Roundtable discussion to talk about the karate (Part 3). – Weapons representing the spirit of defense – 1955

This is the translation of a 1955 interview with the Matsubayashi-ryū Kōdōkan headquarter dōjō. It deals with the kobujutsu practiced in this school.

Participants from the Kōdōkan were :

  • Nagamine Shōshin (instructor),
  • Kushi Jokei (vice-instructor),
  • Kyan Shin’ei (Director of the Department of Culture of the Okinawa Faculty Association),
  • Yamaguchi Masahiro (assistant teacher),
  • Koja Shōshin (assistant teacher), and
  • Nakamura Seigi (assistant teacher).

The interview was conducted by the newspaper president Oyadomari and the chief editor Takahara.

Newspaper: By the way, in all of Okinawa‘s kobujutsu weapons are carried, isn’t it?

Kyan Shinei, 1955. Saijutsu.

Kyan Shinei, 1955. Saijutsu.

Kyan Shin’ei: That’s right. It is a method to take action against an armed adversary: However the kobujutsu and weapons of Japan and Okinawa are essentially different. In Japan the weapons used in martial arts (bujutsu) are for the so-called “destruction of life”, for killing. In the case of Okinawa so-called “defensive arts” have been developed. For this reason the weapons used are also peculiar to Okinawa’s kobujutsu.

Newspaper: The weapons themselves tell of this spirit, isn’t it?

Nagamine Shōshin: Certainly, in ancient Japan they were often for a “destruction of life”, for killing. When comparing this with Okinawa, even with the suruchin, or the tinbē and rōchin: these are weapons for defense. Tips and blades have rounded edges.

Newspaper: Where does the bōjutsu of Mr. Koja come from?

Koja Shoshin. Nunchaku.

Koja Shoshin. Nunchaku.

Koja Shōshin: My teacher is venerable old man Sueyoshi Kōfū, the head (family) of bōjutsu, who is known as Shīshi no Tanmē.

Newspaper: Bōjutsu does not seem to have been very widespread in Okinawa?

Koja Shōshin: That’s right. The performed by persons in the rural areas is considered being resplendent or flashy, but this is bō-odori and entirely different from the bōjutsu of Shuri and Naha.

Newspaper: Mr. Yamaguchi’s tuifā are also unusual weapons, isn’t it?

Yamaguchi Masahiro: My tuifā is the art of Matayoshi Shinkō Sensei.

Newspaper: Mr. Kyan, have the sai you use been handed down from olden times?

Yamaguchi Masahiro. Tuifajutsu.

Yamaguchi Masahiro. Tuifajutsu.

Kyan Shin’ei: No, these here were made after the war. I had old ones which I buried in a cave during the war, but the cave collapsed so they are lost. In the old days, when I visited old families in the rural areas, I saw good sai placed in their alcoves.

Newspaper: Mr. Kyan, from who does your saijutsu come from?

Kyan Shin’ei: I have learned it from a master in Gibu of Shuri.

Newspaper: In Japan exists the jūtte which is very similar to the sai. What kind of combat value do sai have?

"The essence of Matsubayashi-ryū Karate-do Kobudō", 1950s (collection of author).

“The essence of Matsubayashi-ryū Karate-do Kobudō”, 1950s (collection of author).

Kyan Shin’ei: Well, I do not know much about the jūtte. Sai are built after the form of the human body. The method of using two of them is an advantage over using only one [as in case of the jūtte].

© 2015 – 2020, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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