While Karate was primarily organized in Shuri and Naha, Tomari originally had little direct influence. This is because, at that time, Tomari was inhabited by a simple people; it was a working class city of fishermen. Tomari had its share of notable masters, however, with Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898), Kokan Oyadomari (1827-1905) and Gikei Yamazato (1835-1905) the most notable. They studied under Annan, as well as Ason, a Chinese sergeant.
Tomari was located near Shuri, and therefore its fighting arts developed partly under its influence. Some of the Chinese masters who taught Tomari villagers, however, did not reach Shuri. Some of these teachings did later influence Shuri-te, nonetheless, as exchanges eventually took place. Many of the kata became part of both Shuri-te and Tomari-te. Some of the kata unique to Tomari-te, however, are Wansu, Rohai, and Wankan. It is widely believed that Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945) brought the kata Ananku from Taiwan in 1895. It is said, sadly, there are other kata that have been lost over time.
It is also said in Okinawan tradition that a pirate or sailor (named Chinto, or Annan, depending on the source), was a castaway from a shipwreck on the coast. He took refuge in the graveyard of the mountains of Tomari, and later lived in a cave. Reportedly, Sokon Matsumura formulated the kata Chinto (also known as Gankaku) from the sailor’s White Crane Kung Fu teachings. Chinto kata, of which there are more than half a dozen versions, was adopted into shuri-te. The Tomari-te chinto kata as a Chinese flair, in contrast with the simpler looking shuri-te version. Chinto kata uses straight lines of movement, and is executed with power. A one legged stance occurs many times, bearing the image of a crane poised to strike its prey. The flying kicks of this kata differentiates it from others.
Matsumora and Oyadomari apprenticed under local masters Kishin Teruya (1804-1864) and Giko Uku (1800-1850). They learned from Teruya the kata Passai, Rohai, and Wanshu, and from Uku, the kata Naifanchi. Matsumora was also versed in the jo-jutsu (short staff technique) of Jigen ryu. It is often said in Okinawan sources that Matsumora is Annan’s successor. Yamazato followed Matsumora and Oyadomari, who were close friends. Both masters encouraged their students to exchange techniques and kata, furthering the development of Tomari-te. Tomari-te became a light form of fighting, with plenty of feints.
The kata Seishan is named after a well known Chinese martial artist who lived in or near Shuri circa 1700. He was associated with Takahara Perchin, a map-maker who was the first to teach Tode Sakugawa. The kata is said to be the oldest still in use, and translates to “13” or “30”. The naha-te Seisan has a Chinese flair, while the shuri-te version evolved in its own way. The movements are repeated in sets of three, and has pivots and turning of the head. Toward the middle of seishan, there is a set of three double blocks that may be used as blocks to the side; it may be seen as a spear thrust to the eyes, or as an arm grab. The foot movements in seishan kata may be used to enter the opponent’s legs, and break his or her balance. Hangetsu, the Japanese name for Seisan, translates to half-moon. This is taken from the stances & footwork, as well as the hand movements, which use circular paths. As with many other forms, the kata’s movements differ slightly between styles.
Throughout this period, tode-jutsu was taught primarily for health, philosophy and self defense. In this way, the Chinese tradition was continued. Tou-di, the karate of old, was not meant for the competition seen in modern karate. In fact, there were no public classes, as practicing fighting was forbidden as a way to promote public order. The to-de masters chose their students with caution because they were liable for problems that could arise (and frequently did) from their students’ actions. Tode-jutsu had also become a part of the imperial guards’ training. As a result of Okinawa’s annexation to Japan, however, there was a huge unemployment boom, and poverty spread heavily. Because of this, a number of chikundun peichin (those who upheld public order in the Ryukyu kingdom) started teaching tode-jutsu for money.
In the Satsuma occupation’s later years, Japan began major changes as a result of the Meiji restoration. Cultural reforms led to the abolition of the feudal system, the abasement of the samurai class, and development of democracy. However, democracy was never fully implemented, nor were all the ideas of the samurai code and the feudal system totally abandoned. Japan did not want to totally lose its strong identity to (primarily Western) foreign influences. Part of this identity was the bugei (martial arts), which assisted in the shaping of modern Japan.
The budo (martial ways), as they came to be called, were more than simply a cultural recreation. The ruling elite used the spread of budo to further instill moral virtues, the values of bushido (way of the warrior), and “Japaneseness” in the Japanese public. In this Pre-World War II age full of increasing militarism, Japan needed needed strong, able men who were willing to fight to the death. Japan also hoped that young men of good health and mind would be more productive citizens.
As a result, many budo were introduced to the school system. Some of these classical budo included Aikido (The Way of Spiritual Harmony), Jiu Jitsu (unarmed self defense art often focused on grappling), and Kendo (Way of the Sword), derived from the samurai fighting traditions. Also, Judo (“Gentle Art”) was developed from jiu jitsu in the later part of the 19th century.
Itosu Anko led a group of Okinawan karate-jutsu experts in a campaign to introduce the art to the Okinawan school system as a form of exercise. Many of the dangerous applications were not practiced in the school system, transforming karate from a hidden art of self defense into a unique recreation.
Karate was introduced in this form to the Japanese mainland in 1917. The Japanese martial arts association (“Dai Nippon Butokukai”) was interested enough in karate to invite the art’s best practitioner. Their intent was to compare karate-jutsu to Japanese jiu jitsu in matches of skill.
Gichin Funakoshi was an Okinawan native who taught at the school “Shoto Gakko”, which prepared Okinawans for Japanese civil service. His life’s passion, however, was karate. Because of the respect he commanded from Japanese gentlemen, and his skill in karate, he was selected to represent Okinawa’s martial art.
He defeated every opponent he faced at the demonstration, and won great respect. Because of this and his love of Japanese culture, he stayed on the mainland to further propagate karate. As a result of the first and further exhibitions, he gained many followers and ultimately began teaching out of a Kendo dojo.
At first, there were cultural barriers and traditions that slowed the progress of karate across the mainland. As a result of Funakoshi’s excellence in teaching, however, he broke through the prejudices against karate. Eventually, he was able to open his own dojo, which was the first formalized karate dojo. Also during this time, karate as a whole came to be formalized and “Japanized” (although divisions among separate karate styles have not, to this day, been resolved – primarily due to pride and organizational politics).
Such formalization included acceptance of the kyu/dan (class/grade) system as devised by Jigoro Kano (founder of judo). Also, it became important that all teachers were qualified and knowledgeable. Finally, it was necessary to institute a standard curriculum, uniform, and competitive format.
Nationalism and anti-Chinese sentiment made the karate-jutsu movement consider a more appropriate ideogram to represent their art. The original “kara” ideogram of karate meant China, as did the “tou” of toudi (Chinese hand, and a reference to the Tang dynasty). The replacement ideogram means “empty”, and takes on not just a physical but a spiritual meaning. “Kara” may represent the “void”, and freedom from worldly desire.
Also changed was the suffix for karate. Instead of jutsu (art/science), do (way/path/totality, pronounced “dao” in Mandarin) came to be used. In this sense, as a result of the efforts of such masters as Itosu, karate-do joined kendo, jiu jitsu, aikido, and judo as a modern budo, in which not only combat is practiced, but also a cultural discipline for the pursuit of harmony.