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Saved By Tonfa

Sensei Fumio Nagaishi asked me if I heard the story of the Karate Sensei who was saved by a pair of tonfa? I told him that I had not.

Nagaishi Sensei said that near the end of the war as American troops advanced through a village (I believe it was Awase Village), a military pastor stopped in front of a house and looked in. On the wall was a pair of tonfa, mounted back to back with the handles on the upper side. Can you visualize this? You might have seen tonfa hanging like this in various dojo.

To the pastor, the tonfa looked like the Christian cross and he raised his hands to pray.

This was the house of Sensei Shosei Kina. Nagaishi Sensei learned kobudo from Kina Sensei's student, Sensei Shinyei Kyan (the Okinawan politician and a senior who taught in Sensei Shoshin Nagamine's dojo). Nagaishi Sensei also met Kina Sensei, who lived to be 100.

I do not think that Kina Sensei intended for the tonfa to look like a Christian cross, but you never know. Kina Sensei was in fact a Christian as were many of the villagers in Awase.

I found an interesting article online that mentions Shosei Kina and his remarkable path to Christianity. See: The Village That Lived By The Bible. I also wrote about Kina Sensei in Emphasize Peace.

Nagaishi Sensei, who is now in his 80s, lived in Okinawa for 30 years before returning home to Hawaii. He practiced both Karate (under Chosin Chibana) and Kobudo (under Shinyei Kyan and Shinken Taira) in Okinawa and taught Kobudo here in Hawaii.


Charles C. Goodin