Right now our friend Ulf Karlsson is on the plane back to Sweden. He just spent several months of practice and study in Okinawa and Japan. While there he also had the chance to meet with Motobu Naoki Sensei of the Motobu-ryū and Motobu-udundī, who is a distinguished researcher. After meeting Ulf, Motobu Sensei published an article on the Motobu-ryū Blog about their meeting and specifically about the old-style kata called Tachimura no Naihanchi. The following is my translation attempt (with permission to do so), so all mistake are mine alone.
Tachimura no Naihanchi
by Motobu Naoki
This Sunday we were visited by karateka Ulf Karlsson from Sweden. Mr. Karlsson is a disciple of Higa Kiyohiko Sensei (Sōke of Seidō-ryū Shinki Kobudō and Shindō-ryū) and for many years has been practicing Kishimoto-dī, ie the Tī of Kishimoto Sokō Sensei. In addition, Mr. Karlsson is not limited to the practice of Kishimoto-dī, but has also been studying the history of karate in general. Boasting a knowledge of the history of karate that puts Japanese karateka to shame, our conversation extended over a long time. Moreover, I could also watch him performing some of the kata of Kishimoto-dī.
There are heroic tales (buyuden) of Kishimoto Sokō Sensei from both Shuri and Naha. He was a disciple of Bushi Tachimura, a member of the warrior class (shizoku) of the Ryūkyū Kingdom era. Before Higa Kiyohiko Sensei’s father Higa Seitoku Sensei studied under Uehara Seikichi Sensei, he studied karate from Kishimoto Sensei.
There are several kata that have been handed down by Bushi Tachimura. One of them is Tachimura no Naihanchi. Since Mr. Karlsson himself has published a demonstration of it on Youtube I think those who study the history of karate in detail have seen it.
Tachimura no Naihanchi has a considerably different flavor than the common Naihanchi of the so-called Itosu-lineage. As it is not of the Itosu-lineage it also seems to be a valuable kata of a historical karate.
Information about Bushi Tachimura are scarce. The following description is found in the newspaper article “Okinawa no Bugi” (Ryūkyū Shinpō, 1914) about stories told by Asato Ankō, written by Funakoshi Gichin under his pen name “Shōtō”:
“It is said that Kyōahagon Uēkata, Urasoe Mayamado, and Shabe Uēkata (the progenitor of the present Gushikawa in Akabira Village) were famous warriors [bushi] from Okinawa’s earliest antiquity. These may serve as examples [of the inheritance of martial arts amongst bujutsu experts].
Everyone should know that the term ‘Karate’* originated from ‘Karate Sakugawa’ from Akata Village. Jūdō in Okinawa commenced with Tachimura from Tōbaru Village (today a manor of Shinzato-gwā), who trained in Kagoshima at state expense. His father, it is said, was a student of ‘Karate Sakugawa’. And here we can clearly see that karate was already developed when Jūdō was not yet introduced in Okinawa.”
Tōbaru Village is today’s Naha City Shuri Tōbaru-chō. The fact that this was where Bushi Tachimura lived shows that he was a member of the Shuri warrior class (shizoku). Not only can the name Tachimura be seen noted as a karateka in above-mentioned article, but considered chronologically the person corresponding to “Bushi Tachimura” might also have been his son, who went to Kagoshima (Satsuma) to study jūdō (I think this actually refers to jūjutsu).
I do not know if Tachimura no Naihanchi was handed down within the lineage of Karate Sakugawa ― it is first of all unclear if Karate Sakugawa had Naihanchi ― but it appears to be a kata that branched off at a relatively early stage when compared to Naihanchi of the Itosu-lineage. This is because the part of the movements with open hands are not seen in the Itosu-lineage. Motobu Chōki testified that a long time ago Naihanchi was executed with open hands. In addition, in the beginning it [Tachimura no Naihanchi] does not move to the right direction as done in the common version, but it moves to the left direction, which also appears to be a feature of Koryū or old-style Naihanchi. The Naihanchi of Motobu-ryū also first moves to the left.
At any rate, at the present time research into the history of karate in overseas appears to sprout with zeal. Because foreign karate researchers have less of a bondage to the rules and traditions of the Ryūha (schools) and since their history of academic research is older than in Japan, they seem to thoroughly investigate the history of karate with more passion than most Japanese. Incidentally, Mr. Karlsson also fluently talked in Japanese.
*Translator’s Note: As can be seen from his later works, Funakoshi equates Tōdī and Karate, both written as 唐手. However, in the case of Sakugawa it has to be pronounced Tōdī, a word that doesn’t exist in standard Japanese and which has a different meaning than the homonymous Karate 唐手 as used by Itosu and others. Because Funakoshi used it as “Karate” in his text, for the reason of consistency it was used throughout this translation, while in fact it should read “Tōdī ” in case of Sakugawa and also his era.
© 2016, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.