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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‘nchi means tī 手

As I noted earlier and in fact already back in 2005, the honorific term for   手 (ティー) in the Okinawan language was ‘nchi ンチ.

Now, usually the syllables of Naihanchi have always and unanimously been considered to be Nai|han|chi.

But what if it is Nai|ha|‘nchi?

It so might be a corruption of the Chinese

  • Nèifǎ 内法 meaning as much as “inside method”


  • nchi ンチ (手) meaning “(martial) skill”.

‘nchi means  手. Listen to it.

In any case, while it is impossible to prove this right, it is also impossible to prove this wrong. However, as long as it cannot be proven wrong, logic says it is also impossible to prove any other option to be solely right.

Prove it wrong if you can.

<em>'nchi</em>: honorific term for tī  手 (ティー). Dictionary of the Okinawan language, by the Ryukyu University.

‘nchi: honorific term for tī  手 (ティー). Dictionary of Okinawan Language, Ryukyu University.

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空手は「martial art」「martial sport」「martial science」ではない。「martial system」です。

Karate is no supralevel. It is a subspecies, but of what?

Of art, sport, or science, or all of it? Actually, both consumers and providers claim that everyone is free to use it in whatever way you like.

For example, science and martial systems are heterogeneous and relatively independent areas, which overlap only marginally. Notwithstanding, on the internet martial systems are increasingly compared to science. There is even the notion that martial systems are tantamount to science. As if martial systems both in their historical origin, their development and their present manifestations would fully meet the requirements of a science. They don’t. However, in this way, the significance of science for martial systems is greatly overvalued, especially with regard to earlier stages of their development.

Or, for example, take the performance of both traditional and modern kata: they appear as a performing art. If adding a competition framework with judges, points, winners and loosers and an international organization, it becomes a sport. Add la emoción and you have the cheese dairy of marketing. Still: karate is no supralevel.

bruiseKarate – soberly considered – should be viewed unemotionally as a system of martial techniques. The term “martial” is typically used within the context of systems that are not solely defined by their actual current practicality. Rather, such systems often carry a lot of “ballast” which doesn’t actually add anything in terms of combative objectives. Moreover, it is about technology in sense of a special skill in any area of human activity, not about science.

In any case, karate is no supralevel, but one amongst a large number of martial systems.

Martial systems are based on “combinatorial evolution.” That is, they are creative combinations and derivations of what was already known. Because this is so, there is an interdependency and constant update between all of the martial systems that are accessible (for example, via Youtube, Hollywood flics etc. BTW, I just saw “The Accountant” and is has some good “karate “moves).

And because this is so, karate also further evolves by combinatorial evolution. Karateka all over the world imitate all sorts of other martial systems, such as jūdō, jūjutsu, aikijutsu, boxing, wrestling, MMA, Jiu-jitsu and whatnot, and claim that the techniques thereof are – they must be! – the same as in original karate.

As a nice pun, Martin Cassel rethorically asked: “Shouldn’t that be ‘combatorial’?”, which is quite funny.

All the other martial systems are used to restock the technical content of karate in an open-source-like movement. At the same time karate’s original name is maintained, as are its uniform, its ranks, its terminology, historical narrative etc. That is, the martial system of karate increasingly redefines itself towards an open-source, all-inclusive collection of all sorts of martial techniqes. Don’t forget ukemi and groundwork!

Any martial system can be described by varying sets of parameters largely predefined by the desired outcome. That is, they are free to be created, recreated, defined, redefined, optimized, specified. They may be activities embedded in professional pratices, such as in the police, the military or in any security occupation. Or they may be private enterprises or even amateur activities. They may be provided a terminology and a combative and/or historical narrative, placed within a cultural, historical, national or religious framework. They may use prescribed uniforms and have a hierarchy with various ranks, authorities, competencies etc.  They may be increased or decreased in technical content, in meaning, sublimed by a value system, a philosophy, or managed as an opportune activity, a business, etc. They may be given any organizatorial structure, as a business, a sports association, a family tradition, an entertainment troupe, theater, a government-subsidized cultural activity, an art and so on.

Tradition with its tendency to fixation somewhat precludes the above requirements for innovation and optimization. This is and was karate’s problem not only since Bruce Lee’s “Liberate Yourself from Classical Karate.” And people are getting there, diminishing actual traditions to mere sidenotes while presenting all kinds of their very own “combinatorial creations” as “karate”.

Because from a technical viewpoint, the quintessence of a martial system – such as karate – is its ability to capture reliably controllable mechanisms of effectiveness within the medium of causality and through the continuous process of combinatorial creation and ultimately combinatorial evolution.

And because this is so, a computer will probably soon calculate the best martial system every invented.

Karate is no supralevel. It doesn’t even make sense.


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Aware 哀れ

Aware 哀れ gilt als eines der wichtigen literarisch-ästhetischen Konzepte des Schrifttums der Heian-Zeit (794–1185). Es beschreibt eine aus tiefster Seele empfundene ästhetische Stimmung der Wehmut über die Erkenntnis der Fragilität und Vergänglichkeit des Lebens.

Der Begriff erscheint in verschiedenen Formen an zahllosen Stellen in „Die Geschichte vom Prinzen Genji“ (Genji-monogatari 源氏物語, 11. Jh.).

Yoshida Kenkō, Autor des Werkes „Betrachtungen aus der Stille“ (Tsurezuregusa 徒然草, um 1330), beschrieb aware wie folgt:

„Wenn der Mensch nie verklänge wie der Tau von Adashino, sich nie in Luft auflöste wie der Rauch über Toribeyama, sondern für immer in der Welt verweilte: wie würden die Dinge ihren Zauber verlieren, uns zu rühren! Das Kostbarste im Leben ist die Ungewissheit.“

Später wurde das Prinzip ausgedehnt auf die Beschreibung von Objekten der gegenständlichen Welt, welche die Fähigkeit besitzten, das menschliche Herz in tiefgreifender Weise zu berühren. Dazu prägte Motōri Norinaga 本居宣長 (1730–1801) den Ausdruck mono-no-aware 物の哀れ, „Das Pathos der Dinge“, „Das Herzzerreißende der Dinge“, oder auch „Die Ergriffenheit von der Schönheit und Vergänglichkeit der Dinge“. Die Unerträglichkeit des mono no aware wiederum wird zum Beweggrund der menschlichen Dichtung: Der Mensch beginnt zu dichten, wenn er diese Wehmut nicht mehr erträgt.

Stuart Picken nannte aware eine japanische Weltanschauung, eine „Empfindlichkeit gegenüber dem Ästhetischen und Emotionalen als Basis für den Blick auf das Leben. Es ist das Verstehen der natürlichen Schönheit und Güte aller Dinge mit dem Herzen.“

Als Beispiel für mono no aware gilt das Kirschblütenfest (hanami 花見), in dem die simultane Schönheit und Vergänglichkeit der Kirschblüte zelebriert wird.

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Über einen japanischen Sinn für Ästhetik und dessen Gestaltungsprinzipien

Über einen ästhetischen Sinn der Japaner (biishiki 美意識) zu sprechen, macht nur Sinn, wenn man sowohl die klassische wie auch die moderne Perspektive berücksichtigt. Denn mit der Einführung westlichen Denkens in Japan ab der frühen Meiji-Zeit (1868–1912) erfuhren auch die klassischen ästhetischen Ideale eine Neuformulierung. Tatsächlich begann in dieser Zeit, nach einer Phase der Ablehnung alles alten Japanischen, die Wiederentdeckung der eigenen Traditionen.


Die Schönheit des Weißraums (yohaku 余白), Tuschmalerei 「枯木鳴鵙図」, Werk des Miyamoto Musashi 宮本武蔵.

Ausgehend von Mori Ōgais 森鴎外 (1862–1922) Lehnübersetzung des Begriffes „Ästhetik“ als shinbigaku 審美学 entstand über den Einfluß der westlichen Geisteswissenschaften die eigentliche Theorie der japanischen Ästhetik, die heute als bigaku 美学 bezeichnet wird. Bigaku bedeutet wörtlich nichts anderes als die „Wissenschaft der Schönheit“.

Mori studierte von 1884 bis 1888 Medizin in Deutschland, unter anderen bei Robert Koch und Max von Pettenkofer. Darüber hinaus beschäftigte er sich intensiv mit der europäischen Literatur, Philosophie, Kunst, Musik und Religion. Ab Juni 1886 lieferte sich Mori einen öffentlichen Disput mit dem aus Japan zurückgekehrten Geologen Heinrich Edmund Naumann, der erst im Februar 1887 endete. Ein Hauptargument in Naumanns Kritik war, dass Japan den Westen ohne ein tieferes Verständnis der Hintergründe kopiere und sich zugleich durch die Geringschätzung der eigenen Geschichte und Kultur ernsthaft selber schwäche. Eine ähnliche Vorhaltung finden wir bei Erwin Bälz, einem der akademischen Lehrer Moris, der sich erfolgreich für die Wiederaufnahme des Jūjutsu, Kyūjutsu und Kenjutsu als „einheimische Pflänzchen“ und im Gegensatz zu importierter westlicher Gymnastik stark machte.


Gibt es also einen oder mehrere gemeinsamen Nenner zwischen klassischer und moderner Ästhetik, und wenn ja, welche? Kann man japanische Kultur und Ästhetik mit Begriffen beschreiben, die abendländischen Traditionen entlehnt sind?

Schönheit wird allgemein durch den Begriff bi 美 beschrieben. Bi als Wortbestandteil findet sich in zahlreichen Begriffen wieder, die aus zwei oder mehr zusammengesetzten Kanji gebildet werden (Komposita). Dies betrifft alle möglichen Lebensbereiche, vom Alltäglichen über Kunst, Menschen, plastische Chirurgie bis hin zur Kochkunst. Beispiele dafür sind:

  • biiku 美育 (ästhetische Erziehung),
  • migoto 美事 (wunderbar; wunderschön; prächtig),
  • bishitsu美質 (schöner Charakter; Tugend),
  • bijutsu 美術 (die schönen Künste) oder
  • bibun 美文 (elegante Prosa)
  • u.v.a.m.

Bigaku als „Wissenschaft der Schönheit“ entscheidet über die Antwort auf die Frage: was ist Kunst? Kulturhistorisch begründet unterscheidet sich japanische Ästhetik – und damit der Schönheitsbegriff als solches – von seinem westlichen Pendant. Was gilt in der japanischen Konzeption von „Schönheit“ als schön (bi 美) und was als hässlich (shū 醜)? Und gibt es weitere Konzeptionen japanischer Ästhetik?

001Der japanische Begriff der „Schönheit“ wurde bis vor kurzem lediglich innerhalb der Geisteswissenschaften erforscht. Heute folgt man darüber hinaus auch wissenschaftlichen Ansätzen innerhalb der Neurowissenschaften, der Psychologie, usw. Man kann sagen, dass die Schaffung von irgendetwas Schönem (utsukushii-mono うつくしいもの), um sich selbst und der das Ich umgebenden Umgebung einen Sinn in der Welt zu verschaffen, der menschlichen Natur universell zu eigen ist. Schaffung von Schönheit durchdringt die gesamte Menschheitsgeschichte und verbindet alle Kulturen. Trotzdem existieren unterschiedliche Wahrnehmungen für Ästhetik. Diese sind abhängig von Region und Klima, von Kultur und Geschichte, z.B. in Europa, Asien, Nord- und Südamerika, Ozeanien usw.

Der Sinn der Japaner für Ästhetik (nihonjin no biishiki) erschließt sich zum Teil über Vergleiche über die Vorlieben der Japaner bezüglich Stadtplanung, Design, Architektur, Dichtkunst, Tee-Zeremonie, Tusch-Malerei, Zen-Gärten, und nicht zuletzt den klassischen und modernen Bujutsu und Budō. Darüber können mit der „Schaffung schöner Dinge“ zusammenhängende Konzeptionen deutlich gemacht werden. Als Basiswerte dazu dient die bereits erwähnte japanische Konzeption von „Schönheit“ (bi) und darüber hinaus verschiedene japanische Gestaltungsprinzipien.

Der „Sinn der Japaner für Ästhetik“ bezeichnet die subjektive Perzeption von Schönheit durch Japaner aufgrund von Prinzipien und ästhetischen Theorien, welche die japanische Sichtweise gleichzeitig geprägt haben und dieser zugrunde liegen. Natürlich unterliegt die Wahrnehmung von Ästhetik und Schönheit individuellen Unterschieden, abhängig vom sozialen und demografischen Lebensumfeld. Ob Dinge in Reih und Glied aufgestellt oder nach dem Zufallsprinzip angeordnet sind empfindet jede Person unterschiedlich als schön, oder nicht. Die eine Person findet Schönheit in der Asymmetrie von Architektur oder Malerei, eine andere Person in der Symmetrie derselben. Ein anders Beispiel sind verschiedene Vorlieben für Takt oder Tonalität in der Musik.

001Für den Japaner liegt das Augenmerk der westlichen Ästhetik auf der vom Menschen geschaffenen Schönheit, in der Symmetrie und in prächtigen Verzierungen. Im Gegensatz dazu wird der japanische Sinn für Ästhetik als „nicht-Konflikt mit der Natur“ charakterisiert. In Tempeln, Schreinen und Gärten sieht man eine Vermischung mit der Natur, die Reproduktion von Verfallenem, ja, selbst der Tod ist mitunter gegenwärtig. Grundtöne dabei sind eine an Ärmlichkeit grenzende Bescheidenheit (wabi 侘) sowie die geschmackvolle Patina (sabi 寂), vulgo Einfachheit.

Ob das alles so stimmt oder eher Rechtfertigung als Recht ist sei mal dahingestellt.

Der wohl berühmteste Garten Japans jedenfalls, beschrieben als „Manifestation einer Unendlichkeit des Raums“, ist ein Garten ohne einen einzigen Baum und ohne einen einzigen Grashalm. Er besteht lediglich aus Sand, Kieseln, und Felsgruppen. Die Rede ist von dem japanischen Garten des 1499 in Kyōto gegründeten Zen-Tempels Ryōanji 龍安寺.[2] Ein Reiseführer sagt dazu:

„Seine Einfachheit ist so extrem, dass sie von Nichtfachleuten nicht vollständig begriffen werden kann. Jegliches auf die Gesamtwirkung des Gartens überflüssig wirkende wird verworfen. Des Gärtners Design ist fertig, wenn es nichts mehr gibt, das er aus dem Garten entfernen könnte.“

Der „Schick“ (iki 粋) als Ausdruck der Ästhetik wurde durch am Kulturleben teilnehmende Städter in der späten Edo-Zeit begründet. Die von dem nō-Dramatiker Zeami stammende Formulierung „Verborgen ist die Blüte“ (hi sureba hana 秘すれば花) kann man so interpretieren, dass der Drang zur Selbstdarstellung unterdrückt und eben gerade auf diese Weise Schönheit und Harmonie geschaffen werden. Dies ist Ausdruck des typisch Japanischen, welches sich in Kultur, Alltagsleben, und Geschichtsauffassung manifestierte. Dazu kommt, dass die Natur selbst einen großen Einfluß auf das ästhetische Empfinden ausübt: die Wahrnehmung von Schönheit richtet sich danach, ob das Objekt im Einklang mit der Natur steht.

001Innerhalb der komplexen Geschichte Japans spielten ästhetische Ideale und kulturelle Praktiken eine zentrale Rolle für die Entwicklung kultureller Identität. Solche Ideale und Praktiken verpflanzten sich über interinstitutionelle Netzwerke, zum Beispiel zwischen den Institutionen der darstellenden Künste, der Tee-Zeremonie, der Poesie, und den „Wegen des Kampfes“. Die neo-konfuzianistisch geprägte Selbstkultivierung zum Wohle des Ganzen – vom Individuum zur Gemeinschaft – bildete dabei einen erkennbaren, gemeinsamen Nenner. Dieser ist noch heute in den sogenannten Wegdisziplinen zu finden: Teezeremonie (chadō 茶道), Kalligraphie (shodō 書道), Bogenschießen (kyūdō 弓道) usw. transportieren alle dieses moralische Wegprinzip des 道. Den Wegdisziplinen gemein ist ferner die asketische Übung (shugyō 修行). In den budō kennt man beispielsweise das einfach als taihen 大変 (eine ernste, beschwerliche Sache) bezeichnete Postulat. D.h., ist ein Training in den budō nicht taihen, entspricht es dann noch der japanischen Vorstellung? Und wenn nicht, ist es dann tatsächlich noch budō?

Die japanische Ästhetik kann als Ergebnis der Anwendung einer Reihe von Gestaltungprinzipien beschrieben werden. Auf diese Gestaltungprinzipien, in variierenden Parametereinstellungen, stützen sich viele der kulturellen und ästhetischen Normen Japans bezüglich dessen, was als geschmackvoll oder schön empfunden wird, und was nicht.

2014 sah ich ein Kommentar auf Facebook, wo ein Japaner ein Foto kommentierte mit

„Hah! Er bekommt nur einen hässlichen Pokal!“

Bei dem Foto handelte es sich um einen deutschen Nationalspieler und der „hässliche Pokal“ war der Fifa-World Cup in seinen Händen. Für den Nationalspieler hingegen war das vielleicht das Schönste was überhaupt existieren kann.

Was sind jetzt die Unterschiede?

001In japanischer Selbstwahrnehmung liegt der theoretische Unterschied zur westlichen Ästhetik darin begründet, dass westliche Gesellschaften Ästhetik als Philosophie betrachten. In Japan hingegen wird sie als integraler Bestandteil des täglichen Lebens empfunden.

So oder so ähnlich jedenfalls scheint es die japanische Kulturwelt zu sehen.

Auch scheint die klassische japanische Philosophie den ständigen Wandel als grundlegende Realität zu begreifen. Man verweist dazu auf den buddhistischen Ausdruck der Flüchtigkeit allen Irdischen (mujō 無常), in dem kein Platz sei für die Vorstellung eines stabilen „platonischen“ Reiches jenseits dieser irdischen Flüchtigkeit.

In jedem Fall beinhaltet die Konzeption japanischer Ästhetik heutzutage zahlreiche Gestaltungsprinzipien und -ideale. Viele davon sind klassischer Art, andere sind modern, und wieder andere sind von anderen Kulturen beeinflusste räumlich-zeitliche Mischformen. Dadurch ergibt sich die spezifische Charakteristik einer doppelten Differenz, die sich auch auf andere mit Japan-Studien zusammenhängende Sachverhalte übertragen lassen mag, namentlich:

  • Eine Differenz zwischen japanischer Klassik und Moderne, und
  • eine Differenz zwischen originalen japanischen Konzepten und Theorien und solchen, die aus dem Westen (oder anderswo) herstammend in Japan implementiert wurden.

001Den obigen Theorien entsprechend nimmt die japanische Ästhetik für sich in Anspruch, ein breiteres Spektrum abzudecken als ihr westliches Pendant. Nach allem ergeben sich ganz offenbar terminologisch-konzeptuelle Lücken, die eine analoge Übersetzung der japanischen Begriffe und Konzeptionen von Ästhetik und Schönheit scheinbar verbieten. Um diese Lücken zu schließen wäre die detaillierte Analyse der japanischen Gestaltungsprinzipien und –ideale nötig. Dies wäre für diesen Blogpost aber ein bisschen zu umfangreich. Darüber hinaus sind viele davon bekannt und lassen sich leicht googlen. Einige der ästhetischen Prinzipien sollen jedoch in Folge in dieser Kategorie kurz und beispielhaft vorgestellt werden.


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The gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl

Japanese ceramic artist Hayashi Kyōsuke 林恭助 is one of the few people worldwide who succeeded in recreating what is called a Yōhen Tenmoku teabowl (Yōhen Tenmoku Chawan 曜變変天目茶碗) in Japan, or Jian teabowl (Jian zhan 建盞) in China. This refers to a specific kind of teabowls that have been fired roughly 800 years ago during the southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) in the kilns of what is now Fujian province: While originally large quantities of teabowls were produced at those kilns, within the baking process a very few of them gained star-like glowing patterns on the surface which allow for the designation as Yōhen Tenmoku teabowl.

There are different categories of Tenmoku teabowls from the kilns in present-day Fujian Province back in the Song dynasty. In Japan, within these categories – and in fact within all teabowls – the Yōhen Tenmoku are considered to be the ones of supreme quality. They are characterized, among others, by patterns of starburst sparkles embedded in a dark blue glaze.

As regards terminology, Yōhen – written 曜變 or 耀變 – literally means as much as “gloriously transforming…” It seems to refer the calaidoscopic effects of glistening iridescent sparkles, colors and surface structure under changing light. However, usually it is translated as “changed by the fire,“ referring to the effects of the baking process on the glaze that takes place in the kiln. Sometimes it is simply translated as “spotted” or “speckled.”

Tenmoku is the Japanese pronunciation of Mount Tianmu (lit. Heaven’s Eye), located on the border of Zhejiang province and Anhui, China. Mount Tianmu lent its name to the teabowls which became known as Tenmoku in Japan.

So, as a somewhat adequate working solution, Yōhen Tenmoku Chawan might well be translated as “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl.”

Hitherto only three completely intact specimens of “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls” are known to exist in the whole world. All these three are located in Japan, and all these three are designated a National Treasure. The three current “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls” belong to:

  1. Seikadō Bunko Art Museum in Tōkyō.
  2. Fujita Art Museum in Ōsaka.
  3. Ryūkō-in subtemple of the Daitokuji Temple in Kyōto.

Crystalline patterns appear spontaneously within the baking process and produce the distinctive starburst sprinkles. In most cases these sprinkles appear mainly on the interior of the bowl, such as in case of the specimen of the Seikadō Bunko Art Museum, which is considered to be of the highest quality among the “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls.” However, in case of the Fujita Museum specimen the sparkles are on the exterior surface of the bowl, which is a unique feature and makes it absolutely gorgeous.

  1. Seikadō Bunko Art Museum in Tōkyō.
“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” (designated a National Treasure of Japan) of Seikadō Bunko Art Museum in Tōkyō.

“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” (designated a National Treasure of Japan) of Seikadō Bunko Art Museum in Tōkyō.

2. Fujita Art Museum in Ōsaka

“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” (designated a National Treasure of Japan) of Fujita Art Museum in Ōsaka.

“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” (designated a National Treasure of Japan) of Fujita Art Museum in Ōsaka.

3. Ryūkō-in subtemple of the Daitokuji Temple in Kyōto

“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” (designated a National Treasure of Japan) of Ryūkō-in subtemple of the Daitokuji Temple in Kyōto.

“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” (designated a National Treasure of Japan) of Ryūkō-in subtemple of the Daitokuji Temple in Kyōto.

A fourth Yōhen Tenmoku teabowl was discovered in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, China in 2009. However, it is broken to various pieces.

“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” discovered in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, China in 2009.

“Gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” discovered in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, China in 2009.

Well, this rare porcelain manufacturing technology of the Song Dynasty has been long lost in China itself. The reason for this is that, while ceramic-making methods reached their all-time pinnacle 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty, the technology fell in disuse soon afterwards and finally was lost completely. It is therefore little surprising that, when in 2007 earlier mentioned ceramic artist Hayashi presented a replicated “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” to Chinese ceramic experts in Beijing, they greatly admired it and and commended Hayashi’s reproduction. At that time no one in China was able to recreate such a teabowl.

Ceramic artist Nagae Sōkichi 長江惣吉 from Seto City in Aichi Prefecture also succeeded in reproducing replica of a “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl,” and his replica is considered to come as close as possible to the originals. Actually, Nagae produced the astonishing number of 20,000 teabowls, of which only 4 or 5 achieved the quality necessary to actually deserve the name “replica” of a “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl.” BTW, teabowls deemed unworthy are simply destroyed – there is no such thing as a second quality here. To be exact, from among the batch size of 20,000 teabowls produced by Mr. Nagae, only 0.025% reached the necessary quality characteritics. The remaining 19,995 “unworthy” teabowls were all scrapped. As a matter of fact, the reproduction of “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” is considered very difficult by all experts unisono. Translated to the practice of karate kata, the above would mean that 99.975% of your attempts to perform a perfect kata would be failures.

Considering the above, you may imagine the complete perplexity among experts when at the end of December 2016 the TV Tokyo show “Better Fortune! The Appraisal Team for Anything” hunted out a teabowl. One of the show’s art connoisseurs, Nakajima Seinosuke, judged the teabowl to be a genuine “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl” of national treasure-class.  The teabowl was then estimated to be worth around 25 million Japanese Yen (approx. US $ 217,123 or € 202,952). Watch the appraisal here, or the full show here.

Since that day, this has become news all over the world.

The teabowl owner, who runs a ramen noodle-house in Tokushima, provided a convenient historical narrative: his great-grandfather found the teabowl when he worked as a carpenter building the residence of a descendant of Miyoshi Nagayoshi (1522–1564), a powerful warlord during the Japanese Age of Civil War.


However, meanwhile, earlier mentioned professional ceramic artist Nagae Sōkichi remonstrated the sensational discovery as being a low-quality Chinese imitation, such as are currently produced as souvenirs etc. in the kilns of China. “If you call this TV show teabowl a ‘gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl’, then there are hundreds of thousands of ‘gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls’ in this world,”says Nagae. Actually, just two days ago from now, on January 27, 2017, Mr. Nagae also protested the appraisal via a YouTube video in English.

Nagae is a 9th generation in a family line of ceramic artists who have attempted the perfect reproduction of “gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls” throughout the last two generations of father and son, over 70 years. Among others, Nagae pointed out that the color used for the TV show teabowl is a ‘spinel pigment’ color that was developed in Europe and only since the 18th century.

Asked about his impression of the appraisal of the teabowl on TV Tokyo’s show, Mr. Nagae explained:

“When I watched the program, at the moment when the tea bowl was appraised ‘gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowl,’ I was surprised. This is because it was clearly a souvenir-quality imitation such as is currently mass produced in kilns of China. I thought that this was certainly a joke.

Actually I thought to myself, ‘Today is not April Fool’s Day, or is it?’

However, I became speechless when I heard the appraisal that ‘Just as the gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls that are designated National Treasures [in Japan right now], this teabowl was certainly baked in the kilns of the Song Dynasty!’ ”

Mr. Nagae continued:

“Even if a common person sees is, the difference between the teabowl presented in the TV show and the ‘gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls’ that are designated National Treasures will be obvious. Both are totally different things. Looking at the image of a deer, would anyone believe that it is a horse? …

The teabowl presented in the TV show is such a low-level imitation that it does not even compare to imitations. Actually it is reminiscent of a kindergarten work. It does not even reach the level of a ‘forgery’.”

Journalists inquired about the newly discovered TV show teabowl with several art museums and antique art dealers, but in all cases they answered “It is nothing compared to the original ‘gloriously sparkling Tenmoku-style teabowls’ (that are National Treasures)…”

Morever, a survey planned with the teabowl’s owner for registration as a cultural property with the Tokushima prefectural government was suspended by January 23. It is said that this was caused by the owner who now wishes to “refrain from providing any information to the outside at all.”

Why does this remind me of certain karate kata that appeared out of nowhere, that are allegedly centuries old, but noone seems to have any clear information or even the willingness to inform the millions of karate fans, practitioners, sensei, and trainers and sportlers around the world just about how these specific kata reached you, your eminence?

I hope they are not modern forgeries from Fujian or elsewhere!!!

Anyway, the above topic of the teabowl was recently cited as an analogy with karate on the Motobu-ryū Blog in Japanese. I will continue here and provide a translation of the karate part (with kind permission of Motobu Naoki Shihan of the Motobu-ryū):

I think the traditions of martial arts (budō) do somehow resemble the above circumstances (of the teabowl). Following the Meiji Restoration (since 1868), many martial arts schools disappeared since they were no longer needed due to Japan’s Westernization movement. Furthermore, even after the Pacific War (1941–45) martial arts schools experienced a time of agony.

Karate’s fate was similar, but in its case—because on its inside a movement of self-denial developed under the outward pretense of “modernization”—many old-school kata and kumite techniques have been lost or were changed.

In karate magazines of about 1975-1985, karate people from various schools loudly clamored for a “modernisation of karate,” while the same people today refer to themselves as “karate of the traditional factions” (dentō-ha karate). So when I reread the magazines of those days this astonished me a bit.

In the Motobu-ryū, Sōke [Motobu Chōsei] in the past also received “advice” from persons of other schools, such as “Practicing a simple kata like Naihanchi is worthless (from the point of view of competition),” or “How about you change it to be more dynamic?” However, seeing the current reappraisal of Naihanchi, I will continue to believe it was good without changes.

Techniques lost once are not easy to reproduce. Unfortunately, unlike pottery which materially remains after 800 years, even if karate would be reproduced, who could assert that they are the same original intangible techniques of martial arts as they once were?

Therefore, I think that it is important that karate is being inherited uninterruptedly, and without being swept away by the fashions of the times.

Otherwise it might just be some kungfu in white dogi from a mass-production Karate souvenir shop…



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Karate no omoide (My Memories of Karate)

The article “Karate no omoide” (My Memories of Karate) is a primary source about Kyan Chōtoku’s life and his relation to karate. The article was published on 1942-05-07 in the Okinawa Shinpō Newspaper.

The Okinawa Shinpō was a result of the nationwide “newspaper control regulation (shinbun tōsei 新聞統制)”, implemented by the Department of Interior (naimushō 内務省) and the Information Office (jūbōkyoku 情報局) at its center. Its object was the integration of all existing newspapers in such a way that there was “one prefecture, one newspaper”.

In other words: media was synchronized for propaganda purposes.

In Okinawa, the newspaper control regulation was in effect from 1940 to 1945. It resulted in the establishment of the Okinawa Shinpō Newspaper in December 1940. To do so, three newspapers were integrated into the new one, namely: Ryūkyū Shinpō 琉球新報, Okinawa Asahi Shinbun 沖縄朝日新聞, and Okinawa Nippō 沖縄日報.

Even after the start of the ground war on Okinawa Main Island in April of 1945, the Okinawa Shinpō continued to be issued from an underground air-raid shelter in Shuri, but was disbanded on May 25, 1945.

“Karate no omoide” (Memories of Karate) [excerpt], by Kyan Chōtoku. Okinawa Shinpō, 1942-05-07.

“Karate no omoide” (Memories of Karate) [excerpt], by Kyan Chōtoku. Okinawa Shinpō, 1942-05-07.

As regards Okinawan newspapers and karate, it is well known today that plenty of articles had been published by the old Ryūkyū Shinpō. This newspaper began to publish articles about karate in earnest since around 1913, but covered karate-related topics already since the late 19th century.

This old Ryūkyū Shinpō was established in 1893 by former ruling class members Shō Jun 尚順 (1873–1945, 4th son of former King Shō Tai), Takamine Chōkyō 高嶺朝教 (1869–1939, 1st president of the Okinawa Gingko bank), and Ōta Chōfu 太田朝敷 (1865–1938).

As stated in the first issue (1898) of this old Ryūkyū Shinpō, the objective of this newspaper was

To strive for national assimilation, to smash the narrow-minded and evil local customs and to hound out regional insular provinciality.

Make no mistake: The old Ryūkyū Shinpō was very successful in achieving this objective. For this reason it was also referred to as the “agency paper of the ruling class.”

Above mentioned Ōta Chōfu, as the president of the Ryūkyū Shinpō at the time acted as the sponsor and interviewer at the famous 1936 “Meeting of Karate Masters.” The records of the meeting were subsequently printed by his newspaper (see for example, the translation by the Haiwaii Seinenkai, were his name is misspelled to Ota Choshiki).

Ōta Chōfu is a prominent figure within the apolitical self-narrative of modern karate romance. He also provides an example of the diremption of Okinawan society, and karate. While karate today is narrated as a martial art of peaceful people from an ancient peaceful kingdom — with peaceful bitter melons and peaceful baby pork hoove snacks and peaceful everything –, and while there is no first attack (!) in karate, Ōta Chōfu and karate men of his time fully supported Imperial Japan. They did not support any cultural, lifestylish, or peaceful Okinawa.

As regards Ōta, he was one of the first Okinawan students to obtain a scholarship to study in Tōkyō and received a decidedly Japanese – not Okinawan – education. In 1931 he served as the mayor of Shuri and as Okinawan representative in the prefectural assembly.

Ōta Chōfu 太田朝敷 (1865–1938). From: <a href="">Ryubun21</a>.

Ōta Chōfu 太田朝敷 (1865–1938). From: Ryubun21.

In his journalistic idea, Ōta focused on the 1st Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), in which Japan was victorious and which ended the Ryūkyū Question, i.e. Chinese claims on Ryūkyū. This war also ended the Ryūkyūan fight for restoration of the kingdom. And it also brought Taiwan under Japanese control, were it remained until 1945 and were many karate men would serve or tour, including Kyan Chōtoku. This was one of the most crucial events in the making of modern Okinawa Prefecture, and modern Japan!

Ōta, together with 4th prefectural governor Narahara Shigeru 奈良原繁 – nicknamed the “King of Ryukyū” and practitioner of Jigen-ryū sword fencing – orchestrated the oppression and ultimately the destruction of the person Jahana Noboru 謝花昇 (1865–1908), the then leader of an Okinawan movement for democracy.

So while Ōta is often portrayed as some nice karate-related guy, his idea of karate was not that of a peaceful Okinawa that never attacked anyone else, but that of the Japanese conolianism, imperialism, and militarism of his time.

Until the time of the “newspaper control regulation” in 1940, the proprietors of the old Ryūkyū Shinpō were all wealthy persons who worked together with the prefectural authorities in achieving national aims while following the editorial policy of “worshipping the powerful” and oppressing the Okinawan civil movement for democracy.

And this political viewpoint can clearly be seen in the (at least) 124 karate-related articles that the old Ryūkyū Shinpō published between 1898 and 1940 (unpublished survey by this author).

It was in the above circumstaces that the Okinawa Shinpō Newspaper came into being in December 1940. “Karate no omoide” (My Memories of Karate) by Kyan Chōtoku was published on 1942-05-07. The text is organized as follows:

■ The Way of Karate
■ The Purpose of Karate
■ Techniques of Victory or Defeat
■ The Method of Unrestricted Offense and Defense
■ The Preparation of the Practitioners
■ The Necessity of Physical Strength
■ Musular Accordance
■ Age and Physique of the Practitioners
■ Chīshī and Makiwara
■ Conclusion

The largest part of the text is about karate and related topics. However, in connection with the earlier mentioned role that newspapers played in Imperial Japanese war propaganda, it is interesting to read Kyan’s conclusion:


I have attained a long life of seventy-three years and yet I have achieved nothing for our society. Here I have written down my memories of karate, making my own essay available to the public, shamelessly. But meanwhile, unfolding from the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) to the Greater East Asian War (1941–1945), the divine spiritual powers of officers and men of the Imperial Japanese Army suddenly appear in the skies and at seas and scatter our huge Caucasian enemies like one unified body. The fruits of battle are based on the glorious virtues of the Emperor, and our officers and men have enhanced the deepest secrets of Bushidō – the Way of the Warrior. Meanwhile, it is unbearable for this old man, to sit here, like an old tree, comfortably next to a charcoal brazier.”

One can clearly see that the conclusion of the article was written under consideration of tatemae (façade towards the public). Moreover, it was not a free society in those days and there was a strong wartime censorship — Like in today’s North Korea. This can also be noticed in Mabuni Kenwa’s and Nakasone Genwa’s books. So one might argue that Kyan said what he had to say.

However, Kyan’s ardent admiration for militarism during the escalating war, and his grief for being too old to participate himself, which clearly aims at moral mobilization of the readers, and all that just 5 months after Pearl Harbor: this does not sound to me as if there was “no first attack in karate.” It does not sound to me like the ingénue, peaceful, old former aristocratic karate master.

To be honest, I wonder how much of Kyan’s karate was really still something “original Okinawan”…

The above was an erstwhile reality of karate. But for how long?

Kyan Chotoku's wife Kama. Was it all her fault?

Kyan Chotoku’s wife Kama. Was it all her fault?

There is a terminological problem related to it, namely the timeframe referred to as senzen 戦前 in Japan, literally “the pre-war days”. This term is standard Japanese historical terminology and also used extensively in karate literature. It is sometimes still used for 1941, sometimes for 1942 and basically rethorically narrows down the war years to a very few years, sometimes — and especially in connection with Okinawa — only to 1945. So from the self-narrative of Okinawa karate, December 1944 might well have been considered the pre-war years. What do the Hawaiians think of this?

By this, the term narrows down not only the timeframe, but also the significance of the related, factual military history – and whatever personal opportunities, responsibilities, actions, or inactions related to it. And this is a bit too ambiguous to be helpful, quite on the contrary.

Okinawan soldiers, occupying forces, policemen and business men etc.pp. roamed all of Southeast Asia since the 1st Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), and many of them were karate men. And — as can be seen in his own words — Kyan admired military expansion and would have loved to take part.

Therefore, and particularly to better assess Okinawa karate under the actual circumstances of the time, and moreover to draw a line between the actual “prewar years” and the “war years”, a definition of the timeframe is necessary. And this timeframe of the “war years” should include the years 1931 to 1945 — from the Asia-Pacific War which started with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (September 1931), via the 2nd Sino-Japanese War (1937), Pearl Harbor (1941) until 1945 (Okinawa). Because it is impossible that these events had no impact on Okinawa, its people, and karate.

In any case, I am not blaming anybody here. Kyan was just normal people and caught by circumstances.

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Nakaima Kenkō on ‘dō’ and ‘jutsu’

In the Japanese martial arts there is a rough categorization into martial technique (jutsu) and martial sport (). The difference, in a nutshell, is that the -variants like kendō, judō, karatedō etc. serve an educational ideal. This might be seen as a modern interpretation of “filial piety”, i.e. supporting oneself, one’s parents, and one’s country. Jutsu, on the other hand, has zero value other than simple technical efficiancy – it is only about martial techniques.

Nakaima Kenko, 4th generation of Ryuei-ryu.

Nakaima Kenko, 4th generation of Ryu’ei-ryu.

In fact, during the develoment of modern Japanese martial arts, the refinement from a mere jutsu to a higher level of (and to a sport) was considered of utmost importance by the elites. In other words: Jutsu makes an individual stronger. makes a country stronger. Just ask the ministry of education.

Nakaima Kenkō (1911–1989) was an educator by profession. As the successor to the Ryūei-ryū, since his childhood he was strictly trained by his father and master Kenchū in this family martial art. At the age of 37 he received “Initiation into the mysterious principles of Ryūei-ryū” (Ryūei-ryū kaiden 劉衛流皆伝).

During his time at the Okinawa Teacher’s College – where in the early 20th century modern karate was born – he studied kendō with the masters Tomikawa Moritake 富川盛武 and Ishihara Hiroshi 石原弘 and later studied under Ishihara Masanao 石原昌直 (8. Dan Hanshi). His karate instructors at the Okinawa Teacher’s College were master Ōshiro Chōjo 大城朝恕 of Shuri-te – whose karate was of the Itosu system, while his bōjutsu was from Yamanni 山根 of Shuri Kanagusuku village – and master Yabu Kentsū, whose karate was of the Matsumura system.

The technical contents of Ryū’ei-ryū are quite extensive and include unarmed methods of Kenpō 拳法 (present day karate-dō), military methods of Heihō 兵法 (old Chinese weapons), the methods of healthcare (Yōjōhō 養生法), the method of boxing with a brave heart (Kenyūshin-hō 拳勇心法), as well as others, such as ninjutsu-ish actions.

According to Nakaima Kenkō himself, the empty handed kata of the style were the following (as of 1977):

  • 1) Sanchin, Sēsan. 2) Nisēshī. 3) Sansērū. 4) Sēyunchin. 5) Ōhan. 6) Pāchū. 7) Ānan. 8) Paikū. 9) Heikū. 10) Paihō.

In terms of modern-style ranks, Nakaima Kenkō was a hanshi of karate-dō, a hanshi of kobudō, and a kyōshi of kendō.

And by profession he was the principal of public elementary and middle school in Okinawa. His students Sakumoto Tsuguo and Kinjō Takeyuki also followed the modern martial sports philosophy of budō and were both ranked in karate-dō, in jūdō, and in kendō (BTW, you can tell that many of today’s karate champs do not get their excellent physique and good looks from karate training, but from all sorts of sports).

In accordance with the above, Nakaima Kenkō obviously fully supported the ideals of budō – probably as a sport and as an education – over those of jutsu. In his own words, Nakaima Kenkō raised the following rhetoric question:

“In the oldest character dictionary of Chinese writing, i.e. the Shuowen Jiezi 説文解字, the character jutsu 術 is defined as ‘a path within a village’ [術:邑中道也]. During the feudal era, the bujutsu 武術 or martial arts of Japan were referred to as jūjutsu 柔術, kenjutsu 剣術 and the like. After the Meiji era these martial arts came to be referred to as jūdō, kendō etc. and were considered budō 武道, or martial ways towards character formation. These martial arts were also implemented into school eduction in the form of budō 武道, or martial ways. However, in today’s world of karate, there are still people who use the word kobujutsu 古武術. Isn’t this like going backwards through the eras?”


Biblio: Uechi Kanei: Seisetsu Okinawa Karate-dō: Sono Rekishi to Gihō. Uechi-ryū Karate-dō Kyōkai, Ginowan 1977. 上地完英(監修):精説 沖縄空手道。その歴史と技法。上地流空手道協会、宜野湾 1977。

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Bushi Matsumora – The Novel

Previously I wrote about Bushi Matsumora – The Movie. Today it is “Bushi Matsumora – The Novel”.

The heroic tales of Matsumora Kōsaku were written down in the novel “Bushi Matsumora” (武士松茂良) by Matsumora Kōnin 松茂良興仁 (pen-name Matsumura Takesaburō 松村竹三郎). When it was serialized in a number of short stories in the Ryūkyū Shinpō newspaper and published over the course of several months in 1938, the whole thing gained popularity.

Due to this popularity the story was made into a stage play.

Dramatization for stage was carried out by Tomoyose Teruhiko 友寄英彦, a dentist.

Karate instruction for the stage play was provided by no less than Nagamine Shōshin 長嶺将真, founder of the Matsubayashi-ryū and one mainstay of Tomari-te, the regional martial art largely based on Matsumora’s traditions.

“Bushi Matsumora” was performed as a stage play by the Sangoza 珊瑚座 theater troupe led by Majikina Yūkō. The stage play received praise not only from the Karate world, but also by the general public.

Above all, the Karate performance by Shimabuku Kōyū 島袋光裕 portraying Matsumora Kōsaku is said to have been a vivid reminder of master Matsumora during the days gone by. Among the spectators fascinated by Shimabuku’s realistic performance even seem to have been persons betting that “He’s not an actor, but a substitute who knows Karate!

There is another episode to this: After a play of “Bushi Matsumora” had ended, on his return trip to his home in Tsuji, Shimabuku Kōyū was surrounded by a few young people, one of which challenged him to a fight, saying

“So, you say you know Karate, huh!?!?”

Shimabuku (40 years old at that time) narrowly escaped danger, answering,

“I am an actor who does not know Karate. That performance is a stage play, so please stop bullying older people.”

Illustration from the sequel "Bushi Matsumora". Source: 琉文21.

Illustration from the sequel “Bushi Matsumora”. Source: 琉文21.

Biblio: Matsumura Kōshō (former family name: Matsumora): Bushi Matsumora Kōsaku Ryakuden: Karate (Tomari-te) Chūkō no So. Naha 1970.

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Martial Artists of Ryūkyū – A Legacy by Motobu Choki

motobu_chokiBy Motobu Chōki (auth.), translated with commentary by Andreas Quast

Choki was born into the Motobu Udun – descendants of a royal prince – and raised as a traditional Okinawan bushi. After a long warrior pilgrimage, in which he put practical martial arts to the test whenever and with whomever possible, Choki became both the most celebrated and the most notorious Okinawan fighter ever.

In this text Choki, in vivid details, reports what he has had been bequeathed by the elders about the martial artists and their special skills of the royal capital of Shuri and elsewhere. What was martial art back in Okinawa? The answer might be right in front of you.

This short work originally appeared as a chapter in the book Watakushi no Karatejutsu (My Art and Skill of Karate) by Motobu Choki, 1932.

«Blaming a method is the same as asking for a duel. And so, Haebaru put on full dress and the two met in the hall of Oroku Castle, to settle the matter.»

Print edition: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT

Kindle edition: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP

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5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
54 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1542453462
ISBN-10: 1542453461
BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense

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