Karate 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art

15one of the most comprehensive, and demystifying studies on the enigmatic parameters of primordial Karate, this work intrigues readers with rich detail and insights into this ancient combat traditions, the pride of Okinawa.

KARATE 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art. Düsseldorf 2013, by Andreas Quast.

cover (4)

Karate 1.0 front cover

  • Pages: xxvii, 502 pp.
  • Language: English.
  • Hardcover binding in green linen material with gold foil stamping, size 8.25″ x 10.75″ (20.95cm x 27.31cm).
  • Full-color dust jacket in matte finish.
  • Inside: black and white printing on cream archival paper (60# weight). White exterior paper (80# weight).
  • Forewords by Patrick McCarthy, Miguel Da Luz, Cezar Borkowski, Jesse Enkamp, Dr. Julian Braun, Soke Leif Hermansson, and Dr. phil. Heiko Bittmann.
  • All copies ship from the United States.
  • Price: $75.00.

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Fritz Nöpel – Pioneer of European Goju-ryu

Fritz Nöpel (* November , 1935 in Breslau) is a German Karateka and the pioneer of Gōjū-ryū-Karate in Germany. He is the recipient of the 9th Dan and the honorary title of Hanshi from Japan as well as the German Karate Association.


Fritz Nöpel explains various Karate-related topics during a seminar in March 2015 in Ochtrup. Photo: Yuishinkan Dojo Ochtrup.

Fritz Nöpel explains various Karate-related topics during a seminar in March 2015 in Ochtrup. Photo: Yuishinkan Dojo Ochtrup.

In 1954, following his apprenticeship as a miner, Fritz Nöpel startet a bicycle trip from Dortmung, Germany, through all Europe, the Middle East and all through Asia. His aim was to visit the Summer Olympic Games 1956 in Melbourne, Australia. In Java he first came into contact with Karate. The first intense karate lessons he took in Taiwan. After a first visit to Japan in the winter of 1957-58, he graduated as a deep sea diver in the United States and subsequently worked as a professional diver in Japan. There he began to learn Gōjū-ryū as one of the few students in the Yuishinkan, the dōjō of Kisaki Tomoharu in Ōsaka. In 1961 he married Eiko Nakabayashi in Ōsaka. With his wife Eiko and daughter Jaqueline he returned to Germany in 1967, where he worked for the German Federal Railroad as a surveyor until his retirement in 1996. Since 1982 he lives in Kamen. Together with his wife Eiko he has five children.


In 1967, Fritz Nöpel – then owner of the 4th Dan – established a Gōjū-ryū-Karate-department within the Police Sports Club Dortmund. This was the first Gōjū-ryū-Karate-dōjō in Germany. Shortly after his relocation to Kamen 1978 he founded the Karate-Dō Club Kamen, which to this day is the Honbu dōjō of the Yuishinkan in Europe. 1999 Fritz Nöpel was awarded the 8th Dan and the honorary title of Hanshi. In 2007 the German Karate Federation (DKV) awarded him the 9th Dan. Fritz Nöpel is Honorary Chairman of  Gōjū-ryū Karate Federation of Germany as well as of the European Gōjū-ryū Karate-dō Federation. He was also instrumental in the development of the the German Karate Federation (DKV).


Yuishinkan (唯心舘, Hall of the Brave (sincere) heart) is the name of a dōjō in Osaka, Japan, and an undercurrent of the Gōjū-ryū karate-style with the greatest circulation in Germany and Mexico.

Yuishinkan was founded in 1953 by Kisaki Tomoharu. Fritz Nöpel began his practive in 1958 as one of the few students to learn Gōjū-ryū Karate at the Yuishinkan. The Yuishinkan was known for its hard and heavy stamina training and has some special features, such as the close-combat Kumite-ura (in which the attacker wins) and the Nage-waza (throws, foot sweep and levers), both introduced by Kisaki. The Yuishinkan also has its own dōjōkun and even a song, the Yuishinkan no Ka, in the text of which devotion to practice at the dōjō is expressed. After Kisakis passing in 1996, Nagoya Shigeru and and Nakayama Norichika took the lead.


The logo of the Yuishinkan is a stylized dragon. It is also in accordance with the family emblem (mon) of an old noble family of Ryūkyū (Okinawa). The symbol is known all over Germany.


Kisaki Tomoharu set five rules as the dōjōkun.

  1. Practice with proper manners and etiquette!
  2. Practice tirelessly!
  3. Do not exaggerate!
  4. Practice without pride!
  5. Form body and mind!

International Exchange

Ralf Budde (l) and Fritz Nöpel, Sepai no Kenkyu, in Witten 2010.

Ralf Budde (l) and Fritz Nöpel, Sepai no Kenkyu, in Witten 2010.

Every two years the International  Gōjū-ryū Karate-dō Yuishinkan Kata seminar is held in Japan. Every other year the International Summer Course takes place in Kamen, Germany, with hundreds of people attending so that the number of attendees had tob e limited to 500 some years ago.

In 1997, Fritz Nöpel and his son in law succesfully participated in the 1st World Karate Kobudo Tournament in Okinawa, with Christian placing 2nd in the open class full contact category (there was no winner by points, both went down, and after extra time with no result it was a referee decision).

An old time student of Fritz Nöpel went to Japan with the Transsiberian Railroad, and subsequently entered Okinawa, where he became the owner of various jewelry store on Kokusai-doori. I was told by credible sources he was termed the King of Okinawa.

Another recent exchange took place by a friend from Ochtrup, a Karateka I know since young age. After having received a stipend for university studies in Japan, he chose to go to Okinawa – against the wish of his teachers. There he trained extensively with Hokama Tetsuhiro Sensei and at the Jundokan. He returned and now continues to practice in the Yuishinkan Dojo Ochtrup. His sensei in turn, the late Uli Schlee, a police officer at the State Office of Criminal Investigation, also went to Okinawa. We’ve been to Japan together for practice in 1999 and he always used to tell me “Continue your studies!”

Miyagi and Higaonna Monument in Okinawa

The Miyagi and Higaonna monument at Matsuyama Park in Kume was planned, managed, and set up by Yuishinkan founder Kisaki Tomoharu, with the financial help of many concerned with Gōjū-ryū.


In recent years, Fritz Nöpel focused on the Jukuren trainingpublished a book on this subject together with Martin Nienhaus and developed the Jukuren no Kata, a kata specifically designed for older people.

Note: This article is a translation of two German Wikipedia entries on the subject. Photos by Ralf Budde and the Yuishinkan Dojo Ochtrup.

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Sakugawa – The Hidden Warrior

Working at a US Club on Okinawa once established by the DOD, the caretaker, a strong, black guy, asked me about what I was doing on Okinawa. I said, in order to not overcomplicate the matter, “Karate.” And he was like “Aaaah, theater. Ok.”


Wasn’t karate the secret and deadly martial art inherited by the few and proud who sail the stormy, pirate invested seas and bars of Okinawa? Seek-and-destroy-style close-quarter combat? The art of the hidden warriors? Although this might be true in individual cases, he was not wrong at all.

During the early 20th century, there is abundant material about Karate performances at 1. school events and 2. community events, which both were the result of a deliberate dissemination via the schools system. Besides these two, the 3rd venue of karate’s early appearance was on stage as a public entertainment.

As an example, in April 1904, the “1st Sword Dance Convention as a Relief for Front Soldiers and their Families” was held at Onoyama Park; karate was performed among others as a military entertainment. An entrance fee was charged for this, which is also true in the following case: In March 1915, the Chūza theater company placed an advertisement in a newspaper for the ancient Ryūkyū event of “The Hidden Warrior (kakure bushi)”. This was the theater play about “The martial story of the courageous and keen warrior comrade Karate Sakugawa”. Since it was issued as an advertisement under the category of entertainment, it is obvious that karate’s heroic tales were staged as theater plays at that time.

In addition, recognizing this point I cannot but ponder about the various forms of bōjutsu called Sakugawa no Kon: is there a relation to this theater play? Was there a cross-influence? Was the kata there first, or was the stage play there first?

The chicken or the egg?

Three years later, in May 1918, the Chūza theater company again placed an advertisement on 13 demonstrations. The first twelve items were classical Ryūkyū dances, like the Chōja no Ufunushi, Nisē-udui (originally performed to welcome the Satsuma Resident commissioner), Kanzēkū-udui (comical depiction of three persons on a stage in Naha Tsuji), Udui-tenga’a (one of the woman dances, classified as a “dance of hand gestures”), Udui-bajanga’a, and Udui-banzai. The thirteenth item was tōde (karate), noting that “The opportunity of watching the karate masters Motobu Chōsei, Motobu Chōki, and all of the Kyans is otherwise difficult to obtain”.

There were more such theater shows, which included all sorts of unarmed and armed skills. The term universally used for the unarmed skills was tōde 唐手, the armed skills were called bō no te, yari no te, sai no te, jūtte no te and the like.

That is, karate itself has come to be performed on the stage as a spectacular public performance and – being soldierly, being martial – especially gained popularity among men. In addition, tōde (karate) as a spectacular entertainment art helped making it socially acceptable: because from the sources we clearly see that around 1900 tōde (karate) was conceived as some rude and socially unacceptable Chinese style of jūjutsu, practiced by ruffians only.


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The Butokuden of Okinawa

The original Dai Nippon Butokukai  (DNBK) was established in April 1895 in Kyōto to encourage the practice of the budō and to cultivate warlike virtues (butoku) throughout Imperial Japan. Branches were opened in each prefecture, aiming at the dissemination and promotion of budō using the existing organizational structure of the police forces.

The Okinawa branch of the DNBK was established in December 1933. With this opportunity, the wish for the construction of an exclusive martial arts performance hall (Butokuden) gained momentum. Centered on the Okinawa DNBK branch executives, the prefectural police department, as well as other parties concerned with the budō, donations were collected to raise funds for its construction. Weiterlesen

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The Zai in Ryukyu dances (Ryūkyū Buyō)

In Ryūkyū dances (Ryūkyū Buyō) there is a dance called Zai (麾; ぜい). It is categorized as a Nisai-odori, performed by two udui-dī (dancers). The Zai originally was a bâton de commandement for giving signals of command to an army. In the Ryūkyū dances it is used as an auspicious stage equipment to celebrate the times of peace. The first half of the dance is a “dance of gestures” (tī-udui 手踊り) based on the Kata of Karate. In the latter part, with waving and swinging the Zai, the dance is full of tensed atmosphere with footwork in heroic activity.

The Zai, a Ryukyu dance. he Zai was also noted as one intrument in a martial arts stage performance in the early 20th century.

The Zai, a Ryukyu dance. he Zai was also noted as one intrument in a martial arts stage performance in the early 20th century.

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Isa Kaishu

Isa Kaishū

Budōka (karate and kobujutsu), priest, classical entertainment artist

The Kinjō Ufuchiku-den Ryūkyū Kobujutsu of Kina Shōsei was handed down to Isa Kaishū as the 3rd generation.

Since childhood Isa was brought up in an environment of martial affairs, with his grandfather’s stories about karate arousing his interest. In 1952, at the age of 11 years, he met Kina Shōsei and began learning from him.

Kina Shosei (l) and Isa Kaishu with weapons and certifate (Black Belt Nov 1982: 76)

Kina Shosei (l) and Isa Kaishu with weapons and certifate (Black Belt Nov 1982: 76)


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Nagamine Shoshin and the apparently two first postwar articles written on Karate/Kobudo

In the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shinpō, in 1950 an article appeared on Funakoshi, titled:

“Karate – Funakoshi Gichin Okina – Defeating a cow: secret training under cover of night.”

In the post-war era in Okinawa itself it also took a while until the first articles on Karate were published again. So let’ ask a simple question:

When exactly did publishing restart on Okinawa itself? Weiterlesen

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Mathijs Hendrickszoon Quast und die Entdeckung der Bonin Inseln im Jahre 1639, genannt die “Quast Eylanden”

1906 erwähnte Papinot in seinem „Dictionnaire D’histoire et de Géographie du Japon“

„Quast Matthieu. – Navigateur hollandais qui, en 1639, explora les iles Ogasawara [d.i. die Bonin Inseln], les côtes de Mutsu, Formose, etc. Son second dans cette expédition, Abel Jansz Tasman, devait, trois ans plus tard, découvrir en Océanie l’ile appelée, de son nom, Tasmanie.“ (1906: 921)

Bei der Suche nach diesem Matthieu Quast stößt man auf Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold (*1796; † 1866), bayerischer Arzt, Japan- und Naturforscher, Ethnologe, Botaniker und Sammler. Siebold war Oberst im Generalstabe des Königlichen Niederländischen Heeres in Ostindien, Kommandeur des Ordens der Kirchenkrone, Ritter des Niederländischen Löwen-, des St. Wladimir- und des Rothen Adlerordens III. Klasse, der Ehrenlegion, der Nordstern- und des Civilverdienstordens der Bayerischen Krone. Weiterlesen

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Evolution of the Matsubayashi-ryū insignia since 1955

Seems we all live in our own little worlds and – while observing what’s going on in the various regional perceptions of Karate around the globe – successively try to make sense of and adjust our subjectively coherent perceptions of the art so as to maintain our castles made of sand against the flood.

Earliest known design

The earliest known design of a Matsubayashi-ryū insigina, found in a 1950s newspaper (collection of the author)

The earliest known design of a Matsubayashi-ryū insigina, found in a 1950s newspaper (collection of the author).

The earliest known design of a Matsubayashi-ryū insigina is found in a 1950s newspaper article: In the middle on top, the character for Oki, on both sides of which ropes (nawa) lead down and are tied together at the bottom, describing a circle. Together this makes, of course, Okinawa. Inside are placed a forearm crossed with a Sai. The background obviously delineates the fabric of a jūdō jacket. Weiterlesen

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Pikes and Gun Powder – Warfare in the era of Albrecht Christoph von Quast

The military career of Albrecht Christoph Quast lastet 39 years. It took place during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and continued until 1669. Let me be clear: I am not trying to heroize warfare or weapons or anything. Rather, this description solely aims at better positioning Quast’s life within the circumstances of his era.

The Thirty Years War was a conflict for hegemony in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (962-1806) as well as in Europe, and it was also a religious war. On the Empire-level the war erupted between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Catholic League on the one hand and the Protestant Union on the other. On the European level it erupted from the contrast of Habsburg and France. Together with their respective allies, the Habsburg powers of Austria and Spain fought their dynastic conflicts against France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. As a result, a number of other conflicts are associated with the Thirty Years’ War: the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) between the Netherlands and Spain, the French-Spanish War (1635-1659) and the Torstenson War (1643-1645) between Sweden and Denmark. Weiterlesen

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Edmund M. H. Simon and the photo of Ufuchiku

Edmund M. H. Simon was born February 22, 1882 the son of a Protestant wholesaler in Dresden. After an initial visit to the local citizen school he graduated from the High School of the Holy Cross, which he left Easter 1902 with testimony of university entrance qualification. He studied law in Tübingen, Berlin, and Greifswald, and besides the Japanese language at the seminar of oriental languages in Berlin, where after a study of four semesters he graduated with the diploma examination in that language with the predicate “good” in July 1904. In spring of 1907 he passed the first state law examination at the Royal Higher Regional Court to Stettin and subsequently became a royal Prussian articled clerk. With his dissertation he graduated from the University of Greifswald with the degree of Doctor of Laws. In February 1908, he accepted the appointment as an interpreter and stayed in Japan until August 1910. Weiterlesen

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