PERSEVERANCE MAKES ONE STRONGER

In May 1922, Funakoshi Gichin introduced Ryūkyū karate at the “1st Athletic Exhibition” sponsored by the Ministry of Education. After that, a public demonstration was also held at the Jūdō headquarters, the Kōdōkan. At that time, Gima Shinkin  (1896-1989) also known as Gima Makoto served as an assistant to Funakoshi sensei. 

Mr. Gima graduated from Okinawa Prefectural Normal School where he learned karate from masters Itosu Ankō and Yabu Kentsū. Later, he went on to Tōkyō College of Commerce (now Hitotsubashi University). Following the demonstrations, he strived to popularize karate. His teachings have been inherited as Gima-ha Shōtōkan-ryū Karate-Do. 

“Perseverance makes one stronger”

Gima, Shinkin (JKF Adviser, 81 years old)

I was born in Shuri Kinjō-chō, Okinawa. The place resembled a valley bottom, and anywhere one would go, there were steep zigzagging stone paved slopes. When I was young, I climbed them up and down with bare feet, so my legs became strong. In addition, because I was from an extremely poor family, we lived a frugal life. When it was time to move to a higher education, we couldn’t afford school expenses so I had to work part-time among others. Furthermore, as I had a weak body as I was born from a 57 years old father and a 46 years old mother, I devoted myself to karate and seiza sitting from the age of fifteen in the sake of health first. I also read Smiles’ Saikoku Risshi Den (1) and self-improvement books. Upon such reading, I was highly inspired as it seems that great men also had gone through hardships.

Next, at the request of the Karate Shimbun, I would like to say a few words about karate from my poor experience for my promising juniors.

“A correct fist starts with a correct heart”. Originally, the purpose of karate is to train the mind and body. In other words, through karatedō one tries to achieve personality completion. In this sense, in the old days in Okinawa, karate masters were called Bushi. They were men of character, namely, true gentlemen.

Well, by improving his/her skills, one can reach a certain level, but in the mental aspect, there is no ending point in life. By training hard constantly, it resembles Zen practice hence the saying Ken Zen Ichi” or the fist and Zen are one.

In addition, although one should train rigorously (2), the meaning of the Japanese kanji ‘Keiko’ is to observe ancient times; ‘Kei’ means to observe while ‘Ko’ means ancient times. Therefore, following the precept “Onko Chishin” – to develop new ideas based on study of the past, one should learn (to learn is to copy), and practice by repetition the kata that were devised with great pain and time by past grand masters. Based on this, one should develop naturally. And then, rather than being a three-day priest, one should make efforts over efforts, and continue for a lifetime as the proverb “Perseverance makes one stronger” says.

Old soldiers fade away. I write these words with the hope that young people who have a promising future will spring over seniors and go forward eagerly. Finally, my dear gentlemen, a poor poem of mine.

“Let man be the mirror (model) of many people

 Young people, polish the spirit of karate”.

And I will lay down my pen.

Published in the Karate Shinbun Issue 98

Tenbōsha column

Publisher: Karate Shinbun Corporation

Date: August 20, 1977

Notes:  

(1) Refers to Samuel Smiles’ book “Self-Help” published in 1859.

(2) In Japanese, “Yoku keiko seyo”