July 13, 2024
Shuri Castle. Photo by Motobu Naoki

From the late Ryukyu Kingdom to the Meiji period (1868–1912), there were karate masters named Ishimine (石嶺) or Ishimine (伊志嶺). Both are pronounced “Ishimine,” but their kanji characters are different.

For example, in Motobu Choki’s My Art and Skill of Karate (1932), there is the following description.

Ishimine from Akahira was also known to possess herculean strength (p. 84).

Ishimine from Samukawa was agile, and his techniques were nimble. Moreover, he was known as a preserver of traditional karate (p. 87).

My Art and Skill of Karate (Ryukyu Bugei – Ancient Martial Arts of the Ryukyu Islands)

The book “My Art and Skill of Karate” presents the technical knowledge and original accounts imparted by famed Okinawa…

According to the above, we can see that there were two Ishimine, one from Akahira, Shuri and the other from Samukawa, Shuri.

In “Okinawa’s Martial Arts (1)” (Ryukyu Shimpo, January 17, 1914), narrated by Asato Ankō and written by Shōtō (Funakoshi Gichin), the name “Ishimine from Gibo” appears in addition to “Ishimine from Akahira.” Gibo is located west of Akahira.

From the above, it is evident that there were three Ishimine.

Ishimine from Akahira
Ishimine from Gibo
Ishimine from Samukawa

In Karatedō Taikan edited by Nakasone Genwa (1938), there is a tale about a match between Ishimine from Akahira and Ishimine from Gibo.

There was a man named Ishimine in Gibo, near Shuri Castle, who trained hard in karate. There was also a man with the same name Ishimine in the town of Akahira, near the castle, who was five or six years older than Gibo Ishimine. One day, Akahira Ishimine said to Gibo Ishimine:

“The rumour is that you practice martial arts, and if that’s true, then you need to practice hard.”

Akahira Ishimine had a high-handed attitude and spoke in a manner that sounded somewhat insulting. At first, Gibo Ishimine listened respectfully as if it were the words of an elder, but he was so badly spoken that he finally couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

“Then, fortunately, I would like to ask you to teach me today to motivate me for the future.”

And he offered a match (p. 270)

When it came time to fight, Ishimine from Akahira never attacked him, only to be attacked by Ishimine from Gibo. However, no matter how many times Ishimine from Gibo tried, before long, he was cornered and defeated. When Ishimine from Akahira heard that Ishimine from Gibo was overconfident in his own skills and got carried away, he deliberately set up the match to make Ishimine from Gibo realize his inexperience.

Then, at that time, Ishimine from Akahira was superior to Ishimine from Gibo in terms of skill. Unfortunately, neither Ishimine from Akahira nor Ishimine from Gibo have been identified today.

The original English translation was posted on the Ameba blog on November 17, 2020.

Thank you for reading my story. If you don’t mind, please applaud and follow me.

Written by Motobu Naoki

Shihan, Motobu Kenpō 7th dan, Motobu Udundī 7th dan. Discusses the history of karate and martial arts, and introduces Japanese culture and history.  https://www.motobu-ryu.org/