Hawaii Karate Seinenkai
Born in Okinawa about 1884, Seiichi Urasaki came from a family of high status. His grandfather had been a tutor to the Okinawan King. At that time, the family name was not Urasaki. The king gave the tutor the Urasaki peninsula, at which time the famly name was changed. Because of his family's status, Urasaki received a good education and became a school teacher.
It is not clear from whom Urasaki learned Karate. He trained with Choki Motobu, but he may have had other teachers.
Urasaki immigrated to Hawaii in 1905 and eventually settled in Hilo on the Big Island. He went to work for the sugar cane plantations. Because he was educated (he was a scholar and could read and write Japanese), Uraski became a "watch dog", travelling from one Okinawan camp to another (workers at the time were segregated by race -- the Japanese and Okinawans were also separated) to keep the workers calm and help them with their problems.
Later, Urasaki opened a grocery store in Hilo called the Central Meat Market. He had two sons and three daughters. His son Harold ("Jiggs") took over the store and his son Harry became a dentist. His three daughters moved to the mainland. One daughter, Yukiko, who resides in Chicago, Illinois, is a long time Aikido student and yudansha.
Urasaki knew many Karate sensei. He knew Seio Morikone, before Morikone moved to Oahu. He would later visit Morikone on trips to Oahu. In 1933, he engaged in a challenge match in Honolulu with Thomas Shigeru Miyashiro, who, the year earlier, had trained with Choki Motobu. It appears that Urasaki's arm was injured during the match and his shirt was ripped. This is according to Miyashiro's wife, who witnessed the event. The match must have been somewhat friendly, because Miyashiro gave Urasaki a shirt for his trip back to Hilo. There is speculation that Uraski had come to test the younger Miyashiro and check what he had learned from his old training partner, Motobu.
Urasaki taught a few students at his home in Hilo. One of these was Tomotsu Teruya, of Rainbow Camp in Honomu (about 13 miles from Hilo). Teruya was already a Judo 3rd dan and sensei. His father, an immigrant from Okinawa, was also a Karate expert and had planned to teach his son when he reached the age of 13. Unfortunately, the elder Teruya passed away and Tomotsu was left without a teacher. He visited his father's friend, Mr. Sunabe, who had learned Karate in Okinawa from Chotoku Kyan. Mr. Sunabe referred Teruya to Uraskai, who accepted him as a student. Urasaki never accepted payment from Teruya. Instead, Teruya would bring fruits and food in appreciation.
Teruya learned the Kusanku, Naihanchi and three Pinan kata from Urasaki. It is possible that Urasaki left Okinawa before the 4th and 5th Pinan kata were introduced. Urasaki used to say that it was only necessary to learn one kata well -- that was all a student needed.
Teruya also learned the basics of bojutsu. He said that Urasaki emphasized smoothness, and that some of the movements he taught reminded him of Aikido (or Aikijutsu). Urasaki would often teach throws, vital point striking, and shuto (knife hand) techniques. He also taught self defense teachniques from a seated position.
Another student of Urasaki was Hajime "Jimmy" Uyeki, a fireman and well-known Aikido teacher in Hilo. The Urasaki family at one time had a boarder who also learned Karate. Urasaki apparently did not teach Karate to his sons. However, he did teach his grandson Ronale several kata.
Urasaki was a scholar and had many books in his home. He also was an artist and did many watercolor paintings. Like many Okinawan men of this generation, he enjoyed playing go with his friends.
The Hawaii Karate Seinenkai respectfully salutes Seiichi Urasaki, one Hawaii's senior issei Karate sensei.
The spirit of Karate is the Aloha spirit
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