Motobu Chōki: “My Art and Skill of Karate” (1932)

The book “My Art and Skill of Karate” presents the technical knowledge and original accounts imparted by famed Okinawa karate master Motobu Chōki (1870-1944). This translation was created in close cooperation with the author’s grandson, Motobu Naoki sensei. It also includes a congratulatory address by the author’s son, Motobu Chōsei sensei, the current head of the school. Moreover, this year marks the 150th anniversary of Motobu Chōki’s birth. In other words, three generations of the Motobu family were involved in this new translation, connecting the history and tradition of karate from the 19th to 21th century.

Print edition:  US | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP | CA

Kindle edition:  US | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | NL | JP | BR | CA | MX | AU | IN

(Note: The Kindle version does not include the glossary index and only a rudimentary TOC, so navigation is less reader-friendly than in the print version)

In addition to accounts about old-time karate masters in Okinawa, the work features thirty-four photos of Motobu performing Naihanchi Shodan, including written descriptions. Moreover, it includes twenty kumite with pictures and descriptions as well as five pictures of how to use the makiwara.

What makes it even more unique is that the existence of the book was unknown until the 1980s, when the wife of a deceased student sent the book to Motobu Chōki’s son, Chōsei. Until today this edition remains the only known original edition in existence, and it provided the basis for this original translation. This work has to be considered one of the most important sources to assess and interpret karate.

Motobu Chōki: “My Art and Skill of Karate” (2020)

My Art and Skill of Karate (Ryukyu Bugei Book 3), by Choki Motobu (Author), Andreas Quast (Tr./Ed.), Motobu Naoki (Tr.)

  • 5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Black & White on white paper
  • 232 pages
  • First Printing: 2020
  • ISBN: 979-8601364751

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Okinawan Samurai — The Instructions of a Royal Official to his Only Son

BookCoverPreviewsmTroubled about the future of his only son and heir, a royal government official of the Ryukyu Kingdom wrote down his ‘Instructions’ as a code of practice for all affairs. Written in flowing, elegant Japanese, he refers to a wide spectrum of artistic accomplishments that the royal government officials were ought to study in those days, such as court etiquette, literature and poetry, music, calligraphy, the tea ceremony and so on.

The author, who achieved a remarkable skill level in wielding both the pen and the sword, also informs us about various martial arts practiced in those days. Translated from Japanese for the first time, from centuries-long puzzling seclusion the state of affairs surrounding an 18th century Okinawan samurai vividly resurrects in what is considered ‘Okinawa’s most distinguished literature.’

Print edition: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP

Kindle edition: US | UKDE | FR | ES | IT | NL | JP | BR | CA | MX | AU | IN

Table of Contents

Okinawan Samurai — The Instructions of a Royal Official to his Only Son. By Aka/Ōta Pēchin Chokushiki (auth.), Andreas Quast (ed./transl.), Motobu Naoki (transl.).

  • 5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Black & White on Cream paper
  • 218 pages
  • First Printing: 2018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1985331037
  • ISBN-10: 1985331039

Translated from Japanese for the first time!

“I think it is epoch-making that Quast sensei decided to translate the ‘Testament of Aka Pēchin Chokushiki,’ and not one of the famous historical or literary works such as the Chūzan Seikan or the Omoro Sōshi. … I believe this translation has significant implications for the future study of karate history and Ryūkyū history abroad. (Motobu Naoki, Shihan of the Motobu-ryū)

“It is one of THE most important primary sources for truly understanding the unabridged history of our arts first hand by a member of the very class of people who spawned Karate in the first place!” (Joe Swift, Karateologist, Tokyo-based)

“I highly recommend this new work by Andi Quast … as a MUST BUY book …” ( Patrick McCarthy, foremost western authority of Okinawan martial arts, modern and antique, anywhere he roams)

“I’m sure I’m going to learn and enjoy this book.” (Itzik Cohen, karate and kobudo man from Israel)

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Oni Oshiro

BookCoverPreviewIn the era of Old Ryukyu, a legendary warrior of Okinawan martial arts appeared on the center stage of the historical theatre. Due to his unique appearance and powerful physique—reminiscent of a wolf or a tiger—the people of that time called him Oni Ōshiro, or «Ōshiro the Demon.»

Also known as Uni Ufugushiku in the Okinawan pronunciation of his name, he had been variously described as the originator of the original Okinawan martial art «Ti» as well as the actual ancestor of a number of famous Okinawan karate masters, such as Mabuni Kenwa and others.

This is his narrative. Gleaned from the few primary sources available, which for the first time are presented here in the English language, the original heroic flavor of the source texts was kept intact.

«I invoke the Gods, To quake heaven and earth, To let the firmament resound, And to rescue the divine woman—Momoto Fumiagari.»

Get your copy now: US ►CA ►UK ►DE ►FR ►ES ►IT

5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
94 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1533486219 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1533486212
BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense

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Matsumura Sokon: The Seven Virtues of Martial Arts

by Andreas Quast

This is the true story of the seven virtues of martial arts as described by Matsumura Sokon. Considered the primary source-text of old-style Okinawan martial arts, the “Seven Virtues” are admired for their straightforward advice. Handwritten in the late 19th century by Matsumura, the most celebrated ancestor of karate, they are considered the ethical fountain and technical key to understand what can’t be seen.

This work includes the rare photograph of the original handwritten scroll, approved by the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum as well as the owner of the scroll. It also shows the family crest of the Matsumura family, sporting the character of “Bu.”

Get your copy now: USUKDEFRESITJPCA

Matsumura himself pointed out that the “Seven Virtues of Martial Arts” were praised by a wise man in an ancient manuscript, a manuscript that has remained obscure ever since. Now the ultimate source of this wondrous composition has been discovered and verified. Presented and explained here for the first time, it is not only the source of Matsumura’s “Seven Virtues of Martial Arts”… In fact, it is the original meaning of martial arts per se.

  • 5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Black & White on Cream paper
  • 80 pages
  • ISBN-13: 979-8605143611
  • BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense

Matsumura Sokon: The Seven Virtues of Martial Arts. By Andreas Quast, 2020.

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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 ($14.99), Amazon UK (£9.79), Amazon Germany (EUR 14.97), CreateSpace eStore ($14.99), 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.

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

Cover

Cover

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

OUT OF PRINT!

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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Karate-do Taikan – 2017 reissue by Gajumaru Shoten

The “Karate-do Taikan” was compiled by Nakasone Genwa and puplished in 1938.
It is a comprehensive book with numerous rare photos and drawings as well as text and many descriptions of kata, training equipment and much more. Among the rare records are the only surviving depiction of two sheets of Hanashiro Chomo’s “Karate Kumite” (1905), Itosu Anko’s “Ten Precepts of Karate” (1908), Funakoshi Gichin’s “20 Guiding Princples of Karate,” and a text by Matsumura Sokon showing that he was of Chikudun Pechin status at that time.

Among the techniques and kata shown are: Jion by Hanashiro Chomo, kata and applications by Gusukuma Shinpan, Sochin by Mabuni Kenwa, karate applications by Taira Shinken and Mabuni Kenwa, Passai by Chibana Choshin, Wado-ryu jujutsu by and with Otsuka Horonori.
The work is considered one of the most important documents of early karate.

In 1991, publishers Gajumaru Shoten of Ginowan reprinted and published the “Karate-do Taikan” and it was very well received by karate researchers and afficionados at that time. However, it has been out of stock for a long time so Gajumaru Shoten decided to republish it in a new format in order to revive it as a guideline for the new era.

For this reissue, the annotation was revised and – with the support of Okinawa Prefecture – digital videos were created and recorded on a DVD as an appendix. In it, the basic kata of karate, which were established by Nakasone Genwa as a key to the nationwide spread of karate, were performed and reproduced by active karateka.

Moreover, masters of traditional karate and kobudo generously present their kata, showing an enthusiasm for the spread of karate from a time when schools were not yet established.

Okinawa karate is on the way to return to the origin of karate while at the same time it opens up new perspectives. This book should be read and studied by anyone concerned with Okinawa karate.

The work has 452 pages in A5 size with a luxury binding covered with fine red cloth and it comes with case. The title is made in foil (hot) stamping. There is an appendix with one DVD attached. The DVD includes videos of the kata presented in the book in 1938, performed and reproduced by top karateka from Okinawa Prefecture, as well as Makiwara and other training methods. The performers are Miyagi Tokumasa, Tsuha Kiyoshi, Higaonna Morio, Nakamoto Masahiro, Oshiro Nobuko, Teruya Masahiro, and Matsumon Tadashi.

From an original 1938 edition (from the possession of Nagamine Shoshin. Recorded in 2008 by Andreas Quast, courtesy of Nagamine Takayoshi).
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Where dragons look

A photo of Shuri Castle main hall (seiden) taken in 1877 was confirmed. It is the oldest photo of Shuri Castle. The photo was taken by Jules Joseph Gabriel Revertégat (1850-1912), a French lieutenant of the Navy who was on board the French 2nd class Cruiser “Laclocheterie” under command of Admiral Henri Rieunier (1833-1918).

They left Cherbourg on July 25, 1875, for a 32-month circumnavigation in the Far East, mainly in China and Japan. Jules Révertégat spoke Japanese and served as an interpreter on behalf of the French diplomatic mission. They reached Naha Port in May 1877 and visited the last king Sho Tai in his palace in the royal capital of Shuri. At that time, Ryukyu and France signed a treaty. According to Associate Professor Gota Tadashi, in the 1870s, French, British, and German groups were allowed to enter Shuri Castle.

The “Laclocheterie” returned to Cherbourg on April 13, 1878. Upon return, Revertégat wrote a 7-page article entitled: “Une visite aux Îles Lou-Tchou” (A visit to the Ryukyu Islands) which appeared in the travel journal “Le Tour du Monde” in 1882.

At that time, Revertégat also published several prints, including of Shuri Castle and of the Zuisenmon Gate. Some of the prints had also been introduced in “Aoi me ga mita Dai Ryūkyū” (Nirai, 1987), but at that time their date of origin was unknown. Now the date of 1877 was confirmed from the photo of Shuri Castle, which served as the basis for one of the prints.

The photo was first introduced in a 2010 paper by a descendant of the cruiser captain, but had remained largely unknown previously. Therefore, the photo was not used for the 1992 restoration of Shuri Castle. This is significant because the orientation of the Great Dragon Pillars in front of the main hall (seiden) had remained controversial previously, but in the photo they are facing the front. Therefore, the photograph confirms for the first time that the Great Dragon Pillars were facing the front in 1877.

Numerous photographs are still extant in the private collection of Hervé Bernard.

Copyright Hervé Bernard.

Main sources:

Revertégat, M. J.: Une visite aux Îles Lou-Tchou. In: Le Tour du Monde. Nouveau Journal des Voyages. publié sous la direction de M. Édouard Charton et illustré par nos plus célèbres artistes. 1882, Deuxieme Semestre. Libraire Hachette Et Cie. Paris, Londres, 1882. pp. 250-256.

The large dragon pillars face front … The oldest photo of Shuri Castle? Taken in 1877 at the end of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Ryukyu Shinpo, November 14, 2020.

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The Significance of Wankan

Like most karate people, I have studied a number of kata directly from various secondary and tertiary sources (people) as well as from media (books, videos) but continued to seek out primary teachers. There are many qualified teachers out there and I am not saying one must seek out THE primary source, but it happens. For example, I have personally studied WankanRōhai, and Wanshū in depths under the late Nagamine Takayoshi sensei at the Matsubayashi-ryū Karate-dō Kōdōkan Dōjō in Okinawa. Nagamine sensei was probably the strictest and most relentless karate teacher I have ever had. I also performed all of these kata during gradings at that same place and did not fail and also performed Wankan on official occasions for the honbu dōjō. So you can assume I know a little about what I am talking about. I learned many other kata but mention these three here since they are related in lineage and technique.

About Wankan, Nagamine Shōshin (1978: 240) said:

This kata is said to be the creation of a master in ancient times, but the creator is unknown. Wankan belongs to the old kata. It was handed down by the warriors from the Tomari area and has been handed down to the present day. Its characteristics are many passages in which defense and offense are performed in one single action, that actions are formidable, and that it is a kata of medium length.

According to that, Wankan is an old kata that was handed down in Tomari and its creator is unknown. “Old kata” might refer to a kata that has existed in the 19th century and that has not been altered to suit physical education at school in the 20th century.

What else is there to know about Wankan?

In 1969, Kushi Jōkei performed Wankan on occasion of the National Special Invitational Kata Demonstration presented at the Nippon Budōkan in Tōkyō (Nagamine Shōshin performed Chatan Yara no Kūsankū on the same occasion). Kushi was born in Tomari in 1908. An expert in Okinawa sumō and direct disciple of Nagamine Shōshin, Kushi served as the vice-instructor of Matsubayashi-ryū Nagamine Dōjō since the 1950s. In the article addressing the demonstration, Wankan is described as “Tī of the Tomari system” and that while its creator is unknown, it has a long history.

Accordingly, already in 1969 Wankan was considered an important kata in Matsubayashi-ryū. Considering this, I remember that Wankan had been the typical group performance kata of the Matsubayashi-ryū honbu dōjō and Nagamine Shōshin himself performed it on various public occasions. Even his last public performance, shortly before his demise, he performed Wankan at the 1997 Okinawa Karate and Kobudō World Tournament Master Demonstrations:

I was thinking, therefore, that Wankan might have a special significance. Let’s dig a little further.

In 1959, in an article published in the Okinawa Times, Nagamine sensei first wrote about the history and technique of Wankan as follows.

Wankan – In the pre-war days [the practice of] this kata was aborted, but by gathering and compiling the recollections of a couple of Tomari elders, the kata finally revived. The kata is as short as Rōhai, but profound. Speaking of its special features, there are many kicking techniques, and changing the kicking leg is a highlight, and it is also a decisive skill.

In other words, Wankan was discontinued and not practiced anymore. As can be seen from the article, a number of elders from Tomari who remembered parts of the kata were consulted, and the kata was reconstructed. It is implicit that Nagamine sensei reconstructed it, but he does not explicitly refer to himself in this article.

When did that take place? In the 1997 Nagamine Obituary News, the narrator says,

The kata performed is Wankan. When Mr. Nagamine was 25 years old, he carried out a fact-finding survey based on interviews and revived this traditional kata.

In other words, Wankan had been almost lost but was revived by Nagamine sensei in 1932.

What about the technical characteristics of Wankan? In the 1969 Okinawa Times article, it is said that:

The technique of makite (Oki.: machidī) is described as one characteristic of Wankan. In it, the performer catches the opponent’s attacking arm and – without letting the arm escape – strikes a finishing blow.

Makite translates to “winding hand.” The technique is found in Wankan, Rōhai, Wanshū, and Passai, which in case of Nagamine sensei are all kata of Tomari-te provenance. It is therefore proper that it was referred to as a “Tī of the Tomari system.”

Makite is described in Nagamine (1975: 146) as follows:

When standing in [left] neko-ashi-dachi, and when deflecting your opponent’s [right] attack to your middle level, you swiftly shift your body (tenshin) [to the left], and as in sequence 1 and 2 [in the photos] above, when profoundly deflecting with your right hand sword (shutō), simultaneously wrap the opponent’s arm and trap it under your armpit. Without hesitation, attack the side of his torso with your left fist. Then, the left hand instinctively protects the thoracoabdominal vital points and prepares for the next attack [by trapping the attacker’s right arm].

It is done like this:

What is the special significance of Wankan? Why did Nagamine sensei perform it even on occasion of his last public performance?

The following is based on the fact that Wankan had been aborted but recreated by Nagamine sensei in 1932 by consulting a number of Tomari elders. I also believe, and this is conjecture, that he pieced thekata together: Otherwise any of the elders could have just taught it. Based on this, I believe the significance of Wankan is as follows: Wankan is a prime example of how various schools in the post-war period appropriated the names and techniques of classical kata while at the same time they “forgot” where they took got it from, and while altering the kata more or less. Naturally, in the 1950s onward, nobody thought it would ever be possible to retrace a kata visually and by sources. We know it better today.

To underpin my point, in the following I will provide a short overview of Wankan as I believe was appropriated by other schools.

Nagamine Shoshin and Kushi Jokei, Okinawa Times, 1959.

Kata called Wankan that are something else

Shōtōkan

Shōtōkan has a Wankan, too. Except the three kick-punch combos towards the end it is a completely different kata. It begins with something similar to the kaki-wake found in Gojūshiho and has some tsuki, geri, and kansetsu-waza. Even among Shōtōkan practitioners it seems largely unclear where this kata came from and when it was added.

Therefore, Shōtōkan’s Wankan is “something else” (and should actually be dropped).

Gōhakukai

Gōhakukai has a Wankan. This school says that their Wankan has been handed down from Matsumora Kōsaku to Iha Kōtatsu and further to Nakasone Seiyū and Tokashiki Iken. They claim to have inherited the original Tomari-te.

I have carried out an analysis of the techniques of Wankan in the Gōhakukai school. Wankan of Gōhakukai is composed of various techniques from Gōjū-ryū kata. The techniques were taken and choreographed in bits and pieces along a new enbusen. Watch my Wankan overview here, whole video here.

Between the 1950s and 1970s or so it was probably cool to create kata, do some name dropping, and claim some lineage, because no one will ever find out.

In short, this Wankan is “something else,” and certainly not “original Tomari-te.”

Wankan that miraculously entered other styles

Shitō-ryū

Shitō-ryū has Wankan (most often called “Matsukaze”). It clearly has the same base in both enbusen and techniques as Wankan in Matsubayashi-ryū. The difference is that Shitō-ryū performs it by using modern competition-style movements. Also, at the end, a there is one additional move, which can also be found in either Kūsankū Dai or Passai Shō. It was probably simply added at the end of the kata to make it special.

Well, for those who still haven’t heard the news: Nearly all Matsubayashi-ryū including Tomari Passai, Chatanyara Kūsankū, Rōhai and Wankan were learned by Shitō practitioners from Matsubayashi practitioners since the 1950s. These kata have never actually been “Shitō-ryū kata.” However, they were smuggled into “Shitō-ryū” at the time when the JKF only allowed kata from the four big styles (Shōtō, Wadō, Gōjū, Shitō). This case is actually a shame for the Japanese karate world. It is at least a case for consumer protection, the consumers being the karate world population of more than 100 Million people. It was unethical and does not qualify as sportsmanship. It includes at least false labeling, false advertising, and technical manipulation of kata in Japan only to have an advantage in competitions. It is therefore just and reasonable that Karate was not allowed as an event at the 2024 Olympics in France.

In short: Wankan of Shitō-ryū came from Matsubayashi-ryū.

Gensei-ryū

Gensei-ryū has a Wankan. It has the exact same enbusen and techniques as in Matsubayashi-ryū. Actually, I asked an expert in that school and he told me that Gensei-ryū has several kata coming from Matsubayashi-ryū.

In short: Wankan of Gensei-ryū came from Matsubayashi-ryū.

Shōrinji-ryū Kenkōkan

The Shōrinji-ryū Kenkōkan also has a Wankan which has clearly the same base as in Matsubayashi-ryū. However, you need to look closely since there are a lot of additional moves, including the final move already mentioned in the “Shitō-ryū Wankan.”

I am actually too lazy to look into this in detail.

In short: Wankan of Shōrinji-ryū Kenkōkan came from Matsubayashi-ryū until someone proves otherwise.

Wankan with the same origin as Matsubayashi-ryū

Shōrin-ryū Shūbukan (Uema dōjō) also has Wankan. This kata has clearly the same base in both enbusen and techniques as Wankan in Matsubayashi-ryū. This is no wonder since Shimabukuro Tarō was a teacher of Uema Jōki. And Shimabukuro Tarō learned Wankan from Iha Kōtatsu from Tomari.

In short: Wankan of Shōrin-ryū Shūbukan has a very similar lineage as Wankan of Matsubayashi-ryū.

Murakami Katsumi (1976: 121–132) also wrote about Wankan, which he also studied from Shimabukuro Tarō:

A representative kata of Tomari-te, it is a brilliant kata that is nimble, fast as lightning, profound and rich in variety. It is the type of kata that you want to do many times. It is a kata that is very useful for actual combat.

The question remains

How did Nagamine revive Wankan? Did he reconstruct it together with Shimbukuro Tarō?

Shimabukuro Tarō’s Wankan has been published by Murakami Katsumi and it is 100% identical with Wankan of Nagamine. Wankan of Shimabukuro Tarō’s student Uema Jōki (Shūbukan) is also 100% identical with Wankan of Nagamine.

Right now, no more can be said about this.

There is one important thing to note: Nagamine sensei clearly said that the kata was reconstructed from the memories of “a number of elders from Tomari.” Therefore, all versions of Wankan that look related to the Matsubayashi-ryū version must be based on the reconstruction apparently finalized by Nagamine sensei (and possibly Shimabukuro Tarō).

Endnotes:

Takamiyagi Shigeru et.al.: Okinawa Karate Kobudō Jiten, 2008.

“Shuri-te, Naha-te toha kotonaru maboroshi no Karate – Tomari-te nazo ni semare!” (Extremely rare Karate different from Shuri-te and Naha-te – Approaching the Mystery of Tomari-te!) In: Gekkan Karatedō. February Issue 2003. Fukushōdō 2003.

Murakami Katsumi: Karatedō to Ryūkyū Kobudō. Seibidō Shuppan, Tōkyō 1976.

Murakami Katsumi: Kata no Kokoro to Waza. Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, Tōkyō 1991.

Nagamine Shōshin: Shijitsu to Kuden ni yoru Okinawa no Karate, Sumō Meijin-den. Tōkyō, Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha 1986.

Nagamine Shōshin: Okinawa no Karate-dō – Rekishi to Densetsu o Mamoru. Tōkyō, Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha 1975.

Okinawa Kōkai no Yūbe (A Public Evening in Okinawa). National Special Invitational Kata Demonstration. Okinawa Times, 1969-09-21.

Nagamine Shōshin: Karate Stories. Okinawa Times, 1959.

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Funakoshi and the Museum of Education in Tokyo

The following passage shows how sporting goods manufacturer’s and distributor’s associations in Japan sponsored various sporting events since the 1920s, including events in which karate was showcased (Nakamura et al. 2008: 1-2).

At the Peace Memorial Tokyo Expo held in Ueno from March 10th to July 31st, 1922, the Tokyo Sporting Goods Manufacturer’s and Distributor’s Association exhibited various sports equipment and accessories. In addition, from April 30th of the same year, over a period of one month it also co-sponsored the Sports and Physical Education Exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education at the Museum of Education, and exhibited a large number of sporting goods and related items. Starting with these two exhibition projects, the association has since sponsored many fairs and exhibitions.

While well-directed business interests of related industries are a point of interest, it is rarely discussed within karate circles. Today usually training suits (dogi), practice equipment such as makiwara, weapons (kobudō), media (books, mags, mooks, and videos) come to mind when thinking about karate-related businesses. In addition there are the large national and international associations and federations and – more recently – the tourism industry that are clearly business-related on various levels. It is also noteworthy that many karate schools started out as individual enterprises and became small to medium-sized enterprises. This might be a fruitful topic for future research.

Another lead in the above passage is the Museum of Education (Kyōiku Hakubutsukan), mentioned as the venue for the 1922 Sports and Physical Education Exhibition. If this is correct, it should have been the actual venue where Funakoshi Gichin performed karate in 1922 at the Sports and Physical Education Exhibition. In the following I will present a short overview of this Museum of Education.

Early Timeline:

1871: the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture established the Department of Natural History.

1872: Establishment of the “Museum of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture “

1875: renamed to Tokyo Museum (Tōkyō Hakubutsukan)

1877: re-established as the Museum of Education (Kyōiku Hakubutsukan) at a new building on the site of the current Tokyo University of Arts in Ueno Yamauchi.

1881: Renamed to Tokyo Museum of Education (Tōkyō Kyōiku Hakubutsukan)

1921: renamed to Tokyo Museum (Tōkyō Hakubutsukan) again, under direct control of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

1923: All facilities and materials are lost due to the fire caused by the Great Kanto Earthquake.

The following photograph shows how it looked like in 1920, that is, shortly before Funakoshi’s karate performance in 1922, and also before the loss of the facility in 1923 due to the Great Kanto Earthquake.

The Museum of Education in 1920. (From: Tokyo Museum of Education Edition: Summary of the Tokyo Museum of Education, 1920. Digital Collection of the National Diet Library, Japan)

Currently, this place is the National Museum of Nature and Science.

Biblio: Nakamura Tetsuo, Shōji Setsuko, Ōkuma Hiroaki, Sanada Hisashi, Nakajima Ken, Hōgaku Atsuro, Kimura Kichiji: Wagakuni Sengo Fukkō-ki ni okeru Supōtsu Yōhin Oroshi-gyō Kumiai no Yakuwari to sono Katsudō (The Roles and Activities of the National Association of Sporting-goods Distributors in Postwar Japan). Japan Society of Sports Industry. Research on Sports Industry, Vol. 18, No. 1 (2008), pp. 1-2.

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Resolution on the Declaration of “Karate Day”

In the distant old times, about 700 years ago, karate was born in this region of Okinawa. Our ancestors created the world-class traditional culture called karate in symbiosis with Okinawa’s rich nature and geographical features. It was initially called “ti” (手).

On the other hand, as announced on the “Bridge to all Nations Bell,” our ancestors rushed about numerous countries throughout the world by ship, including China and Southeast Asia. They actively interacted with foreigners and brought the world’s culture and wealth to this land to build peace and prosperity.

Along with this cultural exchange, Chinese martial arts were imported from around 1400 to 1500. Karate, which until then had walked its own path, proactively adopted and integrated the strenghts of Chinese martial arts, whereby it flourished magnificently. That is the karate that has been handed down to the present day.

On October 25, 1936, several leading karate practitioners officially decided on the notation “karate” (空手, empty hand), which is now familiar to karate practitioners and many other people around the world. Therefore, it is meaningful to perpetuate it as a “special day” in history.

As is well known, the number of karate practitioners worldwide is estimated at around 50 million. Karate spread across national borders and languages, religions, constitutions and racial barriers to 150 countries around the world. Thanks to its immeasurable charm and splendor, karate spread to all corners of the world with unbridled power in less than half a century in the period after the Second World War.

Needless to say, no other culture in Okinawa is so widespread and influential and familiar to people all over the world.

In addition, karate is a “martial arts of peace” (heiwa no bu) based on the magnificent philosophical principle of “no first attack in karate” (karate ni sente nashi) and the foundational ideal of cherishing life as “life is the treasure” (nuchidu takara), which are needed more and more in today’s global community and we are confident that karate will expand its contribution to this cause.

With this in mind, and in the hope that the traditional Karate of Okinawa will develop more and more in the future and contribute to world peace and the well-being of all people, we, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, announce October 25th to be “Karate Day.”

Enacted as described above.

March 29, 2005

Okinawa Prefectural Assembly

Source: Okinawa Karate Kobudō Jiten, 2008, p. 7, translated by Andreas Quast.

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空手の日宣言に関する決議

はるか700年のいにしえ、空手はこの地・沖縄で生まれた。先人たちは沖縄の豊かな自然と風土との共生の中から空手という世界に誇る伝統文化を創造した。それは初め「ティ」と呼ばれていた。

一方、「万国津梁の氏」とうたわれた先人たちは、中国や東南アジアを初めとする世界中を駆けめぐって異国の人々との交流を盛んに行い、世界の文化と富をこの地に運んで平和と繁栄を築いた。

これらの交流とともに、1400年から1500年ごろに中国武術が渡来した。それまで独自の道を歩んでいた空手は中国武術の長所を積極的に取り入れて、見事な華を咲かせて。それが現代に伝えられている空手である。

1936年10月25日、いまでは世界の空手家や多くの人々になじみとなった「空手」という表記が公式に決定された。それゆえに、この日を「特別な日」として歴史にとどめようとすることは有意義である。

周知のように、世界の空手人口はおよそ5000万人と推定され、国境や言語、宗教、体制、人種の壁を超え、その普及する国々は150カ国に上ると言われている。戦後わずか半世紀の間にこれほどもで世界の隅々にまで猛烈な勢いで広がったところに、空手のはかり知れない魅力、すばらしさがあると言える。

言うまでもなく、沖縄の文化でこれほどまでに広範な広がりを持ち、世界中の人々に影響を与え親しまれている文化はほかにない。

また、空手には「空手に先手なし」という偉大な哲理と「ヌチドゥ宝」(命こそ宝)の生命尊重の思想を根本理念とする「平和の武」があり、今日の国際社会からますます求められ、貢献を広げていくものと確信する。

よって、本県議会は、沖縄伝統の空手が今後ますます発展し、世界の平和と人々の幸福に貢献することに願いを込めて、「10月25日」を「空手の日」とすることを宣言する。

上記のとおり決議する。

平成17年3月29日

沖縄県議会

参考資料『沖縄空手古武道事典』2008年、7頁。

2020
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Choosing a bo

In choosing or making a bo that suits your physics and your style of executing techniques, there are a few things to consider. In the following, I will list what I think are the most critical points.

1. Kind of wood (density, flexibility, availability, processability, price, nontoxic dust when processed…)

2. Lenght. This is because the length must suit your body length. However, most bo are of a standard length of about 6 feet (182cm). This standard length often does not fit smaller people (kids) or longer people. A bo should be at least the length of your height and better be a length of a hand or so longer.

3. The diameter needs to fit the user’s hands. For example, standard bo often have a diameter of 3cm, but this is much too large for children’s hands or people with smaller hands, so you should adapt it.

4. Shape: conical or straight.

5. Interaction of length, diameter, and density results in the weight, which is critical for handling. If the bo is too heavy, it will become difficult to accelerate and decelerate, making it more difficult to control and manipulate. If it is too light, it is not a weapon.

6. Length and direction of fibers. The wood should have a high resistance against fracture: heavy and hard doesn’t mean it doesn’t break. Long fibers are usually a good sign, and they should be parallel to the form of the bo.

7. Lack of enclosures, so the bo should be knotless and have no wormholes. I had bo that had enclosures and wormholes. Both are dangerous because they may result in fractures during kumite. There is even wood that is so bad it will break from its own inertia when swung forcefully.

8. Resistance to insects and decay.

Trying out different kinds of wood in different diameter and lengths makes differences in handling apparent.

In the table below, I give a few examples of number 4, i.e., the resulting weights in kg for varying diameters (2; 2,5; 3 cm), length (182; 196 cm), and woods with different density.

For example, a Rattan bo of 2 cm diameter and 186 cm length will weigh about just little less than 300 grams, which is almost nothing. A 3/182 cm Rattan bo will weigh about 640 grams, which is still light. A 3/182 cm red oak will weigh about 1 kg, and a 3/196 cm ironwood will weigh 1,56 kg. Handling these different bo takes a completely different technique. Many people prefer light bo. It has the advantage that you can act fast and easy, and also children and women easily adapt. However, it often leads people to skip proper transitions, so there is almost no technical and artistic improvement over time.

In accelerating and decelerating a bo, every gram counts. That is why these differences are so important.

Another point is the standard weights used in tournaments. Of course there should not be a standard bo of 3 cm diameter and 182 cm length for everyone, but it should be individually accustomed to height and body weight, even among adults. A 100 kg man should have to use a heavier bo than a 50 kg female, and probably with a different diameter.

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WKF Official Kata List – Development 2012 | 2013 | 2020

The table below shows the development of the official WKF kata between 2012 and 2020.

To explain it briefly: Until 2012, JKF/WKF kata were assigned to the four major styles of Japanese karate, namely Shito, Shotokan, Goju, and Wado. Then, from Januar 2013, the JKF/WKF had terminated the style assignment. As a result, the number of kata increased from 60 in 2012 to 89 in 2013 and to 102 in 2020.

As can be seen in the left column (WKF Kata until 2012), there are many kata of Ryuei-ryu, Matsubayashi-ryu and probably other Okinawan schools. These kata were included under the classification of Shito-ryu since around the 1970s and have since been technically and terminologically manipulated. In other words, there are many kata that were pilfered from other schools, while at the same time these schools of origin could not participate under JKF/WKF rules except they adjusted to the manipulated techniques. That brought about some bad blood since the 1980s, but since the JKF/WKF are too big to fail, and since youth loves it, and since there are so many Japanese and Okinawan beneficiaries, the whole thing blew over.

By eliminating the style assignment since 2013, the process was continued, as can be seen in the increase of kata shown in the table. In this way, while the JKF/WKF ostensibly “abolished the styles,” they actually created a new unified style of karate with its own aesthetics and technical logic. In a sense, it is the culmination of around 150 years of sport in Japan since the idea entered from the West during the early Meiji era.

Well, I am not judging this and actually I can enjoy watching it every now and then. In the end, everybody wants to create and improve autonomously and self-determined, and – honestly – that’s what everybody does. I mean, who in the world loves heteronomous activities?

However, I will add though that it was the above described system of false labeling in combination with technical manipulation that bestowed Japan (including Okinawa) tons of gold medals, international fame, money, careers, hot spouses, and free soba. Seen from the perspective of athletes and coaches, one can hardly blame any of them for not protesting, especially because they never knew better and also – why would they care? Naturally, the industry’s succcesses made the Japanese and Okinawans proud, so the results are considered to be very good. Besides, and this is a big plus, it brought children and women into the limelight, which is particularly delectable because this is about a martial art, and it is about Japan, so equality points count double.

On the flip side, the huge decade-long manipulation scheme carried out using immense resources and institutional trench warfare – some Japanese seniors were against it – goes diametrically against The Budō Charter (Budō Kenshō), where it is said that:

However, a recent trend towards infatuation just with technical ability compounded by an excessive concern with winning is a severe threat to the essence of budō. 

Shutterstock

In any case, it might be compared to watching the Tour de France: everybody knows they are cheating. It is just, other sports are internationally open under the same rules. But in Japan, they only manipulate among themselves. While I enjoy following sports every now and then, and while the Japanese and Okinawans worked incredibly hard and were immensely successful on so many karate levels, there remains a tiny voice calling for at least a tiny bit of poetic justice.

WKF Kata until 2012WKF Kata from 2013WKF Kata 2020
1. Annan (Shitō)1. Anan1. Anan
 2. Anan Dai2. Anan Dai
2. Annanko (Shitō)3. Annanko3. Ananko
3. Aoyagi/Seiryu4. Aoyagi4. Aoyagi
  5. Bassai
4. Bassai Dai (Shitō, Shotōkan)5. Bassai Dai6. Bassai Dai
5. Bassai Sho (Shitō, Shotōkan)6. Bassai Sho7. Bassai Sho
6. Chatanyara Kushanku (Shitō)7. Chatanyara Kushanku8. Chatanyara Kusanku
  9. Chibana no Kushanku
7. Chinte (Shitō, Shotōkan)8. Chinte10. Chinte
8. Chinto (Shitō, Wadō)9. Chinto11. Chinto
9. Enpi (Shotōkan)10. Enpi12. Enpi
 11. Fukygata 113. Fukygata Ichi
 12. Fukygata 214. Fukygata Ni
10. Gankaku (Shotōkan)13. Gankaku15. Gankaku
 14. Garyu16. Garyu
 15. Gekisai 117. Gekisai 1
 16. Gekisai 218. Gekisai 2
11. Gojushiho (Shitō)17. Gojushiho19. Gojushiho
12. Gojushiho Dai (Shotōkan)18. Gojushiho Dai20. Gojushiho Dai
13. Gojushiho Sho (Shotōkan)19. Gojushiho Sho21. Gojushiho Sho
14. Hakucho (Shitō)20. Hakucho22. Hakucho
15. Hangetsu (Shotōkan)21. Hangetsu23. Hangetsu
 22. Haufa24. Haufa (Haffa)
 23. Heian 125. Heian Shodan
 24. Heian 226. Heian Nidan
 25. Heian 327. Heian Sandan
 26. Heian 428. Heian Yondan
 27. Heian 529. Heian Godan
16. Heiku (Shitō)28. Heiku30. Heiku
 29. Ishimine Bassai31. Ichimine Bassai
 30. Itosu Rohai 1-332. Itosu Rohai Shodan
  33. Itosu Rohai Nidan
  34. Itosu Rohai Sandan
17. Jiin (Shitō, Shotōkan)31. Jiin35. Jiin
18. Jion (Shitō, Shotōkan, Wadō)32. Jion36. Jion
19. Jitte  (Shitō, Shotōkan, Wadō)33. Jitte37. Jitte
20. Jyuroku (Shitō)34. Jyuroku38. Juroku
 35. Kanchin39. Kanchin
21. Kanku Dai (Shotōkan)36. Kanku Dai40. Kanku Dai
22. Kanku Sho (Shotōkan)37. Kanku Sho41. Kanku Sho
 38. Kanshu42. Kanshu
  43. Kishimoto no Kushanku
23. Kushanku (Wadō)39. Kosokun (Kushanku)44. Kousoukun
25. Kosokun Dai (Shitō)41. Kosokun (Kushanku) Dai45. Kousoukun Dai
26. Kosokun Sho (Shitō)42. Kosokun (Kushanku) Sho46. Kousoukun Sho
27. Kururunfa (Shitō, Gōjū)43. Kururunfa47. Kururunfa
 44. Kusanku48. Kusanku
  49. Kyan no Chinto
  50. Kyan no Wanshu
28. Matsukaze (Shitō)45. Matsukaze51. Matsukaze
29. Matsumura Bassai (Shitō)46. Matsumura Bassai52. Matsumura Bassai
 47. Matsumura Rohai53. Matsumura Rohai
30. Meikyo (Shotōkan)48. Meikyo54. Meikyo
 49. Myojo55. Myojo
32. Naifanchin I (Shitō)50. Naifanchin I56. Naifanchi Shodan
33. Naifanchin II (Shitō)51. Naifanchin II57. Naifanchi Nidan
34. Naifanchin III (Shitō)52. Naifanchin III58. Naifanchi Sandan
31. Naihanchi (Wadō) 59. Naihanchi
35. Nijushiho Sho (Shotōkan)53. Nijushiho60. Nijushuiho
36. Nipaipo (Shitō)54. Nipaipo61. Nipaipo
37. Niseishi (Shitō, Wadō)55. Niseishi62. Niseishi
 56. Ohan63. Ohan
  64. Ohan Dai
  65. Oyadomari no Passai
38. Pachu (Shitō)57. Pachu66. Pachu
39. Paiku (Shitō)58. Paiku67. Paiku
40. Papuren (Shitō)59. Papuren68. Papuren
41. Passai (Wadō)60. Passai69. Passai
 61. Pinan 170. Pinan Shodan
 62. Pinan 271. Pinan Nidan
 63. Pinan 372. Pinan Sandan
 64. Pinan 473. Pinan Yondan
 65. Pinan 574. Pinan Godan
42. Rohai (Shitō, Wadō)66. Rohai75. Rohai
43. Saifa (Shitō, Gōjū)67. Saifa (Saiha)76. Saifa
44. Sanchin (Shitō, Gōjū)68. Sanchin77. Sanchin
  78. Sansai
 69. Sanseiru79. Sanseiru
45. Sanseru (Shitō, Gōjū)70. Sanseru80. Sanseru
 71. Seichin81. Seichin
46. Seiyunchin (Shitō, Gōjū)72. Seienchin82. Seienchin (Seiyunchin)
47. Seipai (Shitō, Gōjū)73. Seipai83. Seipai
 74. Seirui84. Seiryu
  85. Seishan
48. Seisan (Shitō, Gōjū, Wadō)75. Seisan (Seishan)86. Seisan (Sesan)
24. Kosokun Shiho (Shitō)40. Kosokun Shiho87. Shiho Kousoukun
 76. Shinpa88. Shinpa
 77. Shinsei89. Shinsei
50. Shisochin (Shitō, Gōjū)78. Shisochin90. Shisochin
51. Sochin (Shitō, Shotōkan)79. Sochin91. Sochin
52. Suparimpei (Shitō, Gōjū)80. Suparinpei92. Suparinpei
53. Tekki I (Shotōkan)81. Tekki I93. Tekki Shodan
54. Tekki II (Shotōkan)82. Tekki II94. Tekki Nidan
55. Tekki III (Shotōkan)83. Tekki III95. Tekki Sandan
56. Tensho (Shitō, Gōjū)84. Tensho96. Tensho
57. Tomari Bassai (Shitō)85. Tomari Bassai97. Tomari Bassai
58. Unshu/Unsu (Shitō, Shotōkan)86. Unsu (Unshu)98. Unshu
  99. Unsu
 87. Useishi (Gojushiho)100. Useishi
59. Wankan (Shotōkan)88. Wankan101. Wankan
60. Wanshu (Shitō, Wadō)89. Wanshu102. Wanshu

Sources:

World Karate Federation. Kata and Kumite Competition Rules Revision 7.1. Effective from 1.1.2012. APPENDIX 8: WKF TOKUI KATA LIST. Main List of Katas (Tokui) of the World Karate Federation (WKF). Page 50 – 51.

World Karate Federation. Kata and Kumite Competition Rules Revision 9.0. Effective from 1.1.2015. APPENDIX 5: CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION. Official kata list. Page 28.

World Karate Federation. Karate Competition Rules. Effective from 1.1.2020. ARTICLE 5: CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION. 5.1 Official kata list. Page 38.

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Nagamine reveals secret of karate to the Metropolitan Police Department

After his first assignment to Tōkyō in 1936, Nagamine again had the opportunity to travel to the capital in 1941. This time he was dispatched to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which at that time included the Bureau of Police Affairs, an agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs responsible for the nationwide coordination of police work, and in particularly for the secret police. After receiving in-service training for about a month, and just before his return to Okinawa, he had the opportunity to demonstrate karate at the martial arts practice hall of the Metropolitan Police Department. At that time, Nagamine was the only “Karate-jutsu Renshi” (licensed instructor) among all the police officers in the whole of Japan. On December 4, 1941, an article about the demo was published in the evening edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the most important and most widely circulated newspapers in Japan.

“Policeman Karate Instructor – ‘Secret’ (of karate) revealed to the public”.
Yomiuri Shimbun (December 4, 1941, evening edition)

Policeman Karate Instructor – “Secret” (of karate) revealed to the public

At 11 am of the 3rd (of December 1941), Nagamine Shōshin (35), inspector of the Okinawa Prefectural Police Department, who was in Tōkyō for official business, revealed the essence of karate in front of all the department members at the special guards’ martial arts hall behind the Metropolitan Police Department.

Mr. Nagamine is a 2nd dan in jūdō and kendō and the only police officer in the whole of Japan who has the title of karate-jutsu renshi. He is keenly aware that karate-dō is used as a toolkit of acts of violence. In order to popularize correct karate, he took the opportunity on occasion of being selected as a trainee at the police training center last month.

After demonstrating kata in front of the visitors such as secretary-general Akabane of the internal department of the Metropolitan Police Department, the second division chief Yokota Osamu, and staff of the martial arts training section of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, he demonstrated the special skill of breaking with his toetips (ashisaki) and hands three pine boards of 1.8 cm thickness each held by his partner. (The photo shows the demonstration, with Mr. Nagamine on the right)

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On a characteristic feature of tradition in Early Modern Okinawa (1879-1945)

In early modern Okinawa, that is the era between 1879 and 1945, there was a system called “Customs Improvement Movement.” It was a part of the assimilation policy and included the revision and abolition of Okinawan customs that were considered a hindrance to modernization.

The customs improvement movement consisted of two elements, namely 1. Assimilation and 2. Modernization. Some of the targeted customs were smoothly abolished, while the abolition of other customs failed. For example, the prohibition of going barefoot or the cleaning of roads were considered modern and rational, and not as a forced assimilation, so they were not rejected by the Okinawan people. Tattooing, on the other hand, was one of the few customs that has been successfully revised and abolished, but its abolition too has an element of modernity and rationality to it and cannot be simply considered an assimilation policy, so people understood it. On the other hand, if an abolition of customs was considered unneccesary or unwanted by the people, the rejected it.

Itani argues that early modern assimilation policy in Okinawa has a too short range and that rationalization and modernization of daily life actually has a longer history, ranging from the era of the royal government even to the present. Some of the customs, such as the simplification of important ceremonial occasions in family relationships (such as coming-of-age, wedding, funeral, ancestor worship) or rituals, still in the 21st century remain issues for the improvement of village societies. Therefore, Itani promotes the use of a broader historical range that goes beyond the relatively short period of the customs improvement movement.

As an example, some customs, which were temporarily cut off due to suppression, were revived after 1945 if the people really wanted them. Customs that have not been revived after 1945, on the other hand, had lost the social function that once supported them and consequently became obsolete. This includes customs such as “mō-ashibi” and “uma-dema,” whose premise was “marriage inside a village” and which are limited to the topic of marriage.

NOTE: Sexuality and marriage of young men and women in rural areas was often associated to mōashibi, or enjoying a night in the fields with singing and dancing etc. There were few marriages outside one’s own village, but in that case, alcohol or otherwise the alcohol expense had to be presented to the young men in the woman’s village. This is called “umadema.”

Five educational functions accompanied the occasion of mōashibi and can be ordered as follows:

  1. the function of handing down songs and dances such as mēkata,
  2. the function as an occasion for creative activities,
  3. the function of handing down traditional physical education of the region,
  4. the function of creating a circle of friends, and
  5. the recreational function that creates vitality for tomorrow’s labor.

Number 3, the transmission of traditional physical education, included wrestling (called mutu), a kickboxing-like kind of grappling (called tose), karate, sumo, and bojutsu.

Doubts remain however as to how well the leaders of the customs improvement movement understood their own culture. A point to keep in mind here is that the customs improvement movement was not organized by national or prefectural governments, but by Okinawan young men’s associations (seinenkai) and customs improvement associations, that is, by people somewhere between 16 and 25 years of age.

While customs such as various forms of martial arts had been handed down by the Okinawan young men’s associations, other customs where not. For instance, from the royal government era to the postwar period, there were customs such as “yuta-kōyā” that are still today subject to revision and abolition. The understanding of Okinawan culture by the leaders who worked on the reform and abolition of customs was superficial, proof of which is that the movement did not reach the deep religious nature of the spiritual life of the people.

NOTE: Yuta-kōyā is the act of buying the services of a yuta. This usually requires the judgment of two or three yuta. The client is willing to pay a considerable amount of money to the yuta. There is a long-standing saying in Okinawa, called “half a doctor, half a yuta.” There is also the saying that “men buy prostitutes, women buy yuta.”

For people in the prewar era, the difference between the customary laws of the villages and modern law was not unambiguously clear. In the life of the village (shima) we see the fact that the customary laws were like a melting pot in which tatemae (one’s official opinion) and honne (one’s real opinion), legal regulations and loopholes were mixed together.

In the above sense, Tanigawa Ken’ichi (1972) identified the characteristics of Okinawa as,

“Everything is undifferentiated in Okinawa, and the historical society of Okinawa reflects light at various angles like polyhedral crystals.”

NOTE: The above is part of a study into youth groups in Okinawa and mainly based on: Itani Yasuhiko: Social education as an Okinawan custom seen in the “penalty tag” system of the Customary Laws of Southern Island Villages (Nantō Mura Neihō). Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor in Education. Waseda University Number: New 7911. Waseda University 2018, pp. 153-154. 

Tanigawa Ken’ichi (1921-2013)

BTW, since there is almost no material on Tanigawa available in English, I will provide some here.

Tanigawa Ken’ichi (1921-2013) was one of the most important cultural anthropologists in Japan, especially with regard to historical place-name studies, folklore, and Japanese literature.

After attending middle school in Kumamoto, he majored in French literature at the Imperial University of Tokyo.

Tanigawa collected information about the way of life and culture of the lower social classes, traditions, rites and legends that have to do with the coast as a buffer zone between sea and land, between ideas of the afterlife and this world. His specialty are place names. Numerous publications appeared from 1957, initially by Heibonsha. In the 1960s he got into a scholarly dispute with Origuchi Shinobu and Yanagita Kunio (1875–1962).

His “Collection of the Historical Biographies of the Simple People” (published 1973) comprises 20 volumes, the “Compendium of Japanese Folk Customs” (1986) comprises of 14 volumes. In 1981, the city of Kawasaki set up an “Institute for Research into Japanese Place Names,” of which he became the director and from which he received an award in 2008. From 1987 to 1996 he taught at the Kinki University of Osaka, where he directed the anthropological institute.

He has also written novels such as “Umi no Murubushi” which was made into a drama on NHK in 1988 with appearances by Ogata Ken, Ishida Yuriko, and Orimoto Junkichi.

He is highly praised for his achievement of the “Theory of the Development of Literature in the Southern Islands,” based on songs from Okinawa and Kagoshima as a source of Japanese literature. He has received several academic prizes for research achievements, including one in 2001 for his Tanka collection. In 2007 he became a “Bunka Kōrōsha” (“person with special cultural achievements; it is an honorary title combined with a government annuity).

Tanigawa Ken’ichi is the eldest of the Tanigawa brothers, including the poet Tanigawa Gan, the oriental historian Tanigawa Michio, and Yoshida Kimihiko (formerly: Tanigawa Kimihiko), the founder of The Editors’ School of Japan. His eldest son is Tanigawa Akio, an archaeologist and professor at Waseda University.

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