MODEN, Yabiku


Yabiku Moden was born in Shuri and was the eldest son of four children. His father, Yabiku Mayo, was a strict but fair man who demanded much from his children. Because he was such a frail and skinny boy in his youth, Moden was nicknamed “scarecrow” and was often teased and bullied by other children. Like many of his contemporaries, Moden resolved to make his body and mind strong and as a result began the study of karatedo under Itosu Sensei and Ryukyu kobudo under various teachers including Tawata, Pechin Sensei and Chinen, Sanda Sensei (Nakamoto, 1983; Alexander, 1991; Bishop, 1996)

After graduating from the Okinawa Prefectural teachers College, he taught at Bito elementary school. Already by this time he had excelled in his karatedo and kobudo training. It was also during this time that he began to teach karatedo and kobudo formally to the local people of Bito. Around 1911, after moving to the Japanese mainland in search for better work, Yabiku founded the Ryukyu Kobujutsu Kenkyu Kai (Ryukyu Kobujutsu Research Association) in order to promote and popularize kobudo throughout Japan (Nakamoto, 1983; Bishop, 1996). Besides his talent in karatedo and kobudo, Yabiku was known as a master story teller and would enthral his students with stories of the old Okinawan Bushi of a by-gone era (Nakamoto,1983).

In his daily life it was said that Yabiku was constantly challenging himself through the study of Budo by always trying to overcome his physical and mental limitations. He is known, for example, to have worn iron geta (clogs) from morning to night in order to strengthen his legs and hips ( Nakamoto, 1983). To strengthen his arms and hands, he would grasp the frame of the ceiling of his home and travel around its perimeter using only his arms (Nakamoto, 1983). On a personal level, Yabiku was said to have been a deeply religious man who did not drink alcohol or smoke and was never heard to say a bad word against anyone (Nakamoto, 1983). Yabiku died on June 23, 1941 at the age of 63.