Quote Mabuni correctly

In his 1938 book Mabuni Kenwa mentioned on the situation of karate in Tōkyō. He said that the people who learned karate there believed that it only consisted of kicks & punches. At the same time they thought that throws & locks were only found in jūjutsu or jūdō. Here is the text, which has spread and is available all over the internet:

“The karate that has been introduced to Tokyo is actually just a part of the whole. The fact that those who have learnt karate there feel it only consists of kicks & punches, and that throws & locks are only to be found in judo or jujutsu, can only be put down to a lack of understanding […] Those who are thinking of the future of karate should have an open mind and strive to study the complete art.”

The above text is quoted on a variety of websites. It is either used as a standalone argument or embedded within articles to amplify the reasoning and conclusions made. In both cases:

It is completely wrong, inadmissible, and a fallacy.

Here’s why:

  • The quote was taken completely out of context. Also known as “contextomy” and “quote mining”, this is an informal fallacy and a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way as to distort its intended meaning.
  • Important parts were omitted before, in between, and after. Also known as selective reporting or exclusionary detailing.
  • In this way the false picture is created that all of karate of that era consisted only of kicks & punches.
  • In reality, Mabuni criticized [what would become] Shōtōkan – and only Shōtōkan.

Read the complete article by Mabuni below and see for yourself. Mabuni’s out-of-context quote is underlined.

About Gyaku and Nage (locks & throws) – The Need to Study Gōjū-ryū

As up to now [1938] karate has only partly been introduced in Tōkyō, people who exercise karate in Tōkyō believe that it solely consists of atemi (punching) and kicking techniques. When talking about gyaku-waza and nage-waza they assume that these only exist in jūjutsu and jūdō. This way of thinking is exceedingly counterproductive with respect to karate itself and can only possibly be attributed to a lack of knowledge. In any case, with respect to the propagation of karate-dō it is exceedingly disappointing that only a small part of the entirety of karate had been introduced in Tōkyō. To those who have the future of karate-dō in mind I recommend to under no circumstances narrow-mindedly hold on to the “nutshell” of a style and a school, but rather to synthetically explore karate as a whole. Within the kata of the Gōjū-ryū is found an interesting variety of gyaku-waza and nage-waza of karate, which up to the present time were not introduced to Tōkyō. In addition, the representatives of this style do not fail to engage in research as regards these gyaku-waza and nage-waza (An example of this is a throwing technique found the kata of Gōjū-ryū used as a release from the Double-Nelson (hagai-jime)). As in Gōjū-ryū a galore of study material is available, the students of karate should explore this style in detail.

This is the text corpus. You will agree that this opens a completely new window. Looking at the title alone makes clear what Mabuni wanted to say. Looking at the text it gets even clearer that Gōjū-ryū trained all the throws & locks (gyaku and nage) that were missing in Tōkyō. It is also evident that Gōjū-ryū was not yet introduced in Tōkyō. So what Mabuni said was “study Gōjū-ryū” and nothing else. And he said it to the community in Tōkyō, and nowehere else.

It is time to quote Mabuni correctly and to stop trying to rewrite history.

© 2016, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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