Article by Emanuel Giordano

Although this year the ceremonies will take place on the 24th (in order to make the day coincide with Sunday), October 25th is Karate no hi (空手の日), that is the day of Karate. Not everyone knows, however, why this date was chosen to celebrate our martial art! Well, this day is so special because, on 25 october 1936, the first official meeting of the masters of the various schools and styles of Okinawan Traditional Karate was held. The meeting, which was held at 4:00 pm at the Showa Kaikan in Naha (Okinawa), was sponsored by Ryukyu Shinposha, the publishing company of the Ryukyu Shinpo newspaper, and organized by Nakasone Genwa (a student of Toyama Kanken at the time). This event was the starting point for the worldwide spread of our martial art, the Okinawan Traditional Karate, "parent" of the much better known Japanese Karate, as well as (in part) of Tang soo do and Taekwon do.
Among the authorities participating in the event we can mention the Deputy Commander Fukushima Kitsuma (Military Region Headquarters), Section Chief Kita Eizo (Prefectural Police Department), Sato Koichi (Head of Educational Affairs Department), Shimabukuro Zenpatchi (Chief Librarian of the prefecture ), Goeku Chosho (chief of the prefectural department for peace), Furukawa Gisaburo (director of the prefectural committee for physical education), Ota Chofu (president of Ryukyu Shinposha), Matayoshi Yasukazu (chief editor) and Yamaguchi Zensoku (editor of the newspaper ). Also present were a reporter named Tamaki, as well as a certain Oroku Chotei.
In addition to the above, were obviously present the masters: Hanashiro Chomo, Yabu Kentsu, Miyagi Chojun, Chibana Choshin, Kyan Chotoku, Motobu Choki, Kyoda Juhatsu and Gusukuma Shinpan.
This meeting was aimed at adapting the practice of Okinawan Karate to the wide resonance it was having in "mainland" Japan. The details of that meeting were handed down in a section of the book "Karate-do Taihokan" (Kanken Toyama, 1961) and reveal the topics of discussion, the decisions taken and the opinions of the various Masters.
-The name: in Okinawa the martial art was known by various names, including 唐手 Tode / Karate (Chinese hand / technique), while in "mainland" Japan they used the term 空手 Karate (empty hand ), to indicate the peculiarity of the art. All those present, roughly speaking, agree on the change of name to favor the progress of the martial art, and to avoid any future disclaimers on the Okinawan origins of Karate. They also decided to submit the change for approval by the Dai Nippon Butokukai.
-Unification of styles: the adoption of common elements such as a uniform for practice (the karategi), the use of Japanese terminology and a graduation system was discussed. As for the actual practice, the group considered creating new kata and introducing competitions. Regarding kata, Miyagi sensei suggested preserving the classic kata, and creating "introductory" kata. The group also talked about bringing together the various associations and groups in a promotion association, the Shinkokai.
-It was decided to ask the authorities for the official introduction of Karate in elementary and middle schools of Okinawa Prefecture.
As we all know, Karate has continued to grow and spread, and although a part of it has lost contact with its roots, another part is still firmly attached to it, and works to preserve and spread the originals teachings and principles of the old martial art!
I conclude by wishing everyone a good Karate no hi!
  • "Shorin-ryu Karate: kata 2" (here)
  • "Shorin-ryu Karate: kata" (here)
  • "Shorin-ryu Karate: The legacy of the bodyguards of the king of Okinawa" (here)
  • "The legend of the masters of Okinawan Karate: Biographies, curiosities and mysteries"  (here)