Translated from: Takamiyagi Shigeru, in: Okinawa Karate Kobudō Jiten, 2008, p. 84 – 85.
Historically speaking, martial arts (bujutsu) intended to kill during the warring states period, became martial arts (bugei) during the peaceful Tokugawa period, by adding to it the character of an artistic skill and performance. Ultimately, since the Meiji era, with the objective of fostering humanity, the bugei were sublimated into the martial arts (budō) meant as a mechanism to realize the path of humanity.
In Okinawa, karate as a martial art (bugei) has recently become fashionable among female dancers. The three elements of this unique Okinawan dance karate (buyō karate) are the actor, the stage, and the audience. In recent years, martial dance (bu no mai) has become an indispensable part in the repertoire of Ryūkyūan dance performances. It is a choreography of karate in which slow and fast karate techniques are performed to and matching with the constant rhythm of sanshin and singing. It is an “art of moving” in which the expression of dynamic strength, elegant body movement, graceful dress, and splendid movements of hands and feet have become the overall rhythm.
There is something about karate itself that feels like dance-like beauty. The self-defense dance (goshin no mai) can be said to be a dance close to karate itself. Carefully dressed in young man’s appearance, she dances the Shinkacchin-bushi and the Agarizato-bushi, and in the latter half she takes off her upper body kimono and rotates in a martial performance of karate techniques. It is a dance that brings the blood of an Okinawan man to the boil.
As the dancers socially rejuvenate karate as a martial art (bugei), such self-defense dances (dance karate, buyō karate) performed to song and dance are unique to Okinawa.
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