Funakoshi Gichin on Tegumi (1956)

“Okinawan Wrestling

It might surprise you if I told you that Okinawa also has wrestling.

However, as in karate, I don’t know in detail when and how it developed. Consequently, while there must have been some kind of relation between karate and this weaponless martial art [of wrestling], this [relation] is unclear now either.

Its name is “tegumi” テグミ. Of course, this is dialect, but if I were to write it in Chinese characters, I should write it as “tegumi” 手組, isn’t it? It is the opposite of “kumite” 組手 of karate-dō, and I feel that there seems to be a connection with karate in this point as well.

When we were small, we often did this “tegumi” with our close friends. There were no rules, but there were so-called fouls (forbidden moves).

First of all, I think it were the four points of not being allowed to thrust with the fist, kick with the foot, use the knifehand (shutō) and strike with the elbow (enpi), and grabbing the hair and pinching was also prohibited.

The thrust in this [list] means that all strikes are forbidden, including what in karate is called backfist (uraken) and spear hand (nukite).”

There was no special ring in this “tegumi”. Various places such as a tatami mat room and fields became rings. Also, you didn’t have to wear only a pair of underpants, as in wrestling. Everyone wore a kimono.

The above is from Funakoshi Gichin’s book “A Way of Karate-do” (Karatedo Ichiro), 1956.

© 2022, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in Tegumi, Terminology. Bookmark the permalink.