Choshin Chibana

Chibana Sensei

Choshin Chibana was born in 1885 in Tobora-cho, Shuri. As a boy he did some training in te, and at the age of fifteen he approached Yasutsune Itosu, asking for instruction.

Chibana trained with Itosu for fifteen years until Itosu's death in 1915. In the same year the great master of Naha-Te, Kanryo Higaonna, died ad so in order to preserve and promote the methods of Okinawan karate a group of senior Okinawan karate teachers formed the Karate Kenukai in 1918. The group included Gichin Funakoshi, Chojo Oshiro, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Chojun Miyagi, Kenwa Mabuni, Go Ken Ki (Chinese master of White Crane Boxing), Kentsu Yabu, Chuhatsu Kyoda, and Moden Yabiku.

The group lasted until 1930 when it ceased to exist as the members were involved with their own group of students. Chibana opened his first dojo in Shuri in 1929, later opening a second dojo in Naha. In 1933 he named his style Shorin Ryu.

Katsmi Murakami reports that Chibana risked his life many times during the battle of Okinawa, but unfortunately no details of his adventures are available.

During the Second World War, Chibana worked for a sugar cane refining company, and was supervisor for a group of workers as he knew how to motivate people to work hard. After the war, Chibana and a group of southern-Okinawans were rounded up by the US and put in a camp in the city of Chinin. The other major camps were located in the Koza area and in the Kin area. While in Chinin, Chibana once again worked in the fields harvesting sugar cane, when he was 61 years old Chibana gathered some of his old Karate students and put on the first karate demonstration after World War II. He gathered a group of students and once more, began to teach.

In May 1956 he became president of the newly founded Okinawan karate-do Association. Between 1956-1958 he was karate instructor to the Shuri Police. In 1960, Chibana was the recipient of the Physical Culture Distinguished Services Award bestowed by the Okinawa Times for his contribution to karate. In 1968 he was awarded the Kunyonto Order of the Sacred Treasure by Emperor Hirohito. He was active head of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do until his death at the age of 85.