Chosin Chibana

Chosin Chibana was born in Shuri on June 5, 1886, into a modest family. As a boy, he worked in the fields to help with his family's livelihood. He attended Okinawa Prefectual Grammer School. In 1898, Chibana successfully met the requirements necessary to enter Okinawa Prefectural Daiich Middle School, but left school in mid-course in 1900 to become a student of the widely known authority of Karate, Ankoh Itotsu. Chibana devoted 13 years of his life to the study of Karate under Itotsu Sensei.

During this time, Chibana was a classmate to men like himself, who were to leave their mark on Karate across the world. Students studying under Itotsu Sensei with Chibana were Kenwa Mabuni, Choki Oshiro, and Masashige Shiromo, to just name a few. In 1920, Chibana Sensei opened two dojos, one in Shuri and one in Naha. Shortly before this time, Karate had been introduced to mainland Japan by several of Chibana's classmates, Kenwa Mabuni and Gichin Funakoshi. During this surge of interest in Karate, many Karatemen sought ways of making what they knew more appealing, but Chibana Sensei maintained that it would take him a lifetime to understand thoroughly what he had been taught by Itotsu Sensei. He devoted his life to this principle. He could often be heard sayging, "Karate is teaching Kata we have taken from forefathers without changing it at all." When the many changes were taking place in Karate with the naming of different systems by Ryu names, Chibana Sensei named his system Shorin-Ryu to denote that he was teaching exactly as he had been taught by Itotsu Sensei. While training his students, he also coached students at three universities in mainland Japan; Takushoku University, Tyo University and Nihon University, through explanation of military exercise before the Pacific War.

After the war when Okinawa had recovered from the destitution, Chibana Sensei started to teach again to those students who had not been killed in the war. Many of his top students served and died for the Japanese Imperial Army. Having devoted his life to teaching Karate and never having another vocation, in 1956 at the age of 71, he organized the Okinawa Karate Federation and took offfice as its first president. This was a big step for Chibana Sensei because the Okinawa Karate Federation was made up of main Ryus that had developed in Okinawa. In 1957, because of his efforts to unite Karate on Okinawa and his total dedication to Karate, he was given the degree of "Hanshi no Sogo" (Doctorial Master) by the Dai Nippon Butokukai. This was the highest rank ever given to any Karate insructor and no one has received this rank since. In 1960, he was awarded a special athletic prize by the Okinawa Times.

In 1961, he seceded from the presidency of the Okinawa Karate Federation to devote more time to his disciples. At this time, he organized the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Association made up of his disciples. From this time, although 76 years old, he devoted all his energies to his followers. In February 1969, at the age of 84, Chibana Sensei passed away after a short illness, leaving behind him a life completely devoted to Karate and the almost impossible feat of having trained five of his disciples, Chozo Nakama, Katsuya Miyshira, Kensei Kinjo, Yucho Ku Higa, and Shugoro Nakazato, to the level of Kyudan (9th Degree) Karate Master.