Article by Emanuel Giordano 

Two weeks ago I published on the internet a photo taken in 1929. In the center of the image you can see a young Chibana sensei surrounded by some of his students, in front of a door bearing the sign  唐手研究所 Tode Kenkyujo , as reported in the caption accompanying the photograph. But what was Tode Kenkyujo, i.e. the research institute on Tode (Karate)?
According to what was published in an article that appeared in 2007 in the magazine Gekkan Karate-do 月刊空手道, of which you can find an English translation on the website The Chibana Project, Tode Kenkyujo was a club of Karate study, opened in 1929, similar to the others founded starting from 1918, in which the various masters met to teach Karate, of which the most famous was undoubtedly the Ryukyu Tode Kenkyukai. The article, however, does not specify whether only Chibana sensei taught in this place, or whether, like the previous clubs, other masters also participated. Also according to the article, the club was located at the courtyard of Baron Nakijin (formerly Nakijin Udun), in the village of Tori-hori in Shuri (首里鳥堀町). However, the article does not specify whether this was the same place where the Chibana dojo was also located, which had been located in Tori-hori since 1918, as also reported in the aforementioned article, which unfortunately I was unable to find the author's name.
A source closer to Chibana sensei is undoubtedly Ishikawa Seitoku sensei, third president of the Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do Kyokai, who on 8 October 1999 gave a speech on Karate at the Honbu dojo of his school: the Okinawa Ryubukan Shorin-ryu Karate-do. This speech was transcribed in Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-do Kyokai's internal magazine, published in 2014. According to Ishikawa Seitoku, Chibana sensei opened a dojo by renting a place from the Nakijin udun (Baron Nakijin at the time), in a corner of the chinmasa of the city of Tera (Tera-cho 汀良町 / てらちょう). That dojo was called Tode Kenkyujo (唐手研究所), and it was the first Okinawan Karate dojo to have a sign placed at the entrance! The latter is undoubtedly very interesting information from a historical point of view.
However, it is necessary to explain what a chinmasa is, and what the chinmasa of Tera-cho was in particular. Chinmasa (チンマーサー) means "circle of stones", and in fact it is a circle of stones several tens of centimeters high with a tree in the middle. Traveling around Okinawa you can find traces of chinmasa in many villages and parks, where people still gather today to enjoy the shade provided by the plant. Tera-cho's chinmasa, however, was something special. Placed in the center of a square, with a banyan tree in the middle, it was used as a "milestone" that marked the starting point of the road that from Shuri reached the northern villages (Nakagami and Kunigami), known as Kunigamiho Saikaido (国頭方西海道).
To contribute to a research by Andreas Quast I would like to specify that, although it is not specified anywhere, this dojo was also probably located in a courtyard. In fact, in addition to what has already been reported in the 2007 Gekkan Karate-do article, I would like to underline that Chibana sensei himself, on 1 July 1960, in an article published in the Okinawa Times (Award for physical education - merits in dissemination of Karate - Chibana Choshin), said that one of the characteristics of his school is to practice Karate in the open air.
In conclusion, to complete my research, I tried to determine the location of this place. Of course, Okinawa was completely rebuilt after WW2, but maps and drawings still exist, as well as landmarks that allow us to find the location of some places that are now lost. I therefore concentrated on finding the location of Tera-cho's chinmasa (and therefore Chibana sensei's dojo), and fortunately I came across this site where I found precious indications, thanks to which I was able to determine the following position, where a restaurant stands today. Finally, I would like to add that the name of this village was changed to Tera-cho 汀良町 (てらちょう) in 1914, while previously it was known as Teshiraji 汀志良次 (ティシラジ).
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