Big Island Kobudo
Derek "Ichiro" Shiroma gives Cody Yamaguchi some pointers with the sanshin
June 4, 2014 - Hilo Hongwanji
We encourage our students to study other arts of Okinawa to deepen their multidimensional understanding of Ryukyu Kempo Karate. For example, our first junior black belt, Cody Yamaguchi, has been practicing Kobudo Taiko for six years. He also plays sanshin and has performed shishimai (Okinawan lion dance). Furthermore, he is a very gifted ukulele player.
Taika Oyata practiced other art forms as well, developing his calligraphy skills for decades. When Koubushi Gossett was attending graduate school at the University of Kansas, he studied calligraphy under the Zen master Fukushima Reido Roshi, who was teaching and conducting regular seminars there a few times a year. The study of calligraphy, or any other art, can enhance one's study of the martial arts.
Responding to the need for substantive martial arts training in the world, offering multi-dimensional and in-depth instruction in the ancient Ryukyuan martial arts. Striving to achieve courage, commitment and strengthening of the soul for every individual who recognizes and walks the Ryukyuan martial arts path in life.
The Big Island Kobudo Dojo was established by Shihan Jack Musick at Hilo, Hawai'i in August of 2010 under the direction of Hanshi Bill Gossett and Hanshi Steve Stark. We are a member dojo of the Ryukyu East Asian Martial Arts Coalition. The Ryukyu East Asian Martial Arts Coalition was founded by Hanshi Bill Gossett and Hanshi Steve Stark, in order to preserve and teach Classical Okinawan martial arts as taught by Taika Seiyu Oyata. These arts include Ryukyu Kobujutsu, Karate, Tuite Jitsu, Kyusho Jitsu, and Atemi Jitsu. We encourage the continued cooperation and friendship of the people of Hawaii and Okinawa. We strive to promote, and protect all Classical Okinawan Art forms: dance, music, language, kobudo, karate, etc. It is because of the struggles of our ancestors that we are alive in this blessed time.
The full name of our dojo is ハワイ島古武道空手道場. This can be read as Hawaiʻi Tō Kobudō Karate Dōjō. ハワイ島 means Hawaii island, or The Big Island. 古武道 is read Kōbudō and literally means "ancient warrior ways". In modern times to practice kobudo usually means to practice the weapons of ancient Japan and/or Okinawa. We like to think about "ancient warrior ways" in a broader sense, which we'll discuss further in a moment. 空手 is read karate, and typically means the indigenous martial arts of Okinawa. 道場 is read dojo. 道 can be read do or michi and means path, road or way. 場 is read basho or tokoro and it means place. So a dojo is a place to study the way. The characters for dojo can also be read manda, meaning a place of Buddhist practice or meditation, especially the bodhi tree under which Buddha reached enlightenment. By putting all of these definitions together, you can begin to sense the deeper meaning encoded in Hawaiʻi Tō Kobudō Karate Dōjō. We shorten the name to "Big Island Kobudo" for simplicity's sake. On the island of Hawaii, people often refer to the island simply as "The Big Island" or "Big Island", because it is the largest island of the Hawaiian archipelago. By abbreviating our name to "Big Island Kobudo" we are able to pack a lot of philosophy into a short phrase. We seek to honor, preserve and teach the Ancient Warrior Ways of both Okinawa and the Big Island of Hawaii.
By calling our dojo Big Island Kobudo, we have a responsibility or kuleana to honor the ways of both the Hawaiian and Okinawan warriors and ancestors who came before us. This martial art is of Okinawa, and Okinawan people have been in Hawaii for a long time. Okinawans first arrived in Hawaii in 1900 to work on the sugarcane plantations, and they have never stopped immigrating to Hawaii. Hawaii has a very large population of Okinawan people, mostly second-fourth generation, but with some first generation immigrants as well. The warrior tradition of Okinawa is very different than the traditions of "mainland" Japan.
(if anyone has a suggestion for a better word than "mainland", please contact me. I have been working to remove this word from my personal vocabulary when speaking about Hawaii and the continental United States. To me, Hawai'i is the main land, the land that is of central importance to my life and lifestyle. In my opinion, by referring to North America and/or the United States as "the mainland" we are doing ourselves and our island a disservice.)
The Bushi mindset of ancient Okinawa was different from the Bushi outlook of Ancient Japan. Charles C. Goodin has explained the difference in the article, "Okinawa's Bushi: Karate's Gentleman". We honor the Ancient Japanese warrior ways in our tradition, as well, because Okinawa is now a part of Japan, and one must understand Okinawa to understand Japan, and one should know Japan and Japanese history and culture in order to know Okinawa. But our martial art is of the ancient Ryukyuan Kingdom, and is actually called 琉球拳法 (Ryūkyū Kempō), the Method of the Ryukyuan Fist.
Karate is written in Japanese with two kanji: 空手 The first character is means sky, and can also be read as sora, and the second character means hand. This is then usually interpreted or understood as "empty hand". Taika Oyata did not like this reading. He felt that it could mean that the art is empty or meaningless. He interpreted the characters 空手 to mean "vastness of hand" or "infinite hands". He stressed that the hands of the martial arts practitioner should frequently be used in service of community and family.
The characters for karate were originally spelled 度手 (China Hand). This is because of Okinawa's long relationship with China, and how Okinawan martial arts are deeply related to Chinese martial arts. Over the centuries, many Okinawan masters spent time studying in China. When Okinawan karate was first being introduced into Japan by Funakoshi and others, the character 度 was changed to 空 because of the former's association with China. Japan has had a love/hate relationship with China for centuries, and at that time, the association with China was unfavorable. Thus, to distance the relationship of Okinawan karate to Chinese martial arts, the character was changed. At Big Island Kobudo, we celebrate karate's relationship to both China and Japan.
Meditation and the martial arts have an undeniable link, being two sides of the same metaphorical coin. Meditation helps students to unlock their own infinite potential. Contemplative practice is a key component of our study of ancient Okinawan martial arts.
Students meditating in Jack's karate class at Hui Okinawa's cultural day camp for children
June 7, 2012 - Hilo Hongwanji
These Five Hawaiian values are the guiding principles of our martial arts exploration together
mystical development of our communities that begin with self
responsibilities discovered and shared transform our world
loving land and nature develops life-affirming responsibilities
the return to freedom because we have always been free
joyful appreciation and friendship with land that is lush and nourishing