Mabuni built the foundation for a variety of big Karate organisations, on of these being the Shito-ryu Shukokai (cf Bittmann 2000; OKKJ 2008).

Tani Chojiro and the emergence of Shito-ryu and Shukokai [Please keep in mind that this part of the unpublished talking notes is still fairly rudimentary and proper quotation will be delivered in the final finished paper]

The relationship between the main line of Shito-ryu and Shukokai is a very direct one, whose personification is Tani Chojiro. He was born in 1921. His first direct contact with Karate was at the Doshisha university, where he studied sports physics around the 1940ies. Besides his relation to Karate, Tani also trained Judo and Shinden Fudo-ryu jujutsu and Kobudo. His first Karate teacher was Miyagi Chojun, who did not permanently move to Honshu, but taught Karate until 1942 irregularly at various University-clubs in Kansai, primarily at the Kyoto-based Ritsumeikan University Karate club, where he had been an honorary teacher since 1936, but also at the Doshisha University. As addressed earlier, Mabuni also taught at various universities in Kansai and became the Karate teacher of Tani at the Doshisha in 1940, after Miyagi had reduced his stays in Honshu. Tani studied Karate under Mabuni for ten years and received the Menkyu Kaiden, a formal license to transmit the style by Mabuni in 1949, which resulted in the foundation of the Tani-ha Shito-ryu in 1949.

After his graduation, Tani worked at the taxation office of the Prefecture of Hyogo but quit around 1949, in order to be able to invest more time into Shukokai. In the 1950ies, he became high school teacher for social studies and world history at the Kobe Ikuei Koko ……, which seems to have been more easily combinable with Tani’s ambitions regarding Karate.

Nomenclature in Shukokai

At this point it is due to create some clarity with regards of the nomenclature, in order to prevent misunderstandings with regards of the names of the associations. By the admission of Tani, Tani-ha Shito-ryu describes the personal interpretation of Shito-ryu by Tani. The organisational body, to speak, is Shukokai, which is essentially the institution, that several people formed in order to train Tani-ha. Finally, there is the Gishinkan. While its contemporary role within Shukokai as a more important one than in the 1980ies, when Tani made this statement, it is still valid in that he describes Gishinkan as a „branch organisation“ of Shukokai that formed around Yamada Haruyoshi. Now, especially the non-Japanese listeners might not be aware of the fact that Gishinkan does not only consist of the contemporary Honbu-Dojo, but also of many branch-Dojos and Karate-clubs and form as such some kind of a faction within Shukokai.

With the nomenclature being defined, let me continue with the emergence of Shukokai. The name Shukokai came up in the year 1947 and initially described a group of five people, including Tani, who hold a 5th Dan at the time, as well as Yokoji Eiyu, Sawada Kenji…., Sugiura [ first name has yet to be determined].. and Fukui Yoshihiro… Naturally, after the end of the second World War the circumstances surrounding the foundation of Shukokai were fairly bad. In practice this had two immediate consequences:

First, the training of martial arts was severely restricted and as such, official advertisements or representations were rather difficult. Yamada-sensei added an interesting notion to this problematic in that he stated that the term Shukokai, which means translated something like „Union of friendly relations“ used to conceal the nature of the training as martial arts. A similar solution can be examined with the formation of the Shinai Kyogi, which came up around the 1950ies to disguise
Kendo and subsequently quickly dissolved, when the prohibition of Japanese martial arts ended in the early 1950ies.

The second major factor was simply the lack of infrastructure and training facilities and the group came up with the solution, to train on top of the loading platform of trucks. Naturally, this was only a preliminary solution and in 1948, the group was able to use a multi-purpose hall during noon for practice through the help of Ozawa [ first name has yet to be determined], an old boy from the prestigious Hosei university. This facility was located in Kobe/ Sannomiya and had the big flaw
that it had a concrete floor that heated up very strongly in summer. Even though this facility was far from being ideal, as well, people started to join Shukokai, among them Oda Minoru, who, according to Yokoji was very important in the early stages of Shukokai. This situation significantly improved, when the Shukokai-group could finally use a small Dojo, whose first manager was one of the founding members, Sawada.

An important step for Shukokai in terms of its dissemination, of which public awareness of the organisation is of course an important part, was the first public demonstration of Shukokai in 1949. This took place at a national Judo competition in Kobe and not only involved the demonstration of kata, but also of tameshiwari.
This is an indication for the ban on martial not being executed very severely, as national Judo competitions for instance were already conducted again in 1949.

Two important figures joined Shukokai as well in 1949, namely Fujiwara Katsumi and Fujitani Masatoshi, who at the time already hold a 5th Dan in Judo. According to Yokoji, whose greatest merits for this speech lie in a report of the first years of Shukokai, the aforementioned Kozawa, Oda, Fujiwara and Fujitani formed the basis for the later development of Shukokai until the 1970ies. Yokoji became 2nd Dan in 1949 and was involved in one of the first branches of Shukokai with the foundation of the Higashinada Karate club in Kobe around 1950, with which the institutional spread of Shukokai was set in motion. This resulted in the first official competition of the Tani-ha Shito-ryu Shukokai in 1967 under the participation of 80 competitors. On a side note, the successful spread of Shukokai is indicated by the fact that by the same competition of the year 1986, already 822 people competed.

The foundation of the Gishinkan and Yamada Haruyoshi

This later stage begins the year 1971, when the Gishinkan was founded by Yamada Haruyoshi. And, as Yamada-sensei is naturally an integral figure for this stage, I will begin with some biographical notes. Yamada Haruyoshi was born in 1938 in the prefecture of Akita in Northeast Japan. He started with martial arts in 1953 at the age of 15 with Judo, where he currently holds a 5th Dan from the Kodokan and Goju-ryu. When he was in high-school, he moved to Kansai and finally started to practice under Tani in 1956 at the age 18. After high school, he graduated from the contemporary Kyoto based Meiji University of integrative medicine (Meiji Kokusai Iryoku Daigaku …….., former Meijijudoseifukusenmonkoko), where he studied Judoseifukujutsu….., a Japanese version of chiropractics that developed alongside Judo.

In 1960, Yamada became the person in charge of the Karate training at the Karate-club of the Shinko company and hereby officially started his career as Karate teacher. In 1964, Yamada further became responsible of the training at two further company Karate-clubs, which shows his strong integration into the organisation of Shukokai by the mid of the 1960ies.

Also in the 1960ies fell the foundation of the Amagasaki Karate Kyokai. The Amagasaki Karate Union was founded in 1965 and joined the Amagaski Sports union in 1967. For the foundation of the Amagasaki sports union, Yamada proved to be an important proponent of this organisation whose members were predominately clubs related to Shukokai, but not exclusively. The Amagasaki Karate Union was formed through the union of pre-existing Karate-clubs of Amagaski, including company clubs. Another important foundation in which Yamada had an important role was the initiation of the „corporate Karate association of West-Japan“, in Japanese the Nishi Nihon Jitsugyodan Karate Renmei, which was combined with the corporate Karate association of East-Japan to form the all-Japan corporate Karate association in 1982 and incorporated the Karate union of the Japanese self-defence forces (Jietai Karate renmei) in 1986. The Jitsugyodan is a part of the All-Japan Karate federation, the Japanese branch of the WKF and forms itself one organisational branch of the JKF (……..), besides the student association and the High school association.

Being another major step in the institutional spread of Shukokai, the Gishinkan was founded in 1971. Here, Yamada was the main figure in its foundation. Yamada also stated that the development of Shukokai could be divided into two stages. The fist was one of quantitative growth, and lasted for about ten years, between 1971 and 1981. This is evidenced by the fact that in 1971 Gishinkan was founded with 15 member clubs and overall 250 members, while by 1983, 50 clubs were part of Gishinkan with overall 2.000 members, among them 400 black belts and 80 Instructors.

The strategical focus at this stage lay at the build up of youth education and to integrate the Gishinkan clubs into the local community by being an active part of it. While a direct measurement of the success of these factors is difficult, there are testimonies from the mayor of Amagasaki, in the years 1983 and 1994 available that emphasis the beneficial role of the Gishinkan for the local youth education and the local society. Now these statements were written to celebrate the 10th and 20th
anniversary of Shukokai and are as such to be treated accordingly. They nevertheless show though that the Gishinkan was recognized as an important organisation by the local administration already ten years after its foundation and as such strongly indicate that the Gishinkan succeeded in a good integration into the local community of Amagasaki.

The second stage started in 1981 and is of consolidational nature with an emphasis on qualitative improvements. It was offset with the relocation of the main Dojo of the Gishinkan and a subsequent improved training environment. Furthermore, the integration into the JKF structures was proceeded more strongly through the conduct of and participation at national and international competitions, graduations within the JKF, as well as the participation at JKF Trainer courses. In terms of public presence, this stage was also fairly significant, with several highly recognized demonstrations, among them one in Kobe in 1985 at the Universiade, an international student sports competition, also called the World University Games, and another important one in 1990 in Osaka at the world’s fair 1990; Around the same time, a documentary about the Gishinkan was created by a Japanese TV station, further increasing public recognition. Recognition from the JKF was also
achieved. This is shown by the integration of the Jitsugyodan, whose current president is Yamada, into the JKF and the awarding of the 8th Dan by the JKF to Yamada in 1991. Hereby the big emphasis on youth education that is apparent at least since the 1970ies is retained in the second stage of Gishinkan.

I will only shortly speak about the development of the current overreaching Shukokai organisation that came into existence in 1998 after Tani Chojiro died. This is mainly due to the fact that I have not yet gathered enough empirical data to make sound statements about this phase. A major goal of this organisation was from its very start the spread of Shukokai as well. Of course, the current Shukokai Union is part of the JKF, as well and as such many features of the aforementioned dissemination channels of Shukokai and the Gishinkan apply for this group, as well. As the Shukokai Union is a contemporary organisation though, I am sure that we will hear more on important aspects of it after the lunch.

In this speech I have confined myself to the early stages of Shukokai in Kansai and the development of the Gishinkan. This is mainly due to the available empirical data and constraints in the speaking time. The actual paper that is intended to follow this speech, eventually, will contain more informations on ideological aspects apparent in Shukokai, as well as I intend to look into its internationalisation in more detail, but up to this point, I hope that I could deliver some insights into the development of Shukokai on the basis of a rather approach and am open for questions, as well as comments from here on.


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