Karate and Kobudo in Okinawa, 1896

At the end of the 19th century, karate consisted of bare-knuckle two-person bouts that included clinching, and wrestling. Bojutsu was known, as was Nunchaku. I know, it is nothing new, neither for you nor anybody else 🙂

From: “KARATE 1.0” (2013, page 301):

“Finally, towards the turn of the century, we discover a direct note on indigenous martial arts. William Henry Furness III (1866–1920), American physician, ethnographer and author, visited Okinawa from March 13 to 26, 1896. He made the following interesting observation”:

“We were told that the young men occasionally engage in boxing bouts, with bare knuckles; all blows are struck with the right hand, while the left is used solely as a guard. Clinching and wrestling for a fall are considered legitimate features of the sport. Rokshaku [rokushaku-bō] is another manly sport of the order of the single-stick, with a staff about six feet long. Non-shaku [nunchaku] is played with a stick about three feet long to which is attached a rope. The object of the game is to disarm the opponent by whipping the stick out of his hands.”

Well, here’s a word on the source of it. I found that quote in a book back then. At that time it was not online. It was in a 10 volume work of about 3000 pages. All volumes together back then were about € 2500. So I asked a library if they can order it and they did, so I lent it, copied it all, and worked myself through all pages, that is, through all Western accounts on Ryukyu prior to 1856, and after 1859 (until about the early 20th century). The short paragraph above is about 0.00667% of the total page count. That is, pure gold.

© 2020, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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