Anko Azato 安里 安恒

Azato

(1827 1906)

Anko Azato held an honourable rank not unlike that of a lower Daimyo in Japanese society. He used the pen name "Rinkakusai". Since his youth Azato had been referred to as the "child prodigy" because he excelled in both the fighting traditions and in literary studies. By the time that the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished, Azato had become a well-known politician holding the post of Minister of State. His counterpart was a man named Mr. Ishado Seiei.

Master Azato was a very close friend of Master Anko Itosu. In fact, both Azato and Itosu were both regarded as brother Bushi and respected as such. Together, Azato and Itosu had diligently studied the martial arts under the strict tutelage of Matsumura Soken. During these times, Azato Sensei was also studying at the National school particularly, in the study of the Chinese classics. Azato was an honour student.

Excelling in various martial arts, Master Azato was particularly fond of horsemanship, which he studied under Megata Sensei, the trainer who groomed the Meiji Emperor himself. Master Azato also loved archery and diligently studied under Master Sekiguchi, and like his teacher (Matsumura Sokon) before him, so did Azato study Jigenryu swordsmanship directly under the noted Japanese instructor Ishuin Yashichiro. However, among all the combative disciplines, it was the swordsmanship of Jigenryu that Sensei Azato most favoured.

Sensei Azato was known to say, "The purpose of martial arts is not just to build a strong and healthy body, but also to educate one's mind and forge the spirit. Martial arts seek to build the body, improve one's character and find inner-harmony. It cannot guarantee it."

Famous students of Anko Azato are Gichin Funakoshi and Masayoshi Hisataka. Azato is said to have passed on a special form of Nijushiho Kata to Shinan Masayoshi Hisataka. This form is said to have been modified by Azato based on his barehanded defeat of the swordsman Yorin Kanna and is the form of Nijushiho

"While Azato believed the hands and feet should be like bladed weapons and that one should avoid all contact of an opponent's strike, Itosu held the idea that the body did not have to be so mobile and should be able to take the hardest of blows. Chosin Chibana (a long time student of Itosu) once said that Itosu indeed have a very powerful punch, but Matsumura had once said to Itosu: 'With your strong punch you can knock anything down, but you can't so much as touch me."

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Updated: Friday, 10 September 2010