There is the working hypothesis of a prototypical combative method of indigenous Ryūkyūan origin and design. It predated imported methods of kenpō and was handed down personally without interruption ever since. This combative method is generically described as “.”

The term of appears to have debuted in the Okinawan karate circles around the early 1960s, most probably through the network of persons related to Uehara Seikichi and Higa Seitoku.

provides a practical approach that bypasses what is sometimes derogatively termed “educational karate” which– while having been based on older teachings – is considered to have been deprived of its former combative effectiveness.

The idea of allows for a huge field of combative interpretation – actually it is completely unrestricted by form, style, school, xyz-ryū, a certain sensei, or technical content.

The only necessity is that some Okinawan on Okinawa must have taught it. So, it allows – or necessitates – maintaining a connection to Okinawa, to Okinawans, and to old Ryūkyū.

Therefore, Tī might be termed an “open-architecture edition of karate from Okinawa.”

Yet, hitherto it is impossible to tell whether Tī is the original “form” of Ryūkyūan combative methods, or whether it is a modern and technically liberated and enhanced re-invention of karate, interwoven into a scenic historical narrative.

In addition, while Tī proponents like to claim that all educational karate was sanitized and is not practicable, the karate circles actually do the same thing as the Tī circles: they also simply adopt a more open-ish framework and practice all sorts of martial arts under the appellation of karate with its uniform, vocabulary, etc.

So today , or karate – or however you refer to your chop suey kungfu brew – might just include and be anything as long as it includes some karate-ish clothes and belts, and some karate-ish kata and terminology etc. In other words: You can make karate whatever you like.

In one sentence: It is free, as long as you wear a gi.

For this reason, I once proposed – with a wink – to designate it as “karate-fu.” I still believe this is a proper linguistic representation of what karate is in many cases. Unfortunately, this idea did not receive much approval from the WKF. Actually, it received no approval at all. Karate is a very serious topic for Karate people.

In the beginning I referred to as a working hypothesis, and I maintain this view. That means, at this point Tī is not yet a theory. This is because there is no such thing as found among the names used for martial arts in the primary sources of Ryūkyūan history. The only solution to the “crux of Tī” is to generally define it for what it is tacitly perceived: a retrospective working hypothesis for all kinds of prototypical combative methods of indigenous Ryūkyūan origin and design which predated various imported methods of Chinese kenpō and which was handed down personally without interruption ever since.

The other option is to continue to weave a Gordian knot of historical, terminological, and traditional absurdities.

When looking at names that include (), the legendary hero “Tōdī” Sakugawa comes to mind, or the old school of combat called Motobu Udundī, or the technical category of karami-dī and things like that.

Well, the suffix ~te (, ) is found in a number of classical Japanese as well as Chinese martial arts. As a famous example, let’s consider the various combative hand techniques that found their way into the Bubishi. These hand techniques originated from southern Chinese boxing styles, such as the Hong-Family-Boxing, the White-Crane-Boxing, or the Iron-Sand-Method – thrusting fingers into gravel, slapping things with the palm of the hand etc. Altogether six such methods where recorded. They are collectively called Rokkishu 六機手.

When considering the various meanings and etymology of the individual characters of this compound word, various interpretations are possible. Before doing so, let’s take a look at this compound word.

The first character roku 六 unambiguously refers to the attributive numeral six. The second character ki 機 is a descriptive noun. The last character shu 手 is also a noun, literally meaning ‘hand.’ Furthermore, the illustrations accompanying the Rokkishu show hands and these hands are the means of performing the techniques. Therefore Rokkishu is conclusively considered to mean something like “Six-Pivotal-Hands.”

However, here follows another perspective with a slightly different twist.

That is, the orthographic/grammatical function of the last character shu 手 is not that of an independent noun, but that of a classifier in the linguistic sense. More precisely, per lexical definition it is a classifier for skill. That is, shu 手 is an affix that classifies the referent ki 機 as an otherwise undefined type of skill.

What skill? As is obvious from the context, in this case it is an empty-handed combat skill. In short, the character shu classifies the character ki as an empty-handed combat skill.

What combat skill? This is defined by the referent ki.

With this fundamental insight the interpretation of the compound word Rokkishu can commence.

First, in a broad figurative sense it can be interpreted as to constitute the crux or linchpin in the specific school it belongs to.

Second, in a general sense it can be understood as to describe skillful and quick-witted techniques.

Third, it can refer to “techniques of opportunity,” i.e. such as applied in specific cases under specific circumstances.

Fourth, in a specific physical sense it refers to the hands as “biomechanical machines” – however odd that may sound to us –; hands that manipulate something. This last interpretation actually matches with a lexical explanation of the middle character ki in the meaning of manipulating, directing, controlling, and dominating.

Since it summarizes and represents the above deduction as a whole, I think “Six-Pivotal-Skills” constitutes a proper interpretation of Rokkishu.

Well, Rokkishu is the Japanese pronunciation of the characters. In standard Chinese the same characters are pronounced Liujishou. What would an Okinawan pronunciation sound like? Probably something like the typical corruptions of the Fujianese pronunciation, i.e. something like Rūcchin or something. At this point note that – just in case of Sūpārinpē, Ūsēshī and others – the affixed classifier – here shu – remains unpronounced.

Miyagi Chōjun is said to have brought Rokkishu back from Fuzhou, or to have adopted it following his return from Fuzhou. So this would have been around 1915 or 1916. It was also reported that the name Rokkishu was used until the early Shōwa era, that is, at least until 1926, when Miyagi taught Rokkishu at the Karate Kenkyū Kurabu 唐手研究倶楽部. Later the name Rokkishu was reformed to become Tenshō 転掌, which is considered Miyagi Chōjun’s masterpiece. Tenshō literally means to “turn or to rotate the palm of the hand”.

How did Miyagi Chōjun develop this kata? It is said he developed it by grafting each of the six hand techniques of the Rokkishu one after the other into the model structure of Sanchin. While this sounds logical and this theory is often accepted, there is also opposition to this oral tradition.

For example, one Okinawan martial arts master says that the six hand techniques of the Rokkishu are not to be found within Tenshō. The same person readily quotes a Chinese master of White-Crane-Boxing from Yongchun, who himself – as the Okinawan martial arts master says – maintained an original form of Rokkishu, and that it is different from Tenshō. That Okinawan martial arts master continues to explain that Tenshō is notwithstanding similar to the methods called “8 Appropriate Behaviors”( Bāfēncùn 八分寸) and the “White-Crane Joint Methods,” (Báihè Jiéfǎ 白鶴節法), which he presents on a DVD.

In other words: Just ask a Chinese master and already complicated things become finally unsolvable.

But there is another, more widespread example of opposition against the theory that the six hand techniques from the Bubishi are found within Tenshō.

This is based on the technique called “Like-a-Stick-of-Straw” (Yīlùcǎojìshǒu 一路草技手). It is technique number 6 as found in Mabuni Kenwa’s 1934 book “Sepai no Kenkyū”. See for yourself:

6 Hands of the Bubishi from Mabuni Kenwa’s 1934 book “SEPAI NO KENKYŪ”

6 Hands of the Bubishi from Mabuni Kenwa’s 1934 book “SEPAI NO KENKYŪ”

Mabuni’s picture of 1934 clearly shows the “Like-a-Stick-of-Straw” technique with an extended index, while and all other fingers folded in. It is a gesture that resembles what today is referred to as Ippon-nukite – or one-finger-thrust. This is considered the one and only 6th hand from the Bubishi.

And so, people who learned and practice Tenshō will tell you straightforward that this technique cannot be found in this kata. While the individual and collective Karate soul continues to prove itself unlimitedly inventive in finding an explanation for even the most unexplainable, I will not get into any of the attempts for explaining the discrepancy between the kata and the historical picture source.

Instead, I will directly point out that Mabuni’s “Like-a-Stick-of-Straw” technique is different from the “Like-a-Stick-of-Straw” technique as found in the Bubishi of the Miyagi Chōjun tradition. And since Miyagi’s tradition is where Tenshō came from, it might be a good idea to at least consider it.

It is just too bad that Mabuni’s 1934 picture is found in basically ALL Bubishi works, especially the Western adaptions. On the other hand, Miyagi’s “Like-a-Stick-of-Straw” hand is nearly nowhere to be found. It is therefore no wonder that even in the times of “Karate swarm intelligence” still today it is said that Tenshō cannot have been created from the 6 hands of the Bubishi. Or otherwise, that Tenshō might have used these 6 hands, but not all of  them.

Therefore, I present the venerated reader here with “Like-a-Stick-of-Straw” from the Bubishi of the Miyagi Chōjun lineage (where it is #4, not #6 btw):

"Like-a-Stick-of-Straw’" from Miyagi lineage Bubishi.

“Like-a-Stick-of-Straw’” from Miyagi lineage Bubishi.

Yes, I know: You are not only disappointed with the artist’s unpretentious execution of the drawing, but actually think this is a joke.

No, it is not a joke.

And the artistic execution is not the point. The point is that this drawing shows a completely different technique than at Mabuni. It is a technique that appears to be what today is referred to as Hiraken – or flat fist, also referred to as leopard fist. To be exact, it is a fist formed by the proximal interphalangeal joints of the four fingers, with the thumb attached towards the palm of the hand.

Of course, Hiraken or a similar technique is also difficult to detect in Tenshō, too. However, it might simply refer to Teisho-ate, which is abundantly found in Tenshō. This makes it so much more plausible than Mabuni’s index finger technique.

So, what does it mean? It has become clear – hopefully – that the argument that “Tenshō is not or not fully based on the 6 hands of the Bubishi, because one technique is definitely missing” is based on false grounds. This is also true for all attempts following therefrom to explain that matter.

However, the above does not constitute prove that – in converse conclusion – Rokkishu and Tenshō are actually based on the 6 hands of the Bubishi. But you may agree that a long lasting and difficult argument has been neutralized here, i.e. everything that was based on Mabuni’s index finger illustration. So you ought to relaunch the iterative process of assessing this topic by using this tiny little new piece of information as presented here.

BTW, since everybody is so interested in practical applications, I also would like to present the revered reader with the accompanying text to above picture:

“This technique is called ‘Like-a-Stick-of-Straw’. It is used to be smashed into the shoulder blade or spine. When struck by this technique, medical treatment must promptly be sought. If left untreated, the person will invariably die in six months.”

Ain’t that amazing?

It is just my personal guess, but maybe the name ‘Like-a-Stick-of-Straw’ is an analogy for the spine, like in “All along the spine”, with the internodes of the straw being the vertebras as the era of attack??? In any case, I’d like to leave this to all those Karate/Kempō/ Kyusho/Atemi/Tuidī/Kungfu/Jiujitsu etc.pp. experts out there.

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3 – The Theory of Tī

The Lexical Meaning of Tī

The lexical meaning of the character for the word Tī, written in Japanese Kanji as 手, comprises of various meanings and uses. First of all, it denotes the human arm as well as the hand including the fingers. It also connotes a wide range of meanings related to methods from the fields of arts, crafts, and technology, like that of calligraphy, or playing musical instruments, including the style and method of their practice and presentation. As a further example, it also relates to a determined way of dancing in Japanese Nō play, Buyō (dance) and the like, and to fixed types of dance.[1]

Apart from the above, according to the Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, the comprehensive encyclopedia of Japanese language, the character for Tī further denotes various things related to[2]:

  1. the skills or techniques (waza 技) of martial arts like Jūdō, Sumō, etc., namely a) specific techniques, throws, grips and levers, or b) generally the skills, techniques, abilities, or artifices related to martial arts.
  2. performing methods, arts, crafts, techniques or skills (gijutsu 技術).
  3. an art, technique, means, method, way, procedure, sorcery or magic in general terms (jutsu 術).
  4. skills or techniques (waza 技) of a standardized, constant, or defined form.
  5. persons who possess an excellent skill in craftsmanship or art and the like, and the level of it. a) skill, skillful, mastery, expertise, dexterity. b) a person who is experienced, practiced, a specialist, or an expert. An excellently skilled practitioner of Sumō wrestling.

Additionally to the above, according to the Okinawa-go Jiten, the Dictionary of the Okinawan language, the character for Tī denotes[3]:

  1. Karate (Tōdī). The methods of Kenpō.

And apart from the above, according to the Shuri Naha Dialect Dictionary,[4] Tī denotes:

  1. another word for Karate (Tōdī).
  2. the methods and techniques (jutsu 術) of Kenpō.

Phrases used in connection with Ti include:

  • Tīmōi[5] → Hand dance, that is, Karate converted to a dance.
  • Tī-shicchōn[6] → to learn Karate.
  • Tī-jikun[7] → to strike with the fist.
  • Ti-shicchōn[8] → to know Tī.
  • Tī chikayun[9] → to use Karate, to make use of ~; to perform or demonstrate the techniques of ~.
  • Tī-narayun[10] → to take lessons in Tī.[11]

The Martial Meaning of Tī

Notwithstanding its many meanings, it is quite obvious that the character Tī as found in the Okinawan language is considered to be in specific relationship with the historical predecessors of Karate, namely Tī, Tōdī, and Chinese Kenpō. At the same time it is perceived to include specific and general techniques or skills (waza 技) of all sorts of martial arts. Furthermore, it implies standardized forms, the performance of technical or artistic skills in sense of gijutsu 技術, as well as the methods and procedures of these skills in sense of a sophisticated method or art (jutsu 術). And finally it relates to expert practitioners.

Tī designating a technique or a method

In accordance with the lexical meaning, there are a few historical examples of Tī used for designating a technique or a method. First of all, in Chinese Kenpō, individual techniques or combinations occasionally contain the suffix Shou 手, which is the same character as used for Tī. For example, there is Chaoyang-shou 朝陽手, the 26th technique of a style known as Long Boxing allegedly dating back to the time of Emperor Song Taizu (rg 960-976).[12] This specific designation is already found in the Chinese military classics Jixiao Xinshu (1560) and the Wubeizhi (1621).

Next, as described in the popular Encyclopedia of Japanese martial arts schools and factions, the Bugei Ryūha Daijiten, when Iso Mataemon Masanobu[13] (b. 1786) created the Japanese Jūjutsu style of Tenshin Shinyō-ryū he based his system on one hundred and twenty-four techniques, each of which was simply designated as Te 手.[14]

The third example refers to the long-time secret martial arts book referred to as the Okinawan Bubishi and its written descriptions for each of the forty-eight illustrated combat scenarios.[15] Each of these forty-eight illustrations depicts two persons, one in a gesture representative for the victorious technique, and one gesture representative for the losing technique. Most of the descriptive names given for victorious technique are followed by the expression Shousheng 手勝, that is, winning technique. The losing technique, on the other hand, is followed by the expression Shoubai 手敗. Here again we find the term Te 手 attached to describe a technique, or rather a more complex combination.

And fourth, in the Zhongshan Chuanxin-lu written by investiture envoy Xu Baoguang, we find the term Jiaoshou 交手 relating to a martial arts performance in 1719.[16] The same term was used in the martial arts performances for the investiture envoys in 1867.[17] Here we also and for the first time in historical sources find the term Tōdī 唐手, i.e. Chinese martial skill. Two Karate Kata are also listed, namely Shisan-bu 十三歩 or Thirteen Steps and Yibailingba-bu 壱百零八歩 or One Hundred and Eight Steps. Analog to the case of Tī, the suffix ~bu 歩 used in these names can also be interpreted in sense of certain stages or situations within a process, rather than simply referring to “steps” in sense of walking. These two Kata are known today in their corrupted pronunciations as Sēsan and Sūpārinpē.[18] Interestingly, in their written form the original suffix 歩 came to be replaced by the term Tī 手.[19]

Finally it is found in various combined words designating specific methods, such as Uēku-dī (techniques of the oar), Kama nu Dī (techniques of the sickle), and Bō no Tī (techniques of the cudgel).


Tī designating a style

In accordance with its lexical meaning, there are a few historical examples of Tī used for designating a method or style.

First of all, when considering Tī as an indigenous martial art of Ryūkyū, than it is implicit that it is considered not just some sort of brawling, but rather a more or less complex and sophisticated method. The same is even more true for the conception of Tōdī 唐手. While the character Tō literally refers to the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907), it would be wrong to simply interpret literally as “Chinese Hand.” Corresponding to the huge scope of the lexical meanings of Tī, it would both be appropriate to interpret it as “Chinese martial arts methods.”

In Okinawa there were more such martial arts methods following the same principle of nomenclature as found in Tōdī, i.e. first the region of origin, and suffixed to it the designation as a martial art method, i.e. Tī. Hence, martial arts became variously known as Uchinādī, Nafadī, Suidī, and Tumaidī,[20] that is the fighting methods of Okinawa, Naha, Shuri, and Tomari, respectively. As a further example, there is the Motobu Udundī, with ~dī (=Tī) designating the martial art of the Motobu family itself.


Tī designating a superordinate martial art (Bugei)

  • As we have seen, Tī can be used designating either techniques, Kata or more complex methods, and even styles. Well, according to varying nomenclature, Chinese boxing styles were often marked by the suffix Quan 拳.[21] In mainland Japan, styles were designated as Ryū 流.[22] And in Ryūkyū, ostensibly, the indigenous naming convention for a martial arts style was so-and-so Tī.
  • However, in the terminology used within the martial conceptions of China as well as Japan, there were generic terms used to describe the entirety of the various martial arts styles in existence.
  • For instance, the Chinese term Bingfa 兵法 relates to the art of war, or military tactics. It is found in Chinese literature described as a sophisticated and holistic method since about 500 BC. In compound words the character Bing 兵 is used to refer to a multitude of things related to the military sphere. In Japanese the same characters as in Bingfa are pronounced Heihō, which has a otherwise very similar meaning.
  • Another specific character is Wu 武, in itself meaning martial or military. An early reference to the unity of civil and military sciences[23] is found in the biography of Confucius, where it is stated, “I have heard, that a man concerned with the literary arts also always makes military preparations; and if he deals with military affairs, he is also involved in literature,”[24] emphasizing the causal oneness of these two matters on a grand scale.
  • There are numerous compound words like Wuyi 武藝 meaning martial art, or Wushu 武術, which in former times related to military skill or technique. They are found in expressions like Wuyi Gaoqiang 武藝高強, that is, being highly skilled in martial arts. Pronounced Bu in Japanese, the same composite words are found as Bugei 武藝 and Bujutsu 武術. The term Bugei is found in such conceptions as “be experienced in all eighteen martial arts.”[25] According to the monolingual dictionary Kōjien,[26] the Bugei are defined as “skills related to bow and arrow, horse riding, swordsmanship, lances, and other Budō. Alternatively called Bugi or Bujutsu.”[27] The totality of what is included under Bugei is described with expressions like “all kinds of the art of war”[28] and “the eighteen kinds of the art of war (in old China).”[29]
  • Despite five-hundred years of Sino-Ryūkyū relations, as well as two hundred seventy years of Satsuma-Ryūkyū relations, it would not even be strange if these words did not exist in Ryūkyū. Although emulating the Ming and Qing as well as the Satsuma fief, or Japan, respectively, Ryūkyū kept a large part of its own characteristic terminology.
  • Yet, in official historical sources of the Ryūkyū kingdom we discover numerous related terms throughout history. The Kyūyō uses the term Bugei[30] for the year 1713. The investiture envoy of 1800, Li Dingyuan, explained the reason for the combination of high civil ranks and military garments awarded to the investiture envoys as “to demonstrate military power, and to reveal the civil as well as the military character of this matter.”[31] Furthermore, the Chūzan Seifu notes numerous “civil and military officials” for the year 1855.[32] The Rekidai Hōan has dozens of entries showing the existence of civil and military officials,[33] and the term Bugei also appeared.[34] Therefore, these generic conceptions were far from having been unknown in Ryūkyū.
  • In addition, Okinawan Karate man and scholar Shinzato Katsuhiko, explained that in local Okinawan dialect the terms Bugei and Bujutsu are pronounced as Buji[35] or Bū,[36] respectively, and that both are considered to comprise Tī, i.e. primordial Karate.[37]
  • In Okinawa’s oral Karate tradition[38] there are also various concepts relating the practice of Tī among the “warrior class.” For example, a discreet but smart master is called a secret warrior,[39] a person who toughens and trains his or her fists well is called a warrior of the fist,[40] and an incompetent braggart is labeled a warrior of the mouth.[41]


The Historical Proof of Tī

  • In accordance to its martial meaning as described above, Tī is perceived as having been intrinsically related to concepts like techniques (Waza), standardized forms (Kata) or more complex methods, styles (Ryū), and finally a superordinate martial art (Bugei or Bujutsu). It might be said that all of the above given conceptions, while following a basic evolution from simple to more complex at variable times and in differing intensity, in one way or the other may have galvanized the primordial Tī.
  • While the above merely represents the possible technical content or scope, there are two specific theories that attempt to place Tī as a primordial indigenous martial art of inherently Ryūkyūan design, different from the techniques, methods, styles, and superordinate martial art conceptions of the Chinese Wuyi or Japanese Bugei, respectively. These two theories are constituted by 1) the Mēkata and 2) the term Tīshimi. They are described below.


The elementary school teacher, Karate man and author Funakoshi Gichin noted on rural dances called Mēkata 舞方, which he considered a not yet developed precursor of Karate.[42] Currently these Mēkata are again variously perceived as archetypes of an indigenous Tī or a primordial form of Karate, transformed into martial arts dances by a systematic culmination of several primitive martial arts, and handed down within the royal government and in rural “warrior class” villages (Yadori 屋取).[43]

In his essay on the origin of Karate, Iha Fuyū noted that the mutual dances of two or more persons he called Aimai, in which the opponents seek to overturn or to defeat each other, originated in the Mēkata. This sort of martial dances were still carried out in various rural areas in the time prior to the War in the Pacific, and were called Sāsā-dī サーサー手, common mostly in central and southern Okinawa.

These Mēkata were closely related to the so-called Ashibī アシビー, a form of entertainment originally performed in gratitude to the gods related to harvests and the like, which developed into various kinds of festivals. Ashibī generally refers to enjoying singing and dancing to music, or the skillful performance of songs, shamisen, and theater plays. There are many terms relating to this, including Mura-shibai 村芝居, i.e. village or amateur theater. The story of the senior Anji[44] Amawari of Katsuren castle was one such play which became popular and was performed in the form of village dances.[45] Furthermore, the Mēkata were part of so-called Mō-Ashibī モーアシビー, which refers to young men and women enjoying time in the fields during night time in rural areas.

According to this explanation, the Mēkata were of a characteristical Ryūkyūan provenience.


The second historical theory attempting to prove Tī in sense of a primordial unarmed Ryūkyūan martial art, relates to the term Tīshimi. Karate man Nagamine Shōshin cited two historical sources for this term, namely 1) a short poem composed by Nago Uēkata Chūbun[46] (1663-1734), and 2) a traditional island song written by Yakabi Chōki[47] (1716-1775) called Jūban Kuduchi.[48]

Nago’s poem contains a line interpreted as follows:[49]

As much as you may distinguish yourself in the arts of Tī and scholarship, nothing is more important than the heart as the seat of the mind as demonstrated in everyday behavior.

Yakabi’s verse goes:

The most important task of the Samurai is the study of both Tī and the sciences, to show filial piety towards their parents, and to be of use for the royal family.[50]

Both poems contain the expression pronounced as Tīshimi 手墨, considered to constitute the two individual expressions of Tī being the martial arts, and Shimi being the sciences.[51] In this way the expression Tīshimi is explained as representing a concept similar to that of Bunbu-ryōdō,[52] that is, the combined concept of classical literature and the arts of war.[53]

Critique of the Theory of Tī

  • Integrating the lexical and martial meaning of Tī with the above given historical sources, Tī is thus perceived as having been intrinsically related to concepts like techniques (Waza), standardized forms (Kata) or more complex methods, styles (Ryū), and finally a superordinate martial art (Bugei or Bujutsu) of Ryūkyūan design, in existence in a sophisticated form and on a par with the classical literature and sciences–i.e. as Tīshimi within the aristocratic circles by at least the mid-18th century–and as a characteristical theatrical art form of Ryūkyūan provenience–i.e. as Mēkata within the circles of commoners since immemorial times.
  • The above deduction tries to place the specific Tī as an indigenous primordial martial art of Ryūkyūan design into the framework of general martial arts. But there are some huge problems with this.
  • First, as regards the Mēkata, although performances by old experts are reported until the 1970s, these sorts of performances have died out afterwards and they are now considered a so-called “lost transmission of traditional arts & culture.”[54] More recently, contemporary Okinawan Karate authorities, acting on the suggestions made by Funakoshi and Iha in the early twentieth century as described earlier, explained that both Karate and Mēkata have a descriptive technical expression in common, called Tī chikayun.[55] This simply translates as “to use the hands,” which is an integral part of dancing, isn’t it? Using the simile of the character for hand in the meaning of the martial art called Tī, however, in martial arts circles it had been interpreted as “the skillful use of the martial arts called Tī.”[56] Based on this symptomatic premise the theory was created that the Mēkata were traditions of ancient martial techniques and an original form of a likewise ancient and bare handed martial art of Tī.[57] In this way, the Mēkata became considered martial arts dances,[58] habitually performed accompanied by the three-stringed Sanshin on such occasions as the Mō-asibi,[59] Eisā,[60] tug-of-war, bullfighting tournaments etc., in short, at all sorts of festivals and celebrations. It is said that dancers “competed in battle,” that it contained “actual combat,”[61] or that “challengers danced as fiercely as if clashing and blocking swords.”[62] It is said that occasionally excitement would involuntarily become emotional, and if not mediated, real fights would also occur. In this way this theory describes the Mēkata both as a historical form of actual fighting as well as an art form, which through the centuries coalesced into martial arts dances.
  • It should be noted that, as a peculiarity, the Mēkata did not have fixed forms but were basically improvised dances expressing individual skills and feelings. This is in contrast to the more recently developed dances called Bu no Mai 武の舞, a term only borrowed from actual history and which must not be confused with the Mēkata. The current Bu no Mai are choreographies created by teachers of the Ryūkyū dance or by martial artists, and performed on stage following fixed forms, often using the modern twentieth century Kata of Karate and Kobudō embedded in historical stage settings.[63] These Bu no Mai are therefore modern creations, motivated by the idea of merging the extinct Mēkata and other theatrical performances with the modern face of Karate and Kobudō.
  • Second, as regards Tīshimi, the Okinawa-specific use of Tī as given in the above examples are found in twentieth century sources only, with the two ambiguous historical references to Tīshimi being the sole exceptions to the rule. In other words, the two notes on Tīshimi constitute the sole historical argument upon which the whole theory of the existence of an indigenous primordial unarmed Ryūkyūan martial arts called Tī is based upon. Besides these two, at present there are no unambiguous pre-modern historical sources confirming the existence of the use of a generic term Tī in such a sense.[64]
  • And even the above given explanation of Tīshimi itself is dubious.[65] The interpretation of the first character Tī as a martial art, and the second character Shimi as representing the sciences, actually came and still comes from Karate circles only.[66] In its most simple interpretation, however, Tīshimi means “hand and ink” and refers to handwriting. In ancient works of China it was used as a compound word to describe hand-written documents.[67] And while in the ancient Japanese language the term Tīshimi did not exist as a compound word, in educated circles it had been likened to the expression Shuseki gakumon 手跡学問, i.e. the science of handwriting. This corresponding to the original Chinese interpretation.[68] So how did Tīshimi become interpreted as constituting a combined concept of “Tī (martial arts) and scholarship”?

As Shinzato had pointed out, “unfortunately it seems that the conventional theories of Karate do not support the idea of [Tīshimi as] a compound word.[69] In other words, in Karate circles the explanation as a compound term in sense of handwriting was rejected. Instead, the two characters for hand 手 and ink 墨 were considered two lexemes carrying individual conceptual meanings. In this way Karate people purposively interpretated Tī as a martial art. Therefore, the interpretation of Tī as a native martial art appears to be the result of an artificial and retrospective projection of extralinguistic significance.

In addition, the above points are particularly confirmed by the fact that there is no evidence for the existence of standardized Kata independent from imported Chinese Kenpō skills. Following this logic, the late Karate authority Kinjō Hiroshi affirmed that there actually was no such thing as a indigenous martial art of Tī which came to serve as the earliest primordial ooze of Karate.[70]

The above insinuates that the concept of Tī is the attempt of twentieth century Karate men to establish a theory of systematic transmission of indigenous, fragmentary, and unarmed fighting techniques without original context, and their systematization into a primordial unarmed and indigenous Ryūkyūan martial art, which existed already prior to the traceable import of unarmed Chinese martial arts since the late eighteenth century. And consequently, the theory of the existence of an early indigenous concept of Bunbu-ryōdō called Tīshimi must also be rejected. By the way, this approach is a comprehensible one. It is analogous to the concept of Confucian bias found in Ryūkyūan historiography, emphasizing the divinely ordained legitimacy of each new dynastic succession, thus justifying the predating of a current dynasty backwards until the time of the mythical creation of the country itself. In reality, however, there was no such legitimate succession.[71]

But, of course, this doesn’t mean that there were no martial techniques, complex methods, or even superordinate arts (Bugei) during the Ryūkyū kingdom era. As was shown earlier, the concept of Bugei as well as Bunbu-ryōdō were very well known in Ryūkyū. It also doesn’t mean that there was no martial art called Tī. That’s not the point. The point is that there is no historical proof for the existence of an indigenous primordial martial art called Tī prior to the import of Chinese martial arts.

The Bare-handed Approach

One further thing to note is the tendency of considering historical Karate as having been a bare-handed martial art. Chosing this determining factor any research or contemplation is automatically biased according to modern perception. Therefore, the concept of Tī as a working theory of historical martial arts of Ryūkyū is tenable only in sense of a “category of hand-to-hand combat including both unarmed and armed combat.”[72]

Notwithstanding, and unlike in the superordinate Chinese Wuyi and Japanese Bugei, in the theory of Tī hints to armed martial arts are usually blinded out or attributed being not crucial. Therefore, by reaching the level of Tī as a superordinate integrated martial art (Bugei), a major issue arises. Namely, the issue of primordial Tī perceived and portrayed as a bare handed martial art. The same notion is true for Tōdī, which is solely considered a unarmed Chinese Kenpō. In other words, the technical content of an assumed primordial Tī and the Chinese martial arts that influenced it are largely restricted to bare-handed “boxing” styles.

Therefore, in historical Karate research a unilateral perspective had been applied, with the question “Where is the unarmed historical Karate?” rather than “Where are the martial arts?” This was done by scholars and Karate authors ever since and is still widespread conception to this day. This observation is not only corroborated by the sources already mentioned, but also by numerous works either supporting or questioning this theory.[73]

To give a few examples, in 1922, historian Higaonna Kanjun designated Karate with the expression “empty-handed martial arts.”[74] In the same year the Tōkyō Nichinichi Shinbun published the article Ryūkyū no Karate, describing it as an exquisite bare-handed skill to defend against enemies.[75] In 1933, Iha Fuyū used the term Ryūkyū Kenpō to describe Karate,[76] and both Iha and Nakahara Zenchū perceived and presented Karate as a distinctive unarmed Ryūkyūan martial art independent from armed martial arts.[77] Iha at different points in his text clearly used the terms Chinese Kenpō and Karate in an interchangeable manner. For instance, from the Kenpō shown in the military treatise Wubeizhi (1621) “we can take a glimpse on Karate in his homeland.”[78] So for him Kenpō was Chinese Karate just as much as Karate was Ryūkyū Kenpō. Furthermore, noting the description of Kenpō in the Jixiao Xinshu (1560) as the fundament of all (military) martial arts, he predicted the international proliferation of Karate because “persons who study Kenjutsu, Sōjutsu, Kyūjutsu and all other sorts of martial arts in particular should first need to train their spirit and body through Karate.”[79] And in 1936, Hanashiro Chōmo explained that Tōdī meant “fighting with hands and fists.”[80] There are countless other examples. In short, in the perception of the first half of the 20th century Tī constituted an unarmed and indigenous martial art, as opposed to a ryūkyūanized Bugei of an integrated design under influence of imported martial arts.[81]

The above described theoretical premise of Karate as a historical bare-handed martial arts is based on the idea of the two specific military prohibition policies 禁武政策 in Ryūkyūan history. Namely 1) during the period of centralization under King Shō Shin’s (1465-1526) and 2) following the Ryūkyū invasion by Satsuma (1609). In the discussion on Karate’s historical development both these events have become axiomatic. This can be seen in Funakoshi Gichin’s general view as given in his Karate-dō Kyōhan:[82]

Because of these two military prohibition policies, Kenpō as an empty-handed martial art of self-defense, that is, Uchinādī 沖縄手, has undergone an unusual development and became the mysterious unique Ryūkyū martial arts of Karate seen today.”[83]


[1] Cf. Kadekaru 2012: 176.

[2] Cf. Kadekaru 2012: 176. From Nihon Kokugo Daijiten. 2nd Edition. Tōkyō, Shōgakkan 2000-2002. 日本国語大辞典。第二版。東京、小学館。

[3] Cf. Kadekaru 2012: 176. Okinawa-go Jiten. Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo-hen I. Ōkurashō Insatsukyoku, Tōkyō 1975. 沖繩語辞典。國立國語研究所編I。大藏省印刷局、東京1975.

[4] Cf.

[5] 「手舞(ティーモーイ)」

[6] 「手知っちょん(ティーシッチョーン)」

[7] 「手突くん(ティージクン)」

[8] ティシッチョウン(手を知っている)

[9] 「手を使ゆん(ティーチカユン)」

[10] ティナラユン(手を習う)

[11] Cf. Kadekaru 2012: 176.

[12] Song Taizu Sanshi’er-shi Changquan 宋太祖三十二勢長拳. Cf. Qi 1988: 321. Ōtsuka 1998: 39.

[13] 磯又右衛門正足.

[14] Bugei Ryūha Daijiten 1978: 601-602.

[15] Cf. Ōtsuka 1998: 39. For western research on the Bubishi, see McCarthy 1995 (The Bible of Karate: Bubishi). Habersetzer 1997 (Bubishi. À la source des Karaté-Do). Habersetzer 2004 (Bubishi – An der Quelle des Karatedo).

[16] Xu Baoguang: Zhongshan Chuanxin-lu (Chūzan Denshin Roku). 6 Volumes. Meiji 3 (1870), reprint of the 1719 original edition. In: Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō (Informations on the History of Okinawa). Vol. 8, Nr. 4. 徐葆光:中山伝信録。巻1~6。明治3年重刻。In: 沖縄の歴史情報、第8巻、(4)。

[17] Cf. Wittwer, Henning:  The 1867 “Program of the Three-Six-Nine and of All Arts”: A New Translation and Explanation of its Martial Arts Sections. Classical Fighting Arts 22 (2012), p. 43-47.

[18] Descriptions of these Kata can be found in Miyazato 1978, Nakamoto 2003.

[19] Cf. Nakamoto 2003. There are two more Kata in the modern Gōjū-ryū curriculum following the same principle, namely Sēpai 十八手 and Sansērū 三十六手.

[20] 沖縄手、那覇手、首里手、泊手.

[21] Cf. Qi 1988: 308.

[22] CF. Bugei Ryūha Daijiten, 1978.

[23] Wenwu/Bunbu 文武.

[24] In the “Records of the Grand Historian” (Shiji, Ch.47 §17) of Sima Qian (145-86 BC): 臣聞有文事者必有武備,有武事者必有文備. Cf.

[25] Bugei Jūhappan ni tsūjiro 武藝十八般に通じる.

[26] 広辞苑, one of the larger single-volume and monolingual dictionaries, published by Shinmura Izura at Iwanami Shoten.

[27] 「弓、馬、剣、槍などの武道に関する技芸。武技。武術。」

[28] Bugei Hyappan 武藝百般.

[29] Cf. Shinzato 1996: 244-45. The eighteen kinds of martial arts, or Bugei Jūhappan 武藝十八般, changed according to the eras. As an example, they were given as Kyūjutsu 弓術, Bajutsu 馬術, Sōjutsu 槍術, Kenjutsu 剣術, Eihō 泳法, Battōjutsu 抜刀術, Tantōjutsu 短刀術, Jūttejutsu 十手術, Shurikenjutsu 手裏剣術, Fukumibarijutsu 含針術, Naginata 薙刀, Hōjutsu 砲術, Taihojutsu 逮捕術, Jūjutsu 柔術, Bōjutsu 棒術, Kusarigama 鎖鎌, Mojiri もじり, Kakushijutsu 隠術.

According to Shinzato, the conception of the eighteen kinds of martial arts originated from the Chinese martial arts and seem to have been first used in the classical novel called Shuihuzhuan 水滸傳 (literally, The Water Shore Story, allegedly written by Shi Naian 施耐庵 (1296-1371). One of the four classical novels of Chinese literature. In Japanese known as Suikoden 水滸伝. In English as “Outlaws of the Marsh” and “The Water Margin.”

[30] 武藝善棒拳. Kyūyō, article 681. In: Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō. Vol 7, Nr. 4.

[31] 鼎元曰:『册使既遣文臣而服麟蟒,何也』先生曰:『示武也;亦文武兼資之意也』。Cf. Li Dingyuan 1802.

[32] 文武百官. Cf. Sai Taku, Sai On: Chūzan Seifu. 1725. In: Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō. Vol. 5.蔡鐸、蔡温:中山世谱。In: 沖縄の歴史情報、第5巻。

[33] Wenwu/Bunbu 文武. 歴代寳案, Volume 1-32 (1).

[34] 歴代寳案, Volume 16-11 (2).

[35] ブジィ, i.e. Bugei 武藝

[36] ブー, i.e. Bujutsu 武術.

[37] Cf. Shinzato 1996: 245.

[38] The three most common genres of which are legends, folk tales, and proverbs. Cf. Jim Silvan: Die Erzähltraditionen im Karate von Okinawa. In: Cultura Martialis, Heft 1, Oktober 2004, p.53-71.

[39] Kakure bushi カクレブシ(隠れ武士)

[40] Tîjukun bushi ティジュクンブシ(拳骨武士)

[41] Guchi bushi クチブシ(口武士). Cf. Shinzato 1996: 245.

[42] Cf. Shōtō (Funakoshi Gichin): Okinawa no Bugi (I). In: Ryūkyū Shinpō, January 17, 1914: 唐手の起原に就いては巷説紛々で自分も屡々質問を受けることなるが(、)想うにこれは沖縄固有の武藝にして田舎の舞方なるものが所謂唐手の未だ発達せざる時代のそのままであろう(。)

[43] Oki. Yādui ヤートゥイ. Cf. OKKJ 2008: 56. Tsuha Sei, in OKKJ 2008: 60.

[44] Chōja nu Ufushu 長者の大主, with Ufunushi being an alternative name for Anji. This play is still in existence.

[45] Taira 1997: 184

[46] 名護親方寵文, aka Tei Junsoku 程順則

[47] 屋嘉比朝寄.

[48] 十番口説. The “ ten oral teachings“ or “ten urgent entreaties.“

[49] Nagamine 1975. 50. Shinzato 1996: 250. OKKJ 2008: 664. 「手墨(テスミ)勝(スグ)れてん智のざ勝れてん肝(チム)ど肝さだめ世界(シキン)の習や」

[50] Niban samurē nu dē’ichi ya, Tīshimi gakumun yuku narati, Ufuya ni kōkō medei shushi

「二番士(サムレー)の第一や 手墨学問よく習て 親の孝行めでいすし」.

[51] Shinzato 1996: 250.

[52] 文武両道.

[53] Nagamine 1975. 50. OKKJ 2008: 664.

[54] Cf. Iha 1938: 314. OKKJ 2008: 56.

[55] ティーチカユン(手を使ゆん). Also given as Tekkayun てっかゆん, that is, 手使ゆん, and from there Te o tsukau 手を使う.

[56] Cf. OKKJ 2008: 56. In comparing various sources it gets apparent here that Tōdi as given by Funakoshi in 1914 was equated with Tī as used in the OKKJ (2008).

[57] Cf. Tsuha Sei, in OKKJ 2008: 60. Takamiyagi Shigeru, in OKKJ 2008: 87-90.

[58] Bugei-odori 武藝踊り, or in Okinawan dialect Bujīmōi ぶじーも.

[59] 毛遊び. Formerly conducted as a custom in Okinawa. Generally an outdoors meeting of young men and women during the middle of the night, enyoing eating, drinking, and song and dance.

[60] エイサー. Traditional entertainment danced at the time of the Bon festival (Buddhist remembrance of the dead) in Okinawa. After finishing the Ūkui ウークイ (escort of the spirit of a deceased person to the burial place), and after offering a dance in a circle of persons, they would go round from door to door.

[61] Jissen 実戦.

[62] Takamiyagi Shigeru, in Cf. OKKJ 2008: 87.

[63] Cf. Tsuha Sei, in OKKJ 2008: 60. Takamiyagi Shigeru, in OKKJ 2008: 87-90.

[64] Cf. Kinjō 2012: 18. Shinzato 1996: 250, 257. Kadekaru 2012: 176, 177. OKKJ 2008: 662.

[65] Cf. Shinzato 1996: 257.

[66] Shinzato 1996: 250.

[67] Shoumo (= Tīshimi) is found in the following works.

“Biography of Fan Ye” (範曄傳. In: “The History of Southern Song Dynasties” [Songshu 宋書]).

“Biography of Li Yan Fang” (李彦芳. In: “History of the Later Tang Dynasty“ (Xin Tangshu [新唐書], Vol. 93, Biographies 18).

Wang Duanlu: Chongzhong Lunwen Zhaibilu (王端履: 重論文齋筆録, Vol. 1).

[68] Cf. Shinzato 1996: 257.

[69] Cf. Shinzato 1996: 257.

[70] Kinjō 2012: 19.

[71] In Ryūkyūan historiography, each of the early dynastic successions was retrospectively legitimized as belonging to one and the same dynastic line. Tenson dynasty, the Shunten dynasty, the Eiso dynasty, the Chūzan dynasty under Satto, and the 1st and 2nd dynasty of the royal Shō dynasty. However, there was no such relation. Rather, it was retrospectively and artificially constructed as a result of a Confucian bias emphasizing the legitimacy of the present dynastic succession.

[72] Draeger 1974: 125.

[73] See for example, Funakoshi 1922: 15, et passim. Miki 1930: 141. Iha Fuyū 1933. Nakahara 1977. Shinzato 1996. Kinjō 2012: 15, et passim. OKKJ 2008: 102, 110, et passim. Kadekaru 2012: 177. While the first monography on Karate was written in 1922 by Funakoshi, the first monography on Ryūkyū Kobudō was written only in 1964. The field of Kobudō, which clearly constitutes a major part of the modern Okinawan martial traditions, remained the poor cousin of Karate ever since. Only a comparatively very few authors take Kobudō into account, for instance Hokama Tetsuhiro and Nakamoto Masahiro.

[74] Toshu Kūken no Bujutsu 徒手空拳の武術. Cf. Funakoshi 1922/1994: 15. 所謂徒手空拳の武術が沖縄に本来存在して居たか否かと云ふ事は今俄に速斷は出来ない。

[75] 琉球の「唐手」。だん生が憤欝神秘的な武術。空拳で敵を防ぐ妙技、講道館でも研究する。東京日日新聞。大正十六月三日。

[76] Iha 1933, as evinced in the “琉球に於ける武備の撤廃と拳法の発達.”

[77] Iha 1933, 1938, Nakahara 1977.

[78] Iha 1938: 315.

[79] Iha 1938: 315.

[80] Honsha Shusai Karate Zadankai (2). Ryūkyū Shinpō, 1936/10/28. 本社主催・空手座談会(二)。琉球新報、1936/10/28. See also OKKJ 2008: 7, 677-78.

[81] Cf. Shinzato 1996: 257.

[82] 船越義珍著、空手道教範日月社、1958. First published 1935.

[83] Takamiyagi Shigeru, in OKKJ 2008: 102.

Posted in Theories of Historical Karate in Comparative Perspective | Comments Off on 3 – The Theory of Tī

2 – Perception of the Weapons Ban Under Satsuma

Kerr noted that “no evidence can be found to suggest that the Okinawans at any time contemplated an attempt to throw off Japanese controls.”[1] Indeed, judging from all sources available it is quite obvious that neither the political nor the individual Ryūkyū had interest in resistance, even less a rebellion against Satsuma.[2]

Iha reported that

Shō Shin’s intention of securing eternal peace within the peaceful micro cosmos of Ryūkyū was trampled down by the Satsuma forces, which doomed the country to agree upon a three hundred year-long period of slavery-like peace.[3]

Based on this Iha suggested that following the Satsuma takeover the Ryūkyūans became increasingly unable to use weapons of war and that

my conjecture, which perhaps turns out to be incorrect, is that Karate undoubtedly developed reciprocally proportional to the reduction of the military armaments.[4]

And as since 1609 there were no more wars in Ryūkyū, Iha concluded that “instead of weapons, Karate came to be used.”[5] And this was the beginning of the theory that the Shimazu house of Satsuma prohibited weapons in Okinawa and this – in causal effect – triggered the development of unarmed Karate.

Nagamine Shōshin interpreted the zeitgeist of Ryūkyū prior to the Shimazu invasion as an era in which the inhabitants of Ryūkyū created an honorable and peaceful kingdom without weapons, which he said can be considered a proof of viability of a peaceful society.[6] Similarly he stated that it is ironic that the people of this peaceful island, not even possessing weapons, were imposed upon such hellish suffering and grief by the ruling Satsuma (Shimazu). Continuative, he attributes the origin of Karate to a simple and innocent spirit of the Ryūkyū people, which finally exhibited an extreme reaction of rejection under the tyrannical government of Satsuma, and through the spirit of “unresisting resistance” created Tī (Karate), as well as several other great cultural values.

Critique of the Theory

Following the Satsuma takeover in 1609, it is assumed that a primordial martial art called Tī developed on grounds of the tyranny of Satsuma and the weapons prohibition policy. However, no strict weapons prohibition policy had been carried out during the time of Satsuma control.

The weapons prohibitions implemented by the Satsuma domain in Ryūkyū were part of the political measures under the maritime bans and weapons control orders of the Edo-Shōgunate. These were valid for all domains, not only Ryūkyū. These weapons management orders clearly show that disarmament of Ryūkyū had never been intended by the Satsuma domain. Concerning all sorts of cut and thrust weapons, at no point in time these were prohibited for Ryūkyūans on the kingdom’s soil, neither for the royal government, nor the royalty, nor the gentry, not even the commoners, until the end of the kingdom in 1879, and these weapons were also abundantly carried aboard the vessels active in all maritime traffic with China. Repair was carried out in Satsuma through mediation of the Satsuma Resident Commissioner (zaiban bugyō), and thus privately owned weapons can be considered to have received official approval. Firearms were prohibited for commoners only in 1613, for all others in 1657, and subsequently placed under management of the Satsuma Resident Commissioner in Naha. And due to the special circumstances, adaptations of the shōgunate’s maritime ban policies were granted to Ryūkyū in order for them to be able to safely sail the pirate infested seas and coasts of China. In other words, since the beginning of the Satsuma rule there was in no way a thorough confiscation and administration of weaponry. Due to the perpetuation of the investiture and tribute relations with China, which formed the livelihood of Ryūkyū and which were also of particular interest to Satsuma, Ryūkyū consequently tenaciously insisted on a flexible adjustment of weapons control management orders within the shōgunate’s laws in accordance with the changing circumstances. The authorization of different sorts of small and large firearms for tribute ships was carried out by way of regular requests for loaning these weapons from the Satsuma Resident Commissioner stationed in Naha.

However, looking at the total inventory in possession of the royal government, General Kabayama Gonzaemon Hisataka[7] of the Satsuma forces was surprised by the poor condition of the weapons. That means, even after the Satsuma takeover, the ruling layer of the Shuri government and the Shizoku carried swords since Shō Shin’s era. Therefore, it is difficult to maintain that a policy of carrying no weapons lead to hostilities and gave momentum for a bare handed martial arts called Tī.[8]


[1] Kerr 1958: 178.

[2] Beillevaire 2000: I, 5.

[3] Nakahara 1977: 588, referring to Iha 1922: 14; 1926/1: 139; 1926/2: 21, and others.

[4] Iha 1938: 310. See also Sakihara, in Kerr 2000: 543

[5] Iha 1938: 313.

[6] Nagamine 2000: 158-164.

[7] 樺山権左衛門久高.

[8] Shinzato Katsuhiko, in OKKJ 2008: 105.

Posted in Theories of Historical Karate in Comparative Perspective | Comments Off on 2 – Perception of the Weapons Ban Under Satsuma

1 – The Weapons Ban Theories

According to a foundational theory of Karate, in pre-modern times an indigenous unarmed martial art of Ryūkyūan design existed. Generally referred to as Tī 手 in the native pronunciation, it is considered a native form of boxing and an original form of today’s Karate.[1] Various dates of its earliest creation sketch out a time frame extending from the 12th to the early 17th centuries.[2] The father of Okinawan studies, Iha Fuyū (1876–1947) described it as an indigenous unarmed martial art of Ryūkyū whose creation was triggered by two sequential weapon bans:

  1. The first implemented by King Shō Shin in the early sixteenth century, and
  2. the second by the Shimazu house of Satsuma following their 1609 Ryūkyū invasion.

Iha argued that Tī developed inversely proportional to the decrease in military armor, that is, in a causal effect with these two weapons bans.[3]

Perception of the Weapons Ban Under King Shō Shin

As regards the first weapons ban under King Shō Shin, Iha Fuyū misread the text of article 4 of the Momourasoe inscription (1509): He assumed that Shō Shin had confiscated all arms and had turned them into practical tools and utensils such as farm implements. That is, sort-of swords into plowshares.[4] This was the beginning of the theory that Shō Shin intentionally had demilitarized Ryūkyū.

Based on the above, Iha further concluded that under Shō Shin

by royal command the feudal lords from all territories had to locate to Shuri in order to secure peace inside the country. As preparations for war were no longer necessary, he confiscated all the arms of the whole country, without exception.

George Kerr, in his influential standard work, also translated article 4 as a complete ban of the ownership and use of weapons.[5] He further added that, in an attempt to forestall the dangers of insurrection,

it was first ordered that swords were no longer to be worn as personal equipment. Next, the petty lords were ordered to bring all weapons to Shuri, to be stored in a warehouse under supervision of one of the king’s officers.[6]

Still in 2000 Beillevaire noted that

the Ryūkyū Kingdom had been quite vulnerable since the first half of the 16th century when the local lords were disarmed and forced to reside in Shuri to prevent rebellions.[7]

As regards the perception of this weapons ban, Iha clearly stated that

among Karate persons King Shō Shin, by his political measure of abolishing all weapons in Ryūkyū, is considered to have provided the first major trigger for the development of Karate.[8]

In Karate circles this theory is perceived as King Shō Shin’s intention to completely eliminate the military readiness of the lower warrior classes. In addition, the theory was further expanded as follows:

In order to completely eliminate the military readiness, the weaponry of these warrior classes were requisitioned, stored in the Office of Revenues,[9] and placed under close supervision of the royal government in Shuri. As the carrying of weapons was prohibited, an effective unarmed martial arts developed among the ruling class warriors as the only alternative to weaponry. With the idea of felling down the enemy with one’s bare hands, Karate’s technical precision increased and formed into a weapon itself following the conception of “one strike, sure kill” (ikken hissatsu ー撃必殺).[10]

Critique of the Theory

The above given theory provided the impetus and logic for the idea that unarmed Karate developed as a result of this ban. Since the time of Iha and to this day this reasoning permeates the sublevels of the writings and theories related to the origin and development of Karate, both among Okinawan and Japanese as well as Western authors, as well as in the chitchat of practical experts.

Yet, already in 1977 Nakahara Zenchū noted that there were not only weapons such as bamboo spears and Bō (fencing staves) at the time of Shō Shin, but also cut and thrust weapons, which were not Okinawan products but imported from Japan. He pointed out a serious error in Iha’s interpretation of Shō Shin’s alleged abolition of weaponry[11] and corrected the phrase in question to

all sorts of cut and thrust weapons and bows and arrows were stored in magazines, in order to be used as tools for the defense of the country.[12]

Furthermore citing the Ryūkyū history work Kyūyō, Nakahara explains that Shō Shin’s measure of storing weapons was not meant to abolish the armaments of the country, but rather to organize all sorts of cut and thrust weapons and other arms for the completion of the national defense.[13]

It has also been pointed out that Japan excelled in the manufacturing of cut and thrust weapons, and that these weapons constituted the leading trading good to China, by which Japan became the arms factory of East Asia, so to speak, which was not a mere political idea, but an economic one.[14] That the Ryūkyū Kingdom had been heavily involved in this weapons trade within the tributary trade with China can clearly be seen in the list of tribute articles given in the official work Rekidai Hōan, among which were thousands of swords and other weaponry during the Ming era.[15]

Furthermore, by explicitly stating that this theory “mainly comes from Karate people,” Nakahara, as an Okinawan, shared his first-hand experience, saying that

by lumping everything together it is claimed that Shō Shin abandoned weaponry because he was a musician, as a result of which the government became one of culture, etiquette[16] and esteem for music.[17]

In 1987 Sakihara Mitsugu also translated the part in question from the original text as has appeared in the Monument Inscriptions of the Ryūkyū Country,[18] giving the translation as “swords and bows and arrows are accumulated exclusively as weapons for the protection of the country.” Similar to Nakahara he concluded that

King Shō Shin, far from abolishing arms, accumulated them and was proud of his superior weapons. The truth is that Ryūkyū never in her history had been officially disarmed.[19]

And in 2000 Sakihara again delineated the disarmament issue in Kerr’s newly published edition. Among the Karate intelligentsia it has also been understood that weapons had prevailed among the commoners and the warrior class.[20]

Actually, above described article 4 relating to the alleged weapons ban must be viewed in connection with the following article 5, i.e. “Law and order were established throughout the country” (Kerr) and “One thousand officials were awarded court ranks and one hundred officials were appointed to posts” (Sakihara). In accordance with Nakahara’s interpretation of article 4 – pointing to the completion of a system of national defense –, articles 4 and 5 actually refer to the establishment of the composite government organization called Hiki, which included all kinds of national affairs as well as the military. The described accumulation of weapons under government administration and the establishment of law and order throughout the country strongly suggest that the military equipment and personnel were placed under the administrative and operative responsibilities of the royal government organization of the Hiki. In other words, the actual meaning of the said disarmament was that the Anji were indeed stripped of the military jurisdiction over their individual troops and military equipment, but these were transferred and centralized under the jurisdiction of Shō Shin’s newly organized military government structure.

Furthermore, there is no actual proof that in the above process the local troops and weaponry were physically transferred to Shuri. Rather, it seems that administrative control over troops and weaponry was mainly achieved by the implementation of local governments all over Okinawa Island, as can be seen in the case of the Guardian of Hokuzan and other local military governors, as well as in the auxiliary troops from southern Okinawa which were deployed to Shuri and Naha in case of an emergency. Such it appears that the officials sent out to the local areas by the central government were responsible for law and order in these regions, necessitating troops and weaponry themselves, which would have been provided – at least partially – by troops and equipment from magazines owned by the local communities and still in existence from the previous rule of the Anji. And this appears to be the real meaning of Shō Shin’s weapons management orders.

From the above we can see that all claims of a primordial form of unarmed Karate as having developed as a result of King Shō Shin’s alleged weapons ban is a completely untenable historical fallacy. Even worse: It appears to be fictitious, artificial and wishful thinking.


[1] Cf. Miyazato 1978: 17. Shinzato 1996: 249. Kinjō 2012: 18. Nohara 2007: 56-57. Nagamine 1957: 51. Kadekaru 2012: 176.

[2] OKKJ 2008: 90. Nagamine 1957: 51. Nohara 2007: 56-57.

[3] Iha 1938: 310.

[4] Iha 1938: 306. Text of Article 4: 服裁錦綉器用金銀専積力剣弓矢以為護国之利器此邦財用武器他州所不及也. Sakihara, in Kerr 2000: 543

[5] Kerr 1958, 105

[6] Kerr 1958: 107

[7] Beillevaire 2000: I, 26

[8] Iha 1938: 296-97

[9] 公庫, government financial institution for the management of public funds.

[10] As explained by Takamiyagi Shigeru, in OKKJ 2008: 102.

[11] Cf. Sakihara, in Kerr 2000: 544.

[12] Citing article 4 of the Momourasoe inscription as given in the Chūzan Seifu: 「蔵二刀剣・弓矢之属一以為二護国之具一」. Nakahara gives the term Tōken 刀剣, i.e. cut and thrust weapons. The Chūzan Seifu, Vol. 6 中山世譜巻六, however, gives Manken 万劒, i.e. 10,000 swords, in the sentence 「又藏万劒弓矢之屬。以爲護國之具。」That is, „And 10,000 swords and arrows and bows and similar military equipment were placed in a magazine, in order to be deployed as tools for protecting the fatherland.”

[13] Nakahara 1977: 588, 594. 「服は錦綉をたち、器は金銀を用い、専ら刀剣をつんで、以て護国の利器となす。此の邦の財用、武器、他州の及ばざる所なり」. Cf. Ishadō 2004: 82, giving the original text as 服裁錦綉器用金銀専積刀剣弓矢以為護国之利器此邦財用武器他国所不及也。

[14] Nakahara 1977: 586.

[15] Cf. Uezato 2010: 224-55.

[16] Reigaku 礼楽, which is considered of high importance in Confucianism to appease the actions and quiet the minds of the people.

[17] Nakahara 1977: 592

[18] Ryūkyū-koku-chū Himonki 琉球国中碑文記

[19] Sakihara 1987: 199.

[20] See, for instance, Shinzato Katsuhiko, in OKKJ 2008: 105.

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Quicky on Shiko

In Karate there is a stance called Shiko-dachi 四股立ち.

Shiko-dachi is a modern Japanese term from the sphere of “developing a standardized Karate terminology”, i.e. earliest from about the latter part of the 1st  half of the 20th century, more likely from about the early 2nd half.

The original old-style Okinawan name for the stance appears to be unknown but it was used widely among the oldies.

Upper left: Funakoshi Gichin teaching Naihanchi. Upper right: Mabuni Kenwa. Bottom: Yabu Kentsu teaching Naihanchi.

Upper left: Funakoshi Gichin teaching Naihanchi. Upper right: Mabuni Kenwa. Bottom: Yabu Kentsu teaching Naihanchi.

I am not sure if everybody knows this, but the term Shiko is found in the realms of Japanese Sumō wrestling. There it refers to the stomping of the Sumō wrestlers in the ring as a kind of warm-up prior to the bout.

You know what I mean?

This is also called ‘chikara ashi‘ 力足, lit. strong legs, or power legs.

Two stages of Shiko in Japanese Sumō wrestling.

Two stages of Shiko in Japanese Sumō wrestling.

Well, to get even closer to the meaning of what is popularly referred to as Shiko-dachi: In some Karate styles this stance is called Jigotai 自護体.

Jigotai means ‘self-defense body [posture]’. It is also known as the name for one of the basic stable and changeable postures for fighting in jūdō. Likewise, the same stance is found in Okinawan Sumō.

Starting position in Okinawan wrestling (Shima).

Starting position in Okinawan wrestling (Shima).

For example, the term Jigotai is used in the Matsubayashi-ryū instead of Shiko-dachi. Besides, there are also other Karate schools who use the term Jigotai.

Nagamine Shoshin teaching the Jigotai posture.

Nagamine Shoshin teaching the Jigotai posture.

Finally, as can be seen in one of the few photos showing Miyagi Chōjun teaching close quarter applications, we see Miyazato Eiichi in the typical basic wrestlers posture, or Jigotai.

Miyagi Chojun (left) with Miyazato Eiichi (in typical basic wrestlers posture, or Jigotai).

Miyagi Chojun (left) with Miyazato Eiichi (in typical basic wrestlers posture, or Jigotai).

So that was a quicky on Shiko.

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Okinawa’s original dōjō

Previously I wrote about Okinawa’s earliest forms of community organization called Makyo. The article received only very few likes and seriously I don’t have any clue as to why this is so.

Because the most important part of the article is found in the adjunct.

It is about the holy sites called Uganju which, located at the foot of a great tree or rock, roughly encircled those old original villages. The Uganju were closely related to the Utaki and the Okinawan villages from earliest times through to the 20th century.

Uganju 御願所: generic term of places used for prayers for divine assistance and wellbeing, often connected to Utaki.

These places were described by Chamberlain in 1895:

“Large open grassy spaces, often appearing as glades in the forest form a characteristic adjunct to Ryukyuan villages which perplexed the early foreign visitors.”

The functions of these areas were plentyfold.

“Called ‘race-courses,’ these spaces also serve a variety of other purposes. Here rice is laid out to dry, and the village council meets – or met in old days – goods were bartered, justice was administered, rewards and punishments meted out, festivals celebrated.”

As of February 1854, Perry’s Fleet Surgeon Dr. D. S. Green in his report described

“Open and level grounds found in populous neighborhoods, which seem to be designed as arenas for athletic exercises and games. These are some hundred yards long, and some twenty or thirty wide, and, being perfect level, are well adapted to racing, whether on horse or foot, wrestling &c., and to ball-playing.” (Cf. Hawks 1856)

In more recent history the oral tradition of early 20th century bōjutsu masters had been handed down: their training took place in front of the Uganju. Before the training they would fold their hands in prayers, and afterwards the students were taught (Cf, OKKJ 2008). This is the tradition of Mura-bō, which greatly helped to revive modern, more martial bōjutsu (Cf. Taira 1964).

first dojo ever

From the above we can see that conceptions such as Uganju in name and function had survived a thousand years in Okinawa. It may be called Okinawa’s original dōjō, yet just as a simile since — just as so many other things — conceptions were simply completely different back in the kingdom. Modern words do not apply well there without explicit terminilogical definition.

By the way, the first real modern dōjō in Okinawa was opened in 1898.

It was a jūdō dōjō.

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NEUERSCHEINUNG: Studien zur Kampfkunst in Japan. Band 1.

Bunbu Forschungskreis: Studien zur Kampfkunst in Japan. Band 1. Augsburg/Tōkyō 2017.

Studien zur Kampfkunst in Japan. Band 1. bunbu-Forschungskreis (Hg.). Augsburg/Tokyo 2017.

Studien zur Kampfkunst in Japan. Band 1. bunbu-Forschungskreis (Hg.). Augsburg/Tokyo 2017.

Im umfangreichen Schrifttum zur Theorie, Philosophie und Ethik der vormodernen Kampfkünste Japans ist der Ausdruck bunbu-ryodo, verstanden im Sinne „einer gemeinsamen kulturellen, moralischen und kämpferischen Schulung“, häufig anzutreffen. In prägnanter Weise bringt er die ganze Bandbreite und Diversität damit verbundener Anschauungen zum Ausdruck.

Der vorliegende Sammelband umfasst Beiträge von Mitgliedern des bunbu-Forschungskreises (bunbu-kenkyukai) zu Geschichte, Literatur und Praxis japanischer Kampf- und Kriegskünste. Bei dem Forschungskreis handelt es sich um einen Zusammenschluss wissenschaftlich-japanologisch arbeitender Personen, die sich mit verschiedenen Themenfeldern unter je spezifischem Blickwinkel befassen.

Bestellen bei Amazon.

Mit einem Vorwort von Andreas Niehaus und Beiträgen von David Bender, Heiko Bittmann, Henning Wittwer, Julian Braun, Martin Stehli-Ono und Markus Sesko.


  • DAVID BENDER Zur Geschichte der Schwertschule Onoha Ittō-ryū Kenjutsu – eine Annäherung in Narrativen.
  • HEIKO BITTMANN Shimizu Toshiyuki – ein früher japanischer Meister des Karatedō.
  • HENNING WITTWER Die Erzählung „Drei Helden des Karate“ als Beispiel für kampfkünstlerische Folklore aus Ryūkyū.
  • JULIAN BRAUN Wushu, nicht bujutsu: Eine bibliographische Annäherung an chinesische Kampfkunst in Japan.
  • MARTIN STEHLI-ONO Die politische Situation rund um die Machi-dōjō der Bakumatsu-Zeit.
  • MARKUS SESKO Die Biografie von George H. Tilden (1850–1916) – der erste Westler, der die japanische Schwertschmiedekunst erlernte.

Bestellen bei Amazon.

Listenpreis: €18.86
15,24 x 22,86 cm (6″ x 9″)
Black & White on Cream paper
158 Seiten
ISBN-13: 978-1545110911
ISBN-10: 1545110913
BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense
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Online Exhibition: Order of the Rising Sun

  • Photo: Certificate and “Two-colored Order of the Rising Sun”, Knight 1st Class (Kyokujitsu sōkōshō 旭日双光章)
  • Awarded: in the name of the Japanese Emperor
  • Recipient: Nagamine Shōshin
  • Date: April 29, 1982.
  • Photo: Andreas Quast
  • Photo Date: May 23, 2009.
  • Location: Kōdōkan Nagamine Dōjō, headquarter of Sekai Matsubayashi-ryū Karate-dō Renmei. Naha-shi Kumoji, Okinawa Prefecture.
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Kinjō Hiroshi: From karate 唐手 to karate 空手 – Introduction

More than one century has passed since the creation of karate 唐手 in 1905. About seventy-five years ago, in 1936, karate 唐手 was renamed to karate 空手. Since I have had made karate 唐手 my life-task in 1926, about eighty-five years have passed through the three eras of Taishō (1912–1926), Shōwa (1926–1989), and Heisei (1989–). And so I lived in this world throughout the greater part of the history of both karate 唐手 and karate 空手. When looking back on my long karate life, I strongly feel that it was a series of really fortunate coincidences.

I survived difficult-to-cure diseases, begun with meningitis and pneumonia during my childhood days, as well as pulmonary tuberculosis and typhoid fever as an adolescent. Reaching my young adulthood, after about five years in military service and having narrowly escaped death, I was repatriated. Having reached an old age, I also survived lung cancer. Today, at more than 90 years of age, and despite having a variety of adult diseases, I—by and large—enjoy good health and spend every day in peaceful gratitude with reading, exercising, and writing. I also think I lived a little longer than expected.

From childhood to young adulthood I was able to meet most of the people that are referred to as the prominent figures and masters of karate 唐手 at the time (to be precise, the Shuride of that time). In addition, by an integrated analysis of the fragmentary teachings by each of the aforementioned masters, and furthermore through a comparison with the literature related to karate 唐手 of that time, I was able to roughly understand the true picture (real-life image) of the techniques and the historical facts of karate 唐手. However, I guess the image of karate 空手 among the general public is something considerably different.

I feel a sense of duty to by all means communicate to future generations the true picture (real-life image) of karate 唐手 that I have obtained, thus filling in the blanks in the history of karate 空手. Especially as regards handing down our ancestors’ teachings I have the profound feeling that my own life is not solely mine alone [Note: in sense of owing to the masters].

In 1905, nascent karate 唐手 as a compulsory subject entered the regular curriculum of Okinawa Prefectural Middle School and Okinawa Prefectural Teachers College. Because it was the first attempt by the prefecture, the educational outcomes of karate 唐手 were tried out at the Middle School. In addition to this, Itosu Ankō, as the person responsible for karate 唐手 instruction, reported back ten individual clauses. His written report of ten clauses are the so-called “Itosu Ankō’s Ten Articles of Karate 唐手.” However, because of its contents, I promote it under the name “Itosu’s Ten Maxims (Itosu Jikkun),” as a “holy book” advocating the spirit of respect for human beings. Without knowing “Itosu’s Ten Maxims,” it is impossible to talk about both karate 唐手 and karate 空手.

What is the difference between Todi, Karate, and Karate?

What is the difference between Todi, Karate, and Karate?

Since the creation of karate 唐手 about one century ago, its name has been changed from karate 唐手 to karate 空手, and by borrowing the [Western] method called “sports competition” (kyogi 競技), its rapid expansion up to a global scale was brought about. The global karate 空手 population is said to amount to fifty million people. Born with a strong local flavor in one solitary island of the southern ocean, who would have expected today’s global prosperity of karate 唐手? Of course, karate 唐手’s development and spread to the global scale is something one should be pleased with. However, I also cannot be happy about it with all my heart. Because it was a course of rapid spread and development, isn’t it likely that important things were left disregarded? What are these things left disregarded? Frankly speaking: they are spirit and tradition.

What is the spirit of karate 唐手?

It has been shown in Article I of karate 唐手’s original text, “Itosu’s Ten Maxims,” that

“…by word of honor, (the quintessence should be) to never injure human beings by means of one’s fists and feet.”

This is the philosophy of peace, with the spirit of respect for human beings as its keynote.

What are the traditional techniques?

In Article VI of “Itosu’s Ten Maxims” it is said that

“…the methods of entering, receiving, disengaging, and the seizing skills, of which there are many oral instructions.”

So the traditional techniques are techniques of oral instruction (orally instructed, i.e. in personal teaching). In due course I will inform you about these techniques of oral instruction as well.

In accordance with the spirit of karate 唐手, antisocial or inhuman techniques within the framework of the fourteen kata were modified or deleted. Notwithstanding, in the karate 空手 tutorials from the world of the ordinary people, techniques such as poking the fingers into an adversary’s eye or dislocating the jaw are introduced. A quite provocative text can also be found, called “One strike, certain kill” (ikken hissatsu). Such absurd remarks are unrelated to karate 唐手, which was created for the purpose of school education.

Within its development and spread to a global scale, karate 唐手 in technical terms has also been discovered as a combat sport (kakutōgi) ever more. However, it is difficult to determine whether these techniques were newly developed, or are techniques of karate 空手, or are techniques borrowed from other combat sports. In the transformation from karate 唐手 to karate 空手, the framework of the fourteen kata has been forgotten. Karate 空手 has become something which only is reminiscent of karate 唐手 in appearance. Strictly speaking, karate 空手 has even become something like the kata of Chinese kenpō. This might appear like rushing to conclusions. But in its current form, there is no way around it that karate 空手 is being criticized and dismissed by the circles of scholarship and logic.

As for me, it is not the case that I wish for the revival of karate 唐手 by karate 空手. It is also not my intention to denigrate karate 空手. Rather, in order to understand the true nature of karate 空手, and furthermore to support its rich future prospect, I think it is necessary to correctly recognize the history of the creation of karate 唐手. This is especially true as karate 空手 is one of the contemporary budō (gendai budō) which will be introduced as compulsory subjects in the middle schools, starting in the school year 2012. What must be taught through the practice of karate 空手? What must be learned? It would be a blessing if this book of mine would become a good guidepost for karate 空手.

August 2011

Kinjō Hiroshi


Kinjō Hiroshi: Karate kara Karate made (From Karate to Karate). Nippon Budōkan, Bēsubōru Magajin-sha, Tōkyō 2011. 439 pp. 20cm. ISBN: 9784583104294.

Translation by Andreas Quast.

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The techniques of Chinen Masami’s Yamani-ryū

Chinen Masami 知念正実 (1898–1976) was an Okinawan bōjutsu expert. He taught privately at his home in Shuri Tōbaru, Okinawa. He named his style Yamani-ryū 山根流 after his grandfather Chinen Sanrā 知念三良 (1842–1925).

In a newspaper article from 1918 Sanrā was described as “Yama no mae no Usumē” (山の前のウスメー). Still today he is called similarly as Yamani Usumē.

Let me try to explain:

Firstly, the name Sanrā 三良 is a typical old-style Okinawan name. The characters are pronounced either Sanrā, Sanrū, or Sandā. This kind of name is a so-called childhood name (warabi-nā). During the Ryūkyū kingdom times commoners (hyakushō 百姓) used this kind of name for their entire life. In case of the higher society levels, such as Okinawan “samurai”, there was no such name as Sanrā 三良. Instead, there was the name Masanrā 真三良, with a prefix Ma~ 真. And among the aristocracy the same name was written Masanrāgani 真三良金, with the suffix ~gani 金. In this way, social status was indicated by the childhood name (warabi-nā).

Secondly, “Yama no mae” or “Yamani” most probably refers to a place “in front of the mountain” or “at the base of the mountain”, or rather a hill.

Thirdly, the noun usumē ウスメー describes an old man or a grandfather from the class of the commoners. That is, a person that had no rank within the royal government organization and whose family did not have an official genealogy. These were the so-called mukei or persons with no genealogy. On the other hand, among the persons and families of rank who had an official genealogy, the old men or grandfathers were called tanmē タンメー. These were the so-called keimochi or “holder of a genealogy”.

In other words, and contrary to popular belief, Chinen Sanrā was obviously a commoner. Therefore it seems to be an unjustified exaggeration to refer to him as Yamani Tanmē, or to add the title of Pēchin to his name, or to call him Masanrā. Just sayin’.

Bo of Chinen Masami on display at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan. Courtesy of Motobu Naoki Shihan of the Motobu-ryu.

Bo of Chinen Masami on display at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan. Courtesy of Motobu Naoki Shihan of the Motobu-ryu.

Anyway, a lot of schools of Okinawan bōjutsu came in contact with the teachings of Chinen Sanrā during different times. And as had been pointed out initially, Chinen Masami baptized his grandfathers techniques as Yamani-ryū 山根流, and there are a few schools today who say they hand down the original teachings of Chinen Masami.

Since there is a lot of confusion as to what exactly Chinen Masami taught and to whom, it is my great pleasure to offer you the results of a hitherto unpublished interview. It took place on May 14, 1967, in Shuri Tōbaru-chō 2-6, at the home of Chinen Masami.

Interview notes by Nagamine Shōshin of Matsubayashi-ryū. Photo: Andreas Quast.

Interview notes by Nagamine Shōshin of Matsubayashi-ryū. Photo: Andreas Quast.

The interviewer was no less than Nagamine Shōshin of Matsubayashi-ryū. Nagamine Sensei wrote down the results of the interview in a study book which I – with the consent of his son Nagamine Takayoshi Sensei – was able to copy during one of my stays at the Nagamine dōjō (I had authorized access to Nagamine Shōshin’s study room, which had remained untouched for years).

It is a short text that names the kata as well as the kihon techniques taught by Chinen Masami.

May 14, 1967

At Shuri Tōbaru-chō 2, 6 (Chinen Masami)

Chinen Sanrā passed away in 1922, at the age of 83. Date of birth: Born 1839 or 40.


  1. Sakugawa no Kon (Dai, Chū, Shō)
  2. Shūshi no Kon (Dai, Shō)
  3. Yonegawa no Kon
  4. Tsuken Bō (alias Sunakaki Bō) (Dai, Shō)
  5. Shirotaro no Kon

Hidari-kamae [left-handed posture]: considered to have been created by Chinen Sanrā from the left-handed posture of bayonet fencing (jūkenjutsu).


  1. Bō no torikaeshi
  2. Tsuki (nukite-bō)
  3. Suso-chitte kiru
  4. Soku-uchi
  5. Agichiri
  6. Ufu-uchi

Great effort and thorough consideration is required until the tip of the vibrates in above mentioned three techniques (no. 4, 5 and 6).

At the time of sunakaki, hold the tip of the wide (flat) as if hurling sand.

I leave it like that, just let me point out two things:

  • There were two versions of Tsuken Bō, which were alternatively called Sunakaki Bō.
  • There were three versions of Sakugawa no Kon.

I also forgot to note that if you only know some karate, you probably cannot understand what this is about. My sincere condolences.

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