A Shorty About Kururun 工六

The Gongche notation (Gongchepu 工尺譜) is a traditional notation method for music from ancient China. In it, musical notes were represented by Chinese characters, two of which were gōng 工 and che 尺, which gave the name to this method.

On Okinawa, a similar notation system existed, called Kunkunshi 工工四. This Kunkunshi was named after the first three notes found in the musical sheets attributed to Yakabi Chōki 屋嘉比朝喜 (1716–1775). It was a simple score created as an aid to oral training.

According to Yakabi’s writings, the Kunkunshi were originally written in the Chinese Gongche notation. Yakabi even gave an introduction of the Gongche notation, and referred to it as Kururunshī 工六四. Kururunshī is the reading of the characters in the native Okinawan tongue of that time.

In other words: in 18th century Okinawa, the characters 工六 were pronounced Kururun! This, as you know, is exactly the same as the first three syllables of the karate kata named KURURUNFA.

Therefore, it is possible that the karate kata name Kururunfa once was written as 工六法.


© 2016, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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