was born in the village of Kume Mura. He became a
translator for the Chinese and translated the Okinawan
language. He became know as the Cat or Maya and was
known for his jumps that were soft as a cat.
Aragaki had several nicknames, including Aragaki
Maya (Aragaki the cat), which is his most common
name in Okinawa, even today. He was also known by
the name Aragaki Kamadeunchu ("kama-de"
means "sickle hands" and "unchu"
was the name of a kata he was famous for, sometimes
called Unsu or Unshu today).
Aragaki held the title of "Chikudon Peichin",
a title conferred upon commoners who were officials
of the royal court in Okinawa, similar to a Samurai
rank in Japan. He was fluent in Chinese and acted
as an interpreter for the court. He was even petitioned
to travel to China for his interpretive duties;
there is a record of him being petitioned to go
to Beijing in September of 1870. This interrupted
his instruction of a young Higaonna Kanryo, himself
becoming very famous for Tote instruction some years
It is well known that Aragaki was highly sought
after for Tote instruction near the end of his life,
and was definitely one of the primary Tote instructors
of the 19th century. Some of his other students
included Master Higaonna Kanryo (mentioned above
and teacher to Master Miyagi Chojun, the Goju-Ryu
founder), Master Funakoshi Gichin (Shotokan founder),
Master Mabuni Kenwa (Shito-Ryu founder) and Master
Uechi Kanbum (Uechi-Ryu founder). These renowned
karateka sought Aragaki for training, though none
of them regarded him as their primary teacher.
Aragaki's Tote was developed from teachings of
Chinese martial arts masters. It's unknown exactly
what school of gungfu he trained in, but historians
generally say that he probably trained and taught
Monk Fist gungfu (Arhat Boxing). The only Chinese
master mentioned in association with Aragaki is
someone by the name of Wai Xinxian (or Wai Shinzan),
a famous gungfu master in Fuzhou, a city in Fukien
province, China, although there were probably others.
Not only was he a renowned Tote expert, but Aragaki
was also a superb weapons master, leaving behind
several Bo and sai kata including Aragaki-no-kun,
Aragaki-no-sai and Sesoku-no-kun, which has about
200 techniques, used against the sword. Aragaki's
weapons katas are thought to be long and beautiful.
Aragaki has many family members still practicing
karate in Okinawa today, but his descendants are
primarily associated with Goju-Ryu, a style with
roots similar to Aragaki's Tote. Despite his fame
as a Tote master, and his many descendants, Aragaki
left no style behind. All that remains of this famous
master's legacy are techniques and kata scattered
throughout a number of modern karate and kobujutsu
Very little documentation about Tote has been preserved
from the 19th century, but there is one written
record (a program schedule) of Aragaki Seisho performing
weapons and Tote demonstrations for a Chinese ambassador
to Okinawa in Shuri City (Okinawan Capital) on March
24th, 1867. Aragaki demonstrated weapons, pre-arranged
sparring and the kata Seisan. This says a lot for
Aragaki's stature as a Tote master, as this was
an age of Tote giants. Itosu Anko, Azato Anko and
the most famous Tote master of all time, "Bushi"
Matsumura were all active and very well known, yet,
for whatever reasons, it was Aragaki Seisho performing
a Tote demonstration for an important foreign guest.