Shinpan (Shiroma) Gusukuma per Sensei Nakasone

Hirakazu (Koichi) Nakasone, 9th Dan, Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu, Sensei Iha’s student, explains that Gusukuma Sensei was a high school teacher and that teachers were given a special honorific title. Gusukuma Sensei was a very intelligent person who understood a lot of bunkai (applications). Nakasone Sensei once asked Iha Sensei why Gusukuma Sensei knew so much about bunkai and Iha answered that Gusukuma was a very small man – 1.5 meters high (approx. 4′ 11″) – so he needed technique! He also studied Goju Ryu, Kempo/Kenpo (Japanese term derived from Chinese quánfǎ), Naginata (bladed pole weapon), so given all that, his way of thinking was broader. Kata, application, the use of “Hin-di” (hand changing technique during an attack as a response to defense), being able to adapt to changing situations and attacks in an intelligent way, “Dinki Ohen” (your responsibility to self-adjust spacing) – are some of the skills, strategy needed to be ready to take on anyone using the principles of karate. He was revered by masters of the day such as Yabu Kentsu and Motubu Choki and was known to help resolve arguments between them on technique.

He was also known for being detailed in his study of kata. He was featured in an encyclopedia of karate with many prominent sensei of the post-war period. (Referring to: “Karatedo Taikan – A Broad View of Karatedo.” Chief Editor: Karate Researcher Genwa Nakasone. Authors: Genwa Nakasone, Hironori Ohtsuka, Gichin Funakoshi, Chomo Hanashiro, Shinpan Shiroma, Choshin Chibana, Chojun Miyagi, Shinken Taira. Originally published May 5, 1938.) He studied kata for technique with a modest attitude — no need to show off. Nakasone Sensei explains that people in Okinawa who show off their karate tend to be challenged (to prove themselves). People who really practice can drop someone with one strike and so there is no need to show off or strut. They also have the mindset that if you hurt someone else, it will also hurt you.

Nakasone Sensei goes on to explain the idea of striking true to the centerline (pointing to vital organs in the centerline of the body) – not striking for “points” (as in sports karate). He says that one can develop the feeling of striking to the center by hitting a makiwara blindfolded. You develop an awareness of where your target is. Practice helps with the feeling of distancing also (“maai”). Then you can build on that. Then you have the skills to take on anybody of any size. Also, use natural motion without posturing and stay relaxed. Don’t force breathing, or reveal the rhythm of your breathing — just breathe naturally without any thought to it. If you show your breath timing to your opponent, you show the point when you are weak. These are some of the things Gusukuma Sensei thought about. Because he was a school teacher, he had more time and income that allowed him to study karate more deeply.

Gusukuma Shinpan died suddenly at 64 years old (possibly related to a head injury he had sustained during WWII).

copied from the Ihadojo Google Classroom.

Thanks for Reading!

Robert Roberto Curtis

8th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu

Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., Alexandria, VA 22310