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 this ancient combat traditions, the pride of Okinawa.

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

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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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Sakugawa no Kon Shō (Bojutsu Kata Series)

Pronounced Sakuga’a nu Kun Sū/Shī in Okinawan dialect.

Sakugawa no Kon is said to have been devised and handed down by Sakugawa “Tōdī” Kanga. Kanga went to China for study and later became a teacher at the “National Academy” (kokugaku) of Ryūkyū (established 1798). As a reward for distinguished services he was granted the place name “Sakugawa” of Nakagusuku district. Accordingly he changed his surname from Teruya to Sakugawa. In his case the place name was given to him in name only, i.e. he was not the actual fief holder. Sakugawa is revered as one of the founders of Okinawa karate.

Excerpt from a lineage found in an Okinawan treatise on the history of karate & kobudo showing Sakugawa (Western adaption by this blogger).

Excerpt from a lineage found in an Okinawan treatise on the history of karate & kobudo showing Sakugawa (Western adaption by this blogger).

There are many kinds of Sakugawa no Kon.

For example, in Taira lineage kobudō there is a Shō and a Dai version of Sakugawa no Kon. These versions came via Chinen Masanrah (Yamane-ryū)→Yabiku Mōden→Taira Shinken.

Taira’s student Inoue also maintains a Sakugawa no Kon Chū, which derived from an older version.

From the composition of Sakugawa no Kon in the Matayoshi lineage kobudō can be seen that it originated in the same template as the Shō version of Taira lineage kobudō.

The Ryūkyū Kobudō Shinbukan of Akamine Hiroshi has an extra-curricular version of Sakugawa no Kon that was handed down in the Kakazu area of Tomigusuku Madanbashi and is thus called Kakazu bōjutsu (see me too in that video, standing around :) ). It was inherited in the 1920s by Yamane-ryū experts Chinen Masanrah and Ōshiro Chōjo.

Sakugawa no Kon as inherited in Yamane-ryū Bōjutsu has similarities as well as differences to the above versions. The video link shows the director of the Maeda dōjō and his excellent and technically very sophisticated performance.

In the various village bōjutsu (mura-bō), too, a number of Sakugawa no Kon have been handed down. In Yaese-chō Tomoyose village there are three kinds called Sakugawa no Kon Ichidan, Nidan, and Sandan.

Among the technical characteristics of Sakugawa no Kon Shō is the backwards drop-jump (tobu-sagaru) and the following winding removal (maki-nage).

This Sakugawa no Kon Shō is an excellent training piece. Once able to perform techniques, combinations and enbusen without thinking, go full throttle from the beginning and keep the pace until the end.

The video below shows Sakugawa no Kon Shō of Taira lineage kobudō. At some points in the video I noted to not dodge the head away in the gedan-barai and in the furi-age-uchi. It is a natural protective reflex that has to be actively unlearned. I see this all the time and when directing attention to it you will be surprised how many people actually do it.

Finally, the bō is a tapered 1.82 m quality tool from world-famous Okinawan brand Shureidō.

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Chatan Yara no Kon (Bojutsu Kata Series)

A certain Chatan Yara Pēchin, who is said to have left behind Chatan Yara no Sai, is also said to have left behind the outstanding and unique bōjutsu kata called Chatan Yara no Kon.

Techniques

With around ninety individual techniques (ok, this depends largely on how one counts) it is not the longest bōjutsu kata but is difficult and largely asymmetrical in its order of techniques. The enbusen follows a simple straight line, but with various 180° turns and two 360° turns, plus strikes to the left and right sides on four occasions. And it is basically unknown.

This kata deploys a variety of unique techniques not found in many other kata, such as left and right Gyaku-mochi Jōdan-ura-uke from Chūdan-suihei-kamae, a combo of three Chūdan-gyaku-uchi, or the Ō-gedan soto- and uchi-barai and many others. It also contains the unique sideways-strike-downfloat, in which the is slammed on the ground horizontally.

The kata not only deploys the regular and the reverse grip extensively, but also each the six-feet-, five-feet-, and four-feet-grip.

Yonamine Kōsuke with a move from the first lane of Chikin Sunakachi no Uēku-dī. Yonamine was a member og the Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkōkai for many years, and at times was even vice-president.

Yonamine Kōsuke with a move from the first lane of Chikin Sunakachi no Uēku-dī. Yonamine was a member og the Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkōkai for many years, and at times was even vice-president.

It is quite intruiging that it finishes with a combination known from Tsuken Sunakake no Uēku, with which it also has other very specific techniques in common. In addition, Chatan Yara no Kon can be performed with an Uēku without any adaption to the gripping- and hand changing methods. I wonder whether there was a unilateral or a mutual influence between the two.

All of the above makes this kata one of the most advanced training tools.

Tradition

One final thing that adds to making this kata absolutely unique is that it is said to have been handed down by Kamiya Jinsei (1894-1964), a person a bit underestimated in kobudō circles.

Kamiya is described as a versatile and multitalented person, an ace in the worlds of medical care, education, entertainment, and martial arts. Born in Kuniyoshi in the old Takamine district (todays Itoman City), he studied under Gōjū-ryū Karate-dō founder Miyagi Chōjun and achieved renshi title.

From age 18 to 27 he studied at the current Jikei University School of Medicine, and following his certification returned home to Okinawa. Besides his business (pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology) he left behind many achievements in the fields of public entertainment, education, and physical education. In addition, being qualified as a shihan of the Nomura-ryū, he made an effort for the preservation and promotion of Ryūkyū classical music and dance, by which he laid the foundation of performing arts in the current Itoman region.

Kamiya Jinsei, from OKKJ 2008.

Kamiya Jinsei, from OKKJ 2008.

After the end of WW II, he established the Shūrenkai Dōjō aiming at the resurrection of the martial arts. Miyagi Chōjun and many other martial artists performed at the grand opening ceremony. He was also instrumental in teaching bōjutsu and karate in the elementary and junior high schools and youth associations of the devastated post-war Itoman region, and for many years also served as the president of the Itoman District Athletic Association. Because of his important achievements he was featured in the encyclopedic Okinawa Daihyakka Jiten.

Besides Chatan Yara no Kon he also taught another high-level bō kata, namely Chōun no Kon, and besides he was probably also involved in the transmission of the epic Soeishi no Kon. These are all bōjutsu of the highest technical level to be found on Okinawa.

Versions

It should be noted that there is also a kata going by the same name Chatan Yara no Kon. You find this version all over the internet, but it is Chatan Yara in name only. However, to complicate the matter even more, the original Okinawan kata on which this Chatan Yara no Kon was based (i.e. Tokumine no Kon of Isshin-ryū) itself might have to be considered Tokumine in name only, and actually the original Chatan Yara no Kon might have provided a few inspirations. Anyway, by all standards and although we find a very specific signature technique of the real one in it, this has to be considered a completely different kata.

Prominency

The real Chatan Yara is rather rare and I wonder how many handful of people each in Okinawa and abroad ever learned it. There are no videos of it online (although it has once been performed by Minowa Katsuhiko and taped during a commemorative demonstration for the late Akamine Eisuke). It seems that in the Okinawan lineages where it is still extant it is considered something like a “style’s inner secrets”. Surely it is one of he last bōjutsu kata taught to students.

If you find a video of a kata titled Chatan Yara no Kon that does not include the following techniques, it is Chatan Yara in name only:

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On standards in English academic writing, which also applies to publishing translated research articles on Karate

In the 19th century, natural sciences as well as large parts of humanities made use of three languages: French, English, and German. In each of these languages a complete scientific vocabulary was formed alongside. Later the Russian language joined, but only until the fast and exclusionary movement in which all competitors of the English language disappeared. Articles in natural sciences today are almost exclusively published in English.
The underlying economic, military and political hegemony, wherever it gets, detects a mere version of itself. As a consequence, English language centered scientific standards, which are perceived as neutral by native speakers, come along with certain ideologies (Cf. Michael D. Gordin: “Scientific Babel”).

imrad_wineglass_modelNever did a language rule science as much as the English language today. Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard University, claimed in 2012, that changes in technology “make it less clear that the substantial investment necessary to speak a foreign tongue is universally worthwhile”. That is, learning a foreign language up to any substantial level is no longer necessary.

Well, actuall I translated this with Google translate :)

A perfect example for this is the standardization of the scientific article according to the method of “introduction, methods, results, discussion” (IMRAD), which is perceived as universally valid by native speakers. However, this American method of presentation, which historically originated within the experimental natural sciences, quickly reaches its limits even in basic research and remains rather helpless when it comes to deductive reasoning.

The linguistic consequences of this standardization: short, simple sentences, which need to bear enormous constructions of light verbs and nominal chains (words formed from multiple nouns). This form of representation presupposes the equation of “information” and “knowledge” from the start.

And for original derivations and deductive reasoning, you simply don’t want to use the above standard.

For us native German speakers who believe they are able to speak the English language properly there are various related topics. First of all, scientific working methods might be different. But even the simple use of words is full of snares. Take the German “weil”, which is often translated as “because”. Germans who publish in English tend to hold both these conjunctions to be synonymous. But they are not, as “because” is often understood as an invitation to dispute, whereas the German “weil” elaborates the term or concept. Like this the differences continue until the German, who believes to have proficient command of the English language, is no longer understood.

In any case: the standards of other countries are by no means inferior to the IMRAD. Actually I am asking myself, “Why would I downgrade?” To be honest, by using IMRAD in my Karate 1.0, I would have gotten nowhere. And towards this, I prefer to no longer be understood.

Or as we say: „Ich pfeif drauf.“

word_cloud

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Tokumine no Kon (Bojutsu Kata Series)

According to various Okinawan karate and kobudō sources the following can be said about the bō-kata called Tokumine no Kon.

Tokumine no Kon is pronounced Tukunmī nu Kun in Okinawan dialect. The creator of this kata was Tokumine Pēchin Seifu of Shuri Gibo village. He was versed in both karate and , and besides was a calligrapher. While still living in Shuri, Motobu Chōki (1870-1944) was among his disciples and the following was handed down: Tokumine was inclined to extreme drinking and to drunk fighting. Chōki brought a bottle of sake to him as a lesson fee. But later one day, Tokumine was very drunk and behaved disorderly in Tsuji district. He had a big fight with dozens of chikusaji (policemen) to the point where they could not even stand up anymore. One person was seriously wounded. As a consequence, Tokumine was captured for interference with a public servant in the execution of duties and exiled to the remote island of Ishigaki where he remained until he died in exile.

Since Tokumine Pēchin moved to Yaeyama, without noticing, the Tokumine bōjutsu in the Shuri neighborhood became extinct.

Kedahana Gisa (1843-1934, photo from the Kedahana family, published by Nakamoto 2007)

Kedahana Gisa (1843-1934, photo from the Kedahana family, published by Nakamoto 2007)

In the early Shōwa era, Kyan Chōtoku (aka Chan Mī-gwā), who knew about Tokumine, went to Yaeyama to seek Tokumine no Kon as representing the core of Tokumine bōjutsu. But Tokumine Pēchin had already passed away. Fortunately, Tokumine Pēchin had taught his Tokumine no Kon to a village elder who was the owner of the lodgings he lived in and who cared about him. This man was Kedahana Gisa (1843-1934). Kyan Chōtoku asked him to teach him the bōjutsu and in this way he inherited Tokumine no Kon from Kedahana Gisa.

The children of Kedahana Gisa said that he never taught bujutsu. His son Hobuta (1882-1974) even went to Naha and paid a large amount of money to learn bujutsu from Tokeshi Ushinukajī. While Kyan Chōtoku declined to show Hobuta the techniques of the bō, he demonstrated the karate kata called Chintō for him. Kyan Chōtoku traded his own that he had brought from Okinawa with Hobuta’s favorite made of kuba wood. However, this memorable was lost in the war.

Not long after Kyan brought back the Tokumine no Kon to Okinawa Main Island, this tradition was handed down in the Kadena area and also had a significant impact on the bōjutsu of the nearby villages. Tokumine no Kon is still handed down today.

Currently, Tokumine no Kon does not exist anymore in Yaeyama.[1]

Technical features of Tokumine no Kon are the frequent use of nuki-waza, tsuki-waza, renzoku-uke-kōsei. The performance lines use offense and defense in all eight directions (happō).

The above combined sources include Nakamoto Masahiro’s research carried out in Yaeyama in 1976. At that time he interviewed the Kedahana family, from whom the Tokumine no Kon is said to have come.

Biographical notes on Tokumine no Kon

According to the above karate kobudō sources, the reason why Kyan went to Yaeyama was to learn Tokumine no Kon from Tokumine Pēchin. According to the above texts, a Tokumine bōjutsu already existed in Tokumine’s Shuri days, with Tokumine no Kon described as the core of it. It is also said that Tokumine bōjutsu went extinct both in Shuri as well as in Yaeyama. Different terminology is used here which makes the matter quiet obscure.

When do we find the expression Tokumine no Kon used for the first time? I do not have an exact answer, so let’s look up sources.

Tokumine as a person first appeared in Funakoshi‘s article “Okinawa no Bugi” (Ryūkyū Shinpō, January 17, 1914), yet only the family name without any further reference to the kind of martial art nor to the person or anything else.

In the summer of 1929, Miki Nisaburō and Takada Mizuho from the Karate Kenkyūkai of the Tōkyō Imperial University went to Okinawa. Kyan was among the first karate masters at the time from which Miki received personal instruction. When in 1930 the results of their study was published (Kenpō Gaisetsu), in Chapter 1 of the attachment labelled “Bōjutsu”, the authors introduced nine different names of the extant kata of bōjutsu, but Tokumine no Kon was not among them.

In “The Masters of Modern Times”, the authors introduce thirteen masters from about three hundred years ago to the date of era of publishing, but Tokumine was not among them.

As the authors not only talked to Kyan himself, but also to Ōshiro Chōjo and Yabiku Mōden, who were the two established authorities on bōjutsu of Okinawa at that time, it is reasonable to assume that by 1929 Kyan had not yet learned Tokumine no Kon, and that this very name of the kata not yet existed.

In Nakasone Genwa’s: Karate-dō Taikan of 1938 another list of ten bōjutsu kata of Okinawa handed down appears, but again Tokumine no Kon is not found among them.

When Nagamine Shōshin in 1976 wrote about Kyan’s performance during the Nagamine dōjō opening in 1942, he referred to the performed technique simply as bōjutsu, and not as Tokumine no Kon. At the same time he referred the karate kata demonstrated by Kyan as Passai. This makes the strong impression that by 1942 Tokumine no Kon as a common name for a kata was not yet in use.

Taira Shinken in 1964 lists eleven kata “still extant today”, but Tokumine is not among it. It should be noted that among the supporting members of Taira’s association at that time where Nagamine Shōshin, Shimabukuro Tatsuo, and Shimabukuro Eizō, all students of Kyan. In addition, Shimabukuro Tatsuo incorporated a Tokumine no Kon into the syllabus of his Isshin-ryū.

Two years later, in a film shot by Steve Armstrong in 1966, Shimabukuro Tatsuo performs a kata referred to as Tokumine no Kon (in katakana writing). This might be the earliest written reference to this name. However, this is a very different kata when compared to the ones performed by Nakazato Jōen, Shimabukuro Zenpō of Seibukan, and Toma Shian. It lacks the signature techniques and enbusen shown by the others and at the same time clearly features very different signature techniques instead, as well as a different enbusen. So there are two different kata that bear the same name.

In a printed matter I found the expression Tokumine no Kon for the first time in Inoue Motokatsu’s work (1972), followed by Uechi Kanei’s work (1977), the BRD (1978); Aoi Umi (1978); ODHJ III (1983), and so on. So it became a more established name by the 1970s.

When did Kyan Chōtoku learn Tokumine no Kon?

There seems to be no source that even gives an approximate year as regards when Kyan went to “Yaeyama” to study the bōjutsu of Tokumine. The various Okinawa karate and kobudō sources don’t tell much about Kyan’s visit to Ishigaki. What they do tell is that Kyan went there to study Tokumine no Kon, or Tokumine bōjutsu for that matter. In addition, Kedahana Gisa was identified as the person who taught it to Kyan.

Yet it is still unknown when Kyan Chōtoku visited Ishigaki. But here are some clues.

In August 1930, Kyan, 60 years old at the time, together with Kuwae Ryōsei and Kudaka Masayoshi, went to Taiwan where they gave a special martial arts demonstration at the Taipei International Budō Festival held at the Taiwan Butokuden. During the festival, Kyan was matched against the jūdōka Ishida Shinzō. So it is possible that he first visited Ishigaki on his return trip from Taiwan to Okinawa.

While there is no proof for the above theory, there are at least three newspaper articles from the year 1931 that report of Kyan Chōtoku’s visit to Ishigaki Island. According to these articles, Chōtoku was introduced as the “Ryūkyū karate authority” who came to Ishigaki to teach karate on the rather special occasion of the establishment of a “training facility” for karate, which we later find described as the “Southern Islands Butokuden”.

As the first of these articles is from September 1931, and the last one from early December 1931, Chōtoku either stayed in Ishigaki for about four months, or he visited Ishigaki at least twice within this timeframe, meaning of course that he might have returned to Okinawa in between.

Location of the Okawa area on Ishigaki Island.

Location of the Okawa area on Ishigaki Island.

On September 14, 1931, Chōtoku, 61 years old, gave a performance of karate at the Yaeyama Hall in Ōkawa on Ishigaki Island, and another one at the same place was scheduled for the following day. The people of Ishigaki were asked for their sympathy towards the establishment of the “karate training facility” which was repeatedly referred to as the “Southern Islands Butokuden”. Instruction in karate by Chōtoku took place from 8 to 11 a.m. and from 7 to 11 p.m., with a membership fee of two yen. The admission fee was devoted to help cover the construction costs of the Southern Islands Butokuden.

Newspaper companies of Ishigaki further sponsored a charity demonstration meeting in aid of the Southern Islands Butokuden, for the opening of which “Mr. Kyan Chōtoku gathered the youth of the island for diligent instruction.” The charity demonstration began on December 7th, 1931, and continued every day for the course of one week. The performances started at 7 p.m. at the “Banzai Office”.

The following contents were announced:

  • Karate
  • Kata of Karate
  • Kumite
  • Bō no kumite
  • Tinbē
  • Sai, Nunchaku.

Wow!!!!!! 😀

The admission fee was 15 sen (=1/100 yen) for adults, and 10 sen for children. Chōtoku himself promoted active participation by the islanders, saying that

“Ishigaki Town is keenly aware that it does not yet have a facility for the practice of physical education. Because it recognized the need for a dōjō for the large number of their sons and daughters, I ask the distinguished attendees for their sympathy.”

Just as on Okinawa Main Island, education in martial arts at the Southern Islands Butokuden of Ishigaki aimed at the juniors. We also find the idea of karate at the time formulated in well-known terms as

“Recently Okinawa prefecture adopted karate in the area of physical education. It is also being introduced as self-defense training.”

Anyway, the above informations point to the year 1931 as the year that Kyan learned Tokumine bōjutsu from Kedahana Gisa on Ishigaki.

When was it named?

Another question is: when was the kata actually named as Tokumine no Kon?

We have seen earlier that by 1929 Kyan obviously did not yet learned the kata. In addition, Tokumine no Kon was first found described in a private film shot by Steve Armstrong in 1966, and in printed matter in 1972.

market_smAt the time when Kyan Chōtoku went to Yaeyama, there seems to have been no name of a kata. Still in 1938 it was not found among the names of Okinawa kata of bōjutsu, and still in 1942 Kyan’s performance was presented under the generic name of bōjutsu, and Nagamine would surely have noted if Kyan had announced it in a more specific way. The given history strongly suggests that this bōjutsu only later became known as Tokumine no Kon, in the sense of constituting what was understood as the core of Tokumine bōjutsu. Like in many other cases of kata a retrospective naming seems to have taken place to honor the source of the tradition. And again like in many other cases, it probably was not even a fixed kata, but simply a collection of techniques of bōjutsu. See Kyan Chōtoku no Sai, Kanegawa no Tinbē, Kanegawa no Nichōgama, and probably many more which were created from a collection of techniques and retrospectively baptized under these names. Even at the point when it had become an actual fixed kata, it might have not yet been labelled as such. Shimabuku Tatsuo is said to have initially referred to Hama Higa no Tonfā simply as tuifa. He also initially called Kyan no Sai and Tokumine no Kun simply sai and .

At the time of Kyan’s visit to Ishigaki, Kedahana Gisa (1843-1934) was in the advanced age of 87-88 years. If Kyan would have come to Ishigaki just a few years later, Tokumine no Kon might not have been transmitted to today, but instead would have become be a “phantom technique” (maboroshi no waza).

Well, Kyan is said to have been taught bōjutsu by Kedahana Gisa (1843-1934), the master of the house Tokumine Pēchin lived in after he had been banished to Ishigaki Island. Because Kedahana is a family name from the village of Miyara on Ishigaki, it seems that Tokumine Pēchin had been exiled to Ishigaki Miyara village and that Kedahana Gisa there took care of his everyday life.

This first tile-roofing house of Miyara still remains today, and is the house where Hiroshi Oji (grandson of Kedahana Gisa, supposed teacher of Kyan Chotoku) has been living with his wife

This first tile-roofing house of Miyara still remains today, and is the house where Hiroshi Oji (grandson of Kedahana Gisa, supposed teacher of Kyan Chotoku) has been living with his wife

During the Meiji era, the Kedahana family was the first family who built a house with a tile-roofing in Miyara. During the Pacific War it served as a quarter for the officers of the troops that were stationed in Miyara. This first tile-roofing house of Miyara still remains today, and is the house where Hiroshi Oji (grandson of Gisa) has been living with his wife.

And other than the karate kobudō sources claim – i.e. that there was no bōjutsu and that Kedahana Gisa’s son Hobuta never leaned any martial art from him – there are contrary records from Kedahana Gisa’s relatives.  According to these, his son Hobuta as well as his grandson Hiroshi were in fact the masters of bōjutsu in Miyara village.

Kedahana Hobuta (1882-1974, photo from the Kedahana family, published by Nakamoto 2007)

Kedahana Hobuta (1882-1974, photo from the Kedahana family, published by Nakamoto 2007)

Furthermore, there is family research on Ishigaki that does not support the story of exchange between Kyan Chōtoku and Kedahana Gisa. Instead, Kyan Chōtoku is said to have been “great friends with Acchi (=dialect for ojisan)”, which points to Gisa’s son Hobuta instead. And again this is the same Hobuta the karate kobudō sources claim had no knowledge of bōjutsu and bujutsu.

And it goes on.

There was a certain Nakachi (now deceased) and a certain Miyara who had received initiation into karate from Kyan Chōtoku in Miyara village. And there are also stories in Ishigaki Miyara village that relate to the tradition of Tokumine no Kon. Incidentally, in the Mura-bō (village bōjutsu) that has been handed down in Miyara there is a unique technique that is not found in other regions of the Yaeyama. It is a kata that is performed independently, not as a group kata. While the whole of the Miyara village bōjutsu itself does not have a name, the individual parts of it do have names. The kata in question is called Furi-bō. Well, it is not the same as Tokumine no Kon, but has points in common as well as differences with it. But it is a bōjutsu kata, and these always share techniques, though performed in different habits according to the various schools.

As regards any ideas that this Miyara village bōjutsu might have come from Tokumine Pēchin: The village bōjutsu of Miyara village on Ishigaki already began around 1820, long before Tokumine came to the island. This can be seen in the following description (from: Miyara-mura Shi. Miyara Kōminkan, 1986):

“The history of the beginning of the techniques of the in Miyara village is roughly as follows. Although the exact era of its foundation is unclear, it is said that it was brought about around 1820 by a certain Sakuma. Sakuma came from Okinawa Main Island and took temporary residence in Miyara village. Thereafter the successive generations of leaders (of bōjutsu) are as follows:

  • 1st generation: a certain Sakuma
  • 2nd generation: Unten Mayo
  • 3rd generation: Maemori Yamari
  • 4th generation: Higashioota Kami
  • 5th generation: Kedahana Hobuta, assisted by Daiku Gisa
  • 6th generation: Daiku Gisa, assisted by Ōtoku Mayo

In the above genealogy of the Miyara village bōjutsu we can find relatives of Kedahana Gisa, who is suspected to have been Kyan Chōtoku’s teacher of Tokumine no Kon:

The 5th generation Kedahana Hobuta was Kedahana Gisa’s son, and his assistant and later 6th generation Daiku Gisa was Kedahana Gisa’s grandson.

But Kedahana Gisa’s name itself does not appear in the genealogy of Miyara village bōjutsu.

Other than it was stated in the karate kobudō sources as described in the beginning of this article, it became quite clear here that among the descendants of Kedahana Gisa were indeed experts of bōjutsu. It also became quite clear that this Miyara village bōjutsu on Ishigaki Island existed prior, during, and after Tokumine Pēchin’s stay on Ishigaki.

Returning to the above cited source, the types of technique of the and the order of their performance is as follows:

  • Furi-bō Mē-harai (ritual cleansing of the public square) · Rokushaku Bō-kumi · Tachi and Bō-kumi
  • Rokushaku Bō-kumi · Tanshaku and Rokushaku Kumi · Rokushaku Kumi-bō
  • Furi-bō · Naginata and Tunfā Kumi · Rokushaku Bō-kumi
  • Sai and Rokushaku Kumi · Nuki Rokushaku Kumi-bō · Kama and Sō (Yari) Kumi
  • Rokushaku Bōkumi · Tinpai and Kuwa Kumi · Rokushaku Kumi-bō
  • Furi-bō

So, maybe there was more influence to Tokumine no Kon than the lineage Tokumine Pēchin→Kedahana Gisa→Kyan Chōtoku admits. Another question is if there was an actual Tokumine bōjutsu in existence in Shuri prior to Tokumine’s banishment, or if this is a theory from the karate kobudō circles only, based on the inference of the idea that Tokumine taught Kedahana Gisa, and that no one else on the island had any clue of bōjutsu, which as we have seen is not a fact. Let’s see if in the future more detail become known.

Current versions of Tokumine no Kon

Currently Tokumine no Kon is handed down in the Shōrinji-ryū by way of Kyan Chōtoku→Nakazato Jōen:

Tokumine no Kon can also be seen performed by Kyan Chōtoku→xyz→Toma Shian of Seidōkan in Okinawa City:

The same Tokumine no Kon as above can also be found in the Seibukan, see performance of Kyan Chotoku→ Shimabuku Zenryō→Shimabuku Zenpō:

Tokumine no Kon is also practiced as part of the syllabus of Isshin-ryū of Kyan Chotoku→ Shimabuku Tatsuo. While the previous three examples are the same kata, the Isshin-ryū version differs prominently from the previos ones. It lacks the signature techniques and has a different enbusen while at the same time clearly featuring quite different signature techniques as well as a different enbusen. I think possible reasons for this have been discussed previously by the experts of the style.

Finally, here’s an example of Furi-bō from Ishigaki Miyara village bōjutsu, starting at about 2:22 minutes. Naturally, village bōjutsu follows very different demonstration habits when compared to kobudō bōjutsu. However, remember that the history of this village bōjutsu began in 1820, that it existed prior to, during, and following Tokumine’s time of banishment in Ishigaki Miyara. Would you ask me now which one influenced which, I couldn’t answer that.

[1] Note: A 1978 Aoi Umi article says the exact opposite: “In Yaeyama today still remains the kata of bōjutsu by the name of Tokumine no Kon.” It should be noted, though, that although various bōjutsu exist on Yaeyama, and specifically on Ishigaki, Tokumine no Kon was not handed down in Ishigaki by way of Kyan’s teacher. Possible reasons for this can be found in this article.

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On the distinction between Shuri-te and Tomari-te

Translator’s note: The Japanese language version of this article published on the Motobu-ryū website has sparked a lot of interest among the international karate and Ryūkyū bugei community. In addition, there was a request for a translation. For this reason I translated it here with the kind permission and support of Motobu Naoki Shihan of the Motobu-ryū and Motobu Udun-dī. As it is a quite difficult topic with some rare terminology, I added a minimum of explanations at the end (terms noted by a preceeding arrow →). Any inadequacy is mine alone.

On the distinction between Shuri-te and Tomari-te

Salt drying field at Tomari. From: Hawks, Francis L.: Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry etc. 1857 (opposite page 362)

Salt drying field at Tomari. From: Hawks, Francis L.: Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry etc. 1857 (opposite page 362)

There is a theory that claims that “Motobu Chōki is Tomari-te”. Have you ever wondered where on earth this theory might have come from? The Motobu-ryū does not make such a claim. To begin with, Tomari-te (Tūmaidī) has the meaning of the (bujutsu) of the →shizoku of Tomari village (today’s Naha-shi Tomari), and Motobu Chōki came from Shuri Akabira village, which means he was from Shuri →shizoku, and not from Tomari →shizoku. In karate the classification into so-called Shuri-te, Tomari-te, and Naha-te is only a rough regional classification of the bujutsu of the →shizoku who lived in each of these regions, and not a classification according to an exact stylistic or methodical content. This is a matter that Motobu Chōki himself has pointed out in his books.

So looking up various sources, this claim seems to have originated from Nagamine Shōshin (founder of Matsubayashi-ryū). One of his former teachers was Kyan Chōtoku, who in turn was a direct student of Matsumura Sōkon, the restorer of Shuri-te. Another former teacher of his was Motobu Chōki, who in turn was a direct student of Matsumora Kōsaku, the restorer of Tomari-te. In order to perpetuate the martial virtues (butoku) of both Matsumura and Matsumora to future generations, Nagamine used the character “matsu” as found in both persons’ names to call his own style Matsubayashi-ryū.[1]

But would a distinction according to either of the two systems of tradition be accurate?

Kyan Chōtoku was originally from the Kyan →dunchi in Shuri Gibu village and was a genuine member of the Shuri →shizoku. He first studied karate under his father Chōfu, and from the age of 16 years (→kazoe) studied under Matsumura Sōkon for two years. Afterwards, together with his father Chōfu he moved to Tōkyō where he stayed for a total of 9 years as part of the inner circle of →Marquis Shō Tai, the former and last king of the Ryūkyū kingdom. After returning home, he studied Tomari-te with Matsumora Kōsaku and Oyadomari →Pēchin from Tomari village.[2] In addition, Nagamine in his martial resume of Kyan noted that Mr. Kyan in this way not only practiced Shuri-te, but also Tomari-te.[3] So when distinguishing the tradition based on the system it would not be accurate to limit it to the classification of Shuri-te. By the way, Mr. Kyan had been adopted into the Motonaga family, which was a →monchū of the Motobu →Udun. His real name was thus Motonaga Chōtoku. This Motonaga house by way of adoption became a →monchū of the Motobu →udun. From this reason the descendants of Mr. Kyan currently call themselves by the family name of Motonaga.[4]

Motobu Chōki, on the other hand, at the age of 12 years (→kazoe) studied under Itosu Ankō (Shuri-te) who had been invited by the Motobu →udun, and while growing up he studied under Matsumura Sōkon (from Shuri Yamagawa village), Sakuma →Pēchin (from Shuri Gibu village), and Matsumora Kōsaku from Tomari.[5] In addition, from Nagamine’s martial resume of Motobu Chōki[6] can be seen that three of Chōki’s teachers were persons from Shuri, and only Matsumora came from Tomari. It is therefore also inaccurate to limit the classification of Motobu Chōki to Tomari-te.

From the above it becomes clear that Kyan Chōtoku has trained in both Shuri-te and Tomari-te, and the same holds true for Motobu Chōki. In addition, both Kyan and Motobu have studied under both Matsumura Sōkon and Matsumora Kōsaku. And therefore it is apparent, in sense of the above noted systems of tradition, that it is an inaccurate classification to categorize Kyan Chōtoku as Shuri-te and Motobu Chōki as Tomari-te.

Now, when classifying the systems of tradition in this way, yet another issue arises. Namely, there is no clear distinction between the contents of Shuri-te and Tomari-te.

Note on Wanshū and Rōhai (From Motobu Chōki: Watashi no Karate-jutsu, page 4).

Note on Wanshū and Rōhai (From Motobu Chōki: Watashi no Karate-jutsu, page 4).

As regards Motobu Chōki, the Shuri-te prior to Itosu was (Koryū Shuri-te) of the Matsumura and Sakuma period. And the Naha-te prior to Higaonna Kanryō was (Koryū Naha-te) from the era of Bushi Nagahama. It should also be noted that Bushi Nagahama in addition also taught Itosu Ankō.

It was stated by Motobu Chōki in his book that Koryū Shuri-te and Koryū Naha-te had differences in contents when compared to their modern successors. However, he made no equivalent statement about Tomari-te. Only mentioning it in one short line, he said that prior to the abolition of the feudal fiefs – in Ryūkyu between 1872 and 1879 -, “The two kinds Wanshū and Rōhai were only practiced in Tomari village”. And these two types of kata were neither practiced nor taught by Motobu Chōki. Or he possibly learned it during his younger years, but in later years did not practice these two Tomari-te-specific kata. The fact that both Wanshū and Rōhai contain neko-ashi-dachi, which Motobu Chōki disliked, essentially underlines the low probability that he had trained in these kata. According to →Motobu Chōsei, Motobu Chōki did not use neko-ashi-dachi at all, even when it was part of a kata.

In addition, he said that the practice methods of Matsumura and Itosu (who was under the influence of Bushi Nagahama of Koryū Naha-te) were different, while he not noted about a difference in the practice methods of Matsumura and Matsumora. It seems that Matsumura Sensei placed emphasis on kumite, which also applies to Matsumora Sensei. In this context: Matsumora Sensei’s teaching style was to issue homework assignments to his skillful students. For example, he would issue a task related to kumite or the like, and without him providing an early solution the disciples had to come by the correct answer by themselves by the time of the next practice meeting. This anecdote appeared in the Karate round-table discussion of 1936.[7] In addition, Matsumura Sensei also advocated the importance of adaptation to the circumstances in the practical application of kata (putting it to practical use in kumite) as well as in real combat (jissen). Therefore the ideological difference between Matsumora and Matsumura is also not considered to have been any significant. Ultimately, besides the personal characteristics of Matsumura and Matsumora, it is appropriate to assume that there was no essential difference between Shuri-te and Tomari-te.

It should be noted that there is the theory of a contest bout having taken place between Matsumura Sensei and Matsumora Sensei, and there is also a theory that supposes Matsumora Sensei has studied under Matsumura Sensei.[8] But it is difficult to support these theories by means of historical source material of that era. However, the possibility of some sort of exchange between the two is perfectly imaginable. By the way, both Matsumura and Matsumora are pronounced “Machimura” in Okinawa dialect. As in Okinawa many episodes about both these persons were and are handed down, there are sometimes cases in which both persons are mistaken for one another. For karate researchers it is necessary to pay attention to this point, too.

In case of Motobu Chōki the problem is not so much a difference between Shuri-te and Tomari-te, but rather the difference between a) Matsumura and Sakuma →Pēchin era Koryū Shuri-te and b) Kindai (modern) Shuri-te since the era of Itosu. In Motobu Chōki’s literary works as well as in the articles about the Karate round-table discussion of 1936,[9] this difference was repeatedly brought to everyone’s attention. This problem awareness was by no means unique to Motobu Chōki. We can also see it from other examples, like from Sai Kahō who said that “Matsumura Sōkon’s Karate was the original real thing; Itosu Ankō’s method was riddled with mistakes”, and furthermore that “After reaching the condition as Okinawa Prefecture (since 1879), the real deal karate disappeared. Lately the karate of the people of Shuri was riddled with mistakes and it is below criticism (not worth criticizing)”.[10] To a certain extent this problem awareness seems to have been the common understanding among those karateka who actually knew the koryū versions of it.

Present of the author Matsumura (former name Matsumora) Kōshō to Present author Matsumura Kōshō to Nagamine Shoshin: research (1970) on Matsumora Kosaku (from author's collection).

Present of the author Matsumura (former name Matsumora) Kōshō to Nagamine Shoshin: “The Restorer of Karate (Tomari-te) – Biography of Matsumora Kosaku (1970)” (from author’s collection).

Well, generally in karate history the acknowledgment of Matsumora Sensei tends to be low when compared to that of Matsumura Sensei and Itosu Sensei. But this doesn’t mean that he fell behind in his martial art, but simply that he is mentioned less. Under these circumstances it is indeed a wonderful thing that Mr. Nagamine devoted one chapter of his book to describe Matsumora Sensei’s life and to praise his significant accomplishments. And therefore, aside from the pros and cons as regards a distinction between Shuri-te and Tomari-te, the fact that his styles’ name includes one character of Matsumora Sensei’s name in order to convey his martial virtues to later generations, can be considered a precious thing.

End of article

Transl. Notes:

  • →Marquis Shō Tai: the rank of marquis ( 侯) was the second highest amongst five old Japanese aristocratic ranks; it was placed between the duke ( 公) as the highest and above the count (haku 伯) as the third.
  • →Motobu Chōsei: Son of Motobu Chōki, and the inheritor of both Motobu-ryū (his father’s style) and Motobu Udundī (the art of his uncle, Motobu Chōyu).
  • kazoe: i.e, age in which the counting of years follows the traditional Japanese calendar year: at birth a person is counted as already one year old, and at the turn of the year he becomes one year older)
  • monchū: lit. “inside the gates” or “inside the family”; patrilineal groups originally limited to the upper class, although the peasantry had reorganized its society along similar principles by the end of the 18th century.
  • pēchin: Early modern royal government rank.
  • shizoku: Shizoku is a Japanese term meaning “ancestry in a samurai family; the warrior class.” The concept of shizoku was introduced to Ryūkyū by Satsuma, although on the islands no actual warrior class in the Japanese sense existed. That’s why for Ryūkyū it is usually called keimochi, literally “possessing a genealogy”. The keimochi were represented by the Ryūkyū court ranks 1a to 9b. The 1st major to the 4th minor rank constituted the senior keimochi who managed important offices of the government. This was the strata that bore the designation of dunchi. The keimochi of 5th major rank and below correspond to the ordinary keimochi, mainly those with satonushi and chikudun family ancestry and in the ranks 5a-9b. In the colloquial language the keimochi were commonly referred to as yukacchu. There were also keimochi without official posts called muyakushi, and keimochi without official post but working in agriculture, called yadoi.
  • dunchi: Designated the residences as well as the families of the senior keimochi ranks 1a-4b (uēkata and pēkumi). When speaking about these persons as well as their families and family members, they were generally called, for example, Tomigusuku Dunchi, Gima Dunchi etc.
  • udun: Designated the residences as well as the families belonging to royalty (anji-be, omoi-guwa-be), which were all above the rank system of the keimochi. Instead of using their family names, the ōji and anji would generally assume the name of their endowed territory, e.g. Nakijin Ōji, Motobu Anji etc. The term udun was also used as a honorary title or a sobriquet to indicate the whole family of the person, such as Nakijin Udun, Motobu Udun etc. The only exception of an udun family that did not belong to royalty was the Kunigami Udun of the Ba Clan, as the eighth generation Seimi was an adopted child.

Footnotes:

[1] Cf. Okinawa Karate Kobudō Jiten 2008.

[2] according to Kyan Chōtoku: Memories of Karate, 1942

[3] Nagamine 1975: 67-68

[4] As explained on the Motobu-ryū website: Kyan Uēkata Chōfu (Chinese-style name: Shō Ishin, born 1839) was the eldest son of Motonaga Chōyō and a member of the 8th generation of the Motobu →Udun. His grandmother was Manabe, the third daughter of Kyan Uēkata Chōiku. Chōfu had been adopted into the Kyan family at the age of 17, in order to become the head of the Kyan household. He studied karate under Matsumura Sōkon. Chōfu’s third son Chōtoku in turn was adopted back into the Motonaga family in order to continue the succession of his father’s family. Notwithstanding, he continued to use his birth name Kyan until his latter years.

[5] from Motobu Chōki’s biography in his book “Watashi no Karate-jutsu”

[6] Nagamine 1975: 71-75

[7] Ryūkyū Shinpō, November 9-11, 1936

[8] Matsumura Kōshō (previous family name: Matsumura): Karate (Tomari-te) Chūkō no So – Matsumora Kōsaku Ryakuden. 1970, p. 40.

[9] Ryūkyū Shinpō, November 9-11, 1936

[10] This statement was given by Kojō Kafu (born 1909) during an interview by famous martial arts historian Fujiwara Ryōzō. The person Sai Kahō he referred to is Kōjo Kahō (1849 – 1925) of the Sai clan, who was Kafu’s grandfather. He was a →shizoku member from Kume village and 4th generation of the Kōjo-ryū. Nickname “Gakusha-tanmē (the venerable old scholar)”. He studied Confucianism and cultivated karate-dō, , and . BTW, Kōjo is pronounced Kogusuku in Okinawan dialect. The above cited statement by Kojō Kafu was published in: Gima Shinkin and Fujiwara Ryōzō: Taidan – Kindai Karate-dō no Rekishi wo Kataru. Bēsubōru Magajin-sha, Tōkyō 1986, p. 95.

It should be noted, though, that on p. 96 Kojō Kafu further cited his grandfather Kahō saying “Instead I think Higaonna Kanryō brought back the skill into karate after his return (from China)“. As Higaonna in China also trained at the Kojō dōjō in Fuzhou, Kafu possibly superelevated his own lineage of Kōjo-ryū while diminishing modern Itosu-based Shuri-te. It should be borne in mind that in martial arts research it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between arguments that are based on “style-pride”; thinking in relative terms is necessary. This awareness to relative terms was formulated by Gima Shinkin in his reply to the above issue:

“However, even if it’s close to the truth, when it comes to the evaluation in modern karate history, it becomes necessary to see it at all from a different angle. That is, in this situation it is impossible to insist on a high-handed truth only. In the case of Itosu Ankō Shihan, he created the Heian (Pinan) kata, and in the Naihanchi kata he carried out a process of educational reorganization, which is why he divided it into three levels. If you look at these kata from the perspective of the martial arts of the Sōke of the Ryūkyū era Sai clan, you might reflect on them as being arbitrary kata full of mistakes. However, Itosu Shihan, because he was a creative person active in the transition of the era and considering it as Itosu-ryū, it is not a problem at all.”

Biblio:

1) Matsumura Kōshō (previous family name: Matsumura): Karate (Tomari-te) Chūkō no So – Matsumora Kōsaku Ryakuden. 1970, p. 40.

2) Gima Shinkin and Fujiwara Ryōzō: Taidan – Kindai Karate-dō no Rekishi wo Kataru. Bēsubōru Magajin-sha, Tōkyō 1986, p. 95.

3) Nagamine Shōshin: Shijitsu to Dentō mamoru Okinawa Karate-dō, 1975.

 

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My photo of a photo of the original drawing of…

My photo of a photo of the original drawing of... (From the author's archives).

My photo of a photo of the original drawing of… (From the author’s archives).

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Practice of Uēku-dī (ウェーク手の稽古)

One of the more famous kata with the uēku is Tsuken Sunakake no Kon (oki.: Chikin Sunakachi nu Kun). As it is generally demonstrated using the uēku (oar) it is also referred to as Chikin Sunakachi nu Uēku-dī (the skills of the oar etc.). The kata is said to have been handed down by Tsuken Uēkata Seisoku (see Karate 1.0). Tsuken Uēkata was a native of Shuri Tōbaru village, where the ruins of his residence still remain today.

Characteristic features of Tsuken Sunakake no Kon are the butt-end nagashi-uke in the beginning, followed by a gyaku-giri while leaning the body to the left and followed by sunakake and shōmen-uchi. In addition, from jōdan nagashi-uke to gyaku-uchi followed by drawing a circle with the tip of the uēku (mawashi-uke) and finishing with another gyaku-uchi. There are also many yoko-uchi while turning the body. It contains the technique of shoveling sand into the eyes of the opponent, which is referred to as sunakake, as well as some kaeshi-uchi.

Jōdan-kaeshi-uchi in Kōkutsu-dachi.

Jōdan-kaeshi-uchi in Kōkutsu-dachi.

Weiterlesen

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Just some normal Kata practice

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Shūshi no Kun Shō (Bojutsu Kata Series)

When searching Youtube for “Shushi no Kon Sho”, there are literally hundreds of search results where people perform this kata. You should really try it NOW and watch some of the examples first.

It is clear they belong to various schools, as can be seen in all the varying habits displayed during performances. However, it is impossible to judge the technical specifics of other schools – simply because how can you know the reasons for it?

Well, there is the saying that the hip must be used and this is constantly heard of on Okinawa, too. The use of hip is laborious and takes time to develop. It is also a bit different to empty-handed hip work. To make matters worse, it is simply not necessary to incorporate hip work when using a relatively light : the arms will easily do the job. Weiterlesen

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April 16 and 17, 1945: Düsseldorf‘s saviors – in the last second

70 years ago the “Rhineland Action” was carried out by the Düsseldorf resistance group around Karl August Wiedenhofen against the Nazi regime. Their goal was to surrender the city of Düsseldorf to the US troops on April 17, 1945, without further combat and to protect the city and people from further death and destruction.

The situation in April 1945

Since the end of February 1945, Düsseldorf was front-line city. American troops – parts of the 83rd Infantry Division – had occupied the neighboring city of Neuss and the left bank of urban areas of Düsseldorf since early March. Thereupon the Rhine bridges were dynamited. Karl Friedrich Florian, Gauleiter of the NSDAP and the Reich Defence Commissioner, had issued the “Scorched Earth” order. All supply installations and transport networks were to be blown up and the Düsseldorf population were ordered to leave the city. Since April 10, 1945 the city was completely enclosed and under constant attack. Since May 1940 allied air attacks killed more than 5000 civilians, damaged about 90 percent and destroyed half of the buildings. On 12 June 1943 the allies deliberately ignited a firestorm. Weiterlesen

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