Motobu Chōki: “My Art and Skill of Karate” (1932)

The book “My Art and Skill of Karate” presents the technical knowledge and original accounts imparted by famed Okinawa karate master Motobu Chōki (1870-1944). This translation was created in close cooperation with the author’s grandson, Motobu Naoki sensei. It also includes a congratulatory address by the author’s son, Motobu Chōsei sensei, the current head of the school. Moreover, this year marks the 150th anniversary of Motobu Chōki’s birth. In other words, three generations of the Motobu family were involved in this new translation, connecting the history and tradition of karate from the 19th to 21th century.

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

Kindle edition:  US | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | NL | JP | BR | CA | MX | AU | IN

(Note: The Kindle version does not include the glossary index and only a rudimentary TOC, so navigation is less reader-friendly than in the print version)

In addition to accounts about old-time karate masters in Okinawa, the work features thirty-four photos of Motobu performing Naihanchi Shodan, including written descriptions. Moreover, it includes twenty kumite with pictures and descriptions as well as five pictures of how to use the makiwara.

What makes it even more unique is that the existence of the book was unknown until the 1980s, when the wife of a deceased student sent the book to Motobu Chōki’s son, Chōsei. Until today this edition remains the only known original edition in existence, and it provided the basis for this original translation. This work has to be considered one of the most important sources to assess and interpret karate.

Motobu Chōki: “My Art and Skill of Karate” (2020)

My Art and Skill of Karate (Ryukyu Bugei Book 3), by Choki Motobu (Author), Andreas Quast (Tr./Ed.), Motobu Naoki (Tr.)

  • 5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Black & White on white paper
  • 232 pages
  • First Printing: 2020
  • ISBN: 979-8601364751

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Okinawan Samurai — The Instructions of a Royal Official to his Only Son

BookCoverPreviewsmTroubled about the future of his only son and heir, a royal government official of the Ryukyu Kingdom wrote down his ‘Instructions’ as a code of practice for all affairs. Written in flowing, elegant Japanese, he refers to a wide spectrum of artistic accomplishments that the royal government officials were ought to study in those days, such as court etiquette, literature and poetry, music, calligraphy, the tea ceremony and so on.

The author, who achieved a remarkable skill level in wielding both the pen and the sword, also informs us about various martial arts practiced in those days. Translated from Japanese for the first time, from centuries-long puzzling seclusion the state of affairs surrounding an 18th century Okinawan samurai vividly resurrects in what is considered ‘Okinawa’s most distinguished literature.’

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

Kindle edition: US | UKDE | FR | ES | IT | NL | JP | BR | CA | MX | AU | IN

Table of Contents

Okinawan Samurai — The Instructions of a Royal Official to his Only Son. By Aka/Ōta Pēchin Chokushiki (auth.), Andreas Quast (ed./transl.), Motobu Naoki (transl.).

  • 5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Black & White on Cream paper
  • 218 pages
  • First Printing: 2018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1985331037
  • ISBN-10: 1985331039

Translated from Japanese for the first time!

“I think it is epoch-making that Quast sensei decided to translate the ‘Testament of Aka Pēchin Chokushiki,’ and not one of the famous historical or literary works such as the Chūzan Seikan or the Omoro Sōshi. … I believe this translation has significant implications for the future study of karate history and Ryūkyū history abroad. (Motobu Naoki, Shihan of the Motobu-ryū)

“It is one of THE most important primary sources for truly understanding the unabridged history of our arts first hand by a member of the very class of people who spawned Karate in the first place!” (Joe Swift, Karateologist, Tokyo-based)

“I highly recommend this new work by Andi Quast … as a MUST BUY book …” ( Patrick McCarthy, foremost western authority of Okinawan martial arts, modern and antique, anywhere he roams)

“I’m sure I’m going to learn and enjoy this book.” (Itzik Cohen, karate and kobudo man from Israel)

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Oni Oshiro

BookCoverPreviewIn the era of Old Ryukyu, a legendary warrior of Okinawan martial arts appeared on the center stage of the historical theatre. Due to his unique appearance and powerful physique—reminiscent of a wolf or a tiger—the people of that time called him Oni Ōshiro, or «Ōshiro the Demon.»

Also known as Uni Ufugushiku in the Okinawan pronunciation of his name, he had been variously described as the originator of the original Okinawan martial art «Ti» as well as the actual ancestor of a number of famous Okinawan karate masters, such as Mabuni Kenwa and others.

This is his narrative. Gleaned from the few primary sources available, which for the first time are presented here in the English language, the original heroic flavor of the source texts was kept intact.

«I invoke the Gods, To quake heaven and earth, To let the firmament resound, And to rescue the divine woman—Momoto Fumiagari.»

Get your copy now: US ►CA ►UK ►DE ►FR ►ES ►IT

5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
94 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1533486219 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1533486212
BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense

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Matsumura Sokon: The Seven Virtues of Martial Arts

by Andreas Quast

This is the true story of the seven virtues of martial arts as described by Matsumura Sokon. Considered the primary source-text of old-style Okinawan martial arts, the “Seven Virtues” are admired for their straightforward advice. Handwritten in the late 19th century by Matsumura, the most celebrated ancestor of karate, they are considered the ethical fountain and technical key to understand what can’t be seen.

This work includes the rare photograph of the original handwritten scroll, approved by the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum as well as the owner of the scroll. It also shows the family crest of the Matsumura family, sporting the character of “Bu.”

Get your copy now: USUKDEFRESITJPCA

Matsumura himself pointed out that the “Seven Virtues of Martial Arts” were praised by a wise man in an ancient manuscript, a manuscript that has remained obscure ever since. Now the ultimate source of this wondrous composition has been discovered and verified. Presented and explained here for the first time, it is not only the source of Matsumura’s “Seven Virtues of Martial Arts”… In fact, it is the original meaning of martial arts per se.

  • 5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Black & White on Cream paper
  • 80 pages
  • ISBN-13: 979-8605143611
  • BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense

Matsumura Sokon: The Seven Virtues of Martial Arts. By Andreas Quast, 2020.

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A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History

A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History Paperback – May 15, 2015

by Andreas Quast (Author)

Paperback edition: available at Amazon US ($14.99), Amazon UK (£9.79), Amazon Germany (EUR 14.97), CreateSpace eStore ($14.99), and at online and offline bookstores and retailers, as well as via public libraries and libraries at other academic institutions.

Kindle edition also availableUSUKDEFRESITNLJPBRCAMXAUIN

Based on his acclaimed previous studies, the author here presents a synopsis of the development of Ryukyu martial arts. The events described herein are all real, that is, they are all historical. Strolling along the chronology of martial arts of Ryukyu provenance, a large number of verified events are not only detailed, but also decorated with dozens of precious illustrations. As such “A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History” is for martial arts practitioners as much as it is for aficionados of history and Asia. It simply provides a pristine ground to stand on for the practitioner who wishes to understand the primordial origins of Ryukyu martial arts.

  • For those who read “Karate 1.0”: this new book here is a synopsis of Karate 1.0 plus the “chronology (Part VII)” without significant changes. It is an easier read without all the reasoning and footnotes, but instead with nearly 80 illustrations to make it more suitable for the general public, and not only academic people.

Among the unique information that cannot be found anywhere else are also some of the illustrations. For instance, there is only one picture scroll that shows the Chinese investiture envoys (sapposhi) and their military retinue. Here, for the first time you might see how famous Kusanku actually might have looked like.

Product Details (Paperback edition)

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1512229423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1512229424
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.4 x 9.7 inches

Cover

Cover

Available at Amazon US ($19.99), Amazon UK (£12.79), Amazon Germany (EUR 19,25 ), CreateSpace eStore ($19.99)

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Karate 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art

OUT OF PRINT!

The most comprehensive study on the parameters of primordial Karate, this work intrigues readers with rich detail and insights into these ancient combat traditions, the pride of Okinawa.

KARATE 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art. Düsseldorf 2013, by Andreas Quast.

cover (4)

Karate 1.0 front cover

  • Pages: xxvii, 502 pp.
  • Language: English.
  • Hardcover binding in green linen material with gold foil stamping, size 8.25″ x 10.75″ (20.95cm x 27.31cm).
  • Full-color dust jacket in matte finish.
  • Inside: black and white printing on cream archival paper (60# weight). White exterior paper (80# weight).
  • Forewords by Patrick McCarthy, Miguel Da Luz, Cezar Borkowski, Jesse Enkamp, Dr. Julian Braun, Soke Leif Hermansson, and Dr. phil. Heiko Bittmann.
  • All copies ship from the United States.
  • Price: $75.00.

Only the highest quality both in content and production: get it now from Lulu.com!

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Männekes

Die Männekes hab ich mal irgendwann in den frühen 2000ern gezeichnet. Jetzt lade ich sie hoch, wenn auch in schlechter Quali, da ich die Originale längst nicht mehr habe, aber immerhin, sie bleiben damit zumindest erhalten.

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Sakugawa no Kon (Koryū)

Sakugawa no Kon (Koryū) is an older form of the Sakugawa kata that originated in the teachings of Yamane-ryū which trace back to the 1920s teachings of Chinen Sanda and Ōshiro Chōjo, who taught the village youth of the Kakazu area in Tomigusuku. Today it is handed down in the Shinbukan of Akamine Hiroshi Sensei in Tomigusuku, Okinawa. The video is from a performance at Tomigusuku castle ruins, close to the current Karate Taikan, in 2011.

There has long been a discussion about the original contents, appearance, and performing habits of Yamane-ryū. Therefore, knowing about these older versions of Yamane-ryū kata in Shinbukan, I wanted to know more about it. This was one of several kobudō issues on my list when I moved to Okinawa in 2010 for 1 1/2 years straight.

It should be bourne in mind that knowledge about the contents and performance habits of Yamane-ryū were more or less unclear to unknown, except for what was told by the modern derivates of the schools.

As you will notice, this Sakugawa no Kon (Koryū) here is basically the same as Sakugawa no Kon Shō. It has also no resemblence to Sakugawa no Kon of modern Yamane-ryū lineage branches. Notwithstanding, this Sakugawa no Kon (Koryū) here comes right from the teachings of Chinen Sanda, the forefather of Yamane-ryū.

None of the various schools of Yamane-ryū currently in existence seem to practice this version or anything close to it in terms of enbusen. In other words, it may be that the tradition of Chinen Sanda was completely different from what was told by later generations, and techniques were actually subject to continuous change over several generations. This can also be seen in another kata of the same tradition, namely Shushi no Kon (Koryū).

BTW, Chinen Sanda is said to have loved to travel to Kakazu to teach. It was during a return journey from teaching at Kakazu when he got sick, and soon after died at Shuri.

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Taiho-jutsu

Taiho-jutsu is a method for present day Japanese police officers (keisatsukan), Imperial guard escort officers (kōgū goeikan), coast guard officers, narcotics control officers (mayakutorishimarikan), military police officers of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), and other judicial police personnel, or alternatively, officials who are legally speaking not judicial police personnel, but who perform duties similar to it, such as immigration control officers (nyūkoku keibikan), and who controls, arrests, detains suspects and criminals take them to the police.

It also has the meaning of a self-defense technique to prevent injuries to those who perform these duties.

History

Early history

Seen from a broader bird’s eye view, taiho-jutsu is a modern variant of something much older, namely torite and similar jūjutsu-like system with special emphases. Officials, employees, and contractors who have learned martial arts and carried out police duties existed for a long time, and torite already already existed in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Not only bare hands were used, but also arresting tools such as the “three tools” (sasumatatsuku-bō, and sode-garami), wooden arrows, the “nose twitch” (hananeji) – a short stick with a cord loop, called like this because it looks similar to the nose twitch used for horses –, and weighted chains (kusarifundō). In the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the short, hooked truncheon jūtte was used by policemen and private thief-takers, and the techniques of the rope used for restraining criminals (hojōjutsu) also developed.

In the Edo period, martial arts spread to people such as kyōkaku (person acting under the pretense of chivalry while participating in gangs and engaging in gambling), townspeople, landowning merchants, and farmers, so knowledge of martial arts was also essential for police work. In addition to torite, feudal policemen such as yoriki and dōshin in the Edo period had to master various martial arts.

In addition, people of discriminated social status were often involved in tasks such as chasing down and capturing criminals or as prison guards, and also to execute punishments and in some feudal domains they had to serve as border guards, in which case they were trained by high-ranking feudal retainers of the domain. In this way they also learned various jūjutsu-like systems, hojōjutsu, and the like.

Meiji period (1868-1912)

In the Meiji era, Satsuma samurai Kawaji Toshiyoshi (1834-1879) served as the first superintendent general of police and taught gekken (=kenjutsu) at the Police Officer Training Institute (the current Metropolitan Police Department Police Academy). Kawaji emphasized the importance of martial arts and advocated the creation of “police martial arts” (keisatsu bujutsu). After that, the martial arts instructors of the Metropolitan Police Department created the Keishi-ryū (Police Style) consisting of kenjutsu, jūjutsu, and iai.

The Establishment of Taiho-jutsu

According to Kudō Kazuzō (1898-1970), a jūdōka who served as an instructor at the National Police Academy, the basic concept of taiho-jutsu was born in 1947. At that time, police in each prefecture were studying taiho-jutsu, but it was necessary to comprehensively study and establish a set of universal techniques on a nationwide scale. The National Police Agency appointed Nagaoka Hideichi (1876-1952) of jūdō, Saimura Gorō (1887-1969) of kendō, Shimizu Ryuji (1896-1978) of jōjutsu, Ōtsuka Hironori (1892-1982) of Shindō Yōshin-ryū jūjutsu and Wadō-ryū karate, and Piston Horiguchi (1914-1950) of boxing as members of the establishment committee. In combining their skills, the techniques of taiho-jutsu were first formally established.

After that, in 1957, revisions were made to efficiently teach the basics of body movement (tai-sabaki), striking (uchi), thrusting (tsuki), kicking (keri), joint manipulation (gyaku), and throwing (nage), but they did not become popular among police officers in the field. Therefore, further research was conducted by the technical department of the National Police Academy.

The current techniques of taiho-jutsu were enacted in 1967, based on Nippon Kenpō for the empty-handed techniques, on kendō for the techniques of the police baton (keibō), and Shintō Musō-ryū jōjutsu for techniques of the police cane (keijō). In the following year, the basic text The Teaching Method of Taiho-jutsu (Taiho-jutsu Kyōhan) was completed. As of April 1978, 95% of the police successfully passed the skill test, and 10,000 cases of successful arrests using taiho-jutsu were reported.

Techniques

Taiho-jutsu has elements similar to mixed martial arts (sōgō kakutōgi) such as thrusts (tsuki), kicks (keri), joint manipulations (gyaku), throws (nage), choking / strangling (shime), grappling / pinning (katame), as well as baton (keibō), cane (keijō), and handcuffing (sejō). 

Rubber knifes, wooden imitation handguns, soft batons, etc. may be used during training and competitions to simulate actual fighting.

Use of minimum force necessary for arrest is required, because if the offender or criminal is injured or killed by excessive force, it would interfere with the investigation and the court decision and may also constitute a violation of human rights.

As regards handcuffing (sejō), as stated in Article 213 of the Penal Code, it is possible for common people in Japan to arrest a current offender. This is called a “citizen’s arrest.” Unlike batons, stun guns, and tear sprays, carrying handcuffs is not specifically regulated by law, so even civilians can equip themselves with and use handcuffs. However, if handcuffs are used unnecessarily, there is a risk of false arrest and false imprisonment (Article 220 of the Penal Code). In addition, it is necessary that the person is handed over to a police officer immediately after the arrest (Article 214 of the Penal Code).

Matches (shiai)

The equipment used in the matches includes canes (keijō) of 1250 mm length, batons (keibō) of 660 mm length, soft batons, short batons (tanbō) of 600 mm length, and knives (tantō) of 300 mm length, and if there are other tools that are effective for practical training, they are also used. The protective equipment is composed of a kendō-like face and head guard (men), a plastron (), gauntlets (kote), a hanging loin guard (tare) and a crotch pad similar to that of Nippon Kenpō, and specific taiho-jutsu shoes. The matches are carried out on tatami mats 9 meters square.

In taiho-jutsu, it is valid to hit with a tool, to hit with bare hands and feet, to throw, and to use joint manipulation techniques. The valid attacks are as follows.

Attacks with tools

  • Shoulder, hand, blow to torso, thrust to torso
  • Knocking down a dagger with the cane
  • In case of the soft baton, strikes on shoulder, elbow, hand, torso, and knees

Attacks with bare hands and feet

  • Strike to the chin and torso (also valid in case of using tools), kick to the torso, elbow strike, or knee strike
  • Immediate strike when an opponent falls down

Throwing techniques, joint locks and the like

  • Effective throwing techniques (more than the techniques found in the “Police Judo Match and Refereeing Rules”)
  • Evade the opponent’s kick and control the kicking foot
  • Reversed the wrist or elbow (it becomes a full point if the opponent signals defeat by saying “maitta”)
  • Controlling the head of a lying opponent

Prohibited for safety reasons are kicks to the head, trampling down at a downed opponent, joint manipulation techniques other than elbows and knees, the throws called kawazu-gake (frog entanglement) and kani-basami (flying scissors).

Others

  • The Imperial Guards are training a unique arresting technique called sokueijutsu (art of close protection) for the personal protection of the Emperor and the Imperial family.
  • The Arresting Techniques of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (jieitai taiho-jutsu), which is part of the training of the military police brigade, is a technique that has been uniquely improved based on the police taiho-jutsu.
  • At the Japan Coast Guard Academy, which is an educational institution for executive candidates of the Japan Coast Guard, taiho-jutsu training is conducted in the first and second grades.
  • Many Japanese security guards’ self-defense instruction is based on police taiho-jutsu, but some security companies have devised their own self-defense techniques, such as the comprehensive defense art of the Sohgo Security Services Co., Ltd.
  • Police organizations around the world and agencies related to public order, security, and intelligence agencies in general are researching and instructing their own techniques.
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Kawazu-gake as an application for Nami-gaeshi of Naihanchi

Kawazu-gake 河津掛け is one of the techniques found in sūmō and jūdō. Literally, it means “Kawazu entanglement.”

Meaning

The notation of kawazu 河津 has no meaning that can be interpreted in terms of the technique’s execution. Rather, it seems to be a mere phonetical use of the characters for the town of Kawazu.

However, an old notation is kawazu-gake 蛙掛け, i.e., “frog entanglement.” If you look at the technique from this perspective, you can at least recognize the underlying visual language.

Sumō

Elementary and junior high school students in amateur sumō are prohibited to use the kawazu-gake, and if used, the match will be immediately canceled and has to be retaken. On a second attempt by the same player, disqualification follows immediately.

In professional sumō, the kawazu-gake is a technique rarely seen. Notwithstanding, I have found the following example:

Jūdō

The kawazu-gake is a technique known to both Kōdōkan Jūdō and the International Judo Federation (IJF). In jūdō, the kawazu-gake is categorized as a “sideways sacrifice throw” (yoko sutemi waza).The IJF abbreviation is KWA / P26.

The kawazu-gake is prohibited by the rules of both the Kōdōkan and the IJF since May 1955. The reason is that the knee of the receiver is easily injured when the technique is carried out fast and hard.

Despite its prohibition, kawazu-gake is included in the name lists of throwing techniques of both the Kōdōkan (1982) and the IJF (1995).

The kawazu-gake is perfectly suited as a counter technique in case the legs get entangled. Typically, it is used when the opponent attempts entries such as for ōuchi-gari or uchi-mata. For execution of the technique in judō, see the following video:

Others

While the kawazu-gake became prohibited in amateur youth sumō as well as in Kōdōkan and IJF jūdō matches, it continued to evolve in Sambo, which originated in jūdō. The execution is a little different though, as can be seen here:

Advanced forms of kawazu-gake are also used in freestyle wrestling and in professional wrestling. For instance, Japanese wrestler Rikidōzan once prevented Lou Thesz’s attempt for a back drop by countering it with kawazu-gake. Later, Japanese professional wrestler Giant Baba devised a derivative technique called kawazu-otoshi or “frog drop,” which became known as the “Giant Buster,” and in reference to pro-wrestler Nikita Koloff it also became known as the “Russian Leg Sweep.”

Application in Karate

The kawazu-gake and its derivatives are perfectly suited to be used as an application for the nami-gaeshi as found in Naihanchi.

In case of matches with protective gear, you can see an example here from Nippon Kenpo.

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The incorporation of other martial arts techniques into karate, and their embedding and historical authentification by referencing them to karate, its kata, and its historical narratives

Over the last 120 years, the technical syllabi and contents of “karate” have constantly been reviewed and aligned to various aims and ideas. Within this process, not only were new methods created, but also were various existing martial arts methods and techniques integrated into “karate.” Such methods and techniques are often indiscriminately and retrospectively treated as if they were all proven contents of “historical karate,” however, this is not necessarily the case. Rather, all sorts of other martial arts methods were continuously looked into by various people at varying times. Such methods and techniques came to be cumulatively placed within the infinite variety of existing “karate” syllabi, and henceforth been practiced in reference to “karate,” its kata, and its historical narratives.

Based on the assumption that all conceivable methods must be historical techniques of “karate,” the technical corpus of practical applications of “karate” grew exponentially to its current magnitude. It should be noted that the extensive current corpus of practical “karate” applications did not only come about by way of personal traditions handed down over several generations, but also through the availability and accessibility of videos and illustrations since the dawn of the internet.

There is nothing wrong in optimizing the technical applicability of “karate.” No doubt, it is possible to assign any technique seen in a photo or a video to a posture found in one of the many kata of “karate.” This is an established and successful method. The only issue is whether we want to accept this as an actual historical content of “karate” or not.

As an example, in 1961, Nakasone Seiyū performed taiho-jutsu (Program of “1st Kobudō Demonstration Meet,” 1961). It is unknown where Nakasone had learned it, and what level of expertise he had reached. The issue here is that Nakasone’s techniques subsequently and generally became considered as a historical tradition of “karate.” This was done without knowing or considering the fact that Nakasone apparently has referred to it as taiho-jutsu, and not “karate.”

Is it not possible that it has had been handed down since the 18th or 19th century in secret?

Is it then not logical that it constitutes a reference technique by which we can see how actual historical karate was like, and from which further deductions about historical “karate” techniques can safely be made?

No, it is not. Rather, Nakasone’s case of taiho-jutsu is an example of how a specific martial arts category was presented within the context of Okinawa “karate” in 1961, and subsequently became considered a historical method of “karate.”

By 1961, almost 100 years had passed since the abolition of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. Also, the term taiho-jutsu provided by Nakasone leaves no doubt that it referred to exactly that, so let’s look at the term.

Taiho-jutsu is a specific martial arts category related to police duties that deals with catching and arresting criminals and offenders. As regards chronology, the term taiho-jutsu came into use only after the end of the war in 1945, as can be verified by a query in the National Diet Library. In fact, it was started in 1947. At that time, Ōtsuka Hironori of Wadō-ryū karate and Shindō Yōshin-ryū jūjutsu was on the team, as well as boxer “Piston Horiguchi.” It was revised in 1957 toward a more efficient learning of the basics of taijutsu, striking, thrusting, kicking, joint manipulation and throwing techniques, but it did not become popular with police officers in the field. Therefore, further research was conducted by the National Police Academy and the current taiho-jutsu was established in 1967. From then until April 1978, 10,000 cases of successful arrests using taiho-jutsu have had been reported.

Today, taiho-jutsu is a method for Japanese police officers, Imperial guard officers, coast guard officers, narcotics control officers, military police officers of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), and other judicial police personnel. It is also used by officials who legally speaking are not judicial police personnel, but who perform duties similar to it, such as immigration officers, and generally persons who control, arrest, detain suspects and criminals and take them to the police.

Seen from a broader bird’s eye view, taiho-jutsu is a modern variant of something much older, namely torite and similar jūjutsu-like system with special emphases. Officials, employees, and contractors who have learned martial arts and carried out police duties existed for a long time, and torite already already existed in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Not only bare hands were used, but also arresting tools such as the “three tools” (sasumata, tsuku-bō, and sode-garami), wooden arrows, the “nose twitch” (hananeji 鼻捻) – a short stick with a cord loop, called like this because it looks similar to the nose twitch used for horses –, and weighted chains (kusarifundō). In the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the short, hooked truncheon jūtte was used by policemen and private thief-takers, and the techniques of the rope used for restraining criminals (hojōjutsu) also developed.

In the Edo period, martial arts spread to people such as kyōkaku (person acting under the pretense of chivalry while participating in gangs and engaging in gambling), townspeople, landowning merchants, and farmers. In addition, people of discriminated social status were often involved in tasks such as chasing down and capturing criminals or as prison guards, and also to execute punishments and in some feudal domains they had to serve as border guards, in which case they were trained by high-ranking feudal retainers of the domain. In this way they also learned various jūjutsu-like systems, hojōjutsu, and the like.

In any case, as can be seen in the case of Nakasone and taiho-jutsu, martial arts methods and techniques from elsewhere came to be integrated in “karate,” backdated as if they were contents of “historical karate,” and cumulatively placed within the infinite variety of existing “karate” syllabi, and henceforth practiced and considered in reference to “karate,” its kata, and its historical narratives.

In fact, the above is an example of what has become the standard procedure of incorporating other martial arts techniques into karate, and their embedding and historical authentification by referencing it to karate, its kata, and its historical narratives.

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Taihojutsu, then and then

In the fall of 1931, Nagamine Shōshin took the police entry examination. Nearly one hundred people had applied, but there were only twenty positions open. Only eighteen persons passed, among them Shōshin. Two years since he had returned from military service in China, he entered the Okinawa prefectural police force:

When I was safely discharged and returned home, I thought about my future profession. While studying karate, which is my hobby, I thought that there was no other place than the police force to make use of it by profession. So, in September 1931, I was appointed a police officer in Okinawa Prefecture. … Rather than wanting to get a promotion quickly, I was more than happy to be able to immerse myself in karate, and I thought it was like getting a government salary and going to a martial arts vocational school. [From: Okinawa no Karate-dō, 1976]

He entered as a 63rd generation member of the police training school in Okinawa. The training dormitory at that time was located behind the place of the later Butokuden, near the current prefectural assembly building. Uniforms, caps, sabers, police notebooks, policeman’s ropes used for restraining criminals, etc. were lent to the trainees.

At that time, along with jūdō and kendō, karate was included among the compulsory subjects for the Okinawa Prefectural Police only. The instructor was Miyagi Chōjun, the founder of Gōjū-ryū. Miyagi later recommended Nagamine to the Dai Nippon Butokukai for promotion and in 1941 the two were responsible in creating the introductory Fukyū-gata I and II.

After three months at the police training school, the duty locations for each of the eighteen new police officers were announced. Shōshin was chosen to serve at Kadena Police Station.

* * * * *

As described above, jūdō, kendō, karate was included among the compulsory subjects, and sabers and policeman’s ropes (hojō 捕縄) used for restraining criminals were provided at the police training school in Okinawa in 1931.

In 1936, Shōshin was ordered to attend the Tōkyō Metropolitan Police Department, i.e. the national police HQ of Japan, where he received training for six months. He set foot in the police station in Asakusa, Tōkyō in April 1936. His most probably included taihojutsu, a modern era term which refers to “techniques used by policemen to arrest criminals,” or simply police jūjutsu. This I came to believe not only because of his job, but also because I came accross a book in his former study located above the former dōjō. The book called “Police Martial Arts: Techniques for Arresting Criminals and for Self-protection.” It was first published by Shōkadō of Tōkyō in 1930, but this is a 3rd printing edition of 1931.

The authors were Takahashi Kazuyoshi, Ōgushi Ihachi, and Zusho Takekuma. Takahashi was instructor (shihan) at the police training school and ranked kyōshi in jūdō. Ōgushi was a policeman and 5th dan in Kōdōkan jūdō. Zusho was an instructor at the Tōkyō Metropolitan Police HQ, i.e. were Nagamine was a trainee for six month.

People probably believe that everyone could have studied any martial art they wanted during the 1930s in Okinawa, but I disagree. Rather, martial arts and contents were probably very much restricted. Taihojutsu is an umbrella term for “techniques and methods used by policemen to arrest criminals” and it includes the use of ropes (hojō), sticks, and other tools.

It was only in the post-war period that these methods became available to the general karate public and were included as karate techniques, either by using kata as a reference or in freestyle application. In other words, taihojutsu is a distinct category of Japanese martial arts that amalgamated into karate. It was one of many different martial arts, but it was one. Even the armor used in Okinawa bogu-tsuki karate in many cases comes from Japanese police taihojutsu. Taihojutsu must be considered an influence in karate in a few cases until 1945, and in many more cases since the 1950s.

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Online Exhibition: Graduation from Tomari Elementary School in 1920

There has been some uncertainty as regards Nagamine Sensei’s exact school years. According to this photo here (and also this), Nagamine Shōshin graduated from Tomari Elementary School in 1920. At that time, 6 years was the regular term for elementary school. In other words, Nagamine Shōshin has entered Tomari Elementary School in 1914.

Accordingly, Nagamine was in third grade when eight elementary schools would jointly hold an autumn athletic meet at Onoyama Park on November 13, 1916. The state of the joint athletic meet was also reported in the Ryūkyū Shinpō newspaper the following day, so there is no doubt. The karate perfomers were boys from Tomari Elementary School, among them young Nagamine Shōshin, who reminisced:

“When I was in the third grade of Tomari Elementary School, the Naha Ward Elementary Schools Joint Athletic Meet was held at Onoyama Park. At that time, Gichin Sensei was teaching at Tomari Elementary School and we schoolboys of 3rd grade and up were taught “Naihanchi” and “Pinan” and had a martial arts group performance with more than 200 people. I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Of course, “Gichin Sensei” refers to no less than Funakoshi Gichin, who served as an elementary school teacher for many years.

  • Photo: Graduation from Tomari Elementary School in 1920
  • Nagamine Shoshin (front row, third from left)
  • Date of photo: November 28, 1979
  • At Oto Hime Restaurant in Sakurazaka
  • Commemorative photo of the award winner
  • Recorded: Andreas Quast, May 12, 2009.
  • Recorded at Location: Kōdōkan Nagamine Dōjō, headquarter of Sekai Matsubayashi-ryū Karate-dō Renmei. Naha-shi Kumoji, Okinawa Prefecture.
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Okinawa Kenpo – Viewed from a different angle

Jūjutsu and jūjutsu-like systems were known since feudal times in Japan under a multitude of names. The two most common of which were yawara and jūjutsu. Others were:

  • kenpō, hakuda, hade, shubaku
  • torite,
  • taijutsu,
  • kumiuchi, kogusoku, koshi no mawari,
  • wajutsu,
  • aikijūjutsu, aiki no jutsu, aikijutsu
  • yawarajutsu, yawaragi, yawarariki…

These are all jūjutsu systems and their names also generally apply to the art itself. At the same time, they can all be distinguished from one another. Such differences have already been pointed out by Jigorō Kanō (Lindsay & Kanō 1889). You can see it like this: “Jūjutsu” and “jūjutsu-like systems” refer to all systems that have certain characteristics of jūjutsu in common, but do not necessarily call themselves by that term. The word “system” simply refers to a method of martial art that displays tactics or techniques within the framework of a certain scope of characteristics. In general, capturing and restraining were the main focus of torite and hobaku (binding of an overpowered opponent), kicking, thrusting, and hitting were stressed in such systems as kenpō, koppō, hade, hakuda, and shubaku, while grappling, throwing, locking, and choking were emphasized in systems such as kumiuchi, yawara, jūjutsu, taijutsu, koshi no mawari, and kogusoku.

What about the martial art called kenpō in Japan?

The following is from the “Biographical Sketch of the Martial Arts of Japan” (Honchō Bugei Shōden, 1716):

“According to the Kenpō Hisho, [ken] is what today is called yawara. In the Wubeizhi it is called ken. In olden times it was called shubaku.”

Ken here refers to kenpō, fist method. As regards yawara: The above quoted book writes the characters jūjutsu 柔術, but adds the phonetics of yahara ヤハラ as a pronunciation. Yahara in turn is an old notation, and it is pronounced as yawara. Like this, the Yamato Koto Hajime (1697) also writes the character ken 拳 (fist) with the pronunciation of yawara ヤハラ, and jūjutsu 柔術 with the pronunciation of yawara no jutsu ヤハラノジュツ. In other words, in Japan at that time, there was no clear distinction between kenpō and jūjutsu. They believed that both would be the same thing and referred to it by the pronunciation of yawara. Like that, under the headings of yawara no jutsu (jūjutsu 柔術) and yawara (ken 拳), the above-mentioned Honchō Bugei Shōden lists the names of the founders of Seigō-ryū, Kajiwara-ryū, Sekiguchi-ryū, and Shibukawa-ryū, which are Japanese martial arts schools. In other words, ken (fist) originally referred to a Japanese jūjutsu-like martial arts system. The pronunciation of the characters 柔術 as jūjutsu is obviously a later thing.

What else is there to know on the term kenpō?

There is a work from 1767, called “The Outline of Genealogies of Japan’s Martial Arts Revival” (Nippon Chūkō Bujutsu Keifu Ryaku). Under the entry “kenpō 拳法,” it is said,

“According to the Secret Book of the Fist Method (Kenpō Hisho), this [kenpō] is what today is called yawara no jutsu. In the Wubeizhi this is called ken (fist) or otherwise shuho.”

First of all, the term shuho 手捕 used here means “to catch with one’s hands.” It consists of the same two characters as torite 捕手, only in reverse order. Shuho 手捕 here may also be an alternative spelling of shubaku 手博. Next, in the quote, reference is made to a work called “Secret Book of the Fist Method” (Kenpō Hisho, 1661-73). Because of the time of its creation, which roughly corresponds to that of the Yamato Koto Hajime (1697), the characters jūjutsu 柔術 used in the text would have been pronounced as yawara no jutsu.

Finally, the above referred “Secret Book of the Fist Method” (Kenpō Hisho, 1661-73) itself states:

Ken (fist) is called yawara no jutsu today [= 17th century]. In the Wubeizhi it was called shubaku 手博.”

Well, as every karate person knows, kenpō was also mentioned in the Ōshima Hikki (1762):

“Recently, a man named Kōshankin (this seems to be a title of praise), a master of kumiai-jutsu (Yoshihiro thinks it refers to kenpō as described in the Wubeizhi), came to Ryūkyū from [Qing-]China with a large number of disciples.”

Here, the term kenpō is used as well, this time for a Chinese martial art and with a reference made to the Wubeizhi (“Treatise on Military Preparedness”) variously mentioned earlier, which is a massive work by Mao Yuanyi published in 1621. Moreover, the author of the Ōshima Hikki refers to this kenpō by using the term kumiai-jutsu, which is a Japanese term historically used within jūjutsu-like systems.

As you can see from the above, in feudal Japan, no clear terminological distinction existed between Chinese kenpō and Japanese kenpō, except the occasional use of a phonetic aid identifying ken 拳 (fist) to be read as yawara ヤハラ, i.e., a historical jūjutsu-like martial arts system.

As a lesson from the above, when looking at the term kenpō in historical Japanese texts, each time the context must be checked individually as well as the time the term was used. In this connection: what did Funakoshi Gichin mean by his title “Ryūkyū Kenpō Karate” (1922), and Motobu Chōki by his title “Okinawa Kenpō Karate-jutsu” (1926)? Apparently they understood karate to be a Ryūkyūan/Okinawan system of kenpō. But which kenpō? Ryūkyūan jūjutsu? Okinawan kungfu? Probably a potpourri of both, plus x.

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Kampfkunst in Siam (Thailand), 1899

Neuerdings nehmen sogar die Vornehmen nach dem Vorbild des Königs, der bekanntlich vor kurzem erst die europäischen Länder besuchte, europäische Kultur an, und Volksspiele und Sports aller Art stehen bei den heiteren, stets zu Scherz und Kurzweil aufgelegten Siamesen seit alters her in Blüte. Zwei der beliebtesten dieser Volksspiele stellen die Bilder auf S. 125 dar, den Faustkampf und das Fechten mit Bambusstangen. Ersterer wird ganz ähnlich wie der englische Boxkampf nach feststehenden Regeln ausgefochten. Die mehr geschmeidigen als herkulischen Faustkämpfer tragen dabei gepolsterte Handschuhe an den Händen, damit keine Verletzungen vorkommen. Das rohe, einander die Gesichter zu blutigen Klumpen zerschlagende Boxen der Engländer kennt man nicht. Ebenso harmlos, wie der Faustkampf, nur als Spiel der Geschicklichkeit und Gewandtheit, verläuft das Fechten mit Bambusstangen. Die Kämpfer treten stets in Gruppen zu vier auf und kämpfen zwei gegen zwei. Die Sieger haben sich stets aufs Neue zu messen, bis zuletzt einer als Sieger über alle aus dem Kampfspiel hervorgeht. Die Zuschauer hocken während des Spiels, bei dem eine heimische Kapelle mit Trommeln, Pauke und Flöte anfeuernde Musik macht, rings auf dem Boden und verfolgen eifrig den Fortgang des Kampfes, wobei es an zahlreichen Wetten nicht fehlt, denn die Wettleidenschaft ist in Siam ebenso ausgebildet, wie in England und Amerika.

Biblio: “Volksspiele in Siam”. In: Das Buch für alle: illustrierte Blätter zur Unterhaltung und Belehrung für die Familie und Jedermann. Heft 5. 1899, Ss. 125 (Abbild.), 128 (Text).

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Torite (continued 2) – The Founder of Toritejutsu in this World

In previous articles I have mentioned torite in relation to the history of Okinawan martial arts. I noted that the father of modern karate, Itosu Ankō, mentioned that historical karate was probably influenced by the teachings of Chin Genpin (1587–1674) in Japan and that the term used to describe the teachings of Chin was kenpō jūjutsu, referring to a historical Japanese martial arts systems with an initial Chinese influence which places emphasis – but not limited to – striking and kicking, i.e., on impact techniques.

I continued with an overview of torite as a classical martial art to capture an enemy with bare hands without killing him, and then turned to Chin Genpin and the once popular story of him being a founder of Japanese jūjutsu, which is erroneous and completely exaggerated.

This time I will turn to the founding of torite as a category and predecessor of what is now generally referred to as jūjutsu. The following mythical creation story is based on the Takenouchi Ryū Keisho Kogo Den 竹内系書古語伝, a document recording the history of the Takenouchi Ryū, a martial arts school established in 1532 and still extant (translation and occasional additions by Serge Mol, cf. Mol 2001:100):

In the mountains of Sannomiya [1], Takenouchi Hisamori prayed to the god Atago and submitted himself to severe training. For several days he practiced and perfected his skills, striking a big tree with his bokutō [wooden sword, which in his case had a blade length of 72 centimeters].[2] On the sixth day of his training, Hisamori had fallen asleep from exhaustion when suddenly a gray-haired yamabushi, who looked like the incarnation of the god Atago, appeared near his bedside. The yamabushi was seven feet tall and his eyes were open wide, giving him a furious look. Immediately Hisamori attacked him with his wooden sword; however, the yamabushi would not be defeated, and Hisamori realized that his adversary possessed superhuman strength. the yamabushi then taught Hisamori a number of techniques for swiftly overcoming an assailant. These techniques, five in total, are today called the “torite gokajō (捕手五ヶ条).

After this the yamabushi picked up the lengthy bokutō, which he felt was useless, and cut it in half, producing a shorter [36 centimeter] sword, which he called “kogusoku.” next the yamabushi showed Hisamori how to carry the sword in his belt and taught him a system of grappling with the sword coma consisting of twenty-five techniques. since then that system of kumiuchi using a short sword or dagger has been called “koshi no mawari” [around the loins]. At present these twenty-five techniques part of the Takenouchi Ryū’s kihonwaza, and are referred to as “kogusoku koshi no mawari omotegata.”

Taking off a vine and entwining a tree, the yamabushi subsequently taught Hisamori how to restrain and tie up an enemy. these restraining techniques were called “musha garami” [entangling a warrior], and according to this story gave birth to the technique of “hayanawa” [早縄, today also known as hojō 捕縄], the art of swiftly restraining an opponent using a 2.5-meter rope. Then the yamabushi disappeared in a mysterious way, with wind springing up, lightning flashing, and thunder rolling.

[1] The Haga Gō Sannomiya Shrine was dedicated to the god Hachiman, the guardian deity of Genji’s family, the Minamoto clan. Hisamori belonged to the Minamoto clan.

[2] The length of the blade is measured from the tip to where the habaki (the collar inserted just below the seppa [washer, spacer]) and the tsuba [sword guard]) locks the blade.

The oldest existing old-style jujutsu: Takenouchi-ryu thoroughly explained! (Gekkan Hiden DVD)

Moreover, school founder Takenouchi Hitachinosuke Hisakatsu demonstrated his skills in front of Emperor Go-Mizunoo, the 108th Emperor of Japan, and received the title Honishita Torite Kaizan 日下捕手開山, which means “The founder of Toritejutsu in this world/in Japan.” He was also granted the prerogative to use the color purple, which was the imperial color and the use of which by ordinary citizens was prohibited, for the ropes used in the schools tying arts. This event is recounted as follows (Mol 2001:103-4):

In the spring of 1620, Emperor Gomizuno’o went to view the cherry blossoms on Mount Nishi in Kyoto. On the way back two men appeared. The emperor’s escort asked, “Who are you?” One of the men replied, “Takenouchi Hitachinosuke Hisakatsu, Shihan of Kogusoku Koshi no Mawari, and his son Hisayoshi. We are studying very hard, and we would like to demonstrate our skill to the Emperor. Please forgive us this breach of etiquette.” The imperial escort tried to push the men away, but they wouldn’t move. At that time, however, the Emperor said he was willing to watch their performance, and thus Hisakatsu and his son demonstrated for the Emperor. The emperor was delighted with the demonstration, and the next day the Imperial Counselor Konoe dispatch a man to Hisakatsu to invite him to the Imperial Palace. It is said that the Counselor became a student of Hisakatsu, and even received menkyo kaiden [certification of full mastery in the art]. Later the Counselor recommended that the Emperor grant Hisakatsu the title “Hinoshita Torite Kaizan” – The Founder of Toritejutsu in this World. When Hisakatsu received his name, the Imperial Counselor remove the purple court from his kanmuri [ceremonial hat worn by high ranking officials], and gave it to Hisakatsu, saying that from now he could use it for hayanawa. thus began the use of purple cords in the school’s tying arts. [1]

[1] Translated by Serge Mol from: Takouchi Tōichirō and Jirōmaru Akio, in Shinden no Bujutsu, Takenouchi Ryū, pp- 57-58.

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