Hanashiro Chomo | Okinawan Syuri-ti Karate

Introducing the karate of Hanashiro Chomo

Formerly a student of Matsumura Sokon, Hanashiro continued his training under Itosu Anko upon the later’s death. Throughout his life Hanashiro played an active role in the introduction of karate through the prefectural education system and continued the teachings of Itosu-type kata into schools. Despite his respected position among the pre-war bujin community, and active promotion of karate on Okinawa, Hanashiro’s karate has remained relatively unknown.

In 1938 Nakasone Genwa published Karate-Do Taikan, a text documenting various types of karate active on the island at the time. Within it a section relates to Hanashiro’s karate, including photographs  of handwritten documents from his personal collection and an instructional account of Jion kata.

Of the handwritten documents, two pages relate to a text penned by Hanashiro titled ‘Karate Kumite’ (published in 1905) and the others a letter from Matsumura Sokon and Itosu Anko’s ten point recommendation of karate into the physical education of Prefectural schools.

‘Karate Kumite’ represents the first recorded use of the term karate written with the kanji for ‘empty hand’ and appears to have been part of a textbook on the instruction of karate into the First Shuri Middle School.

Although other documents exist relating to Hanashiro Chomo’s activities within the bujin community, such as minutes from the 1936 Karate Symposium meetings and a number of photographs celebrating their work with forming of twelve kihon-gata, the segment of Nakasone’s Karate Taikan is all that has surfaced in relation to Hanashiro’s approach to karate.

It is known that he was one of the early teachers of Itosu’s school program and that for this reason Hanashiro Karate is likely a style of significant interest to karate enthusiasts seeking to explore the earliest versions of Shorin-ryu based kata.

Future posts will be taking a closer look at the techniques, training practices and principles of Hanashiro karate as well as insights into the various kata that make up the style


For anyone interested in Hanashiro Chomo karate a Facebook Group can be found here.