Yasutsune "Ankoh" Itosu's students was Gusukuma Shinpan
(1890-1954) who was also a peer of Chibana Choshin. Gusukuma, also
called Shinpan Shiroma by the Japanese, is virtually unknown due
to the fact that he was a very quiet individual who was not
interested in spreading the art that he so loved. His only concern
was to teach good karate and hence only had a few dedicated
SHORIN-RYU TRAINING IN
Although a peer of Chibana Choshin, very little is said about the master
technician, Gusukuma Shinpan. He began teaching shortly after WWII and was
close friends with Miyagi Chojun, Kyoda Jyuhatsu and Kyan Chotoku. He taught
regularly at Shuri Castle and had a dojo at his home in Nishihara City. He
was a school teacher by profession but his first love was Shuri-style
his former students was Iha Seikichi (who presently resides in East Lansing,
Michigan) who often talks about his teacher. The following are some thoughts
concerning how it was like to train in the l950's under Gusukuma:
Training under Gusukuma-sensei was very strict and traditional. It was a lot
of self-training where he would watch to see how hard you wanted to learn.
All students would first become an apprentice student and help clean the
dojo for six months to a year. They could watch training but could not take
part in receiving instructions.
Gusukuma-sensei thought that they were ready, he would then tell them to
join in. Sensei never actively taught but would have the senior students do
all the teaching. Sensei would only teach the top two or three students and
then have them pass on the knowledge. This was a very traditional way of
class, sensei would evaluate every student and advise them of their
weaknesses. He would allow each student to demonstrate two kata for him
while he watched. Sensei would then tell them that they needed work on their
stances, or their power, etc. They would then train themselves based on
sensei's evaluation. Sensei would sometimes show a student a technique and
then say, "Ha, I showed you something! You are very lucky I did this! Now go
Gusukuma-sensei would personally teach the top two or three senior students
and it was then their responsibility to pass on the methods to the rest of
the students. One senior would always be there to teach while sensei
observed or trained by himself. Sensei was about 5'1" and weighed about 125
pounds. He was extremely strong and trained his fists and toes on the
makiwara everyday. He believed a karate-man must be able to generate power
equivalent to three times their own body weight with either fist or foot.
Needless to say, the students were constantly repairing the makiwara
student did not train hard, Gusukuma-sensei would tell him that he should
leave and come back when he was ready to train. If the student continued
with this attitude, Gusukuma-sensei would tell him not to come back unless
he was serious about learning and training. Sensei was hardest on students
that did not listen. He had a good memory and would often tell a student to
work on his punch or kick or kata. If the student did not do this then
sensei would bring it to their attention and kick him out of the dojo for
wasting his time by not listening.
GUSUKUMA'S TRIP TO JAPAN
Just before the war and when Gusukuma Shinpan was in his prime he vacationed
in Japan and saw a martial arts demonstration. He watched a group of female
yari (spear) experts who had a dojo by his home in Tokyo. He was so
impressed by their focus that he decided to take lessons in the yari from
the female Sensei.
Gusukuma then went to her dojo and requested lessons. He also stated that he
would only be in Japan for about three months because he was a high school
teacher in Okinawa and that he had to return to teach. The teacher then gave
him a wooden yari and showed him how to perform "nuki" (a spear thrust). He
was then told to practice for about two or three hours.
Gusukuma continued to go to the dojo every day for three months and the only
technique he practiced was the "nuki." Just before he returned to Okinawa,
he asked the Sensei if he was doing well and whether he should practice
other techniques. She replied that he was doing well but that he needed more
practice before he could learn another technique. He then asked her what was
the average time it took to go on to another technique. She replied, "about
end of his stay in Japan, Gusukuma once again approached his Sensei to
advise her he was returning to Okinawa. He thanked her for her time and
stated that he would continue to practice and would be back next year.
then took a long look at the great Gusukuma and said, "I'm glad that you'll
continue to practice. We all need to do this in order to learn the WAY.
Thank you for your efforts and good-bye." She then walked away.
Gusukuma Shinpan often spoke of the eight consideration in kicking and
the four considerations of the punch.
Considerations for kicking:
1. When kicking in kata or kumite, the back must be straight and true so as
to allow you to punch if blocked.
2. The quickest kicks are of the snapping variety.
3. The kata kicks are performed with the toe-tipped foot.
4. The most important kick is that done to the chudan (middle) area.
5. Consider the knee the "hinge" of the kick.
6. The ankle must be strong in kicking as the wrist is strong in punching.
7. The leg is loose and flexible while the toes are tight. Just like a
punch, the arm is loose while the fist is tight.
8. When kicking, kick with both legs.
Considerations for punching:
1. The large knuckle finger and the thumb squeeze the index finger in a good
2. In making a strong fist, the index finger is folded first.
3. Punching is done with a loose arm and tight fist.
4. You strike with the index knuckle first.
from Ernest Estrada, Okinawa Shorinryu Kyoshi