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Video Update

The video of our lecture at the University of Hawaii is about 95 minutes long. My friend, Sensei Angel Lemus, tried to upload a single video, which took a whole day. It turned out it is too long for Youtube. We need to split it into parts, which is being done now. I will let you know when the video is available, but wanted to give you the status.

In the meantime, perhaps you could visit Lemus Sensei's One Minute Bunkai website. His latest video is one he showed at our most recent Kenkyukai training session.

If I was making a bunkai team and got to pick members, Lemus Sensei would be tops on my list. At our Kenkyukai training, he showed an opening movement with an application. I asked him to show a different finishing movement, then another, and another. I think I stopped at 10 or 12, each of which he spontaneously and smoothly demonstrated. Could you do that? Could you do that without any advance notice? Could you do that for all the movements you know? To me, that is really impressive.


Charles C. Goodin


A story of Karate.

Once upon a time, there was a baker who made the best cookies in the whole word. People would stand in line just to be able to purchase a single cookie and when they ate it, they would feel an overwhelming sense of happiness. Each cookie was unique and a masterpiece. But the baker could only produce three or four each day.

One day a cookie company contacted the baker and offered to mass produce his cookies. A factory was built near the original bakery, which was bulldozed to make a parking lot. The new cookies looked the same and were made with the same ingredients, but they were not the same. The lost their uniqueness. When people bought them, they tasted like ordinary cookies.

After selling millions of the new cookies, the baker became disillusioned. He missed making masterpieces. And so he decided to make a new bakery and start over again.

Unfortunately, the cookie company obtained an injunction preventing the baker from ever selling his cookies again, as he had sold them his rights.

And so the baker retired and dreamed for the rest of his life about his original cookies.

The moral of the story is that three or four masterpieces are better than a million ordinary cookies. For that matter, even one or two masterpiece Karate students are better than a million mass produced ones. Sorry, did I say "Karate students"? I meant cookies.


Charles C. Goodin

Respect and Acceptance

I have found that two things are very inexpensive to give but are worth a great deal: respect and acceptance. This is especially true in Karate.

There is a respect given because a person is physically strong. This is shallow. Physical strength declines with age, and even with the best mechanics and conditioning, we do grow slower and weaker with age. Respect for physical strength alone would diminish as a person ages.

But respect for a person's character and humanity will grow with age.

I know people who study many different styles of Karate. I am sure that each of us like our own style, and sometimes might question another person's emphasis in Karate. But I have learned to appreciate and respect different styles and emphases in Karate. My own emphasis has changed many times during my Karate life. One of the things I appreciate is that my Karate friends and I accept each other. We don't look at each other with a look of "I think I could take you." Instead, we have a look of "I think I could learn something from you." "And if you had a problem,I would have your back."

Respect and acceptance, of course, are just as important outside of Karate. Everyone is different. Thank goodness for that! The older I get and the more I experience life, the more I respect people and the more I accept different views and lifestyles.

Life is small when a person is narrow minded. The opposite is also true.

In Hawaii, we have a "mixed plate" for lunch -- different kinds of food. Together they are great. A musubi is good but you can't beat a good mixed plate lunch.

Now I'm hungry.


Charles C. Goodin

Video Coming Soon

The video should be ready very soon. Just a little longer.


Charles C. Goodin

Karate In the Ryukyu Kingdom Lecture Follow-up

Photo by Sensei Angel Lemus


Last Thursday, Sensei Pat Nakata and I presented the lecture,

Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa Prefecture, and Hawaii.
How is Okinawan Culture Spread through Karate?

at the Manoa Campus of the University of Hawaii. The lecture was sponsored by the Center for Okinawn Studies, which is headed by Dr. Joyce Chinen. My contact at the center for the lecture was Lynette Teruya, who was very supportive and helpful. Gay Satsuma of the Center for Japanese Studies attended, as did Dr. Alfred Yama Kina, who had given a lecture a few months ago about his experiences in Shuri. My Sensei in Hawaii, Sensei Rodney Shimabukuro, and his wife, Joyce also attended.

Here are links to the Flyer and Handout for the Lecture. I hope that you will review the Handout as it presents some of the materials we covered. It includes a Bibliography, a chart about the Ryukyu Caste System, and a list of ten Karate people with their Ryukyu Kingdom titles.

The lecture started at 3:00 p.m. and the room was filled with attendees, including three members of our Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai: Sensei Herbert Ishida, Sensei Hisae Ishii-Chang, and Sensei Sean Roberts. Sensei Angel Lemus who is also a member of the Kenkyukai attended and took video of the entire lecture. He is working on the footage for uploading to Youtube. Nakata Sensei and I are very grateful to Lemus Sensei for his expertise and hard work. I will post here when the video is uploaded.

I had prepared a Powerpoint presentation with about 90 slides. Lemus Sensei is incorporating the slides in the video. I'm sure that this is a big job for him.

I started the lecture with information about the Ryukyu Kingdom and its caste system. Karate experts and instructors were almost exclusively members of the Uekata and Peechin class, with most being in the Pechin class. Sometimes these classes are compared to "Lords" or "Daimyo" and "Samurai", but in my opinion, comparisons to Japanese classes are not very helpful. To me, the Uekata and Pechin classes (with the various subclasses), were Ryukyu Kingdom officials and the equivalent of civil servants with many privileges.

I contrasted the historical information we have about Karate experts in the Ryukyu Kingdom with the popular story about Karate being developed by Okinawan peasants and farmers to protect themselves against the invading Satsuma samurai (1609). In fact, I have found that most of the "popular" stories about Karate are simply myths. To understand the development of Karate, it is essential to study the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Nakata Sensei presented information about the Chinese origins of Karate, outlining some of the sources of Chinese contacts. He shared how his teacher, Chosin Chibana, said that known Karate began with Kanga Teruya, who became known as Tudi (or Tote) Sakugawa. You can see the handout for his birth and death dates and social rank.

I was given a lot of help with the Caste System chart by my Sensei in Okinawa, Sensei Katsuhiko Shnzato, and Dr. Alfred Yama Kina. Dr. Kina also studies Okinawan dance here in Hawaii with Sensei Kikue Kaneshiro. My Hawaii Sensei's wife, Joyce Shimabukuro, also studied with Kaneshiro Sensei. I learned a lot about the Kingdom period by reading Dr. Kina's thesis, which is listed in the Bibliography.

I mentioned that in the Ryukyu Kingdom, rank in Karate either did not exist or was pretty irrelevant -- what mattered was your position in Ryukyu society and the level of your service to the King. Karate instructors might have taught students who were of higher social classes, and I'm sure that each was acutely aware of this.

Lemus Sensei and I both study styles of Karate that trace to Chotoku Kyan. Kyan Sensei's father, Chofu Kyan, is listed in the handout, and was a member of the Ryukyu Kingdom's last Sanshikan (Council of Three). The Sanshikan was one of the highest bodies in the Ryukyu government. Chofu Kyan was a student of Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura, who is also listed in the handout. Chofu Kyan also became King Sho Tai's Chamberlain and oversaw all of this assets. He is another example of a Karate expert who was a member of the Ryukyu Kingdom's "official" classes.

Shinzato Sensei had actually prepared a much longer list of Karate experts for me. I reduced this to 10 for the handout. During the Ryukyu Kingdom period, all were of the Shizoku, or privileged classes. Okinawan elders I have spoken to all said that life for "commoners" was very difficult in Okinawa, and working people worked extremely hard all day. Natural resources were very limited. Only the privileged classes had time for Karate -- and access to instructors.

After the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished and King Sho Tai was forced into exile in Tokyo, Karate had to adapt to the policies of the Japanese Empire. It is very interesting that Karate experts where of the same social classes as Ryukyu dance and music experts. All of these "professionals", deprived of their stipends, lands (if applicable), and titles, had to find a way to make a living. Many moved away from Shuri and began to teach their respective arts to the pubic -- rather than just to members of their own social classes. To me, this probably brought about the greatest change in Karate. Teaching Karate to the public resulted in two Karates -- the old and the new. The new was ultimately taught in the Okinawan school system and this form of Karate, generally, is what spread to mainland Japan and other countries.

But the old was also preserved, particularly with people such as Chosin Chibana, Nakata Sensei's teacher in Okinawa (his original teacher in Hawaii was Sensei Walter Nishioka, who is also a member of our Hawaii Karate Kenkukai -- in fact, I saw him today at our training). Chibana Sensei learned from Anko Itosu (who learned from Sokon Matsumura, who learned from Tote Sakugawa, who learned from Kusanku (a Chinese envoy)). I asked Nakata Sensei to share Chibana Sensei's Karate-Do No Kokoroe, which is printed in the Handout. I will let you watch the video to hear Nakata Sensei's words. One story that moved me involved a challenge match that Nakata Sensei was forced to accept when he studied in Okinawa. In the end, Chibana Sensei intervened to restrain Nakata Sensei from finishing off his challenger, saying that we must also have compassion for our enemies.

Karate was taught in the Okinawan school system around 1903 or so. The first Okinawan immigrants to Hawaii left Okinawa in December of 1899 and arrived on January 6, 1900. At least three Karate practitioners were among them. Kisaburo Kawakami had actually arrived four years earlier. His son, Kitaro Kawakami, was a student of Kentsu Yabu, which makes me suspect that his father had learned from Sokon Matsumura. Succeeding waves of Okinawan immigrants continued to bring Karate to Hawaii. The early students had learned the "old" style, not the public school version.

One question we asked was "How is Okinawan Culture Spread Through Karate?" I summarized some of the exhibits, demonstrations, lectures, and events that our Hawaii Karate Museum and my friends in the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai had participated in over the years. I also described our museum's donation to the University of Hawaii of the Hawaii Karate Museum Collection, a permanent collection at the Okinawan Collection of the Hamilton Library at the Manoa Campus. Please check the Digital Archives for some excellent books and materials that are online.

We have worked to help establish Karate as a subject worthy of study, individually and at the University level. But the way that Karate is taught is from Sensei to student, and the way that Karate is learned is through training. If Okinawan and Ryukyuan culture is to be spread, it will have to happen in the dojo, school, recreation center, or garage. It has to be spread from Sensei to student, and from older brother or sister to younger.

I have often been advised by Okinawan elders that in order to understand and appreciate Karate, you should study the history and culture of its homeland -- Okinawa. I agree completely. Together, as Instructors and Students of Karate, let us do our very best not only to learn the physical aspects of the art, but to also learn about the Ryukyu Kingdom and Okinawa, and the values that shaped and guided the early Karate pioneers.

Nakata Sensei and I hope that the lecture was one small step in this direction. We were supposed to end at 4:30 p.m., but with questions we went to about 4:45 p.m. The Center for Okinawan studies then served some refreshments.

I am very grateful to Nakata Sensei of sharing his insights and lessons. I have learned so much from him over the years, and continue to do so today. We also want to thank Lemus Sensei, Shinzato Sensei, Dr. Kina, Dr. Chinen, Lynette Teruya, and everyone who helped us with the lecture, and to all the attendees. I also want to thank Shimaburo Sensei and his wife Joyce, and the Center for Okinawan Studies, Dr. Kina, and Joyce for the beautiful lei.

If you like the video, I hope that you might ask your students to watch it. Again, I will announce here when it is available online.

Respectfully in the art,

Charles C. Goodin

Good Basics -- Like a Propeller

This is a simple principle, but an important one:

If your basics are good, as you gain more power and speed, the movements will be stable.

If you basics are bad, as you gain more power and speed, the movements will fall apart.
That is why it pays to take your time and learn your basics well. For instructors, this is why it pays to take your time and teach the basics to your students well.

It is like the propeller on an airplane. At slow speed, flaws or imbalance in the propeller will probably not cause too much of a problem. But at high speed, the propeller will fly apart and destroy the airplane -- and cause a crash.

With good basics, increased speed and power makes the movement feel even more stable -- like a perfectly balanced propeller!


Charles C. Goodin

Just One Week Until Our Lecture!

The lecture by Sensei Pat Nakata and me,

Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa Prefecture, and Hawaii.
How is Okinawan Culture Spread through Karate?

will be in just one week! I hope that you can attend or will be able to watch it when it is available on Youtube.

Karate is not just from Okinawa, it is from the Ryukyu Kingdom (and China too). In order to understand Karate, it is very helpful to student the history of culture of Okinawa and the Ryukyu Kingdom. This is the shared history of all Karate students.



Here is my earlier post:


On Thursday, February 9th at 3:00 p.m., Sensei Pat Nakata and I will give a lecture at the University of Hawaii. A poster is above (click the poster for a larger pdf file) and the information is included below. Please feel free to distribute this information to anyone who might be interested. I am very honored to give this lecture with my good friend and senior, Sensei Nakata Sensei.

I have asked my good friend, Sensei Angel Lemus, to take video of the lecture and we hope to be able to present it on YouTube after the event.

I am very encouraged that this lecture is sponsored by a the Center for Okinawan Studies at the University of Hawaii. The subject matter of Karate and its place in Okinawan history and culture is truly worth of study. Those of us who are fortunate to practice and teach the art, are caretakers of this great tradition.


Charles C. Goodin

Center for Okinawan Studies Lecture Series

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa Prefecture, and Hawaii
How is Okinawan Culture Spread through Karate?

Learn about the origins of Karate (Tudi, "Tang or China" Hand) among members of the highest levels of Ryukyuan society. Karate was part of the upbringing of selected sons of noble and samurai families who were trained to become bushi, cultured gentlemen. Based largely on Chinese martial arts and values, Karate was usually taught secretly or in private.

About twenty years after the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished and Okinawa became a prefecture (1879), Karate became a part of the public school curriculum. Taught publicly and to a large number of students for the first time, Karate had to adapt to Japanese values and objectives. But the old form of Karate still existed with the new. Explore why the myth of Karate being developed by Okinawan farmers and peasants was spread in Japan... and still exists today.

Karate came to Hawaii with the very first Okinawan immigrants starting in 1900. Originally limited to members of the Okinawan community, the art is now widely practiced by students of all ethnic groups. Through Karate training, students are provided an opportunity to learn about Okinawan history and culture.
Speakers: Sensei Pat Nakata (Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Association) &
Charles C. Goodin (Hawaii Karate Museum)

Date: February 9, 2012 (Thursday)

Time: 3:00 - 4:30 pm

Location: Moore Hall 319 (Tokioka Room)
Event is free and open to the public.

For more information or disability access, please contact:

Center for Okinawan Studies, tel. 956-0902 / 956-5754

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa