Taira Shinken: Ryukyu Kobudo Taikan, 1964

This work was privately published in Tokyo in 1964 in small quantities meant for the members of the association only. As a contemporary witness it includes a large number of photographs of Taira Shinken himself performing different Kata, as well as other rare photographs of many masters of the time.

02The original comprises of 70 pages with a size of 305 times 218 mm, and in the Kata depictions with 8 photographs per page. The publisher, Kogure Takehide, was a chairman of the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai at the time. The characters of the title on the book cover reading Ryukyu Kobudo Taikan were written in grass script calligraphy style by famous martial artist FUJITA SEIKO. It is additionally labeled as Kan no maki and fitted with a pictogram of the Shurei Gate of Okinawa.

Due to the rush to publish at the time of its release it contained numerous writing and factual errors. For example, in the original, Urasoe no Kon had been specified. On an enclosed correction sheet this was corrected to Sesoko no Kon, yet in fact the kata described is Sueyoshi no Kun.

This work was created about half a century ago and was meant to provide a foundation for the research and development of Ryukyu Kobudo for the members of the association. For today’s students it is still valuable as a study manual and at the same time provides retrospective insights into the state of affairs at that time. Other than that, it is a ultra-rare collectors item and therefore an asset. It should be noted that it had been translated by Patrick McCarthy in 1999 and published by Tuttle. There is also a translation named Encyclopedia of Okinawan Weapons. However, there are numerous mistakes in it and the publishers seems to have not been aware that they actually translated a reprint, which was extended by various other works and published by Inoue Kisho of the Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinkokai in 1997. Obviously they didn’t have access to the original.


Back to Taira Shinken’s orignal Ryukyu Kobudo Taikan, 1964: The author’s preface, written already in 1961, contains his passionate plea for Kobudo, which compared to booming Karate languished more or less unnoticed.

The photographic documents on Ryukyu Kobudo and Master Taira Shinken contain various valuable rare pics of venerable old Taira and other masters training, as well as weaponry.

A list with photographs of the twenty-nine executive members of the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai follows, among them many well-known experts.

The list of supporting members reads like the who-is-who of Okinawa Karate of that generation.

The following chapters give an introduction to Kobudo, its historical development and actors, the different types of Kobudo, fundamentals of Bojutsu and notes how to make, hold, and train with the Bo, including the Bojutsu Makiwara, methods of postures (kamae), and other basic postures with the Bo.

This is followed by a description of the other Kobujutsu, namely Saijutsu, Suruchin, Nunchaku, Nicho-gama, Tonfa, Tinbe, and Tekko.

Then five medium to high level kata are explained step-by-step with photographs posed by Taira Shinken and written descriptions.

The Nunchaku no Kata deserves special notice because it is described as an unfinished study form. It has some excellent techniques which most probably were technical standard at the time, however, are not found in any of the Nunchaku Kata in the direct follow-up associations/dojo of Taira’s followers.

In conclusion, this is one of the rarest books in Kobudo history, written by one of the most important restaurators of Okinawan Kobudo. As such the work constitutes a contemporary witness as well an asset for the serious collector.

I would go as far as to say that in value and rarity only a very few collectibles from this field are tantamount to it, namely Uechi 1977, Funakoshi’s original 1920s editions, the original Karate-do Taikan of 1937, and Miki’s original 1930 work.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction by the author
  • Photographic documents on Ryukyu Kobudo and Master Taira Shinken

Various old weapons

Physical education of women and girls in Ryukyu Kobudo

Different Kumite

  • Executive members of the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai
  • Supporting members

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Historical development of Ryukyu Kobudo

Chapter 3. Types of Kobudo

Chapter 4. Fundamentals of Bojutsu

  • Bojutsu
  • How to make a Bo
  • How to hold the Bo
  • Basic exercises with the Bo
  • Training methods
  • Bojutsu Makiwara
  • Methods of Kamae
  • Basic postures with the Kon

Chapter 5: Other Kobujutsu (Kobujutsu except Bojutsu)

  • Saijutsu
  • Suruchin
  • Nunchaku
  • About Nicho-gama
  • Tonfā
  • Tinbē
  • About Tekko

Chapter 6. Explanation of the Kata

  • Shuuji no Kun (Dai)
  • Hama Higa no Sai
  • Hama Higa no Tunfa
  • Sueyoshi no Kun
  • Nunchaku no Kata (unfinished study form)

Bibliographic reference:

Taira Shinken: Ryukyu Kobudo Taikan. Kogure Takehide, Tokyo 1964. 70pp.

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