Hawaii Karate Seinenkai

The following article by appeared in Bugeisha: Traditional Martial Artist, Issue #4, Winter 1997. Copyright © Charles C. Goodin. All rights reserved.

In Memory of Grand Master Nagamine Shoshin

By Charles C. Goodin

Shoshin Nagamine

In Memory of Grandmaster Nagamine Shoshin
July 15, 1907 -- November 2, 1997

Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine, Hanshi, 10th dan, founder of the Matsubayashi-Ryu style of Shorin-Ryu, passed away on Sunday, November 2, 1997, at Naha, Okinawa. He was 90.

Nagamine Sensei devoted his entire life to the preservation and perpetuation of Okinawan Karate-Do. Sickly as a child, he began Karate-Do training in high school. His health rapidly improved and he developed a muscular physique. A student of several prominent instructors, including Ankichi Arakaki, Chotoku Kyan and Choki Motobu, he adopted the name "Matsubayashi-Ryu" in July of 1947 to honor Matsumura Sokon (1809-1896) of Shuri-te, and Matsumora Kosaku (1829-1898) of Tomari-te. He strived to maintain the ancient kata as they were taught to him.

In 1940, upon the request of the Governor of Okinawa, Gen Hayakawa, he developed a new basic kata for beginners. That kata, Fukyugata Ichi, is among the 18 kata practiced in Matsubayashi-Ryu. The others are: Fukyugata Ni (developed by Chojun Miyagi), Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yondan, Pinan Godan, Naihanchi Shodan, Naihanchi Nidan, Naihanchi Sandan, Ananku, Wankan, Rohai, Wanshu, Passai, Gojushiho, Chinto and Kusanku.

Nagamine Sensei's first major book, The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do (Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1976), became an instant classic, and helped to introduce Matsubayashi-Ryu to the western world. The book includes detailed photographs of all 18 kata as well as the seven yakusoku kumite forms. His second major work, Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters, has been translated into English and is set for publication by Tuttle in the Spring of 1998. In it, Nagamine Sensei shares his lifetime of research on and personal recollections of the founding fathers of Okinawan Karate-Do.

Nagamine Sensei formed and was the head of the World Matsubayashi-Ryu (Shorin-Ryu) Karate-Do Association ("WMKA"). During his career, he had well over 10,000 students in his dojo worldwide. Several years ago, his son, Master Takayoshi Nagamine, hanshi, 9th dan, formerly became his successor in the WMKA and as head of Matsubayashi-Ryu. Master Nagamine has dedicated himself to leading the art into the coming millennium. He personally oversaw the development of the WMKA's comprehensive website (www.matsubayashi-ryu.com) which features photos and articles about Grand Master Nagamine and Matsubayashi-Ryu.

Nagamine Sensei greatly valued the Okinawan history and culture. He was highly accomplished at Okinawan dance and calligraphy. In his early years, he also studied Judo and Kendo, earning black belt ranks in both. Zen was also an integral aspect of his life.

Nagamine Sensei's last visit to the United States was in December, 1996. He traveled to Hawaii, where he was recognized by the Chozen-ji/International Zen Dojo for his enlightenment through his dedication to "Ken Zen Ichinyo" (Karate and Zen As One). At that time, he was given the Zen name of Kenzan Nagamine, which literally translates as "Fist Mountain." According to the Chozen-ji, he was the first karate sensei in history to receive such an acknowledgement in the Rinzai Zen tradition.

Nagamine Sensei used the occasion to deliver a speech entitled "Okinawa Karate and World Peace" (available at the WMKA website). He addressed the concept of "Karate ni sente nashi" (literally, "in Karate there is no first attack"), explaining that the maxim means infinitely more than simply not responding to an attack -- truly, we must develop a spirit which enables us to win without fighting. The aim of Karate-Do is not to cultivate a fist which causes destruction, but rather a fist that gives life.

Through a life nearly spanning this entire century, a life that saw both the devastation of war and the spread of Okinawan Karate-Do throughout the world, Nagamine Sensei taught that Matsubayashi-Ryu is a way toward true peace, both within ourselves and the world.

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