Hawaii Karate Seinenkai
Born in Agena, Gushikawa shi, Okinawa in 1892, Chonin Sanra Arakaki's grandfather owned a rice field. Because he was smaller than the other boys, Arakaki had to work especially hard. Karate was taught by the village elders. Arakaki received a good education in Okinawa.
The name Chonin is reserved for the first son. Arakaki was not the first son. When he decided to immigrate to Hawaii, he was only 15, too young to qualify. He thus took his older brother's name when he came to Hawaii around 1907.
At first, he worked at sugar cane plantations in Waialua (on Oahu) and Kohala (Hawi town on the Big Island). Arakaki's job was to load sugarcane onto train cars. Although he was only about 5 feet, 2 inches tall, he was very muscular. In fact, his biceps were so large that he could not touch his own ears! The lunas (overseers) at the plantations were Portugese. On day, a luna on horesback tried to whip Arakaki. Arakaki grabbed the whip and with a single tug, pulled the luna to the ground.
Eventually, he stated a hog farm near Hilo. This was before World War II. At this time, hog farmers often obtained scraps for their hogs from local homes and businesses. People wouild leave a bucket filled with scraps on a tree branch. Hog farmers would pick up the scraps each day, combine them, and cook them as feed for their hogs. They would often give the home and business owners gifts at Christmas or New Years
One day, Arakaki went to General Lyman Field (now known as Hilo International Airport), a military base near Hilo, to ask for scraps. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese were not allowed on the installation for security reasons. However, the base commander somehow learned that Arakaki knew Karate and agreed to give him scraps in exchange for lessons. Thus, Arakaki would drive to the front gate, were an enlisted man would take his truck to the mess hall and load it. Another enlisted man would drive Arakaki to the or gymnasium, where he would give Karate lessons. In this way, despite the difficult financial conditions presented by the war, Arakaki's hog farm survived and prospered.
Later, the Navy learned about this arrangement and offered to give Arakaki scraps from their navel vessels in exchange for Karate lessons. Harry Arakaki, son, of Chonin Sanra Arakaki, recalls that his family would get to watch Hollywood movies on the decks of visiting navy vessels during World War II. They were the only Japanese allowed on the ships.
It is believed that grateful soldiers gave Arakaki a plaque -- for teaching them the Okinawan art of self-defense.
Like many Okinawan men of this generation, Arakaki enjoyed playing the sanshin (samisen) and participated in Okinawan Sumo. His wife's brother, Katsunoshin Uchima, was also a well known Okinawan Sumo champion. Uchima may have known Karate and occassionally demonstrated bojutsu. Arakaki also appears to have been related by marriage to another Hilo Karate expert, Seiichi Urasaki.
The Hawaii Karate Seinenkai respectfully salutes Chonin Sanra Arakaki, one Hawaii's issei Karate sensei.
The spirit of Karate is the Aloha spirit
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