A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History

A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History Paperback – May 15, 2015

by Andreas Quast (Author)

Paperback edition: available at Amazon US ($19.99), Amazon UK (£12.79), Amazon Germany (EUR 19,25 ), CreateSpace eStore ($19.99), and at online and offline bookstores and retailers, as well as via public libraries and libraries at other academic institutions.

Kindle edition also availableUSUKDEFRESITNLJPBRCAMXAUIN

Based on his acclaimed previous studies, the author here presents a synopsis of the development of Ryukyu martial arts. The events described herein are all real, that is, they are all historical. Strolling along the chronology of martial arts of Ryukyu provenance, a large number of verified events are not only detailed, but also decorated with dozens of precious illustrations. As such “A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History” is for martial arts practitioners as much as it is for aficionados of history and Asia. It simply provides a pristine ground to stand on for the practitioner who wishes to understand the primordial origins of Ryukyu martial arts.

  • For those who read “Karate 1.0”: this new book here is a synopsis of Karate 1.0 plus the “chronology (Part VII)” without significant changes. It is an easier read without all the reasoning and footnotes, but instead with nearly 80 illustrations to make it more suitable for the general public, and not only academic people.

Among the unique information that cannot be found anywhere else are also some of the illustrations. For instance, there is only one picture scroll that shows the Chinese investiture envoys (sapposhi) and their military retinue. Here, for the first time you might see how famous Kusanku actually might have looked like.

About the Author

The author began Karate in 1994, went to Japan first in 1999 and continuously studied Ryūkyū Kobudō since 2000. Besides, he has seven years straight experience in Jiu-jitsu. He trained with a large number of internationally acclaimed budōka. For close to two years in total he lived and trained on Okinawa, Japan, honing his skills in the dōjō of various prominent masters.

In 2011 he performed Kobudō at the German Okinawan Festival held in Okinawa, which was well received by the German ambassador to Japan as well as the German Honorary Consul to Okinawa.

His unquenchable passion for various martial arts of Ryūkyūan provenance results in regular print and online publications frequently reaching an international audience. With two decades of practical experience, extensive travel, and published research he still considers himself being merely on the verge of understanding Ryūkyū martial arts.

The author is a certified engineer, technical writer, and antiquarian bookseller living in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he continues his training and research.

Product Details (Paperback edition)

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1512229423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1512229424
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.4 x 9.7 inches


Available at Amazon US ($19.99), Amazon UK (£12.79), Amazon Germany (EUR 19,25 ), CreateSpace eStore ($19.99)

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Karate 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art

The most comprehensive study on the parameters of primordial Karate, this work intrigues readers with rich detail and insights into these 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.

Only the highest quality both in content and production: get it now from Lulu.com!

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Answers over guessing

In 1940, Nagamine Shōshin was awarded the title of Karatejutsu Renshi.

In 1956, after the establishment of the Okinawa Karate-do Renmei he served as vice-president together with the first president Chibana Chōshin.

Members were Yagi Meitoku (Gōjū-ryū), Nagamine Shōshin (Matsubayashi-ryū),  Chibana Chōshin (Shōrin-ryū), Higa Seikō (Gōjū-ryū), Higa Yūchoku (Shōrin-ryū), Fukuchi Seikō (Gōjū-ryū), Uechi Kan’ei (Uechi-ryū), Miyahira Katsuya (Shōrin-ryū), Gushi Jokei (Matsubayashi-ryū), Nakazato Shugoro (Shōrin-ryū), Tomoyose Ryūkō (Uechi-ryū), Toguchi Seikichi (Gōjū-ryū) etc.

Four years later, in 1960, for the first time in the Okinawa karate world the ranking system based on dan and kyū grades as used in Judo, Shogi, etc. was implemented in Okinawa by the Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei. It should be noted that the Dan-kyu system was used previsouly, obviously since the late 1950s, at least by .

From 1961 until 1969 Nagamine was appointed in four consecutive sessions as the president of the Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei, and received the title of Hanshi.

Chibana Choshin (Shōrin-ryu, president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei) and Nagamine Shoshin (Matsubayashi-ryu, vice-president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei), durinng Kumite in the 1950s.

Chibana Choshin (Shōrin-ryu, president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei) and Nagamine Shoshin (Matsubayashi-ryu, vice-president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei), durinng Kumite in the 1950s.

The Okinawa Karate-do Renmei was abandoned and newly established in February 1967 as Zen Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei, with Nagamine Shōshin as its first president, again uniting the powerful and talented persons of Okinawa Karate.

It should be noted here that most Okinawan Karate people at that time did their promotion tests in their own dōjō up to 4th dan. Higher Dan grades – 5th and above – were awarded by the Zen Okinawa Karate-do Renmei. For example, Arakaki Seiki of Shōrin-ryū received his Renshi title from it in 1967, as did many many others, while Nagamine was still president (there were also other associations).

Let yourself be shown the certificates of 5th and 6th dan of your old senseis, you will see.

The Zen Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei as an organization is symbolic for leaving the minor differences between styles and schools behind and instead underlined the similarities of Okinawa Karate. In 1977, for more than 20 years now presenting the united front of the Okinawan Karate circles, the Zen Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei held a general assembly, under president Uechi Kan’ei.

On this occasion, the “four great men representative of the post-war Okinawa Karate world” were awarded the title of Hanshi 10th Dan by the general assembly: Yagi Meitoku (Gōjū-ryū), Higa Yūchoku (Shōrin-ryū), Nagamine Shōshin (Matsubayashi-ryū), Uechi Kan’ei (Uechi-ryū).

Among the members of the Zen Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei who unconditionally supported this move were many high grade leaders, such as Tomoyose Ryuko (Uechi-ryu), Shinjō Seiyū (Uechi-ryū), Yonaha Seishō (Uechi-ryū), Takamiyagi Shigeru (Uechi-ryū), Akamine Eisuke (Kobudō), Itokazu Seiki (Uechi-ryū), Miyagi Tokumasa (Shōrin-ryū), Higa Toshio (Uechi-ryū), Nakahodo Tsutomu (Uechi-ryū), Kadekaru Shigeo (Shōrin-ryū), Senaha Shigetoshi (Gōjū-ryū), Shima Isao (Matsubayashi-ryū), Shimabukuro Zenpō (Shōrin-ryū), Yonamine Masao (Shōrin-ryū), Uechi Kanmei  (Uechi-ryū), Nakamoto Masahiro (Kobudō), Yagi Meitatsu (Gōjū-ryū), Yagi Meitetsu (Gōjū-ryū), Taira Yasutaka (Shōrin-ryū), Yonamine Kōsuke (Uechi-ryū), Nakamura Seigi (Matsubayashi-ryū), Shinjō Masanobu (Gojū-ryū) and others.

Many of them would later be awarded 10th Dan, too.

1977 general assembly of the Zen Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei.

1977 general assembly of the Zen Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei.

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A technique from Fabian von Auerswald, 1539

AD 1539, eighty-five grapplings and escapes as taught by Fabian von Auerswald were published. Auerswald was the grappling instructor at the court of Elector John Frederick of Saxony. Here’s the explanation of one of the techniques.

“If he 1) seizes you with his left hand at your right upper arm, or graps or pushes you at the chest, then lock his left hand by 2) placing your right hand over his wrist and 3) join your hands. Violently pull down and backwards and when he bends forward headbutt him right into the cheekbone.”

Familiar from Jujutsu, Qinna, Karate, or Tuiti? Of course. But the point is not this technique, the point is the counter AGAINST IT. In the end you need to defend against martial artists, not amateurs.

Fabian von Auerswald, 1539

Fabian von Auerswald, 1539

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Kyan Chotoku’s wife, Kama

Kyan Chotoku's wife Kama.

Kyan Chotoku’s wife Kama.

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Rensa Sankakubō of the Takaki-ryū

At the age of sixteen Takaki Umanosuke (1656–1746) was awarded gokui (deepest level of the art) by Takagi Oriuemon, the founder of the jūjutsu-style Takaki-ryū Taijutsu. Later Umanosuke learned the jūjutsu-style of Takenouchi-ryū Koshi-no-mawari (i.e. Kogusoku =  armoured grappling). From what he learned he called his own style of jūjutsu by the name of Takaki-ryū Taijutsu Koshi-no-mawari.

He devised a number of weapons such as the Rensa Sankakubō, a three-parted Bō connected by chains, which is basically the same design as found in the Sansetsukon of Okinawa and China.

Here are three examples of Kata (=applications) of the style.

Takaki03 Takaki02


Takagi Oriuemon, the founder of the jūjutsu-style Takaki-ryū Taijutsu. Ukiyo-e 1848 by Utagawa Kunisada. The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University.

Takagi Oriuemon, the founder of the jūjutsu-style Takaki-ryū Taijutsu. Ukiyo-e 1848 by Utagawa Kunisada. The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University.

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Short Note on The 36 Families

Compared to other Chinese overseas merchant communities in Southeast Asia, which were more economically successful, the people of Kumemura were more successful in culture and administration, which is considered to be due to the state stipends and privileges provided to them by the Ryūkyū kingdom, which made them similar in status to the Shuri nobility.[1] Because of this from the outset both Ryūkyūan government and the Chinese immigrants themselves had reason to regulate and limit additional influx of people. Besides, due to the maritime ban Chinese coastal inhabitants were prohibited to travel overseas. In light of this, the term “36 Families” is probably just an euphemism for a legal exception for this ban granted by the Chinese imperial government.

In the “Annals of the Ming Dynasty”[2] the same term “36 Families” appears for the first time only for the year 1608, when King Shō Nei unsuccessfully applied to the Chinese Emperor to once again send such “36 Families” from Fujian as tribute envoys, interpreters, seamen etc. to Ryūkyū.[3] Was this in connection with the invasion plans of the Shimazu? And if so, what service would Shō Nei have expected from mariners and administrators? This might indicate that the “36 Families” also included specialists in the military arts.[4] In any case, the term “36 Families” was used like this for the first time in 1608. It is a retrospective and euphemistic designation.

There were also a number of Chinese persons noted in official documents of which it is not sure whether they belonged to the “36 Families” or other Chinese groups. During the 1st Dynasty of the Royal Shō Clan, services of Chinese people were sought by the Ryūkyūan government for the management not only of trade but of general government affairs as well. One example is a Chinese named Ōmō who served as Minister of State to the dynasty’s forefather Shishō and who had ties to Taoist circles in China. Another Chinese was Kaiki, who served as royal Minister of State from 2nd generation Shō Hashi to 5th generation Shō Kinfuku. Both of them are not considered members of the “36 Families,” but both deeply participated in national politics and diplomacy on the very highest level, which is an interesting point.

Kaiki and Sho Hashi.

Kaiki and Sho Hashi.

[1] Möller 1991: 47. – Matsuda 1966: 280-81. Theory by Higaonna Kanjun, in Ryūkyū no Rekishi, Tōkyō, 1957, pp. 43-46, backed by Ogaeri Yoshio, “Ryūkyū koji-shō“, Part 2, in: Kokoro 心, December 1951, p. 31..

[2] Ming Shilu 明實錄.

[3] Möller 1991: 44.

[4] Higaonna Morio (Vol. I., 1985, p. 18.) gave the following hint, yet, like the most Karate authors, without giving any historical source: “The Chinese, who had settled in Kume, also taught Chinese Kempō to the villagers. Some of the delegates belonging to the Okinawan nobility, traveled to China, remained there for some time and even enrolled in Chinese Kempō schools for study. At that time the Okinawan King established Ryūkyū settlement [Ryūkyūkan] in Fujian Province [southern China], to accommodate the Okinawans who went to China for cultural exchange.”

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On the name of Seiyunchin, and why the theories of Karate are “contingent”

Research on some of the most important topics in Karate Kobudo is almost exclusively carried out by individuals. One example is the Bubishi, which basically had been dug out by private endeavors only. One minor example is research into Kata names.

Research in Karate is seriously unpopular. People find all kinds of excuses why they hate it. They hate it like math and similar to math many people basically shout “I Quit!” by limiting Karate to a mere physical activity of-sorts.

I agree, it is complex.

While explanatory models of selective academic knowledge are not sufficient, issues of Karate can successfully be solved by treating them as philosophical questions. I don’t mean philosophy in sense of someone talking long and boring about what he thinks or believes, nor in sense of saying something is true OR false. Rather, I mean it in sense of contingency as used in modal logic. And that is philosophy.

A is contingent (kont), when both A is possible as well as non-A is possible.

That easy, and written like this:\textbf{kont} A := \Diamond A \wedge \Diamond \neg A

That means, a statement is contingent if it is true under at least one possible scenario and if it is simultaneously false in at least one other possible scenario. That is, the statement is possible under certain preconditions, but not necessarily “true” in all scenarios.

And this is the exact reason why we have so much arguments in Karate.

And this is the exact reason why these arguments are futile.

I use to tell people,

“On Okinawa, on any given topic, you will find at least two highly regarded masters who will state the complete opposite.”

There are also many Westernes on Okinawa or visit the island and who will support the one or the other opinion.

Forget it. All.

Instead of saying the one or the other lied or that it is true or false it is in fact simply contingent in the philosophical sense. So when master Nakamichi said that he learned Tuidi from Chakamoto Ojisan, while Kamado Pechin said that he only learned kata from the same Chakamoto Ojisan, neither of these are false or true, but both are possible, and non-possible. In other words, as long as no evidence is provided, it remains contingent. Hence, all you make from it remains a hypothesis.

And that’s why people hate Karate research and resort to push-ups to save their souls.

Contingency is a particularly open form of possibility. In other words, it allows for all sorts of theories. The question is not who said what at what time, but why Karate has to resort to such contingency. You can answer that for yourself. You might think of “The hare and the hedgehog” by the Grimm brothers. You are the hare. Sorry.

Anyway, in his 1998 work, Ōtsuka Tadahiko described his findings on the origin of Kata names. The following is what he came up with for the kata Seiyunchin of Gōjū-ryū. It may be an example of contingency, or not. Or both.

“When considering the Kata Seienchin it must be borne in mind that the kata is called Seiyunchin on Okinawa. Furthermore, the name of the kata called Shisōchin contains the same character chin, which derived from the Chinese character jin (勁; strong, unyielding, tough, powerful). In Taijiquan there are the concepts of fajin (發勁; releasing of internal energy), huajin (化勁; transforming internal energy) and jin (勁; internal energy, power). These concepts are all widely spread and used in the terminology of the martial arts. This character called jin can be equated with the Japanese chikara (力; force, power, strength).

As regards Seienchin, the first syllable sei derives from the Chinese suí (to follow; to adapt; to allow; to obey). The second syllable en or alternatively yun derives from the Chinese yùn (movement; to wear; to transport; to make use of). This adds up to Suíyùnjín (随運勁), that is,‘to adapt the use of force in accordance with the circumstances,’ and it is exactly this feature this is intended to cultivate.

Seiyunchin doesn’t feature kicks. Instead, hand techniques form the core of the whole, which exactly matches the name.”



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Karate, Taekwondo, crecent kicks etc.

There is a controversy about the roots of Taekwondo. On the one hand it is said it descended from Karate. Didn’t Ōyama Masutatsu reiterate this theory all the time? Maybe that’s why he was so successful. On the other hand it is said that Taekwondo is an original culture of Korea.

There is also the question as to how and when did the circular kicks reach Karate, like Ushiro-mawashi-geri and many many others which also came to be trademark of early Western Karate practitioners and movies. These were not seen previously.

So also I have zero clue of Taekwondo, here’s a clue to kicks, Taekwondo, Karate, armored kumite, and the whole martial arts market.

The magazine “Karate” was originally published by Kinjō Hiroshi together with Yun Heui-byeong through the publishing department of the Kanbukan. Following Yun Heui-byeong’s return to his homeland Korea, since 1956 Kinjō continued to publish the magazine “Gekkan Karate.”

The Kanbukan was established already in 1945 following Japan’s defeat in the war. It was established by leading students of Tōyama Kanken’s Shūdōkan. The Kanbukan had a direct lineage back to the Shuri-te of Itosu Ankō, however, followed the principle of “non-school” of Tōyama’s Shudōkan. Since Tōyama’s student Yun Heui-byeong was of Korean nationality, with him as a director it was possible to carry out Karate training and to publish Karate books despite the restrictions of the so-called Budō ban by the Allied GHQ. As remarked by Kinjō, “Because after the lost World War II people from third countries living in Japan were a privileged class, Yun Heui-byeong as a Korean national became director (of the Kanbukan).”

According to Kinjō, who was an authority of traditional Karate in the postwar period and served as a teacher in Kanbukan, Yun Heui-byeong was born in 1923 and was an “intelligent man full of youthful entrepreneurial spirit, who bequeathed great achievements, although he was involved in the karate world only a few years.” It is interesting to note that in works published during Yun Heui-byeong’s time as a director of the Kanbukan, the name “International Karate-dō Federation, Kanbukan” is found. Maybe this was the first time such a name was used, while the prefix “kokusai” (international) is standard procedure today.

Anyway, after Yun Heui-byeong’s return to his homeland of Korea, the Kanbukan was renamed to Renbukan. It is from the Kanbukan since 1945 to the Renbukan that the modern Bogu Kumite of Karate mainly came from, and the kicks. In written memories of the time around 1956, however, the name of the Director of Kanbukan was given as “Mr. Nisan.” Neither does the name of Yun Heui-byeong appear in the part about the history on the current website of the Renbukan Nakano dōjō.

While Yun Heui-byeong obviously played an important role within the embryonic Jissen (real fighting) postwar Karate circles, nothing is heard about him and other Korean’s direct influence especially of real fighting and armored karate as a tradition and these things seems to have been gradually concealed from the public memory. In current Japanese TV programs (like “Kakuto” = combat martial arts of the private Fuji TV) all the time the image of a “Japanese Karate” and “Japan, motherland of Karate” and the like are proclaimed.

Yun Heui-byeongFollowing Yun Heui-byeong’s return to Korea, a person named Yun Kwae-byeong was involved in the armored competitions of Taekwondo. According to the International Taekwondo Federation Website, this was the same person as Yun Heui-byeong of the Kanbukan!

BTW, Yun Heui-byeong published two books, one of which together with Kinjō Hiroshi:

  • Yun Heui-byeong, Kinjō Hiroshi: Kenpō Karate-dō Taikan. Vol. 1. Kanbukan Shuppanbu, Tōkyō 1947.
  • Yun Heui-byeong: Karate-dō Taikan. Vol. 2. Bōjutsu Kyōhon. Kanbukan Shuppanbu, Tōkyō 1948.

He even includes a selection from the Bubishi!

First of all: it is not about nations or countries, it is about individuals who are actually able, willing, and then actually do something. That’s the most important point. (Sometimes they learn more from us then we from them, mark my words :) ).

On the larger picture, rather than saying Karate is older or vice versa, it is better to admit that Karate as well as Taekwondo simply have their common roots in the process of the completion of the new postwar face of East Asian martial as a whole, and as multi-million dollar industries. I am not criticising here. But, just so you know:

Nobody will ever admit anything!

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Flurry styles of Karate?

So I stumbled over this issue of Black Belt Mag from April 1968. Therein appeared an interview with three young men from Okinawa, plannning to stay in the US for maybe four years and maybe open a dojo: Kina Santos, Taba Kensai, and Iha Seikichi. All of these are well-know, seasoned, and highly respected masters today.

Kina, asked about the three main groups of Karate, says

Kina: “Oh yes, there are three groups. One is the Shorin-ryu which is headed by 83-year-old Chibana Choshin, then there’s Goju-ryu which is led by Yagi Meitoku who is, about 60 years old. Finally, there is Uechi-ryu which is headed by Uechi Kanei.”

That is not quite correct. In the Okinawa Karatedo Renmei there were the four styles of Shorin-ryu (headed by Higa Yuchoku), Matsubayashi-ryu (headed by Nagamine Shoshin), Goju-ryu (headed by Yagi Meitoku), and Uechi-ryu (headed by Uechi Kan’ei). The association president was Chibana Shoshin. Kina obviously wasn’t even aware of the distinction between Shorin and Matsubayashi.

Four years earlier, Taira Shinken noted, that “On Okinawa, the cradle of Karatedo, there are currently the style of Shorin-ryu, Matsubayashi-ryu, Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu und Isshin-ryu.“ Except Matsubayashi-ryu, the other schools he included under the umbrella term of Shorin-ryu here were all the schools of all of the following persons: Chibana Choshin, Higa Yuchoku, Nakazato Shugoro, Miyahira Katsuya, Shimabukuro Eizo, Nakamura Shigeru, an Soken Hohan. These were, and I’d say correctly for that time (1964), explicitly descibed as as Shorin-ryu (小林流, alternativaley Kobayashi-ryu). There is no doubt that these were the official names at the time (1964). I also think that Miyzato would have disagreed that Goju is led by Yagi, but ok.

Returning to the article, as regards the largest of the three groups [=organizations], Taba noted:

Taba: „The biggest is the Shorin-ryu Karate-do Kyokai, to give the full name.”

Of course, this refers to nothing but the Shorin-ryu Karate-do Kyokai 小林流空手協 of Chibana Shōshin.

Black Belt asks,

BB: “Do you have many tournaments during the year?

Kina: “No, just one major tournament, the Okinawa Karate Kobudo Rengokai which draws more than 20,000 spectators.

This refers to the Zen Okinawa Karate Kobudo Renmei, established 1967, one year prior to the article and after the predecessor basically fell apart. (20,000 is a lot!)

BB: “Who sponsors the tournament?”

Kina: “Well, the government in cooperation with the Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shinpo newspapers. The two public officials preside over at the event, Matsuoka Seiho and Higa Seitoku.”

BB: “Who are the participants?”

Kina: “Members of the Okinawa Karatedo Renmei. This includes the three main groups plus two other groups, one headed by Nagamine Shoshin and the other by Higa Yuchoku. Incidentally, Nagamine is the director for the organization.”

Actually, this was the Zen Okinawa Karatedo Renmei (established in February 1967), first president was Nagamine Shoshin. It was the successor of the Okinawa Karatedo Renmei, established in May 1956, with president Chibana Choshin, and vice-president Nagamine Shoshin, the latter who also became successor of Chibana as president in 1960, when Chibana was already 75 years of age.

Black Belt asks if this “tournament” has any other functions?

Kina: “Certainly, here is where the rankings of the participants are awarded, from 5th dan and up. Of course, each individual organization gives out the lower ranks up to 4th dan.”

So they all graded there for the higher dan grades. All the main and “other” styles graded up to 4th dan within their groups, and for 5th dan and up all members of these styles had to grade with the Zen Okinawa Karatedo Renmei, with president Nagamine, and hosted and presided over by the Zen Okinawa Karate Kobudo Renmei, or so it says, hmm.

According to their calculation, it took about 5 years up to Yondan, and then another 5 years up to  5th dan, i.e. a total of 10 years. It is still like this in Okinawa.

Kina: “It [the grading] is quite a test of skill […to appear in front of the] the top senseis who make up the board of examiners before they [the examinees] can be considered a 5th dan.”

So they were all graded by a board of examiners under what? The whole organization “Nagamine at the same time was the director” of?!?! Or the Zen Okinawa Karate Kobudo Renmei ???

Now follows page 16, and this is crazy:

BB: There seems a flurry of styles of karate in the states, but they are not headed by the names you mentioned. Who are the Shimabukus, Nagamines…

??? What?!?!

Kina: “Well, these men evidently do not come from the most respected schools, the main schools. They are located in Naha, the capital of Okinawa. Quite possibly, the men you mentioned come from the areas where the military bases are located.”


Chibana Choshin had a dojo in Naha, Meitoku Yagi had a dojo in Naha, Nagamine had a dojo in Naha…. What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Well, whatever this was – a wrong translation, pure mischief by the editor, or youthful flippancy – the only explanation that would make any sense – except for he’d been simply confusing the facts or didn’t know and understand these – is that a young Kina – or the reporter – introduced the current Okinawan Karate politics of the time into the states, isn’t it?

BTW, is there anybody who did NOT get caught up in Karate politics yet?

Chibana Choshin (Shorin-ryu, president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei) and Nagamine Shoshin (Matsubayashi-ryu, vice-president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei), during Kumite in the 1950s.

Chibana Choshin (Shorin-ryu, president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei) and Nagamine Shoshin (Matsubayashi-ryu, vice-president of Okinawa Karatedo Renmei), during Kumite in the 1950s.

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Chojun Miyagi’s note on “Baida,” 1936

Jūjutsu and jūjutsu-like systems were known since feudal times in Japan under a multitude of names. The two most common of which were jūjutsu and yawara. Others were:

  • kumiuchi, kogusoku, koshi no mawari,
  • wajutsu,
  • aikijūjutsu, aiki no jutsu, aikijutsu
  • yawarajutsu, yawaragi, yawarariki
  • torite,
  • kenpō, hakuda, hade, shubaku
  • taijutsu …

These are all jūjutsu systems and their names also generally apply to the art itself. At the same time, they can all be distinguished from one another. Such differences had been pointed out by Jigorō Kanō (Lindsay & Kanō 1889). You can see it like this: “Jūjutsu” and “jūjutsu-like systems” refer to all systems that have certain characteristics of jūjutsu in common, but do not necessarily call themselves by that term. The word “system” simply refers to a method of martial art that displays tactics or techniques within the framework of a certain scope of characteristics (Cf. Mol 2001).

While all these arts have to be distinguished in detail, the simple reason for these manifold names might have any of or any combination of the following:

  • the various origins of the ryūha (schools), each technically, geographically, as well as regards the point in time of their origin,
  • different philosophies,
  • the fact that the name jūjutsu was not coined until the early seventeenth century,
  • the isolated state of the various feudal domains at the time,
  • the need to distinguish one’s ryūha from others,
  • the trend that originators of new schools created history to suit their own purposes (which render the innumerable written sources of the various schools often contradictory and unsatisfactory), and
  • the personal tradition, in which informations on the schools were handed down by the teachers to their pupils “as a secret in order to give it a sacred appearance.”

These various systems can be roughly categorized according to their tendential focus:

  • emphasize grappling, throwing, locking, and choking: kumiuchi, yawara, jūjutsu, taijutsu, koshi no mawari, and kogusoku.
  • emphasize capturing and restraining: torite, hobaku (tying an overpowered opponent).
  • Emphasize kicking, thrusting, and hitting: kenpō, hade, hakuda, and shubaku.

Some of the above Japanese jūjutsu-like systems were developed from or influenced by Chinese martial arts. Fragments of quanfa systems were transferred to Japan during the feudal era. The Japanese referred to these Chinese forms in their Japanese pronunciation as hakuda or shubaku, both of which are explained as “to beat by hand,” or as “sparring.” Kenpō  – which is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese quanfa – was also used by the Japanese since feudal times, namely to describe any and all systems of continental influence which employ empty-handed methods of fighting in a sparring manner (Draeger 1973). Generally speaking, kenpō, hakuda, and shubaku were characterized by a certain emphasis on atemi-waza.

According to the above, kenpō, hakuda, and shubaku can be roughly considered historical Japanese martial arts systems with an initial Chinese influence which place emphasis – but are not limited to – striking and kicking, i.e. on impact techniques. Fujita Seiko (1958) confirms this view. In his book on the “deepest level of kenpō” he noted that “This book is about the art of war called kenpō, i.e. the punching and kicking techniques as have been handed down in various factions of distinguished Japanese martial arts schools.”

In a manuscript named Tenjin Shinyō-ryū Taii-roku occurs a conversation between Iso Mataemon (1787–1863), the founder of the Tenjin Shinyō-ryū, and Terasaki, one of his pupils. According to it, the origin of jūjutsu is as follows: In Nagasaki once lived a physician named Akiyama, who went over to China to study medicine. There he learned three methods of an art called hakuda, which consisted of kicking and striking. When he returned to Japan, Akiyama worshipped for 100 days at the Tenjin shrine in Tsukushi. During this time he discovered 303 different methods of this art (Kanō 1889). This story nails down – by evidence of written historical material – the Chinese origin of hakuda, although – due to the nature of school traditions – exact names and years might be replaceable to a certain degree. But it shows the idea.

In addition to the above, the same Iso Mataemon “fought against more than one-hundred villains, by which he recognized and understood the importance of the methods of atemi. From this he developed a synthesis of the two styles he had learned into a new one, comprising of 124 techniques” (BRD 1978). The categories in which these techniques were built in – from initiation to idōri, nage, and shiai-ura – were simply called te 手; like in the Okinawan , and karate. Te should be understood here as skill; methods; ways and means etc. In this way the historical Chinese martial art called hakuda by the Japanese became integrated in a Japanese jūjutsu-like system.

When speaking of the historical theories of the origin of jūjutsu, one of the most prevailing Japanese views during the Edo era was another one. Namely, that jūjutsu had been introduced to Japan in 1659 by the Chinese person Chin Genpin (1587–1674). Kanō Jigorō vigorously rejected this view (Kanō 1889). The rejection of an overvaluation of foreign influences on the very Japanese life became the standard way of Japanese thinking during the course of the Meiji era. Kanō’s vigorous endeavor to repudiate such an origin might very well have set the precedent for the much later decision to change the characters of karate from “Chinese hand” to “empty hand.”

Kanō understood jūjutsu as to include such systems as taijutsu, yawara, kogusoku, hakuda, kenpō and others, and defined it spaciously as “Techniques by which one attacks or defends against an adversary who is unarmed or armed with short weapons” (Niehaus 2000: 94). As regards the systems of kenpō and hakuda, Kanō said, “if assuming that Chin Genpin introduced jūjutsu, than it could only have been the styles of kenpō and hakuda, which occurred in China between Manji (1658–1660) and Kanbun (1661–1672).” Both kenpō and hakuda are described by Kanō as methods which “according to contemporary Chinese sources mainly consisted of kicks and punches.”

Not only do we now have a slight idea of the tactical approach of hakuda, but also a rough estimate of the time of its influence on Japanese jūjutsu: around the time from 1658 to 1672. This is good enough for now.

It has also become sufficiently clear that certain tactics and methods were applied under completely different names and, in different schools, a greater or lesser emphasis was placed on specific tactics (Cf. Mol 2001).

Okinawan Karate people also referred to some of the above facts and theories. It was none less than Itosu Ankō who noted that Chinese kenpō – and thus the headwater of karate – might as well have reached Okinawa by way of Chin Genpin’s teaching, although indirectly (Cf. Majikina 1923). In this he refers to what was a widespread opinion throughout Japan since the Edo era. It should be noted here that this was by no means his own idea or research.

And in 1936, the Ryūkyū Shinpō newspaper published an article series called “The Karate Symposium” (Karate Zaidan-kai), written by Nagamine Shōkai. There, in reference to the different designations of martial arts in different times and places, Miyagi Chōjun noted that:

“In China, in the old days, people referred to kenpō by the term baida.”

Of course, just like in Itosu’s case, this was by no means Miyagi Chōjun’s personal research or idea. In fact, this baida is nothing else but the previously mentioned hakuda frequently mentioned in this paper. Maybe he read Kanō’s works. Maybe these informations got around the Okinawan martial arts circles of the time by word of mouth. Who could know that? In any case: it was not Miyagi’s own research or finding, it was not personally witnessed by him, but instead it is an indirect quote of his about the well-known story of hakuda as described in Japanese sources since the Edo era.

After having seen the above history and use of hakuda as a Japanese jūjutsu-like system with fragmentary Chinese roots, and also from the perspective of a standardized terminology, and far and foremost from the reason that Miyagi simply cited this common knowledge from Japanese sources, I would like to propose to transcribe it in its Japanese pronunciation as hakuda instead of baida. Another point to it is – although I am not totally sure – I don’t think that a Chinese tradition exists under the name of baida that has a tradition dating back to the same root.

When Toyama Kanken (Karate-dō Taihōkan) was right, the journalist transcribed Miyagi’s words by using the characters 白打. This can can be translated as “white strikes.” Besides “white“, the first character 白 can also mean a lot of other things, including “pure” or “bright,” and also “empty,” as in “empty (handed) strikes.” But this is just guesswork. In any case, whether the journalist transcribed hakuda correctly or not is unknown.

Fact is that other sources write it differently, namely as 伯打. Here the character 伯 can be translated as an obsolete way of writing “one hundred,” so it could be interpreted as “100 strikes,” in sense of “a lot of fighting techniques.” It might also refer to a relative, namely an elder uncle, a senior, or one’s oldest brother. Isn’t it that such references are said to have been used for martial arts masters? Like this, hakuda might have even referred to “uncle’s strikes” or – to draw it a bit larger – the “uncle’s boxing methods” etc.

And that was about hakuda, or baida respectively.


For a translation of the 1936 “Karate Symposium”, in which Miyagi Chōjun noted hakuda (baida), see, for example:


Why do I get photos of Justin Bieber when I image-google 伯打???

And why do I find a lot of Brautkleider when I image-google 白打???


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Hanashiro Chōmo (1869–1945) was an Okinawan soldier (infantry) and a physical education and Karate teacher at the Middle School in Shuri. In 1905 he created the basic text book called “Karate Kumite” as a manual for teaching Karate at school. Here for the first time in history the modern notation of Karate 空手 in its meaning as “empty handed martial art” was used.

Only the title page and one page of the Kumite description has been preserved.

I translated this text and reconstructed the Kumite, and I think this was done for the first time, at least in the Western world. Also fragmentary, this is the oldest form of Kumite EVER found described in any written source of modern KARATE!

Some questions remain which I hope to be able to solve in the near future. Otherwise the description is straightforward.

The picture below shows an excerpt of the study. It also includes Hanashiro’s complete genealogy, translated from the official Shuri genealogies. The photos of Hanashiro and the handwritings used here are from an original 1938 copy of the “Karatedo Taikan”…

After some further consultations, I think at some point in time there might even be a video explaining everything.

"Karate Kumite", Hanashiro Chomo 1905

“Karate Kumite”, Hanashiro Chomo 1905

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