A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History

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

by Andreas Quast (Author)

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

Kindle edition also availableUSUKDEFRESITNLJPBRCAMXAUIN

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

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

Product Details (Paperback edition)

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

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!

Read the review by the experts:

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Bushi Matsumora – The Movie

The Movie „Bushi Matsumora“ was released in 1956. It is about the heroic tale of famed martial artist Matsumora Kōsaku (portrayed by actor Matsumora Kō’eī).

Following this movie, Matsumora’s story was performed on theater stages and it seems it was also performed in the form of the so-called rensageki 連鎖劇, i.e. theater performances with film screenings mixed with acting on stage, which was popular since the Taishō era (1912–1926).

Bushi Matsumora Kōsaku

Bushi Matsumora Kōsaku

In Japanese historical drama so-called tateshi 殺陣師 acted as fencing instructors for martial arts fighting scene. They were mostly instructors skilled in at least one classical style of Japanese Bujutsu. For this reason one often find classical techniques shown in historical theater or movie performances.

Similar to this, in this historical drama about Matsumora Kōsaku we see classical Kata of the Ryūkyū kingdom era performed, namely Passai, as well as choreographed fight scenes (Yakusoku kumite) unarmed as well as armed with a Nunchaku. Without doubt the actors were skilled in all of it.

It also seems that in this movie Nunchaku have been featured for the first time on screen.

We see scenes like Matsumora learning Passai from an elder (portrayed by Tamaki Seigi).
Another scene shows Henzan Jirā (portrayed by Gibo Tetsuya) as well as his wife (potrayed by Senaha Takako), and later Henzan fights against an armed villager.
And finally Henzan Jirā with a Nunchaku fights against Bushi Matsumora Kōsaku as some villagers look on.

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Fistfighting posture by Gerhard Vieth, 1795

The 2nd half of the 18th century saw the first systematical attempts of research and description of physical education in Germany, which later led to the designation of the term “Turnen” by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn.

In 1795, public teacher Gerhard Vieth published his “Attempt of an Encyclopedia of Physical Exercises” in which he included the “Faustkampf” or fistfight. Note that this research was decidedly meant for physical education. Its objective was very similar to that of Karate in Okinawa about 110 years later.

Let’s look at some of the technical descriptions.

“One either strikes with one hand and uses the other hand for the defense, or one strikes with both hands. Both of the previous are either done by making use of the clenched fist or of the open hand.”

Is it really that easy to put it in writing? Awesome!

“Fistfighting may be practiced as it is, i.e. without the opponents seizing one another, or in connection with grappling, which was the Pankration of the ancients.”

Agreed?

Heed his advice on protective means:

“To protect yourself against the opponent’s blows there are three means, namely intercepting (absorbing), the dodging and making defenseless.

(1) Intercepting (parrying) is done by holding forward one arm, particularly the elbow, so that the opponent’s strikes hit here, and not into the face.

(2) The dodging is done by a quick bend down or a skillful twist or turn, so that the opponent‘s strike doesn’t hit, or at least does not hit in the moment of its greatest power.

(3) “Making defenseless” is done by taking possession the opponent’s arms, so that he cannot strike anymore.”

Finally, the following figure shows the posture and appropriate scale length in a free fistfight, when the opponents don’t seize each other. The fighters cover face and throat by the bent left arm held forward, and the right hand is used to strike.

They even wear hats 😀

Vieth: Gerhard Ulrich Anton: Versuch einer Encyclopädie der Leibesübungen. Berlin, 1795.

Vieth: Gerhard Ulrich Anton: Versuch einer Encyclopädie der Leibesübungen. Berlin, 1795.

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Bubishi: Martial Art Spirit (book review)

When it comes to „the Bubishi“, two separate English translations are considered the only ones that present “the complete Bubishi text” in a Western language. Namely, the translation published by Patrick McCarthy, and that of George Alexander & Ken Penland. This post is about the latter, which I recently ordered. The customer reviews call it the „Bible of Karate“ and „the most complete and acurate translation available“ of „the original text“. Well, there is not „the original text“ of the Bubishi, but rather different editions in a handful of lineages, which as a whole are today considered „the Bubishi“.

Anyway, title and bibliographic info are as follows:

Alexander, George and Ken Penland (Translators and Editors): Bubishi: Martial Art Spirit. Yamazato Publications, 1993 (2nd Edition, 2015). Soft Cover, pp. 201.

The "Ogura-print-edition", translated and edited by George Alexander and  Ken Penland under the name of "Bubishi: Martial Art Spirit."

The „Ogura-print-edition“, translated and edited by George Alexander and Ken Penland under the name of „Bubishi: Martial Art Spirit.“

So I got this book and it’s a big soft cover with a depiction of the Buasaganashi on the front (clearly from Miyagi/Higa lineage). On page viii the authors thank “Master Tsuneyoshi Ogura, 10th Dan Goju Ryu Karate for providing his original version of the Bubishi.” So the authors received an – I guess handwritten – edition from the possession of Tsuneyoshi Ogura. This they translated and also used the illustrations. For this reason I will refer to this book by Alexander and Penland from here on as the “Ogura-print-edition.”

On first perusal I noticed a few things, which I summarize here.

  • The Ogura-print-edition presents 32 articles from „the Bubishi.“ Many illustrations are traces from the Mabuni 1934 book, others not. All in all the illustrations are naive and inartistic in their implementation.
  • The Ogura-print-edition contains 48 two-person drill illustrations, which are without exception styled after the Mabuni 1934 book; this is surprising, as the Mabuni 1934 book has only 28 two-person drill illustrations.
  • The 32 articles of the Ogura-print-edition are not from „the original Bubishi“, but are a collection from various Bubishi edition lineages. This can be seen in the fact that the Mabuni 1934 book has only 11 articles. Bubishi parts from the Miyagi/Higa lineage Bubishi, which has 29 articles, were clearly used in Ogura-print-edition. For instance, this can be seen in the two illustrations of the Busaganshi: one from the Mabuni edition, one from the Miyagi/Higa lineage editions.
  • Drawings of meridians in the Ogura-print-edition were taken from another printed book. They are based on the meridian charts first produced by Hua Shou (1304-1386).
  • Drawings of plants in the Ogura-print-edition are also from another printed book.
  • There is no photo of the handwritten Ogura original, no word of greeting, nor an explanation when, how, and where it was borrowed and copied.
  • The Ogura-print-edition uses Wade-Giles or a similar system of phonetic transcription, instead of the official Hanyu Pinyin. In this way, Cheung Shiu Shu instead of Zhen Chishu, Fang Chi Liang instead of Fang Qiniang, Chi instead of Qi etc. At the same time Japanese terms are used, like Kenpo instead of Ch’uan-fa (Quanfa). The designations for the Chinese 12-hour system are given in Japanese, too (ne, ushi, tora, etc.). Regional dialects are also used, like Dim Mak, Dim Hsueh, Dim Ching. That is, it is not consistent in its transcription method.

As anyone can see, there are some points that are rather conspicious. So before I could make a statement about the originality of this Ogura-print-edition, I had to look a little closer.

"Furoku Bubishi", or "Attachement: Bubishi", from Mabuni's 1934 book.

„Furoku Bubishi“, or „Attachement: Bubishi“, from Mabuni’s 1934 book.

Looking for clues as regards the original documents used by Ogura to compile his edition of the Bubishi, the first thing to note in the present Ogura-print-edition is that on the starting page of each chapter a picture with Japanese characters accompanies the headline. The characters say „Furoku Bubishi“, i.e. „Attachement: Bubishi.“ This very specific name is the header of the Bubishi appendix of Mabuni’s 1934 book and has been reproduced here.

So it seems very obvious here that Ogura used this book by Mabuni Kenwa, which is nothing else but:

Mabuni Kenwa: Kōbō Jizai Karate Kenpō. Sēpai no Kenkyū. Tōkyō, Karate Kenkyūsha Kōbukan 1934.  

So far so good.

So this was one of the sources Ogura used. Next I stumbled over something revealing. In Chapter 4, „The Teachings of the Old Poems,“ on page 8 of the Ogura-print-edition an error occurred: The caption of the illustration shown on this page says „old poem referenced by the Bubishi.” But in fact the picture shows something completely different: namely publication data of the Chen Shan Mei Publishing Co. from page 2 of the 1959 Taiwan pirate edition of Mabuni Kenwa’s above mentioned work.

Obviously the translators didn’t notice this. See below 1) the page in the Ogura-print-edition, 2) magnification of the picture, and 3) the original page on page 2 of the 1959 Taiwan pirate edition of Mabuni Kenwa’s above mentioned work.

Illustration "old poem referenced by the bubishi", which in fact shows publication data found on page 2 of the 1959 Taiwan pirate edition of Mabuni Kenwa’s 1934 work.

Illustration „old poem referenced by the bubishi“, which in fact shows publication data found on page 2 of the 1959 Taiwan pirate edition of Mabuni Kenwa’s 1934 work.

So what does this mean? Of course, it means that the Mabuni edition used by Ogura was not Mabuni’s 1934 original book, but a pirate edition of it published in 1959 in Chinese language by Taiwan based publishing company Chen Shan Mei Publishing Co. The bibliographic reference for this book is:

Mabuni Kenwa (Author) und Mo Qingli (Translator): Goshin-jutsu Hiden Karate Kenpō. Zhenshanmei Chubanshe, Taipei, 1959.

It is therefore decidedly clear that the Ogura-print-edition made use of the 1959 Taiwan pirate edition of Mabuni’s work. Furthermore, it can be concluded that all 11 articles from this edition had been used, and of course, the illustrations.

It is important to note here again that the Mabuni editions of both 1934 and 1959 only contain 28 two-person drill illustrations. According to Mabuni himself these originated in Itosu Ankō’s handwritten Bubishi edition. But the Ogura-print-edition features 48 two-person drill illustrations, that is, 20 more than Mabuni. But these, too, all show the very distinctive and unmistakable features of the Mabuni illustrations of 1934 (1959).

So, does this mean that the Itosu Ankō edition originally included all 48 scenarios, that Mabuni only published 28 of them, and that the Ogura-print-edition is the only one edition known so far that ever presented these in full??? Thus making it the most „original Bubishi“ in existence?

Very decidedly: no!!! The number of 48 two-person drill illustrations is only found in the Miyagi/Higa lineage Bubishi.

So the question is: Where did the 20 extra illustrations in the Ogura-print-edition originate from?

The 48 two-person fighting scenarios

First of all, the Ogura-print-edition used the intersection of the Miyagi/Higa lineage Bubishi with its 29 articles, plus the difference quantity of 3 articles found in other editions, namely from among the 11 Mabuni articles, thus came up with 32 articles.

The number and sequence of the 48 two-person-drills of the Ogura-print-edition match 100% with that of the various Miyagi/Higa lineage editions, such as Fukuchi Seikō edition and Ōtsuka Tadahiko editions. But the Mabuni 1959 edition, which was used for the Ogura-print-edition, only has 28 two-person-drills which are in a complete different order. Notwithstanding, all 48 two-person-drill illustrations of the Ogura-print-edition sport the unique and unmistakable features of the Mabuni illustrations.

So, as Mabuni only had 28 two-person drills, the question posed itself if they are a subset of the 48 two-person drills, and if yes, which ones exactly?

In order to establish an answer, I created the following register. In it the sequence and numbers of the 28 two-person drills of the Mabuni edition (Itosu lineage Bubishi) were compared to the 48 two-person drills Ogura-print-edition (Miyagi/Higa lineage Bubishi).

number of illustration and page

Here we clearly see that all 28 two-person drill illustrations of the Mabuni edition (Itosu lineage Bubishi) match with certain numbers of the 48 two-person drill illustrations from the Ogura-print-edition (Miyagi/Higa lineage). For example, Ogura No. 3. corresponds to Mabuni No. 13, Ogura Nr. 10. corresponds to Mabuni No. 21. and so on. Obviously, the Mabuni edition not only had a different numbers, but also a different order. But now we can compare these.

Furthermore, we also see which exact numbers of the Ogura-print-edition (Miyagi/Higa lineage) were not covered by the Mabuni edition (Itosu lineage Bubishi) as a model. From this we derive two new tables, namely: 1) the 28 matching two-person-drill illustrations, and 2) the remaining 20 two-person-drill illustrations.

1) The 28 matching two-person-drill illustrations

The numbers of the Ogura edition can now be assigned to the numbers of the Mabuni edition in a comparison register as follows.

number of illustration and page 2

Comparing the 28 matching two-person-drills in the Ogura and the Mabuni print editions, it gets decidedly evident that the Ogura illustrations are traces of the Mabuni edition, be it electronically or by hand.

In fact, the meticulous comparison of the 28 matching two-person-drills of Mabuni and the Ogura-print-edition shows a 100% match in distances, finger positions, beards, hairstyles and even facial wrinkles and other unmistakable details.

Sometimes the black gauntlets were assigned to the wrong fighter, but that’s about it with the differences. Without the slightest doubt: the Ogura-print-edition features the traces of the 28 scenarious taken from Mabuni. And as we have seen before, it was the 1959 pirate Taiwan edition of Mabuni’s that was used here. Here follow just two examples. You should closely compare distances, positions of fingers, arms, foot positions, trower folds, rips, navels, hairdo etc.

Example 1: 30: 143 (4: 151).

This comparison shows that illustration number 4 (page 151) of the Mabuni edition (left half of below’s picture) was used to retrace Ogura’s number 30 (page 143, right half of below’s picture). The correspondence is 100 %.

Example 1: 30: 143 (4: 151).

Example 1: 30: 143 (4: 151).

Example 2: 38: 151 (6: 153).

This comparison shows that illustration number 6 (page 153) of the Mabuni edition (left half of below’s picture) was used to retrace Ogura’s number 38 (page 151, right half of below’s picture). The correspondence is 100 %.

Example 2: 38: 151 (6: 153)

Example 2: 38: 151 (6: 153)

Just like in these two examples, all of the 28 two-person drills found in the Mabuni edition have been traced and used in the Ogura-print-edition in exactly the same manner.

So far, so good.

2) The 20 remaining illustrations

I spare you the next table. You can easily derive it from the first register given above.

All 48 two-person drills illustrations in the Ogura-print-edition exhibit the unique features and style of the 28 Mabuni illustrations. The Mabuni illustrations came from an Itosu edition and only these 28 two-person illustrations are verified to have existed ever, anywhere.

So the question is: Is the Ogura edition the only one that has 48 two-person illustrations from the original Itosu Bubishi?

To anticipate the result: Decidedly nope!

Horror Ghost maskSo where did the 20 remaining two-person illustrations in the Ogura-print-edition came from? To anticipate the result again: it can and has been determined. The 20 remaining two-person illustrations in the Ogura-print-edition were produced by using fragments from the 28 two-person drill illustrations of the Mabuni edition, that is, upper bodies, lower bodies, arms, heads were used as fragments. Some parts were also simply mirrored horizontally to fit in a specific number.

Now, you may ask, where did the templates for these 20 remanufactured Mabuni-style figures came from? How did “Ogura” know how they look like when they were not featured in the Mabuni edition? That’s a good question. But as I have previsouly pointed out, the Ogura edition used a Bubishi from the Miyagi/Higa lineage, which all have the complete 48 two-person illustrations. So far it has not been determined which edition exactly it was but that actually doesn’t matter. Because it’s the only lineage in which the 48 two-person-drill illustrations could be verified.

So, without any doubt, “Ogura” used a handwritten Bubishi from the Miyagi/Higa lineage, and this was used to provide for the templates to remanufacture the remaining 20 two-person-drill illustrations in a Mabuni-style, which lay before us now in the Ogura-print-edition of Alexander & Penland.

Let’s look at the remanufactured Mabuni-style 20 two-person-drill illustrations. The 20 remaining numbers from the Ogura-print-edition, which are not found in the Mabuni edition nor anywhere else, have been determined previously and I use the already established register again now.

The left column gives the number of illustration of the Ogura-print-edition, followed by the page number. The next two columns give the origin of the illustration or parts of it that have been determined. The reference number in these two columns again gives the number and page number at Ogura, followed by number and page number of Mabuni in brackets. I chose to only present some of the most obvious matches, but all 20 two-person-drill illustrations follow the pattern shown here.

number of illustration and page 3

The comparison brought to light that the largest part of the figures in the 20 remaining two-person-drill illustrations not covered in the Mabuni edition have been assembled in the truest meaning of the word from fragments of exactly these 28 two-person illustrations of Mabuni. By fragments I mean upper bodies, lower bodies, arms, heads from the Mabuni edition were used. In this way these 20 two-person-drill illustrations perfectly imitate the “Mabuni-style” (Itosu Bubishi). But as these 20 two-person-drill illustrations do not exist in any verified edition, they were assembled from original fragments, by using the templates from a different source edition, using their forms and accompanying texts. Namely, this was a Bubishi from the Miyagi/Higa lineage.

The above was decidedly and methodically established here as a fact. It is of little use to provide the complete analyzis here, but you might check it yourself by using the register given above. Instead I simply provide the following two examples.number of illustration and page 4

Example I: 1: 114 – left figure. 

This comparison shows that illustration number 20 (page 167) of the Mabuni edition (left half of below’s picture) was used to construct Ogura’s left figure in number 1 (page 114, right half of below’s picture), which is not found in the Mabuni edition. Only the arms were adapted.

Example I: 1: 114 - left figure.

Example I: 1: 114 – left figure.

Example I: 1: 114 – right figure. 

This comparison shows that illustration number 15 (page 162) of the Mabuni edition (left half of below’s picture) was used to construct Ogura’s right figure in number 1 (page 114, right half of below’s picture), which is not found in the Mabuni edition. Only the arms were adapted.

Example I: 1: 114 - right figure.

Example I: 1: 114 – right figure.

Example II: 12: 125 – left figure.

This comparison shows that illustration number 24 (page 171) of the Mabuni edition (left half of below’s picture) was used to construct the lower body of Ogura’s left figure in number 12 (page 125, right half of below’s picture), which is not found in the Mabuni edition. Only the arms were adapted, and the belly and chest as the left arm of the figure was taken away in the retouche.

Example II: 12: 125 - left figure.

Example II: 12: 125 – left figure.

Example II: 12: 125 – right figure. 

This comparison shows that illustration number 11 (page 158) of the Mabuni edition (left upper half of below’s picture) was used to construct the lower body of Ogura’s right figure in number 12 (page 125, right upper half of below’s picture), which is not found in the Mabuni edition.

The upper body of Ogura’s right figure was constructed by number 24 (page 171 ) of the Mabuni edition (centre lower part of below’s picture). Only the arms were adapted to extend over the legs.

Example II: 12: 125 - right figure.

Example II: 12: 125 – right figure.

I could go on and on with my analysis. As I already noted in the beginning, the drawings of meridians in the Ogura-print-edition were taken from another printed book and are based on the meridian charts first produced by Hua Shou (1304-1386). The drawings of plants in the Ogura-print-edition are also from another printed book. The following two illustration, besides lackig any artistry, are also (horrible) reworks from Miyagi/Higa lineage editions: Article 27 (Zheng’s Twenty-Four Iron hand Applications and White Monkey Style) and Article 28 (Eighteen Scholars White Crane Fist and Black Tiger Style Fifty-Four Step Quan).

Furthermore, the same identical trace of Mabuni’s 36 vital point diagram (Mabuni 1934/1959, page 142) were simply reused for 3 different articles of the Ogura-print-edition. See the following comparison:

In three different articles the Ogura-print-edition uses the same illustrations, which is a picture traced from Mabuni’s 36 vital point diagram. Left side: Original, right side the Ogura trace placed over it in red (Cf. Mabuni page 142; Ogura-print-edition 20, 27, 105)

In three different articles the Ogura-print-edition uses the same illustrations, which is a picture traced from Mabuni’s 36 vital point diagram. Left side: Original, right side the Ogura trace placed over it in red (Cf. Mabuni page 142; Ogura-print-edition 20, 27, 105)

3 articles only found in the Mabuni edition and not in other lineage editions were incorporated into the Ogura-print-edition. The three article are:

  • Article 31 on Shaolin Herbal Remedies.
  • Article 32, which shows the „Shaolin Temple Fist and Leg Formal Excercises.“ All the 34 illustrations here were likewise traced from the Mabuni edition.
  • Article 22 on „The Delayed Death Touch and Twelve Hour Dragon Breath Time Charts.“ All 12 illustrations here were also traced from the Mabuni edition.

Besides, Article 20. on „The Six Wind Hands of the Shaolin System“ were also traced from the Mabuni edition.

Conclusion

The Ogura-print-edition translated and edited by Alexander & Penland is very decidedly not an original work. Instead, it is a compilation of partial copies and partly forged illustrations. The illustrations are simply quite horrible, artless works, without any originality. If the same thing happened with the Kata of Karate and Kobudo, well then good night. Most importantly, 20 of the 48 two-peron-drills do not show the original positions etc. Accordingly they cannot be called „original illustrations“ and might as well lead into a wrong direction. To state one more example: In Ogura number 2 on page 115 the wrong leg is in front. How will you ever be able to even get close to something like an „original application“ here?

As regards the Amazon customer reviews, talking about „the most complete and acurate translation available“ of „the original text“, I am totally unsure, too, and I tell you why. As it turned out, Ogura used the 1959 Taiwan pirate edition of Mabuni. This edition had been written in Traditional Chinese. The translator had the printed texts newly set and also added his own interpretations. In doing so, not only punctuation marks have been altered or supplemented, but whole headings or sub-headings were changed, shortened or completely rewritten. The following are just some examples showing the differences in the Taiwan issue (highlighted in red) as compared to Mabuni’s original edition:

number of illustration and page 5In addition, different characters and often even completely changed sentences were used. Take as an example the following from Article 11 (Sun Wǔzǐ Yun, p.176) of the Mabuni edition. The differences in the Taiwan issue are marked in red:

number of illustration and page 6

Finally, the characters and units in the articles on herbal medicines were changed to a modern written designation. The classical Chinese text of the Mabuni original, both in headlines as well as in the text itself, was massively changed in the Taiwan edition.

In other words: as regards the complete and „original text“ it should be kept in mind that any translations made from the 1959 Taiwan edition are questionable already from their source. This might also clear up some irritations as regards differences in different translations and the question „which is the original Bubishi text?“

Apart from this: If Ogura in his text worked in a similarly liberal and imprecise fashion as he did in the illustrations, then I am afraid the veracity of this translation must seriously be doubted, no matter what impeccable Budo Spirit and good intentions the translator and editor placed into this work of publishing an Ogura-print-edition under the name of Bubishi: Martial Art Spirit at Yamazato Publications.

The "18 hands of the vagabonds", from the original Bubishi.

The „18 hands of the vagabonds“, from the original Bubishi.

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Lineages, personal relations, and official recognition

Lineages, personal relations, and official recognition were important in Japanese arts, including martial arts, for hundreds of years. That is were titles like „soke“ come from, which was used by schools of tea ceremony, theater and the like.

The importance of lineages existed in old Ryukyu, too. Yet it was mostly related to family registers. Preparing genealogies was mandatory for Ryukyuans since the establishment of the „Office of Genealogy“ in the end of the 17th century. Soon possessing and cultivating a lineage (keimochi) came to be one of the most important things within the kingdom, decisive for jobs in civil service, speed of promotion intervals etc. The right to establish a genealogy in old Ryukyu could also be bought by means of „generous monetary donations“ to the royal government, or were granted for special services.

Anyway, martial arts lineages in Okinawa became only important some decades following the „abolition of Ryukyu“ and the establishment of Okinawa prefecture.

Today every martial arts school of Okinawa has its own lineage. It is a matter of great importance and pride. But because it is a comparatively new tradition, tracing back personal relations to Ryukyu kingdom times is often possible only by indirect deduction from the few late 19th and early 20th century accounts.

Part of lineage studies, an interesting and difficult field (translated from Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, 1978).

Part of lineage studies, an interesting and difficult field (translated from Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, 1978).

Part of lineage studies, an interesting and difficult field (translated from Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, 1978).

Part of lineage studies, an interesting and difficult field (translated from Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, 1978).

 

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On Yohaku no bi in Lara’s painting

Talking about the aesthetic taste of the Japanese (biishiki 美意識) makes sense only when considering both the classical and the modern perspective. However, for the sake of this short post I’d like to simply touch one topic, namely the socalled Yohaku no bi 余白の美.

Yohaku no bi originated in the medieval Japanese aesthetic principle described as the „beauty of the remaining white“. Yohaku designates the white space, the unfilled space, a gap or margin, which bears a aesthetic significance for the overall impression of a scene in a room, an image, etc.

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To understand this concept a casual acquaintance with ink painting (sumie 墨絵) is helpful. Perfection in this form of art requires the selective restraint with a minimum use of black ink, so that the remaining empty spaces express the actual theme.

Therefore, Yohaku no bi can also be translated as „the beauty of the defect“, or „the beauty of the void“, summarized in the phrase „less is more“, ascribed to Mies van der Rohe.

Although Lara Wendy Preston Chamberlain’s drawings clearly outlines Arakaki Sensei, there is also a lot of Yohaku no bi to be found in it. It is found both in the physical painting itself as well as in the artistic expression, or lets say in the heart of the painting.

Lara's painting of the late Makishi Yasuharu Sensei.

Lara’s painting of the late Makishi Yasuharu Sensei.

In art the term refers to artistic content which is not explicitly visible, to that which is omitted. In Zen Buddhism this idea of emptiness as a defining element is expressed through the concepts of 空 (void) and mu 無 (absence, nonexistence). It is in fact a kind of conscious subtlety, restraint, or simplicity.

Talking of  空: think of the pauses in the kata of karate and kobudō not only as a technical functions, but also as an aesthetic expression. It is just as in music, where notes, arpeggios, and chords without rythm and pauses would simply be perceived as noise. In martial arts, Miyamoto Musashi’s „Red-backed Shrike on a dead tree“ is a perfect example.

UnbenanntMusashi's "Red-backed Shrike on a dead tree"

Musashi’s „Red-backed Shrike on a dead tree“

In the practice of karate and kobudō, there is a lot of aesthetics. Each branch of karate has its own specific aesthetics which are not completely explainable by function only. Budō has its own aesthetics, both philosophically as well as in physical expression. So when studying karate as a martial art, that is Budō karate – as opposed to health karate, sport karate, or entertainment karate etc. – than it conveyes not only techniques, not only „culture“, not only history, but also aesthetics.

These aesthetics are not only in the power or the technical application, but also in the kokoro or the heart that lies at the bottom of it. It is these aesthetics, or the lack of it, which are part of expert assessments, knowingly or not.

This said, simply saying „my karate is ugly so it must be good“ is very very wrong.

Postscript:

Talking about aesthetics in martial arts is unpopular as unpopular can. I think a lot of the rejection certain Westernized Japanese martial arts receive in the homeland of budō and bujutsu are simply for their aesthetics, which must really hurt a Japanese. Look at modern sports karate: it is to a large part the specific aesthetics that win or loose. What would be a Japanese koryū without its aesthetics? Only because karate for a long time had a quite unsophisticated aesthetics (as compared to Japanese koryū) it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist or that it is unimportant. Take the dōjō interieur, the badges, the philosophies, the culture of Okinawa karate, and you will see the aethetics are there. You just don’t trample this down by saying „ugly works so ugly is good.“ It is not.

So, to achieve a diversified discussion there is a technique in journalism. Namely, writing three articles on the topic, from three different perspectives. As a small blogger I don’t have the manpower to do so. Therefore I have to opt for one perspective. This does not mean that I do not know or do not seek to apply different perspectives. It simply means I decide for topics that are usually left out.

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The ultimate goal of budō

Remember that the ultimate goal of budō lies not in technique, but in the educative aim to produce useful people for the community, who ultimately contribute something to the world. It is only on the individual level that this is achieved by „perfecting oneself“ in the study of budō. But budō adresses the community.

It is neither a cool computer game nor a random kakutōgi (martial Arts) only about armbars, chokes, and atemi, wearing some Asian clothes. It is not something you simply define yourself.

Unbenannt

“The most efficient use of energy” was formulated Kanō, the founder of jūdō. “Energy” refers to both mental and physical power. “The most efficient use” implies two injunctions:

  1. To use mental and physical power most reasonably and to avoid waste.
  2. To use it to promote “goodness,” that is something that promotes the continuing development of collective and social lives. (Cf. Inoue 1998)

The positive budō approach can also be seen in precepts of the International Budō University, Japan. They are roughly as follows:

  • by budō, the youth masters an immovable philosophy of life[1]
  • by budō, the youth understands the world view of peace
  • by budō, the youth cultivates their physique
  • by budō, the youth learns the way of patience and courtesy
  • The youth under the spirit of the physical education of budō: Let’s build a road[2] for international friendship

[1] jinseikan 人生観, term coinded by Japanese philosopher Inoue Tetsujirō (1855–1944).

[2] taidō 大道, meaning road in sense of the „path of righteousness“, or of „fundamental moral principles“

So next time you get stuck and worn out too much by following the path of „ancient martial arts“, dealing with techniques that destroy life, with being a „warrior“ 24/7, that is, with „the art of war“, which ultimativley hurts your soul when its otherwise meaningsless, you probably want to remind yourself that budō first of all and in fact is a positive thing which has humanity as its foundation.

dojo

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The Chuzan Mon on Ayajo Boulevard

Within the construction of the Shuri castle walls there were numerous gates. In olden times there was a gate called Chūzan-mon, which was of the same type as the Shureimon. Unfortunately, the Chūzan-mon was demolished in 1908 due to obsolescence. We know how it looked from one single old photograph only.

The road leading down westwards from the Shureimon is called Ayajō Ufumichi, or Ayajō Boulevard. As it is situated on top, Shureimon is also referred to as Ue no Ayajō, or ‘on top of Ayajō.’

The Chūzan Mon on the other hand was about 500m away down the road, and therefore also referred to as Shita no Ayajō, ‘lower Ayajō’.

Chūzan Mon and Shureimon on Ayajō Boulevard, leading to the Kankaimon, the first gate in the actual Shuri castle walls.

Chūzan Mon and Shureimon on Ayajō Boulevard, leading to the Kankaimon, the first gate in the actual Shuri castle walls.

Ayajō Ufumichi was the primary road of the Ryukyu Kingdom, with royal townhouses and the like lined up along this street. In addition, it was also the place where large celebrations took place, like the tug-of-war called Ayajō Unna.

Such a tug-of-war on the Ayajō Boulevard to place in 1898. From the reports we can see that before karate was introduced into school education, it seems to have been performed at local events. From the 13th to the 17th of August tug-of-war took place in Akabira, in Ōnaka and Tōbaru, in Yamagawa, and at the Kunigami residence in Gibo, with dozens of old people, persons in their prime, and youngsters drinking sake together. As entertainments a sword dance to a mournful melody and heroic ‘Chinese style martial arts’ were performed. Inside the gates on Ayajō Boulevard the characteristic flagpoles (hatagashira) of Gibo in form of a ancient military leader’s fan were erected.

Chūzan Mon, about 500m away down the Ayajo Boulevard, and therefore also referred to as Shita no Ayajō, ‘lower Ayajō’.

Chūzan Mon, about 500m away down the Ayajo Boulevard, and therefore also referred to as Shita no Ayajō, ‘lower Ayajō’.

Biblio:

  • Ryūkyū Shinpō-sha (Meiji 31)
  • Shuri-gusuku Shashin de miru. Naha 2005. 4th edition.
  • Shuri-gusuku: Yomigaeru Ryūkyū Ōkoku. Naha 2006. 6th edition.
  • Karate 1.0, 2013 (Chapter: The First written Notes on Tōdī, and Karate).
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A different karate man

Today’s Kojō-ryū came into existence when sometime after 1945 Kojō Kafu opened a dōjō in Naha City Tsuboya, together with his oldest son and 7th generation Kojō Shigeru (1934-?). Shigeru himself, together with Matayoshi Seiki (1933-1975), practiced for about five years with Miyagi Chōjun, whose oldest daughter’s husband also bore the Kojō family name.

Matayoshi Seiki was born in Naha Tsuboya as the second son among three brother and three sisters. Because he lost his eldest brother in the war, Matayoshi took over his role. His parents’ household was so poor he could not even go to school. Since he was 7 or 8 years old he attended the dōjō of Miyagi Chōjun, founder of Gōjū-ryū Karate-dō. By the time he was 18-19 years old he repeatedly got into street fights against American soldiers. While making a living as a bouncer he didn’t gang up but independently practiced karate all the time.

Yakuza in Okinawa are a post-war phenomenon. After first signs of a post-war revival began to appear, like minded persons started to band together since around 1952. Matayoshi, gradually noted by his surroundings, formed the Naha-ha by gathering his karate fellows and others based in Naha City. Even after he had become the boss of the Naha-ha he continued to work hard in practicing karate. Around the same time the Koza-ha based in Okinawa City was formed by Kishaba Chōshin.

During the so-called 1st Okinawa Dispute (1961) Matayoshi was nearly killed twice by Shinjō Yoshifumi (nickname Mintamī), the successor of the Koza-ha. The first time he was taken to Nishihara airfield remains of the old Japanese Imperial Army. After having been beaten with a brand new hoe handle, which broke from the beatings, he was pulled around tied to the back of a car with a chain. The second time he was shot from behind when he left his home. However, as he survived both attacks, he came to be called the „immortal man“, the „man not afraid to die“, and „star“.

Taba Seiko, one of the leaders of the Naha-ha, formed the Futenma-ha. Around this time yakuza from the mainland began to intervene in the conflict.

After the Koza-ha split into the Yanbaru-ha and the Awase-ha, the Naha-ha, Futenma-ha, and Yonbaru-ha united and they entered into conflict with the Awase-ha. This is the so-called 2nd Okinawa Dispute (1964), in which the Awase-ha was destroyed by relentless attacks from the Yonbaru-ha.

The 3rd Okinawa Dispute (1966) broke out when the Naha-ha and the Yonbaru-ha united and entered into conflict with the Futenma-ha. The Futenma-ha ended after Taba was shot to death.

In the later 1960s Gibo Toshio launched the Okinawa Branch of the Tōseikai (the later Tōakai or “East Asia Friendship Enterprises Association”, a largely ethnic-Korean yakuza group based in Tōkyō)

Lower right: Matayoshi Seiki (1933-1975).

Lower right: Matayoshi Seiki (1933-1975).

In 1970, at the eve of Okinawa’s political return to mainland Japan and with the intention to prevent the advance of the mainland yakuza syndicate known as Yamaguchi-gumi, the Naha-ha and the Yonbaru-ha formed the Okinawa Rengō Kyokuryūkai. Nakamoto Zenchū became president. Matayoshi Seiki and Shinjō Yoshifumi, whom Matayoshi tried to kill after the two assassination attempts, both became board chairmen.

Matayoshi himself said ”Now in this situation Okinawa people cannot be at each other’s throats. If me and Mintami (i.e. Shinjō Yoshifumi) do not join hands, Okinawa will be under the mainland yakuza, which are the real enemy”.

Not long afterwards, Uehara Yūkichi of the original Yonbaru-ha established the Uehara-gumi and made himself independent from the Okinawa Rengō Kyokuryūkai. This led to the 4th Okinawa Dispute. In the early morning of Thursday, October 16, 1975, Matayoshi Seiki left 6 a.m. for a walk with his Tosa dog. He was followed by a bodyguard car of 3 henchmen. About 1.5 kilometers from home, at the entrance of the Shikina cemetery, Matayoshi riding his motorcycle and holding the dog leash in his left hand, a white car overtook the bodyguard car and Matayoshi was shot from behind by two assassins belonging to the Uehara-gumi. Four of the five Colt 45 caliber bullets struck Matayoshi in the chest and abdomen. He died instantly. Shinjō Yoshifumi was also shot to death by members of the Uehara-gumi.

In the later 1970s, the Uehara-gumi and the Ryūshinkai, a branch of the “East Asia Friendship Enterprises Association”, entered in affiliation with the Yamaguchi-gumi.

In the earlier 1970s, Tawada Shinzan had become the 2nd president of the Okinawa Rengō Kyokuryūkai. In the 1980s he made brothers with the leadership of the Yamaguchi-gumi, thus ended the 4th Okinawa Dispute. Tawada was shot to death in 1982 by members of the Okinawa Rengō Kyokuryūkai. His successor as third president in 1983 became Onaga Yoshihiro, under who membership reached 1,000.

In 1990 the Okinawa Rengō Kyokuryūkai split up into the Kyokuryūkai and the Okinawa Kyokuryūkai. In 2011 they merged again and relaunched as Kyokuryūkai. It is today the only group that is designated as Yakuza (bōryakudan) in Okinawa prefecture.

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Random thoughts on the term „Enbu“

Investiture envoy Wang Ji for 1683 noted on a place for drill in arms and for the practice of martial arts in Naha, used by the officers and men of the Tenshikan (the lodgings of the Investiture envoys and their followers, as well as guardsmen from Kume village only). He used the Chinese expression yanwu-chang 演武塲, which corresponds to enbu-ba in Japanese reading. Accordingly, the first time the term enbu was used in Ryūkyū history was in a Chinese source. At that time it referred to military exercises.

In Japan, the term enbu 演武 appeared frequently since 1895, when the Dai Nippon Butokukai held its first Butokusai Dai Enbu Taikai, which was henceforth continued annually. At that time it also referred to military exercises, though it made use of traditional martial arts, which still were considered valuable military tactics and also used to instill a “Japanese martial soul” in large parts of the population.

The Dai Nippon Butokukai also organized the Youth Martial Demonstrations Meeting (Dai-jū-kai Seinen Dai Enbu Taikai). In 1908, six students of the Shuri Middle School participated in the 10th edition of this demonstration and performed karate in front of Jigorō Kanō and other visitors.

Enbu at shrines in Japan are a great opportunity to observe various classical styles.

Enbu at shrines in Japan are a great opportunity to observe various classical styles.

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