​​(Front-from right) Chojun Miyagi, Chomo Hanashiro, Kentsu Yabu, Chotoku Kyan(Back-from right) Genwa Nakasone, Choshin Chibana, Choryo Maeshiro, Shinpan Shiroma


On October 25, 1936 at 4:00 p.m. in Naha City, Okinawa, The Okinawan karate masters (Chomo Hanashiro,Kyan Chotoku,Choki Motobu, Chojun Miyagi, Juhatsu Kyoda, Choshin Chibana, Shimpan Gusukuma and Chotei Oroku) came to a meeting organized by Ryukyu Shimpo Newspaper. During this meeting important questions were answered by the masters.

Genwa Nakasone (1895-1978), who was an editor and publisher of books on karate and martial arts, starts the reunion by shedding light on some subjects.  


Nakasone: When karate was first introduced in Tokyo, the capital of Japan, "karate" was written in Kanji (= Chinese character) as "Chinese Hand". This name sounded exotic, and gradually accepted among people in Tokyo. However, some people thought this Kanji "Chinese Hand" was not appropriate at schools. In order to avoid the use of this Kanji, some karate dojos wrote "karate" in Hirakana (= Japanese phonetic letters) instead of Kanji. This is an example of temporary use of the word. In Tokyo, most karate dojos use the Kanji "Empty Hand Way" for karate-do, although there are still a few dojos using the Kanji "Chinese Hand." In order to develop Japanese martial arts, I think Kanji for "karate" should be "Empty Hand" instead of "Chinese Hand" and "Karate-Do" should be the standard name. What do you think?


Chomo Hanashiro: In the old days, we, Okinawan people, used to call it "Toodii" or "Tode", not "Karate." We also called it just "Tii" or "Te." It means fighting with hands and fists.


Shimabukuro: (Director of Okinawa Prefectural Library) Mr. Nakasone, I hear that nowadays people call karate "Karate-Do". Does this mean people added the word "Do" (= literally means the Way) to the name "Karate" to emphasize the importance of spiritual training like Judo and Kendo?


Nakasone: They use the word "Karate-Do" in the meaning of cultivation of the mind.


Choshiki Ota, (President of Ryukyu Shimpo Newspaper ) asked: Mr. Miyagi, do you use the word "Chinese Hand" for karate? 


And Chojun Miyagi answered: “Yes, I use the Kanji "Chinese Hand" as most people do so. It has minor meaning. Those who want to learn karate from me come to my home and say "Please teach me Tii or Te … I think the name "Karate-Do" is better than just "Karate." ... In the meantime, we, members of Okinawa Branch, use the name "Karate-Do" written in Kanji as "The Way of Chinese Hand…”


Then a very important point was made by Ota who said: “There is no one who dislikes the name "Empty Hand" for karate, but there are people who do not like the name "Chinese Hand" for karate.”

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