Volume XX  N1           IKKF Newsletter              Spring 2003


     One early event in the history of karate has only recently come to light.  It involved the Kojushiku (Kogusuku) family of Kumemura.  The Kogushiku (originally "Sai" or "Cai" in Chinese, but known as the Kojo [or Kashiro in modern Japanese] ) have always been respected as one of Okinawa's premier martial families.  According to family records (kept secret until after World War II),  Kogushiku Shinpo was sent to China in 1665 by his father.  Shinpo, later known as Kogushiku Oyakata, is supposed to have studied martial arts at the court of the Chinese emperor Kang-hsi.  Kojo tradition has it that emperor Kang-hsi officially granted Kojo Shinpo permission to teach martial arts.  After returning to Okinawa, it is said that Shinpo taught these "fighting techniques" only to his family. This indicates that the practice of  te was not as widespread at that time as it would become by the next century.  Even after Kojo Shinpo, little is known of his art for apparently two generations.
     Kojo Kaho was a descendant of  Kojo Shinpo.  He was trustee of a family tradition in the Kume village area.  The story of this amazing martial arts family is seldom told and not widely known.  While records of these past events are scanty and incomplete, the modern Kojo have been able to piece together a record of their family's illustrious past.  Though much was destroyed in World War II, what we are left with still captures a powerful martial legacy. 
     The Kojo family martial art was first formalized by Kojo Peichin (Lord Kojo).  Kojo Peichin was known as "Seijin Tanme", or "Warrior Saint", and was an earlier descendant of Kojo Shinpo.  Kojo Peichin combined Kojo "
Kumiuchi" or "fighting techniques", a term somewhat similar to kenpo, with Chinese Tode and formally created the "Kojo-ryu Bujutsu" (Kojo-style martial art).  Kojo Peichin was a well known martial artist in his day, but much of his Kojo-ryu was supposedly restricted to family members. He was one of Shuri Castle's chief guards, which was evidently a known Kojo family tradition.
     What is formally known as the Second Generation Kojo-ryu, is representated by Kojo Sai Shoei (1816-1906).  He was an expert in weapons.  In fact Sai Shoei was not even interested in
tode until later in his life.  He was a master of such applied martial arts as Tsue-jutsu (the walking cane), Tanto-jutsu (knife), and Bo (long staff).  He was the originator of Kojo-ryu Bojutsu.  Sai Shoei later developed excellent tode skills and was known as very adept in a Jujutsu-like art that included falling, rolling and throwing techniques.
     Sai Shoei's son, Kojo Ise (1832-1891), followed in his

father's footsteps as a martial artist.  At age 16, Ise accompanied his father to China where they studied under Iwah.  In China, Ise studied  both Confucianism and martial arts.  He became skillful with the Chinese spear and an expert in archery.  Kojo Ise did not return to Okinawa until he was thirty six years old.  He is remembered as a
meijin, or master.
     The next, or Fourth Generation, brings us to Kojo Kaho.  It seems that Kaho left Okinawa with Iwah and eventually established a martial arts school in China in 1874.  The Kojo Fuzhou Dojo became a center for many Okinawans passing through Fuzhou.  It was also known as the "
Cai" dojo, after the Chinese pronunciation of Kojo.  Its founder, Kojo Kaho, was one of the few people from Okinawa ever to become a teacher to the Chinese.  Probably the most famous of the Kojos, Kaho was also a translator for the Ryukyuan government and an expert calligrapher.
     Up to this time, the Kojo family martial art was handed down from one family member to the next.  It was supposedly not taught to others outside the family.  However, to consider the Kojo as isolated would be inaccurate.  Within the martial arts community, they were well known.  Some people must have been exposed to their teachings as they interacted with others on the island.  Eventually the Kojo-ryu would be opened officially to others.
     The family art of Kojo-ryu may represent old "Uchinandi", or Okinawa-te, in unadulterated form.  It is an indigenous method of karate, related culturally to all the other so-called "modern styles".  While the Kojo-ryu's unique kata emulate postures taken from various real and mythological animals, the basic techniques are recognizable as ballistic, power karate.  This should not be surprising, since the Kojo learned from the same Chinese sources as many other Okinawans.  The stances and fundamentals are not so very different from other styles. 
     Kojo-ryu uses three "white animal" kata: 
Hakutsuru (white crane),  Hakuryu (white dragon), and Hako (white tiger).  The other three kata:  Ten no Kata (heaven), Ku no Kata or Sora no Kata (sky), and Chi no Kata (earth) incorporate postures (kamae) inspired by the animals and positions of the Chinese zodiac.  According to Yakaya Takaya, a modern Shorin-ryu and White Crane teacher on Okinawa who studied in the Kojo school in the 1960's, the six kata were actually listed in the Kojo syllabus as :  Hakutsuru-ken, Hakuryu-ken, Hako-ken, Tenkan-ken, Kukan-ken and Chikan-ken.
from Unante  by John Sells


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