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Chotoku Kyan

Kyan Sensei was small and relatively light. He was the opposite of Choki Motobu, although the two may have been cousins.

How was it that Kyan Sensei excelled in Karate? The answer seems to have been his training ethic. I have read that he said that if another student practiced three times, he would practice seven.

The secret of Karate (if there is one) is to practice dilligently.

One of Kyan Sensei's students described a typical match: (1) the opponent would attack; (2) Kyan would grab the attacker's arm or body part; and (3) the attacker would scream, begging Kyan Sensei to stop. Kyan Sensei knew where and how to grab vulnerable points and had extremely strong hands.

Kyan was known as migwa, which means small eye. Actually, he was missing one eye -- his friend poked it out with a hihachi, a long chop stick used to stir coals in a hibachi (warmer). We do not know why the friend did this, but it made Kyan especially cautious when he went out or met people.

Kyan Sensei used to practice jumping so that he could jump up to his own shoulder height. When attacked, he would seize the attacker with two hands, and kick him in the body and even face. With arms held out in front of him, Kyan Sensei could kick through his interlaced fingers. He would kick like a fighting chicken, a sport he enjoyed watching. Kicks at that time, were often done with the tips of the toes in a piercing manner.

I admire Kyan Sensei very much. I often tell new students that if despite his slight stature Kyan Sensei could become so skilled, we all should have a chance.


Charles C. Goodin