Shirotaru no Kon (4) – Techniques of Shirotaru Deciphered

As I noted before, Miki Jisaburō learned Shirotaru no Kon from Ōshiro Chōjo (1887–1935), who lived in Shuri Ōnaka 1-54 at the time. At that time Ōshiro served as a regular teacher as well as the head of the karate department at the industrial school (Kōgyō Gakkō), where he taught karate and bōjutsu to the youth in an “educational manner.” He also taught karate and kobudō at the Okinawa Prefectural Teachers’ College (Okinawa-ken Shihan Gakkō), where he was active together with Yabu Kentsū. Ōshiro not only taught at school but also invited the youth to his private home and taught them, about which they are said to have been “both were happy and proud.”

As Miki put it,

“Ōshiro was known as a leading man in bōjutsu of today’s Ryūkyū. And the famous bōjutsu master Yamane no Chinen sensei was his teacher.”

At this point it gets really interesting: There are so many lineages of bōjutsu from Okinawa who all swear that their kata came from Yamane no Chinen sensei, and/or Ōshiro Chōjo. But they are all different from the version recorded and perpetuated by Miki Jisaburō. I repeat:

DIFFERENT.

In order to show you what I mean: here is my practical reproduction of Shirotaru no Kon as learned from Ōshiro Chōjo in the late 1920s and described in text and illustrations in 1930.

Before watching, here are some notes to bear in mind.

At the time of Miki there was obviously no standardized terminology for techniques in use. For this reason there are many complicated descriptions. For this reason I have generated additional informations from the original description. By creating a matrix of the techniques and their numbers it became clear which techniques apparently belonged to certain combinations. Furthermore, I assigned modern names to the techniques described. For example, I abbreviated complex descriptions to technical names that are in standard use today – such as shōmen-uchi etc. From the data generated in this way, I then created a table of techniques and combinations and finally partitioned it according to the connected combinations and directions that portray the exact and complete structure and morphology of the original kata. By this the core combinations, interims techniques, bridges, and “runaway” – which are typical parts of the martial choreographies of kata – became recognizable and the otherwise confusing description of the entire choreography became clear and precise. That  means, as good as it was possible. It looks like this:

table

Finally, I have filmed the kata, which includes all my mistakes, personal inadequacies, and bad habits. Note that this is not a performance in the usual sense of “begging for points” during tournaments or graduation (or for Las Vegas 😀 ). Rather, it is simply supposed to show the enbusen and techniques of the kata as originally described by Miki.

Oh, btw, I do not have the nerves to lay down all my sources and experiences in front of everybody. You either trust me on that or not, and if the latter, I don’t care…

This all being said, here is my practical reproduction of Shirotaru no Kon as learned from Ōshiro Chōjo in the late 1920s and described in text and illustrations in 1930 by Miki Jisaburō.

Not nice, but hey: show some respect 😉 !!!

© 2018, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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