Third installation on Ufutun Bō

After a first and a second article, and a bunch of feedback by experts of the style, lets get back to basics. To do so, let me shortly recapitulate some infos gathered so far:

In 1961, Shiroma Taisai performed Ufutun Bō, which was reported about in a newspaper article. As regards the name Ufutun: There is a district called Ōton in Okinawa, pronounced Ufutun in Okinawan slang. Located in Yaese Town, Shimajiri District, Okinawa Prefecture, it even has a bus stop called Ōton/Ufutun 大屯. And Shiroma Taisei was born in 1885 in Ōshiro in Ōzato Village, which is just a short distance from Ufutun (Oton).

Now, there’s the following short information about bōjutsu from this area.

Ufutun no Bō (Mēkata no Bō), in the former Gushikami Village Ufutun section”

(See, “Basic Research Report on Karatedō and Kobudō,” Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education 1994)

What is called “the former Gushikami Village Ufutun section” here is the current Ufutun in Yaese Town, Shimajiri District, Okinawa Prefecture.

In short, Ufutun Bō of Shiroma Taisai might have been a “village bōjutsu” (mura bō) of Ufutun in today’s Yaese Town.

At this point in time it is unknown to me whether this village bōjutsu is still practiced, and if so, if it is the same as Shiroma’s Ufutun Bō.

But there’s an important thing to note though: The description adds in brackets that Ufutun Bō is a Mēkata no Bō. To make a long story short, mēkata usually means that it is a free and often ad hoc performance to music, as opposed to a “fixed kata.” This needs to be carefully considered, because any personal or ad hoc staff dance might have been referred to as Ufutun Bō by any person.

Well, Shiroma Taisai’s version of Ufutun Bō is considered a lost practice. Now, understanding the mēkata factor, it becomes even unclear if his Ufutun Bō was a fixed kata, or if it was an ad hoc variation performed to music. In the end, in his description in the 1961 newspaper article, at no point did he clarify whether it was a fixed kata or a free performance, even though the (unpublished) video of his Ufutun Bō looks like a typical kata performance.

The question remains, what is the origin of the modern Matayoshi-fied Ufutun Bō?

Shimabukuro Tsuneo performing Ufutun Bō as an official kata of the 2018 Okinawa Karate Kobudō Cup

© 2022, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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