NEW RELEASE: Bo – Techniques, Forms, and Partner Practices of Ancient Okinawan Fighting Traditions. Volume 1: Bo-odori.

Softcover Release scheduled for March 1, 2024, 12:00 a.m. on all Amazon regional pages.

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

  • Bo Techniques, Forms, and Partner Practices of Ancient Okinawan Fighting Traditions. Volume 1: Bo-odori.
  • US $ 32
  • 6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
  • Black & White on white paper
  • XXXIV, 266 pages
  • ISBN: 979-8873502721
  • First Printing: 2024
  • Independently published.

Hardcover available end of February, 2024 on all Amazon regional pages.

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

  • Bo Techniques, Forms, and Partner Practices of Ancient Okinawan Fighting Traditions. Volume 1: Bo-odori.
  • US $ 44
  • 6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
  • XXXIV, 266 pages
  • ISBN: 979-8880149520
  • First Printing: 2024
  • Independently published.

Get the Discount! Dojo owners, association officials, retailers: Get discounts on bulk orders. I will have it shipped to you directly from your regional Amazon hub.

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56 %
107 %
2010 %
5015 %
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Ancient bōjutsu, bō-odori, bō-furi, or village from Okinawa received much less attention than its famous sister discipline of kobudō. Ho­w­ever, to really understand Okinawan martial arts in general, these old traditions are a mirror of the past we must not ignore. Representing a captivating realm of Okinawan culture, the ancient art of the takes center stage in a dazzling array of performances. From the graceful finesse of bōjutsu to the rhythmic energy of lion dance , the island proudly boasts a rich tapestry of traditions. Within the fabric of these performances lies a hidden world—the realm of “The Last Secrets of Okinawan Martial Arts with Weaponry.”

BTW, I began the study of Okinawan Bo-odori thirteen years ago, with the first results published here. Good things take time.

Posted in Book Reviews, kobudo, kumibo, Performing Arts, Postwar Okinawa Karate, Prewar Okinawa Karate, Publications, Terminology, The Technique of Okinawa Karate and Kobudo, Theories of Historical Karate in Comparative Perspective, Tsuken | Comments Off on NEW RELEASE: Bo – Techniques, Forms, and Partner Practices of Ancient Okinawan Fighting Traditions. Volume 1: Bo-odori.

Sound Effects in Karate Kobudo – Theatralical or Functional?

Sound effects in karate and kobudo are an underestimated part of the art of performance. The best known example of it is slapping the uniform (dogi) with the pull back hand (hiki-te) while executing a technique with the other hand. The typical suspects of dogi-slapping are karate practitioners in the field of competitive karate, particularly those specializing in kata. Dogi-slapping really wouldn’t make sense in kumite either. And it’s true, sometimes techniques performed in the air during kata don’t feel powerful, nor are they perceived as such by the spectators and judges. The sound effect produced by slapping the dogi is therefore a popular dramatic element of many kata performances, and there are true masters of this art.

Watch an example of excessive stomping on example of Yara-gwa no Tonfa here.

But this alone is not the full story. There are also plosives produced by the chest and mouth, which are synchronized in time with the dogi-slapping. And in Okinawa karate there is also the boiler breathing of Goju-ryu and the hissing of Uechi-ryu. The sychronisation becomes more difficult then.

Another underestimated effect is the rustling and clicking of the dogi, which is caused by the cut of the uniform, by a certain execution of the movement and its trajectory, a certain material composition, by washing and drying and adding or omitting fabric softeners, etc.

Some schools preach the gliding of the feet, while others prefer stomping sounds as an expression of a certain dynamic, and there are hybrids that use both variants skilfully to create a certain acoustic drama synchronized with the movement.

Cleverly employed stomping sounds are difficult to detect, especially when the movements are short and small and the performer’s demeanor draws attention to the upper extremities and the face. This method is also found on the makiwara, where synchronization of makiwara strikes with stomping sounds give the impression of considerable dynamism and destructive power.

On the one hand, one could say that the targeted use of such acoustic elements mainly serves to give the impression of dynamics and to impress an audience or judges. Why else are none of these tricks found in kumite, such as Kuyokushin? In this case, stomping sounds would be one of several theatrical sound effects to be synchronized with each other and with the movement to create a maximum dynamic impression without each being overly noticeable individually.

But there is also the completely opposite argument, namely that all these sound effects are simply the result of a correct, powerful technique. In this case, stomping would be one of several sound effects generated as an accompaniment to a functionally correct execution of technique, and which are synchronous with each other and with the technique because they are a function of the technique.

So the whole thing is a “chicken-egg causality dilemma,” which is notoriously difficult to solve.

Some schools use the heel stomp as a functional support of their technique execution.

Such sound effects are mainly used in the area of kata demonstrations, but also on the makiwara, in kihon, shime testing and other practices. They are not only used by certain groups among karate athletes, but are also found as fundamental components in so-called “traditional karate” and Okinawa karate. All groups also have their own sets of theatrical sound effects, which are synchronized both with each other and with the movement to create an overall impression. In many cases, you can tell which group is involved based solely on the properties of the artificially generated sounds. This alone is reason enough to pay attention to this phenomenon.

A significant factor in stomping is the ground surface. Therefore, people who train or perform on mats will emphasize different stomping parameters than those who train or perform on wooden floors, which greatly amplifies the stomping sound effect. Sprung floor will even provide you a tiny acceleration while at the same time it reduces the stress on the joints. On the other hand, people who train or perform on natural surfaces such as grass, sand, or stone will employ completely different types of foot movement, since there is no sound effect whatsoever. So the question arises whether the different stomping sound effects are not simply a result of the development of different training sites. Just imagine stomping on pointed pebble, or a sharp-edged coral stone.

It should be borne in mind that in Okinawa, by and large, dojos with wooden floors were built only in the modern era after 1945. From this perspective, pushing the feet with the toes over the ground should also be a rather new method, which at least requires straight and flat grounds such as mats or a sports ground, and is difficult to carry out on natural, uneven surfaces, where it would simply make little sense. Thus, it may be assumed that the stomping sound effect as a theatrical element in Okinawan dojos is a post-war development and may have had little to no functional significance in original karate and kobudo, except maybe in the mansions of the aristocratic udun and tunchi classes.

Posted in The Technique of Okinawa Karate and Kobudo | Comments Off on Sound Effects in Karate Kobudo – Theatralical or Functional?

Shingitai – Mind | Technique | Body (1)

Abstract: This article provides an overview of the lexical meaning, subject areas and chronology of usage, as well as the terminological origin of the term shingitai.

Research method: For bibliographic queries, I used the National Diet Library of Japan (one of the largest libraries in the world), Webcat Plus (a search service for books and papers operated by the National Institute of Informatics in Japan), and CiNii (a bibliographic database service for materials in Japanese academic libraries, maintained by the National Institute of Informatics). Moreover, I used the term base Kotobank, a service allowing to search for the meaning of a term from entries in highly reliable Japanese dictionaries, encyclopedias, and databases.

Result: As expected, shingitai is by no means an ancient Japanese martial arts concept, but rather a construction of contemporary Japan. Two isolated cases appear in the 1940s, but shingitai really took a foothold since the 1950s, mostly in sumo, but spread out quickly to judo and kendo, until in the mid-1990s the media adopted it for the Japanese budo in general. In 2008, shingitai was finally included in the very definition of Japanese budo by a semi-official institution. During these decades, shingitai has also spread to all kinds of sports as well as many other professional fields, as shown in this article.

Terminological Introduction

Western online dictionaries translate shingitai as “mind, technique, and physical strength,” and as the “three qualities of a martial artist or athlete: heart, technique, strength.” This is consistent with the literal translation and partly with the scope of use shingitai.

Certainly, the compound noun shingitai comprises of the following terms (on-reading in bold, followed by kun-reading):

  1. shin / kokoro: mind
  2. gi / waza: technique
  3. tai / karada: body

Therefore, in its simplest interpretation, shingitai means “mind, technique, and body.” At the same time, it insinuates the unity or trinity of its three compartments. Shingitai is commonly used extactly this sense in sports to mean a “balance of mind, body, and spirit.”

In addition, shingitai is further defined as a general term representing the desired unity of the following three compartments:

  1. mental strength (seishin-ryoku, i.e. shin),
  2. technique / skill (gijutsu, i.e., gi), and
  3. physical strength (tairyoku, i.e., tai).

Equating the above, shingitai refers to “mental strength, skill, and physical strength,” and implies the unity thereof as a goal.

The above description is the sole main entry of shingitai found in all Japanese dictionaries referred to in the Kotobank term base. In addition, shingitai does not have an individual entry as a term in Japanese Wikipedia. This raises the question of its actual distribution in general Japanese language.

In Japanese Wikipedia, shingitai as a term is found in the entries about the Grand Slam Paris 2011, Satō Nobuyuki (Japanese marathon runner), Iwai Joshiki (Japanese baseball player), Hayashi Toshiyuki (Japanese rugby union player), Akaiwa Yoshio (Japanese boat racer), TV-show “Juken Sentai Gekiranger” (Beast-Fist Squadron Gekiranger), Ogasawara Hiroshi (Japanese rugby player), Fuji Sankei Ladies Classic (Golf), Takahashi Miyuki (Japanese volleyball player), as well as in a very few budō-related entries such as about “Monthly Budō” magazine, henka (variation of technique) in sumō, and budō. In short, shingitai is used heavily in relation to various sports.

About swimming, the Encyclopedia of Japan (Nipponica) says, “Performance in sports is the combined result of technique (gijutsu), physical strength (tairyoku), and willpower (kiryoku). The basic elements necessary to improve swimming records are (1) the swimming style and the techniques for starting and turning, (2) physical strength, stamina, endurance, and (3) mental strength to support them. In addition, strategic elements such as setting the pace that make use of mind, technique, and body (shingitai) are also important in the game. In particular, the elements of mind, technique, and body (shingitai) are improved through daily training. The extent to which a player can improve these depends on their individual qualities, but it also depends on how well they incorporate training methods based on scientific theories according to the characteristics of the player.”

While the above article mentions shingitai in general terms, it also describes it specifically for improving swimming performance through training, namely

  • gi or technique as “(1) the swimming style and the techniques for starting and turning,”
  • tai or body as “(2) physical strength, stamina, endurance,” and
  • shin or mind as “(3) mental strength to support them.”

The same text also gives shin as “willpower” (kiryoku).

The Japanese version of Britannica International Encyclopedia has shingitai in its entry on jūdō, saying that randori “is a practice method in which mind, technique, and body (shingitai) are trained to develop the ability to adapt to the situation, and to learn how to compete. When Kanō Jigorō founded jūdō, he emphasized the simultaneous practice of training of the spirit, competition, and physical education.”

From this it could be said that shingitai is found in jūdō as follows: shin refers to the training of the spirit (shūshin), gi refers to techniques applied in competition (shōbu), and tai refers to physical education (taiiku).

From the above, the nuance of the meaning of shingitai slightly shifted to the following:

  1. shin: mind, mental strength, willpower, spirit
  2. gi: technique, skill, techniques applied in a competition
  3. tai: body, physical strength, physical education

Appearance of the term Shingitai in Budō

(Note: Due to time constrictions, all titles are quick English translations without full bibliographic reference)

Sumō

The term shingitai appears as early as 1942, in a sumō periodical, mentioning the “spirit, technique, and body (shingitai) of the three highest sumō ranks and their plunging into the fight” (Sumō 7(5), 1942-05, p. 66). Elsewhere it is said that “The spirit, technique, and body (shingitai) are harmoniously integrated, and the dignity of a yokozuna naturally oozes out” (Jinbutsu Ōrai 1-8, August 1952). It is reported that one wrestler “showed remarkable strength in mind, technique, and body (shingitai)” (Sumō 3(7), 1954-05, p. 36) and that another, “although he was exceptional already, his mind, technique, and body (shingitai) gradually improved, and in 1934 he was promoted to ōzeki, and in 1937 he was promoted to the long-awaited yokozuna, competing with Tamanishiki and Musashiyama (Sumō 4(9), 1955-06 p. 82). It is also published as a manly topic elsewhere, such as can be seen in “Shingitai: The 57th Yokozuna Mienoumi Tsuyoshi,” published in the Monthly Construction Report by the Ministry of Construction in June (1980, p. 4-5). In July 1964, Kosaka Hideji wrote a special feature called “When will Tochinoumi’s mind, technique, and body (shingitai) be completed?” (Sumō, 1964-7, p 41-47).

In the following decades shingitai appeared in countless sumō-related publications, of which following is just a selection. In 1971, Futagoyama Katsuji, the 45th yokozuna also known as Wakanohana Kanji I., published “Mind, technique, and body (shingitai),” followed three years later by his “Introduction to mind, technique, and body (shingitai nyūmon).”

In 1972, the “Battle of Mind, Technique, and Body (shingitai)” by Taihō Kōki, 48th sumō grand champion was published in the extra-large new year’s edition of “Foresight Economy” magazine, which shows how shingitai entered the world of management early by way of sumō. In 2011, former sumō wrestler Mainoumi Shuhei published “Contradictions in the Sumō-Ring: The Truth in the Chaos of Grand Sumō Wrestling,” published by Business Japan, 2011, one of the first business magazines of Japan.

“Mind, technique, and body (shingitai)” magazine was published by the Sumō Research Group since 1983, and in 2011 the 58th yokozuna Chiyonofuji Mitsugu, published “The Power of the Rope” at Baseball Magazine under his later name Kokonoe Mitsugu.

The above is a glimpse of the use of shingitai as used in sumō. In fact, sumō-related publications dominated the overall use of shingitai until the late 1970. It therefore seems that shingitai first and foremost developed and evolved within the sumō world, and it continued to be used uninterruptedly in the context of sumō until today. It can be assumed that the use of the term shingitai radiated out from sumō publications to other fields to a considerable extent.

Kendō

In relation to kendō, the concept is found in 1955, saying “In this way, the opponent’s mind, technique, and body (shingitai) will be overwhelmed and he will lose his head, and with my sword pointed right at his center, I pierce through him to win.” (Sasamori Junzō: Kendō. Ōbunsha Sports Series, 1955, p. 54).

More recent publications are “The Strongest Kendō” (2008), Koyama Masaki’s “Samurai Learning with Japanese Swords: The Most Easy-to-understand Iaido Bible for Modern People” (2008), or “Kendō Practice Menu 200: Strengthen your mind, technique, and body!” (2012) by Koda Gunhide, a 8th dan kyōshi and professor of Tsukuba University, and Yano Hiroshi, 8th dan hanshi and former professor of Kokushikan University, published “Kendō – A Message from a Teacher” (Physical Education and Sports Publishing, 2017).

Jūdō

In a 1950s jūdō course edited by Mifune Kyūzō and others, it is said, “It is desirable to come to demonstrate the power of unified mind, technique, and body (shingitai).” (Mifune Kyūzō et.al.: Jūdō Course, Vol. 1, 1955, p. 33). In a magazine published by the Kōdōkan is found a chapter called “About the mind, technique, and body (shingitai) of 30 athletes participating in international games” (Jūdō 50 (11). Kōdōkan, November 1979, p. 17-23). In 1982, Yamashita Yasuhiro, one of Japan’s most successful jūdōka and 8th dan holder published “The Judo World’s No. 1! Yamashita 5th Dan’s mind, technique and body (shingitai).” Gold medalist of the 2000 Olympics and Japanese jūdō coach Inoue Kōsei provided “Strengthen your mind, techniques, and body (shingitai)! Judo basics and practice menu” in 2013.

Karate

In karate apparently shingitai appeared for the first time in 1952, when Konishi Yasuhiro mentions that, “a kiai will promote the unification of the trinity of spirit, technique, and body (shingitai), so as to occupy an undefeatable position” (Konishi Yasuhiro: Zukai Karate Nyūmon, 1952, p. 11). In 1956, again by Konishi Yashuhiro, the following words can be said to establish shingitai as a part of an ideal form of karate: “In other words, karate practitioners should pursue the trinity of mind, technique, and body (shingitai).” (Konishi Yasuhiro: Karate jōtatsu-hō. 1956, p. 10).

However, in karate literature, it wasn’t emphasized much, until, in 1990, we find shingitai in karate again “for those who aim to improve their mind, technique, and body” (Shiroishi Shōji: Karatedō kyōgi nyūmon. Baseball Magazine Publishers, 1990). This is followed by Hokama Tetsuhiro’s “The Essence of Okinawa Karate and Kobudō” (1999), where it appeared in the context of Okinawa karate and kobudō. Kyokushin adopted shingitai as well, as can be seen in “Karate revolutionary Hamai Noriyasu – Kyokushin’s New Theory” of 2009, followed by shingitai used in “Kuro Obi: Aim for an invincible black belt!” published by BAB Japan in 2011. Ushirō Kenji, who teaches karate worldwide, also published “Learn how to train your mind, technique and body (shingitai) from Ushirō Kenji” in 2011. While these are just examples, it is true that the number of karate books that feature shingitai are small, particularly when compared to sumō.

Aikidō

Shioda Yasuhisa, third Sōke of Yoshinkan Aikidō, wrote “50 Tips for Improving Aikidō: Master your mind, technique, and body (shingitai)!” in 2008, but otherwise the use of shingitai in aikidō seems rare, at least in publications, which is also true for kyūdō, for which at least “Modern Kyūdō Course, Volume 5” (1969) could be verified.

Book of Five Rings

An edition of the “Book of Five Rings” (1980) includes the chapter “Miyamoto Musashi’s mind, technique, and body (shingitai),” and editions by other authors from 1996 and 2002 again include a reference to shingitai.

Ninjutsu

By the 2010s, (shingitai) has entered the world of the ninja, with Kuroi Hiromitsu’s “Ninja Cram School: Mind, Technique, and Body (shingitai) learned from Ninja (2011), Kawakami Jin’ichi’s “Ninja: From the Origins to Ninjutsu and Weapons: Approach the Truth of the Army of Darkness!” (2012), and Komori Teruhisa’s “The Secret of the Ninja’s Unbeatable Spirit” (2017).

Budō as a whole

In any case, the time when shingitai began to not only be associated with individual Japanese arts, but formally entered the Japanese budō world en gros, was when the Nippon Budokan began to publish the magazine Gekkan Budō (Monthly Budō). While the first version of it which ran from 1974 to 1996, had no direct reference to shingitai, in 1997, an additional title was added, namely “Comprehensive magazine that nurtures mind, technique, and body (shingitai).” This was the point in time when the connection between budō and shingitai became quasi official.

A little more than 10 years later, shingitai found its way into the definition of the “Foundational Principles of Budō” (budō no rinen) by the Japanese Budō Association (Nippon Budō Kyōgikai) as follows.

Budō is an exercise culture that unifies mind and technique (shingi ichinyo) that is based on the training of martial techniques systematized in Japan, and it originates from the tradition of bushidō. By practising jūdō, kendō, kyūdō, sumō, karatedō, aikidō, Shōrinji kenpō, naginata, and jūkendō, it is a path to forge mind, technique, and body (shingitai) in unity, to refine one’s character, to raise one’s moral sense, to cultivate an attitude of respect for propriety, and to contribute to peace and prosperity of nation and society.

Established October 10, 2008

Japanese Budō Association (Nippon Budō Kyōgikai)

Kata-Theory

In 1989, historian Minamoto Ryōen wrote a work called “Kata” 型, asking “What is the ultimate kata – the unity of mind, technique, and body (shingitai) – that physical action aims for?” In this, he equates kata with the unity of mind, technique, and body, that is, shingitai. Chapter 2 is called “Thoughts on Body, Mind and Technique in Prehistory, Antiquity, and the Middle Ages.” From old texts of drama and kenjutusu, Minamoto traces the spiritual history of “kata.”

However, it seems to be an attempt to backdate shingitai as a concept existing since the origin of the Japanese nation.

Appearance of the term Shingitai in other contexts

Shingitai does only appear in budō, quite on the contraty. Below are publications from various other contexts and fields which also include shingitai.

Western sports

Moreover, early on shingitai was also heavily used in connection with Western sports, as can be seen in in a 1952 baseball magazine, which writes that, “A good man who never gives up, trains his mind, technique, and body (shingitai), respects himself, and eventually gains recognition from the world.”( Baseball Magazine. 1952, p. 36), and it is also mentioned in relation to table tennis (Nippon University, 1956-05, p. 24). Another example is the description that “a good strike comes out when a good hitter has the heart, technique, and body strength (shingitai),” (Baseball Magazine Vol.1, 11(1), 1956-01, p. 132). In 1962, Yaoita Hiroshi, co-founder of Yasaka Table Tennis Equipment, published “Table Tennis” (Takkyū), with chapter 2 emphasizing “The Unity of Mind, Technique, and Body (shingitai).” More recently, former professional baseball pitcher Takashi Saitō published “The magic spell of Mind, Technique, and Body that will definitely work!” in the “Whonk and One Blow”-Series, Vol. 9, 2005, and there are guidebooks such as “Mental Training for Baseball Players: Change your mindset, improve your concentration, and win!” (2008)

Hasegawa Shigetoshi, retired relief pitcher in Major League Baseball, best-selling author and Japanese television personality, published “Winning a Major: The Mind, Technique, and Body of Japanese Pitchers” (2011), while Tezuka Kazushi wrote “Batting Strategy Theory: Raise your batting average and aim for long hits” (2012). Tatsunami Kazuyoshi and Nomura Hiroki wrote “The secret to improving baseball with parents and children: Hints for success, mind, technique, and professional thinking that everyone can learn” (2022) and Iwai Seiku publishd “Iwai-style Hard Baseball. The royal road method to hone your mind, technique, and body” (2018).

Besides there is Andō Misako’s “You can win the game! Softball’s strongest tactics” (2012), Kawagoe Shinsuke’s “You can win the game! Futsal’s 50 strongest tactics (2013), and Hasegawa Tarō’s “How to prepare mind, technique and body (shingitai) to mass-produce goals in soccer” (2017).

All of the above address shingitai.

Management, Business, Guidebooks

Another interesting field using shingitai is that of industrial management, leadership, sales, business self-help literature and guidebooks. In a continuous series in an industrial management magazine, Hirano Hiroyuki introuces “MRP (Material Requirements Planning) for small and medium-sized manufacturers,” saying that “You can also create a MRP’s mind, technique, and body (shingitai) production schedule” (In: Factory Management 27(10)(346), 1981-09, p. 101-110), and Mito Kiyoshi wrote “Aiming to be a technician with a good balance of mind, technique, and body (shingitai)” (In: Skills and Techniques. Technical Journal for the Development of Vocational Ability (5)(204), 2000, p. 9-15, published by the Vocational Training College of the Employment Promotion Agency). Shingitai is found in “The Exploding Solar Cell Industry: Current Status and Future of the 25 Trillion Yen Market” (2008) as wel as in Shimane Masamitsu’s and Shimizu ‎Toshiyuki’s “Mind, Technique, and Body (shingitai) for Entrepreneurship: Steps to an Innovative Way of Life” (2018).

Also, in case you didn’t know it, there are “77 Laws of employees who continue to be selected: There is a trick to getting promoted quickly!” (2009). You also might be interested in “Skillful business succession of a small company: For a rich life plan after retirement” (2009), “The Power of Capable Rookie Leaders: How Modern Newcomers Acquire Mind, Techniques, and Body Forms (2010), the “Aesthetics of the Bartender: The Tavern Equation” (2010) or “Nikaido Shigeto’s Golden Rules of Successful Trading: The Secrets of Making Stocks and Forex (2011).

Whether you’re looking for “A chairmans’s accounting that changes management in one hour” as a “Prescription to prevent cash flow bankruptcy” (2010), “Heart Voice – Talk Techniques for Tele Appointment Sales” (2011), or “An introduction to the mind, technique, and body (shingitai) of sexy women” – it is all there.

You might also consult “Shin-Gi-Tai in the U.S. and Japan as Seen in Data” (Commerce and Industry Journal 23 (6), pp. 40-41, 1997-06), “Build better homes organically” (2013), or “How to create your best self” (2013) by the Japan Management Association Management Center – shingitai is in it, and there are countless more beyond the following short selection.

  • Matsui Hideki: 100% Thinking that Breaks Down Walls. PHP Lab, 2011.
  • Yamamoto Kazutaka: MBA Thinking and Writing Techniques: The heart and technique of business documents. Toyo Keizai Shimposha, 2011.
  • Sakaue Hitoshi; Ogasawara Koji: The Esay Guide to Start Your Own Company in Japan. Medium, 2011.
  • Kitakage Yuyuki: Samurai Athlete Soul: Mind, Techniques, and Techniques Learned from Hagakure: A Must-Read for Leaders! Study Hard, 2012.
  • Komori Osamu: Kaizen Leader Training School. Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, 2012.
  • Mori Shigekazu: The Power to Keep Winning: Morishige-style Staff Studies to Nurture a Tenacious Organization. Business Company, 2012.
  • The Complete Guide to Work Experience 34. Poplar Company, 2013.
  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – ‘Moving World Heritage’ at the Roof of the World in India. Kodansha, 2006.
  • Moritomo Sadao: Intellect and mind, technique, and body in quality manufacturing. Journal of the Japan Society for Precision Engineering 63 (2), pp. 158-161, 1997.
  • Sugashita Kiyohiro: How to Ride Your Life on the Uptrend. Best Sellers, 2013.
  • Matsuoka Shuzo: Repair manager – Head of Repair Department. Takarajimasha, 2017.
  • Uchiyama Hiroyuki: Mind, technique, and body to improve performance: The path to successful sales activities. The New Japan Insurance Company, 2002.
  • Shimane Masamitsu, Shimizu Toshiyuki; Ariyoshi Tokuhiro: Mind, Technique, and Body for Entrepreneurship: Steps to an Innovative Way of Life. Izumi Bundo, 2018.
  • Hirokawa Keisuke; Asayama Noboru et.al.: Mind, technique, and body of a project manager who does not fail in system introduction: Awareness for sustainable growth. Seiunsha, 2019.

Vocational

Already in 1943 shingitai appears in a periodical of the Japan Handicraft Research Association in connection with occupational training, so it seems that the concept reached into various fields, such as can be seen in the “New Electricity” periodal, which states, “In order to maintain superiority at all times, it is necessary to demonstrate the unity of shin, gi, and tai to the highest degree” (New Electricity. Ohm Publishing, 1957-01, p. 70), and it might also be seen in connection with company sports teams, transcending the boundary to the vocational world.

Board Games

Alread in the 1960s, shingitai is found in conncetion with board games, as can be seen in “Victory: Go and Guts” (1965) by Sakata Eio, 9th dan professional go player, which has a section called “Mind – Technique – Body (shingitai).” Makoto Nakahara, a former professional shogi player who had gained the rank of a 9th dan, wrote about “How to carry out self-development. ‘Match’ with comprehensive power of mind, technique, and body (shingitai),” published by the “Management Consultant,” 1973-5, p. 96-97.

Medical Science and Sports Psychology

In “A Medical Approach to Anthropology” (1989), Chapter 7 covers an “Approach to a Four-Dimensional Human Image from Mind, Technique, and Body (shingitai)” and 1997 saw “The SOP theory that made 21-year-old Tiger Woods who likes ‘hamburgers’ and ‘to win’ approach the mind, technique, and body (shingitai)” (Gendai 31 (12), pp. 186-193, 1997-12), while Kakegawa Akio wrote “A Surgeon’s Mental Attitude. Maintaining and Improving the Balance of Mind, Technique and Body (shingitai) will bring Good Results” (In: Surgery 63 (1), pp. 73-74, 2001-01-01). The 2010s saw the puclications such as Kodama Mitsuo’s “ATop Athlete’s Quote from Poor Life Theory” (2012), “Mind, technique, and body (shingitai) in academic drug discovery” (Kanazawa University Cancer Research Institute, 2013), “Marathon Sense and Running IQ” by Hosono Fumiaki (2018), and Sakurai Shoichi’s “Requirements for Gold Medalists: How to create top-notch mind, technique, and body (shingitai)” (2020). Reaching the 2020s, there is Miyaji Shigeru’s “New Cerebral Endovascular Therapy Book: 68 Moves of Miyaji-style Mind, Technique, and Body (shingitai)” (Medica, 2022).

Novels

Shingitai began to appear in novels, such as can be seen in “Since ancient times, this has been called mind, technique, and body (shingitai). Without these three things, you cannot become a full-fledged swordsman!” (Nakayama Mitsuyoshi: Tamiya Bōtarō, 1956, p. 72).

Music

Shingitai also found its way into music, such as in an introduction to “mind, technique and body of Katsumi Hagiya’s trombone playing” (Pipers, 1981-12, p. 34-39), or “Research on music expression using musical instruments (3). Prospects for wind and percussion activities in school education” (Bulletin of Tomakomai Komazawa University (3) pp. 1-19, 2000-03).

Takada Saburō provided a “Daily Training Book for Singing Higher” (2008), while Ayame Yoshinobu asks, “Is it possible to play in an ensemble today?” (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture Arts Council Tokyo, 2020).

Education

Finally, in 1984, shingitai appears in the educational context (Educational Perspectives 30(2)(320), 1984), and ten years later in Physical Education (42(14), 1994), published by the Japan Sports Instructors Federation, including a special feature on “Sports and Mental Training” with research by Endō Takurō (“Human Mind and Body”) and Egawa Kinsei (“The Mind, Technique, and Body that Determines Competition Results”). The latter, Egawa Kinsei, already published “Conditions for Victory: Mental Training for Sportsmen” in 1986, which also includes references to shingitai.

There is the “Mind, technique, and body (shingitai) in English class” (2009), and Takano Michi’s “Thinking about Coaching: From the Perspective of Active Players” (Annual Meeting of Japan Society of Physical Education 44B (0), 1993), or Sato Hisao’s “Ordinary children became the best in Japan! Sendai High School’s Mind, Technique, and Body (shingitai)” (2001). And of course, as Saito Takashi saiud, “This will make school more fun” (2011).

In Germany, there is the series “Geist-Technik-Körper (shingitai): Writings on the background of Budo-Arts,” with the “History of Japanese Martial Arts” (1996), “Budō in today’s time” (1998), “Tobi-ishi: Stepping stones of a karate path: Experiences, experiences and reflections from four decades of karate practice” (2007), and others.

Various

Coaching and self-help publications feature shingitai, such as “Self-Coaching Learned from Ichiro’s Words: The 99.99 Law for Living Yourself” (2008). There is also the outdoor world with “Fishing Romance: What Fishing Taught Me” (2011) and hentai, such as “One Piece Nippon Longitudinal! 47 Cruise CD 42 (in Nagasaki Hentai – Franky goes to Nagasaki) (2015).

Politics and Administration

In 2020, Kawai Toshikazu described “Mind, technique, and body (shingitai) to fulfill the city hall staff,” and there are the “Prospects for Democratic Judiciary: Shinomiya’s 70th Anniversary Commemorative Papers: Expectations for the Citizens as a Governing Body” (2022).

Academic Research

Also in the field of academic publications, one instance of shingitai can be seen in the 1950s, saying “If the mind, technique and body (shingitai) are not united, good results cannot be achieved” (Nihon University 1(1), 1956-05, p. 24). However, in academic discourse, shingitai appeared rather late. A keyword search at Waseda University Repository shows that shingitai as an academic topic only appeared since 2004. The earliest result found at through a query at the University of Tokyo Library OPAC System is from 1998, namely “The Science of Thoroughbreds: The Mind, Techniques, and Body of Racehorses” by the Japan Central Racehorse Research Institute and published by Kodansha in 1998. This again raises the question of how much shingitai was actually and formally used in general or technical languages. Particularly in science and academics, the reason might be that it is already an outdated concept for most disciplines, particularly in medicine, psychology, neuroscience and the like.

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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)

Posted in From the Classics..., Misc, New Developments, Publications, Theories of Historical Karate in Comparative Perspective, Translations, Unknown Ryukyu | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Okinawan Samurai — The Instructions of a Royal Official to his Only Son

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!

Read the review by the experts:

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Performance of the bo accompanied by Kajadifū

Martial arts bōjutsu and traditional bō performing arts have a long history of co-existence and cross fertilization. Traditional bō performing arts entered martial arts dōjō, and martial arts kata enter traditional bō performing arts. The most visible differences are in the clothing, the occasion of performance, and in the music that provides the beat and pauses.

Iha Mitsutada of Ryukonkai performing bo to the Kajadifū.

One of the typical musical pieces used to accompany traditional bō performing arts is Kagiyadefū, which is Japanese pronunciation of the Okinawan Kajadifū. It is one of the representative musical pieces of Ryūkyū classical music that is always played at festivals in Okinawa. It is played by the three-stringed sanshin accompanied by singing, is also treated as a dance song, and is sometimes accompanied by the 13-stringed Japanese zither (koto), taiko drums, flute, and the 3- or 4-stringed bowed Japanese instrument called kokyū.

Find out all about traditional bō performing arts of Okinawa and Kajadifū in my latest book, “Bo.”

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Information on the Harcover Edition of “Bo”

Dear friends, followers, and supporters. I have published my new book “Bo.” The hardcover edition went live with a page count of 266 pages. However, I wanted to change the type area and as a result, the current edition has 300 pages. However, the content remained the same. There are simply less words on each page, making it a larger total page count.

If you have any further questions, please contact me via Facebook messenger.

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Okinawan Rugby uses a Bo!

The video shows Bō-taoshi held at the Naha City Mawashi Junior High School Sports Day, 1970s. Bō-taoshi is a combat sport performed at athletic meets. The object is to topple the opposing team’s pole (). In bō-taoshi, there is a group of defenders who hold up and protect a pole, and a group of attackers who aim to pull off the defenders one by one to knock down their pole.

Since it is fun but a bit rough, I am not sure if it is still done in schools today.

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Kongō no Kata (formerly known as Shūshi no Kon)

I wrote about Kongō no Kon recently, which was created by Taira Shinken based on elements taken from Sueyoshi no KonSesoko no Kon, and Soeishi no Kon. Then Mr. Y, one of the inquirers, asked about another kata called Kongō he had heard several years ago and which was published in the Karate-dō Taikan in 1938, and that it was a variation of Shūshi no Kon.

And that’s right. At that time, Taira reformed old-style Shūshi no Kon and renamed it Kongō no Kata. Actually, the exact title of the chapter in question reads “Kongō no Kata (formerly known as Shūshi no Kon.”

However, at some later point in time, Taira reversed this, created Shūshi no Kon Shō and Dai, and then at some point created Kongō no Kon as a completely different kata. This must be seen in context with Taira trying this and that since the 1930s through to the 1960s.

Anyway, Taira’s 1938 attempt of “Kongō no Kata (formerly known as Shūshi no Kon)” is still interesting. It is composed of illustrations and accompanying text. There are several things to note and some technical specifics that are quite intruiging. Therefore, I made a video explaning everything and showing the kata for consideration.

In addition, and since it was sitting on one of my drives anyway, I prepared an English translation of the kata. As a side note, I took the photos of the kata from the Karate-dō Taikan in 2009 in the study of the late Nagamine Shōshin sensei at the Kōdōkan, Matsubayashi-ryū Honbu Dōjō in Naha Kumoji, with the consent of Nagamine Takayoshi sensei. That was an original 1938 edition, but I used a cheap camera or phone (I don’t remember) so the quality is not good.

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A Revival of Kongo no Kon

It was just one or two weeks ago that Mr. X asked if I knew something about a certain bō-kata, or made a movie about it etc. I immediately knew what was going on and had a guess which dōjō he referred to, but Mr. X was reluctant to confirm it officially. So, I thought, it is still a bit secret. Then I received another request yesterday from Mr. Y, about the same bō-kata, inquiring if I knew anything about it, if there were videos out there etc. pp. This time, however, Mr. Y confirmed that it was Sensei Z from Okinawa who reintroduces the kata as what might best be referred to as an “extracurricular study kata.” Sensei Z trained since the 1970s and his technique is smooth so I am sure it will become a great kata. “Extracurricular study kata” are quite hip on Okinawa, such as can be seen in Matayoshi-lineage Kobudō as well as in Taira-lineage Kobudō. The most important points to it are the following (list not exhaustive). 1. From a practical perspective, it is an extension of technical content and therefore arguably of skill. 2. From an administrative perspective, it provides additional teaching content, that is, more seminars, more gradings, more of everything. 3. From the perspective of personal tradition, it reintroduces, cumulates, or expands the teachings of the original sensei of the lineage, which might have been fragmentary. 4. From a marketing perspective, it might simply be summarized under “customer retention.” 5. From a sport perspective, it allows for more gold medals and titles, which together with grades, are one of the spices of the Okinawan dōjō industry.

When looking at the teaching contents of Okinawan karate kobudō schools since the 1950s, it is easy to observe that teaching content expands further and further in almost every dōjō and association. At some point in the future, maybe in 50 or 100 years, the teaching content will be so vast there is little chance to learn it all in a lifetime. All of this is valuable and might be requested by various sensei and the students as well, who are dōjō owners themselves and need more and more stuff to teach and test students for. It might also simply be the love, joy and pride for kobudō.

To wrap it up: A bō-kata that was obviously never taught in Okinawa or fell in disuse half a century ago is being taught again in a specific school. Call it refurbished, recreated, reenacted, reinvented, or rediscovered etc. That kata is Kongō no Kon.

Now, Kongō no Kon appears on some old kata lists, and from that might arose the wish to reintroduce them both on Okinawa as well as in the branches abroad. It was always a stain for Okinawa that the students of Taira obviously did not learn his whole set of techniques or weren’t able to maintain it, particularly since Kongō no Kon exists in mainland in the Sakagami lineage and the Inoue lineage and probably elsewhere since the late 60s or early 70s. For reasons of simplicity, I will take up the Inoue lineage here for my analysis. Remember I have been asked about the matter so don’t blame me. Well then, lets gets started with Kongō no Kon.

Overdoing it for the sake of clariyfing the issue: This is a possible way of performing Kongo no Kon along the Okinawan Taira lineage design pattern. Btw, I did a similar adaption already with Sueyoshi no Kon more than 10 years ago.

Inoue already published Kongō no Kon in 1974 with photos and descriptive text for each move in great detail, and including the kata’s “application kumite,” or what some people would call “bunkai” or “oyo.” This publication is pretty rare and in Japanese, so most people will have neither opportunity nor skill to study it by themselves, but there are one or two videos of it online. Yet, it is all in mainland Inoue style, so Okinawans would need to “recalculate” the techniques to their own ways. This is because the Okinawan Taira lineage developed along all sorts of different and partly idiosyncratic methods since the 1970s. That is, existing content of Kongō no Kon in either film, text and photographs, or in the memories of the elders would need a lot of work to make it look like authentic Okinawan Taira lineage.

For instance, in Inoue lineage, the kata start with a step backward, but in Okinawa it begins with a step forward most of the time. The front strike of Inoue is performed in the order of jōdan-kamae, jōdan-uchi, and uke, while in Okinawan Taira lineage, there is first a jōdan-ura-uchi with the rear end of the , followed by the front strike that ends at the hip level, followed by a chūdan-zuki and then either a chūdan-kame or a chūdan-uke. Accordingly, the morphological order of techniques as well as their outward appearance are obviously quite different.

Taira didn’t perform thrusts (tsuki) often after front strikes and neither does Inoue, but in Okinawa, it is done all the time. It has actually been made a landmark, fixed in what is known as “Bō Kihon Nr. 3.” Inoue’s furiage-uchi is also quite different and would need to be adapted as well. And, as a general rule, while Inoue doesn’t perform a thrust (tsuki) after the front strike, he does a long sliding thrust (nuki-zuki) at almost every kata’s end. Okinawan Taira lineage on the other hand mostly does normal thrust at the end, except in the very high kata.

So, these are several issues of the “style sheet,” habits of ways of doing things that are specific and unique to certain factions. As a result, while all the kata themselves basically remain the same, they make a completely different outward impression, and have a very different practical reasoning as well. Therefore, to make rediscovered techniques look like authentic Okinawan Taira lineage, they need to be adapted to various specifics and characteristics. Or in other words, to revive Kongō no Kon as an authentic kata of Okinawan Taira lineage, one would first need to research and understand all the details of what Inoue does in all of his kata versions. Only then one is able to compare each kata of their own school to those of Inoue, and by this become able to “recalculate” it to Okinawan Taira lineage style, or one’s own dōjō style. That is, you decipher a “code x” to your own “code y”, or a “style sheet 1” to your own “style sheet 2.” It is literally a code since the terms used for the techniques are different as well: Furiage in one school might mean something different in another. And it is literally a style sheet because it defines the outward appearance, as described in a previous article. This all needs to be studied and understood first.

Next, it is important to know that Taira created Kongō no Kon by himself, just like he created or modified almost everything else. When considering Taira’s full corpus of kata, Kongō no Kon has little to nothing new to offer. It is basically a collection of combinations and enbusen from several other existing kata. However, since Okinawan Taira lineage forgot some kata long ago, most people cannot know the kata, techniques, and combinations from which Taira created Kongō no Kon.

This being said, and since I was asked to express my opinion, let me tell you that Kongō no Kon is based on elements taken from Sueyoshi no Kon, Sesoko no Kon, and Soeishi no Kon, that is, some of the highest and longest bō-kata of the Taira lineage. It should be noted that, as a general trend, these three kata were partly or completely lost long ago on Okinawa. However, as the revival of Kongō no Kon shows, they might probably be reinvented or reintroduced as well at some point, but naturally these are confidential activities so they will probably simply be presented one day as if they were handed down in personal tradition ever since.

Also note that since this is not a PhD thesis but only my personal assessment after being asked my opinion twice, I am not going into every detail as to what combinations of Sueyoshi no Kon, Sesoko no Kon, and Soeishi no Kon were used by Taira to create Kongō no Kon.

Instead, I will just provide a video of Kongō no Kon here, plus a translation of Inoue’s 1974 description of it below. As an important point, I have used and translated the original terminology so you can immediately see the difference in practical perception when compared to the terminologies used in Okinawa Taira lineage. Note that I am not a member of any association, so it might look a little different than it is done in the Inoue school.

Remember these are just quick examples I worked out this morning just for the fun of it.

Kongō no Kon (Inoue 1974)

Preparation

Body at the position of attention (ki o tuske).

Bow (rei).

Get set (yōi).

Go (hajime).

Lane 1

1. Place your left foot backward, with a right outside deflection (soto-uke).

2. Right inside deflection (uchi-uke).

3. Place your left foot forward, with a left reverse horizontal strike (gyakute yoko-uchi).

4. Place your right foot forward, with a right horizontal strike (yoko-uchi).

5. Scooping deflection (sukui-uke).

6. Lower-level reverse strike (gedan ura-uchi).

7. Reverse upward swing strike (gyaku furi-age-uchi).

8. Sweeping deflection (harai-uke).

9. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

10. Outside deflection (soto-uke).

Side lane 1a

11. Move your right foot slightly to the right, and rotate 90° counterclockwise, towards absolute direction left, and assume the posture of the pull-down strike (hikiotoshi-uchi).

12. Place your right foot forward, with a combing-up strike (kakiage-uchi).

13. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

14. Place your left foot slightly to the left, with a scooping deflection (sukui-uke).

15. Raise your right foot, with a lower-level reverse strike (gedan ura-uchi).

16. Put your right foot down and forward, with a sweeping deflection (harai-uke).

17. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

18. Upward swing strike (furi-age-uchi).

19. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

20. Outside deflection (soto-uke).

Side lane 1b

21. Move your right foot slightly to the left, rotate 180° counterclockwise to your rear, towards absolute direction right, and assume the posture of the pull-down strike (hikiotoshi-uchi).

22. Place your right foot forward, with a combing-up strike (kakiage-uchi).

23. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

24. Place your left foot slightly to the left, with a scooping deflection (sukui-uke).

25. Raise your right foot, with a lower-level reverse strike (gedan ura-uchi).

26. Put your right foot down and forward, with a sweeping deflection (harai-uke).

27. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

28. Upward swing strike (furi-age-uchi).

29. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

30. Outside deflection (soto-uke).

Lane 1 – End combination

31. Rotate 90° counterclockwise toward your left and prepare for a lower-level deflection (gedan-uke) towards absolute direction front.

32. Lower-level deflection (gedan-uke).

33. Lower-level thrust (gedan-zuki).

Lane 2

34. Move your left foot slightly to the right, rotate 180° clockwise toward your rear, with a hooking block (hikkake) toward absolute direction rear.

35. Pull your right foot back a little, with a scooping deflection (sukui-uke).

36. Lower-level reverse strike (gedan ura-uchi).

37. Sweeping deflection (harai-uke).

38. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

39. Outside deflection (soto-uke).

40. Switch your right hand to the reverse grip (gyakute), place your left foot forward, and perform a knock-away strike (hataki-uchi).

41. Both-handed reverse-grip thrust (ryō gyakute-zuki).

42. Place your right foot forward, and perform a knock-away strike (hataki-uchi).

43. Both-handed reverse-grip thrust (ryō gyakute-zuki).

44. Switch your right hand to regular grip (honte), move your left foot slightly to the left, and perform a scooping deflection (sukui-uke).

45. Lower-level reverse strike (gedan ura-uchi).

46. Reverse upward swing strike (gyaku furi-age-uchi).

47. Sweeping deflection (harai-uke).

48. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

49. Outside deflection (soto-uke).

Lane 3 – Bridge right / left

50. With the right foot as the pivot, rotate 180° counterclockwise to your rear, place your left foot backward towards absolute direction rear, and turn towards absolute direction front, with a sweeping deflection (harai-uke).

51. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

52. Outside deflection (soto-uke).

53. Place your right foot to the side of your left foot, switch your right hand to reverse grip (gyakute), and assume the upper-level horizontal posture (jōdan yoko ichimonji kamae).

54. Lower-level horizontal posture (gedan yoko ichimonji kamae).

55. Turn 90° to the left, towards absolute direction left, with a both-handed reverse-grip scooping deflection (ryō gyakute sukui-uke).

56. Winding press block (maki-oase).

57. Thrust (tsuki).

58. Turn 180° to your rear, toward absolute direction right, with a both-handed reverse-grip scooping deflection (ryō gyakute sukui-uke).

59. Winding press block (maki-oase).

60. Thrust (tsuki).

Lane 3 – straight forward

61. With the left foot as the pivot, rotate 90° clockwise, place your right foot backward towards absolute direction rear, and perform a both-handed reverse-grip reverse hooking block (ryō gyakute gyaku hikkake).

62. Prepare for a winding press block (maki-oase).

63. Winding press block (maki-oase).

64. Place your right foot forward, with a both-handed reverse-grip rising strike (ryō gyakute age-uchi).

65. Switch your right hand to regular grip (honte), and perform a lower level reverse strike (gedan ura-uchi).

66. Lower-level sweep (gedan-barai).

67. Upper-level strike (jō-uchi).

68. Sliding thrust (nuki-zuki).

69. Outside deflection (soto-uke).

End

Restore the bō to its initial position (osame-bō)

Return to a posture of attention (ki o tsuke),

bow (rei).

Finally, here’s a fun question for all those Okinawa dialect otakus out there: How do you pronounce Kongō no Kon in Okinawan dialect?

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Soeishi no Kon – Fusion-Edition.

The following excerpt from by Tawada Shinjun (1973) was translated by Motobu Naoki Sensei.

Soeishi no Kon […] was handed down by the Soeishi family who held the post of the martial arts instructor of the king of Ryūkyū. It was a secret tradition that was treasured and never shown in public (mongai fushutsu) and only taught to the king and the eldest son of the Soeishi family. It is said to be a secret tradition left by an investiture envoy (sappōshi) to train the mind and body of successive kings.

The name of Soeishi is found in several Okinawa lineages, but the style itself doesn’t exist anymore. There is also no successor. It seems that either the famous name was used ad lib, or some fragementary techniques were grabbed and built into a kata.

This being said, there is a “Soeishi no Kon” in Taira lineage. This kata is well known in Japan, where there is a “Sho” and a “Dai” version. In Okinawa, it found entry in Isshin-ryu, where it is still practiced, and this version is an original version taught by Taira Shinken. Else, in Okinawan Taira lineage, the kata has been vacant for half a century now.

The video below is my interpretation of the Okinawan Taira lineage version. It corresponds to the “Dai” as taught in mainland, but has a number of differences. Also note that the way I perform it does not follow any of the basic body and weapon manipulation (kihon) taught in Okinawa, but rather is rather a “fusion” version.

I straightened the enbusen completely and added a little seasoning here and there. Overall, however, it is exactly “Soeishi no Kon” from the Okinawan Taira lineage. I have been practicing this kata for more than 10 years now in great detail so I guess it is ok to share it in the hope Okinawans will revive this rare kata and provide a CV of where and when it was learned and handed down. It is important, because if it is really from Soeishi, than it might be an intangible cultural asset.

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Traditional Okinawan Performing Arts: Lion Dance

Kabira, Ishigaki City. The lion “wakes up” at the start of the practice for the festival for requests and expressions of thanks to the gods (Keigan Festival) held in the 8th month of the lunisolar calendar.

This lion dance is performed only between the Keigan Festival and the Season’s Festival (shichi matsuri), when people give thanks to the gods for a good harvest and the good health of the people. After the Season’s Festival, the lions “go to sleep.”

The lions are male and female and are performed in pairs called tsukasa.

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Ancient Martial Arts of the Ryukyu Islands – Mekata-bo

The video at the end is a remake taken from an Okinawan Mēkata-bō. In particular, this Mēkata-bō was designated an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset on June 27, 1990.

Mēkata-bō is the opening dance for purification on stage or at festivals, and is meant to drive away epidemics, disasters, and evil spirits through powerful bō dances.

First of all the four directions remind of Ufugusuku no Kon, but the Mēkata-bō is much older.

Second, there are fragments of the original Chikin-bō (Tsuken-bō) in it, which was the origin if this kata shown here in excerpt. Particularly, there is the technique called sunakake (flinging sand) originally done with a paddel (uēku). So the kata was probably originally designed to be used with a paddle (uēku).

Third, beginning and ending of this Mēkata-bō are done in the traditional way as seen in most dances and village bōjutsu. It is the same as shown by Miki Nisaburō in his 1930 work (see illustrations below). So old dances, village bōjutsu, and Mēkata-bō had this in common with older bōjutsu from kobujutsu.

Mēkata-bō is performed in traditional costumes, with all movements shortened, merely hinted, so it doesn’t look like overly martial. And it is performed to music, so the moves are slow, rhythmic, and off-beat when considered from a combative perspective.

However, when stripped off of all the decorum and done intentionally as a martial technique, they can easily be performed as a kobudo, which in fact they are.

Note that this is an excerpt from the latter part of the original Mēkata-bō. Also, note that I don’t perform it in the original rythm nor in their style of gestures.

Posted in Bojutsu Kata Series, The Technique of Okinawa Karate and Kobudo, Theories of Historical Karate in Comparative Perspective, Tsuken | Tagged | Comments Off on Ancient Martial Arts of the Ryukyu Islands – Mekata-bo

Taketomi’s “Arm Stick” – Ancient Jūjutsu-like techniques embodied in a harvest dance

One of the performing arts of Taketomi Town is the “Arm stick” (udibō), a dance that includes the use of arms and forearms like a , i.e., a weapon. It is performed by women of Nakasuji hamlet. The performing arts of Taketomi have been handed down for more than 600 years, a history that is proven with certainty, and they have been designated a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset of Japan on May 17, 1977.

While these performing arts are used as prayers for a bountiful growth of crops, the origin of some of its dance elements might be jūjutsu-like self-defense techniques. In the performance, accompanied by shouts of encouragement (yagui), both the attacking and defending part are performed twice by each person A and person B. There is an interesting move where persons A and B place their two palms on the ground. This could indicate a method used in wrestling in which the fighters rub their hands with sand to achieve a better grip while wrestling. You see this still today in the wrestling of Senegal, which is done on sand. In between the techniques, there is also a posture and gesture that might indicate running away.

It is easy to imagine that even within a close island community of historical Taketomi, it might have been important for women to know a trick or two to get rid of an overly intrusive admirer. However, the techniques might as well be an embodiment of fighting misfortune related to agriculture and fishing.

As regards their attire, they are wearing a white headband (hachimaki) tied in the rear, a traditional kimono made of banana-fibre cloth (bashofu), a tasuki cord to tuck up the sleeves and a waistband both made of straw, and go barefoot.

Full description of Arm stick” (udibō)

Entrance

  • To the rhythm of gong and drums, ten female dancers enter the venue in a single-file column, raising their front knee with every step, their left fist at their left hip, and their right first raised.
  • With the rhythm of gong and drums getting faster, they trot to the end of the venue turn 180°, trot toward the entrance, and turn 180° again while splitting into two files of five dancers each.
  • They assume a right posture and gesture with the right arm stretch forward high, and the left arm stretch backward low, and shout “Hyō!”, switch to left posture and gesture and shout “Hyō!”, switch to right posture and gesture and shout “Hyō!”
  • On the signal of the trumpet shell, they turn towards each other, thus establishing five pairs.
  • They assume a wrestler’s stance, with both fists positioned at the waists, and twice drop their stance and shout “Hyō!”
  • Then they start to perform the first technique.

Technique 1

  • Both A and B stand with the left foot forward.
  • Person A steps forward with the right foot and makes an uppercut, Person B steps forward with the right foot and deflects and controls it with the front hand.  
  • Person A steps forward with the left foot and makes an uppercut, Person B steps backward with the right foot and deflects and controls it with the front hand.   
  • They switch roles, and do the same again, with B as the attacker and A as the defender.
  • Both A and B disengage and jump back.
  • Both A and B raise both hands then bend forward and down and place their two palms on the ground.

Technique 2

  • Both A and B assume position and raise their right fist, with their left fist at the left hip.
  • Person A steps forward with the right foot, Person B steps forward with the right foot. They slam their raised forearms against each other’s. With the forearms interlocked, they take two large steps circling around each other, then push and pull each other’s forearms back and forth, open their hands and grip each other’s arm with a hooking motion and throw each other away to disangage.
  •   Both A and B assume a right posture and gesture with the right arm stretch forward high, and the left arm stretch backward low, and shout “Hyō!”, switch to left posture and gesture and shout “Hyō!”, switch to right posture and gesture and shout “Hyō!”
  • On the signal of the trumpet shell, they turn towards one another again.
  • They assume a wrestler’s stance, with both fists positioned at the waists, and twice drop their stance and shout “Hyō!”

Technique 3

  • Person A jumps forward with the right foot and tries to grab or strike or bear hug B with both arms on the middle level. Person B jumps forward with the right foot and deflects with a double outward sweep with both forearms. Both disengage and jump back, positioning both fists at the waists again.
  • Person A jumps forward again with the right foot and tries to grab or strike or bear hug B with both arms on the middle level. Person B jumps forward with the right foot and deflects with a double outward sweep with both forearms. Both disengage and jump back, positioning both fists at the waists again.
  • They switch roles, and do the same again, with B as the attacker and A as the defender.
  • Both A and B disengage and jump back.
  • Both A and B raise both hands then bend forward and down and place their two palms on the ground.

Technique 4

It is the same as technique 2.

Interlude

  • On the signal of gong and drum, all jump to center, forming a single-file column again, with the right fist raised and the left fist positioned at the left waist.
  • To the rhythm of gong, drums, and trumpet shell, the dancers start trotting a single-file column, raising their front knee with every step, forming a counterclockwise circle. After one full rotation, the dancers split at the front to the left and right, turn 180°, trot toward the entrance in two files, turn 180° again and trot toward the end of the venue again, and position themselves in two files of five dancers each again.
  • They assume a right posture and gesture with the right arm stretch forward high, and the left arm stretch backward low, and shout “Hyō!”, switch to left posture and gesture and shout “Hyō!”, switch to right posture and gesture and shout “Hyō!”
  • On the signal of the trumpet shell, they turn towards each other, thus establishing five pairs again.
  • They assume a wrestler’s stance, with both fists positioned at the waists, and twice drop their stance and shout “Hyō!”

Techniques 1 to 4

  • Then they start to perform the same techniques in the same order as previously.

Exit

  • On the signal of gong and drum, all jump to center, forming a single-file column again, with the right fist raised and the left fist positioned at the left waist.
  • To the rhythm of gong, drums, and trumpet shell, the dancers start trotting a single-file column, raising their front knee with every step, turn 180° counterclockwise, trot toward the entrance, and exit the venue.
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