The karate of the “Pechin Class”

A colleague just argued that “karate” came from the Pēchin class of Okinawa. I think this is a oversimplification, and it is also one of those stories based on guesswork and premature conclusions.

According to censuses of 1873 and 1880 there were 296 households of Pēchin class at that time, and 20,759 households of Satonushi Pēchin and Chikudun Pēchin class. That’s a total of 21,055 households at one time around the mid-1870s which you could count among a “Pēchin class.”

How many “Pēchin-ranked” persons do you know who taught karate?

How many percent of the total of 21,055 households is that?

Do these numbers provide you with a statistically meaningful value that supports the conclusion that “karate was handed down by the Pēchin class”?

Of course not. Rather, the existing data of the “martial arts Pēchin” are obviously outliers on the extreme boundaries of a Gaussian curve.

As a side note, one characteristic of the royal administration of Ryukyū kingdom was to promote as many people as possible to rank. This at least is something that is traditionally found in modern karate as well. However the claim that karate came from the Pēchin class is difficult to prove.

So how many Pechin taught martial art? Let’s calculate! And while doing so, let’s add the primary sources and their year of publication to the data set.

Next, it should be noted that from among nine ranks, the Pechin class occupied minor rank 7 through to major rank 3, which is a huge field. If someone did martial arts was more related to the actual duty they held, and probably to personal preferences.

Well, there are various martial arts techniques that are decidedly NOT from the Pechin class. For instance, in Matayoshi Kobudo, there is Jitodee-mochi. This refers to a s-called Jitodai, a rural official who was not among those who held any court rank, Pechin or else.

Chinen Sanra (Yamanni)? Nope. He is also known as Chinen Usume already in the 1910s, with Usume referring to an older person from the class commoners.

Kinjo Ufuchiku? Nope, commoner.

Sakugawa Kanga? Well, even if this legendary warrior of an early 20th century theater play actually existed, Sakugawa no Kon and Shirotaru no Kon was handed down among commoners (Tawada 1973). They were probably folk heros.

How about Itosu? Well, yes, he held a court rank, but the “karate” handed down by him was newly created around the beginning of the 20th century, transformed as a physical education meant to drill young men in preparation for conscription and probably had little in common with the rural dances that Funakoshi referred to as “not-yet developed karate,” which argumentum e contrario means that karate – at least partially – is “rural dances further developed.” And rural people were not of Pechin rank.

I did an Ngram search, which shows when phrases have occurred in a corpus of books. The term Pechin in karate context apeared only with the popular books of Mark B. and Patrick M., so rather recently and in the larger context of retrospective karate invention, and from there radiated outward to other publications and websites.

In the Okinawan karate circles similar examples are found, such as can be seen in Taira Shinken’s phantastic story of Hama Higa Pechin, which is another example of the old tradition of mixing martial art references into actual historical events, of which there are numerous examples, mostly from the 1950s and onward. One of the most representative is the postwar story of Sakugawa and Matsumura, in which a ordinary meridian chart was sold as an atemi chart handed down from legendary Sakugawa to half-legendary Matsumura.

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Kuwae no Kon (a.k.a. Torisashi Umē no Kon)

Yesterday, I received note about a rare kata of Okinawa. It is almost unknown in both name and technique, let alone its history. Almost.

Names

The name of the kata is Kuwae no Kon, and it is also known as Torisashi Umē no Kon. Let’s take a look at the names one after the other. Kuwae is an Okinawan family name. The suffixed phrase “no kon” is the phrase regularly used for almost all Okinawan bō kata, with only a few exceptions to this rule. Torisashi refers to catching birds using a birdlime-covered pole, or otherwise to the birdcatcher himself. Finally, Umē was used to address the member of a noble family.

From the above it can be said that Kuwae no Kon means “The techniques of Kuwae,” and Torisashi Umē no Kon means “The techniques of His Excellency, the birdcatcher.”

Tradition

In the Okinawa Karate Kobudō Encyclopedia (2008), no information is found about Kuwae no Kon or Torisashi Umē no Kon. However, the following information exists. However, the following information exists from a Japanese book. The page was shared by Walt Young.

Kuwae no Kon (a.k.a. Torisashi Umē no Kon)

Kuwae was a master of bōjutsu to the extent that he could thrust flying birds, so it is said that the people were in awe of him, calling him Birdcatcher Umē (Umē was an affectionate nickname for a warrior [bushi]).

Path of Tradition

  • Umē-gwā, the second son of the Kuwae Dunchi from Shuri Torihori
  • → Zukeran village section in Kitanakagusuku (Yogi Seikō, Nakasone Chōho)
  • → Ōshiro Seira (instructed by Yogi Seikō in 1928)
  • → Kina Masanobu

According to the above, Umē-gwā was the nickname of the second son of the Kuwae Dunchi from Shuri Torihori. ,

From this Umē-gwā, the techniques reached Yogi Seikō and Nakasone Chōho in the Zukeran village section of Kitanakagusuku.

Then, in 1928, Yogi Seikō taught the bō techniques to Ōshiro Seira, from where it reached Kina Masanobu.

Performances of the Kata

Let’s take a look at the performance of the kata. The first video is a performance by Kina Masanobu. who is mentioned in the above description of the tradition. While unrelated to this kata, Masanobu Kina is also the nephew of Kina Shōsei, who is known as a master of saijutsu in the tradition of Kinjō Ufuchiku.

Kina Masanobu performing Kuwae no Kon (a.k.a. Torisashi Umē no Kon) on Okinawa in September 1979.

Note that the movie starts with the on the left-side of the body. Then the film color changes and the position changes to right handed. At the end the kata ends with the on the right side. Then the film color changes again, and the is on the left side again. In short, at the beginning and at the end, there were other parts inserted into the movie. Don’t get confused by this.

Another performance is by Robert Teller Sensei, who had learned the kata from Kina Masanobu. You can watch it here.

The hand change

https://youtu.be/uY05psKhX4A?t=83While there are many details that could be pointed out about the techniques of this kata, there is a signature technique characteristic of this kata which is rather unique in its context. The method of this hand change itself however is also found in Chōun no Kon and Chatan Yara no Kon of Taira lineage, as well as Soeishi no Kon of Matayoshi lineage in a slightly different fashion and context.

Here’s how its done (in principle). This might have even provided the name for the kata, or it might be a hint of the special technique utilized by Kuwae to catch birds in flight, namely to place the on the forearm to create a stable aiming and launching device. (For animal welfare reasons, and for reasons of law, I strongly discourage anyone from attempting such a technique on live birds).

It should be noted that such stories are found elsewhere in martial arts, such as that of Sasaki Kojirō, who is said to have developed a technique of killing a bird in mid-flight (called tsubame-gaeshi). However, Sasaki himself might have been a fictional character.

Breakdown of Techniques

I have written down the individual techniques of the kata as good as possible. The number of techniques largely depends on how and what you count. In this simple assessment here, there are 37 techniques, however, it is a simplified counting.

Nr.TechniqueStanceNotes
 Standing bowMusubi-dachiStand straight, bō at the right side of the body. Bow.
 Starting positionMusubi-dachiRaise bō slightly with the right hand and grab it with the left hand, with the left forearm in front and above of the forehead.
1Middle blockRight forward stanceFrom Musubi-dachi, step back with the left foot.
2Middle postureRight NekoashiWith the bō as it is, place your right foot 45° to the left, and assume the middle posture towards the left front at 45°
3Front strikeLeft forward stanceChange the grip, place the right foot a little to the right, and step forward with the left foot.
4Low blockLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
5Front strikeLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
6Middle blockLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
7Nuki-zukiLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
8Low block
(rear hand)
Left forward stancePrepare a little, slide a little forward with a low block with the rear hand.
9Front strikeRight forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the right foot.
10Low blockRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
11Front strikeRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
12Middle blockRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
13Nuki-zukiRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
14Front strikeLeft forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the left foot.
15Front strikeRight forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the right foot.
16Front strikeRight forward stanceLook over your left shoulder, turn around 180° counterclockwise, step forward with the right foot, and strike to the front.
17Front strikeLeft forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the left foot.
18Front strikeRight forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the right foot.
19Front strikeLeft forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the left foot.
20Low blockLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
21Front strikeLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
22Middle blockLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
23Nuki-zukiLeft forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
24Low front strikeRight forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the right foot.
25Front strike
(right side)
Musubi-dachiLook over your left shoulder, turn around 180° counterclockwise, pull back the left foot to the right foot, and strike down to upper level on your right side.
26Sliding thrustNekoashi (sort of)Loosen left hand, place left forearm and hand horizontally in front of your body to support the bō, step forward with left foot, and thrust to the front, suing the left hand as a support.
27Front strikeRight forward stanceRotate bō backwards, let go right hand, catch with left hand, add right hand, shuffle feet and place right forward, and strike to the front.
28Low blockRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
29Low block kamaeTai-sabakiQuick shuffle of right foot back to left foot, left foot back.
30Front strikeRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
31Middle blockRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
32Nuki-zukiRight forward stanceWith the stance as it is.
33Front strikeLeft forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the left foot.
34Front strikeRight forward stanceChange the grip, and step forward with the right foot.
35sliding thrust to lower levelShikoLook over your left shoulder, turn around 180° counterclockwise, slide forward in shiko and perform a sliding thrust to the lower level
36Thrust to upper levelRight forward stanceStep forward with the right foot.
37Yōi no kamaeLeft forward stanceTurn around 180° counterclockwise, and assume Yōi no kamae.
Yōi no kamaeMusubiPull right foot forward into Musubi-dachi.
EndMusubiPlace left arm at the left side of the body.
Standing bowMusubi 

Dunchi

The Kuwae Dunchi might be the same family as that of Kuwae Ryōsei (1856–1926), who was a disciple of Matsumura Sōkon. According to Okinawa Karate Kobudō Jiten (2008), Kuwae Ryōsei was born in Shuri Torihori, the same place mentioned in case of “Umē-gwā, the second son of the Kuwae Dunchi from Shuri Torihori.” Therefore, there might have been a family relation between them.

Dunchi is an honorific title referring to the families of Uēkata rank who hold the position of Estate Steward General (sō-jitō) among the Ryūkyū samurē. In a broader sense, it is also used for the families of Assistant Estate Stewards (waki-jitō). In the hierarchy positioned under the Udun, which belong to royalty, the Dunchi are families of high social standing. Together with the Udun, this social stratum was called Udun-dunchi. In reference to their jurisdiction over a territory under the royal government administration, they were also called daimyō-gata.

The tradition of this kata states that Umē was an affectionate nickname for a warrior (bushi), so it doesn’t seem to abide to the naming standards of Udun and Dunchi families. In short, in this case, it Umē was not used to designate a member of royalty. It should be noted that rural commoners might not have known these naming conventions and so Umē might have simply been used to show a particular respect.

The context of how this tradition took place is also unknown, but it might have been related to an administrative relation between Kuwae Dunchi and Zukeran village section in Kitanakagusuku from the times of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. In order to figure out family relations as well as territorial relations, I have looked up the genealogies of Shuri (in: Okinawa no Rekishi Jōhō [Historical Information on Okinawa], Vol. 5 Shuri-kei kafu). Unfortunately, the Kuwae family does not have an individual entry. Therefore, I couldn’t verify whether Zukeran village section in Kitanakagusuku was an administrative territory of the Kuwae Dunchi.

The tradition might also have been related to traditional village events, or to activities of the Young Men’s Corps, or to coincidence. In any case, these are just guesses and nothing is known for sure except that the tradition states that Yogi Seikō and Nakasone Chōho learned it. Since Yogi Seikō taught it to Ōshiro Seira in 1928, Yogi himself might have learned it anytime from the second part of the 19th century to the early 20th century.

Moreover, although the tradition states the Kuwae Dunchi as the origin, and uses a name related to royalty (Umē) for the protagonist, the family registers of Okinawa (Uji-shū) also show other Kuwae families from Shuri which were not of the Dunchi class, but lower samurē. In short, the person Umē-gwā might have actually been from the Kuwae Dunchi, or not.

As is typical for Okinawan martial arts, there is no source and no date for the information, and it is probably oral tradition written down at a later point in time. It is unknown by whom and when the story of the kata was handed down, and how the persons obtained the information. In the end, in Okinawa karate, most traditions enjoy the benefit of the doubt, which renders any tradition at least possible.

I hope that more study will be done on the tradition of this kata in the future and to verify more details on the persons involved.

Other usages of Torisashi

I would like to note here that the Motobu Udundī uses a torisashi, or bird catching stick, as a weapon. For instance, it is used against naginata. It is interesting to note that Motobu Chōyū was nicknamed Umē and was the person who handed down Motobu Udundī.

It is a mere coincidence and I know nothing about the technique, but my small practice bamboo actually in size and all looks like the torisashi as used in Motobu Udundī.

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Karate ni sente nashi

For Okinawa karate circles, imperialism and militarism are extremely difficult issues. This is because they are seemingly irreconcilable with Okinawa’s postwar karate narratives, its notional philosophies, related marketing campaigns in tourism, and most of all, the recent endeavors to list Okinawa karate as an intangible cultural heritage with the UNESCO.

Therefore, the topic is avoided like the plague, all the more so since the Okinawan anti-war movement following the 1945 defeat. There is a conflict of conscience, the wish to repress memories of collaboration during the war years, the wish to disconnect karate from general daily life under the regime, the wish to present karate history as the sum of personal traditions of peace-loving Okinawans unaffected by the circumstances of the times, the wish – or is it pressure? – for harmony at all time, business or other private interests, the insular perception of schools and teachers which does not allow a differentiation of karate prior and after the 1945 defeat, the lack of communication from a bird’s eye view, the mixed ideologies of karate practitioners (everything from left to right, up and down), and so on.

The undeniable reality however is that imperialism and militarism where among the major formative forces behind the creation of karate in the early 20th century, at a time when karate was invented not as a self-defense, but to prepare young men for war, when karate was a conscription agers’ drill and education fueled by ideology. And the young men were receptive.

In short, karate’s actual history is often diametrically opposed to each and all narratives invented and propagated in postwar Okinawa. As a result, there is a certain imbalance in media and academic representations of Okinawa karate, a supra-dimensional contradiction, a skeleton in the closet.

It was therefore a refreshing novelty when in a 2021 paper about the movie “Ryūkyū no Fūbutsu,” the author pointed out various problems related to Okinawa karate and imperialism and militarism. Without getting in into the appalling details here, it is pointed out in the paper that “more careful surveys and research are re­quired in the future.” As a first relativization, the author notes as follows.

“There is no first move in karate” (karate ni sente nashi) has been handed down as a proverb of the pre­deces­sors of Okinawa. It is a phrase that includes the mean­ing that karate is not about attacking first, but it is a technique to protect yourself and your loved ones. After experiencing the Battle of Okinawa, the significance of the aphorisms in­her­ited from our predecessors has increased. I believe that today we can firmly maintain to emphasize the sig­nif­i­cance of karate as a “martial art of peace” (heiwa no bu).”

As you can see, karate ni sente nashi is cited as an aphorism and a peaceful philosophy of karate already before the era imperialism and militarism, which was just a chapter that had no relation to the real intention of karate whatsoever. Moreover, from that, the author stresses that the real meaning of karate is as a “martial art of peace” (heiwa no bu).”

As regards karate ni sente nashi, the phrase first appeared in 1914, in the article series Okinawa no bugi (Martial Arts of Okinawa), written by schoolteacher Funakoshi Gichin and based on the stories told by Asato Ankō. Here, Funakoshi tried himself as a karate historian and philosopher in an article series published and probably commissioned by the sole Okinawan newspaper at the time, the Ryūkyū Shinpō. The Ryūkyū Shinpō published various articles about what was euphemistically termed “education of conscription-winners” (chōhei tōsensha kyōiku) since August 1898. For this sort of education, the military assigned schoolteachers to prepare future conscripts. The Ryūkyū Shinpō also published lists of conscription dodgers. In short, the karate-related articles published by Ryūkyū Shinpō at the time were meant to support the official policies of the Japanese government.

I wonder if karate ni sente nashi was really a time-honored philosophy handed down by wise ancient masters with Prussian beards, or rather, if it was simply the daily necessity of an elementary school teacher who had do deal with boys and young men every day. As regards the schoolyard manners of boys and young men, they were not so much different in Okinawa than anywhere else, I guess. 10 years before Funakoshi tried himself as a karate historian and philosopher in the government-loyal Ryūkyū Shinpō, in the year of the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, at Shuri Middle School “the air was filled with war, and war talks,” and “not only the boys, but the adults too were in a dangerous mood. On the slightest occasion, fists attacked, and sticks were swung.” (Noma 1935) Particularly young men out of school were probably those found “at night in the vicinity of Tsuji,” where “gangs of thugs roamed around, of which it was said they were proficient in tekobushi and who were always ready to overwhelm unwary strangers.” Of course, tekobushi is an old name for karate.

It was the time when nations around the world accessed the resource of “young men” through conscription. The connection between school education and following military training is shown in the term “conscription society.” It is also worth mentioning that the government positioned the Young Men’s Corps between the school and military service since 1915, which were successful in Okinawa as an institution for education and (para)-military preparation of young men between 15 and 20.

More careful research is necessary in the future, but what Funakoshi said in 1914 was,

“Since ancient times, we have been instructed by the teaching of karate ni sente nashi, an expression that ad­mon­ishes young men and boys from an educational point of view.”

He also said that

However, the first move is permissible in cases where the fate of the nation is at stake.

At this point, and from all I have studied so far about the matter, I guess karate can rightfully be an UNESCO ICH by all ethical standards. However, this only applies if it is limited to postwar karate.

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Ryūkyū no Fūbutsu (Scenes and Cus­toms of Ryūkyū) (1940)

The 1940 movie Ryūkyū no Fūbutsu (Scenes and Cus­toms of Ryūkyū) was planned by the Japan Folk Art Association (Nihon Mingei Kyōkai) and headed by Ya­nagi Muneyoshi (1889–1961), who acted as editorial supervisor.

Yanagi was born on March 21, 1889, in Ichibei Town, Tokyo, as the third son of Yanagi Narayoshi, a rear admiral of the Im­pe­rial Japanese Navy, scholar of Japanese mathematics, mathematician, land surveyer, and politician. In 1891, when Soetsu was two years old, his father died of influenza and he was raised by his mother, Katsuko.

Katsuko is the older sister of Kanō Jigorō (1860–1938), the founder of the Kōdōkan and Japan’s first member of the IOC. Kanō was also one of the people who took an interest in karate through the Dai Nippon Butokukai. His exchange with Funakoshi Gichin (1868–1957), who came to Tōkyō in 1922, is well known. Also, when Kanō came to Okinawa in 1927, he met Miyagi Chōjun with whom he had a lively discussion on karate.

Biblio:

Sakihara Kyōko: About the Movie “Ryūkyū no Fūbutsu” (Scenes and Customs of Ryūkyū) – Focussing on its Relation to Karate. Bulletin of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum, № 14, pp. 63–79. 2021.

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Kata opening in Gōjū-ryū

In Gōjū-ryū, there are basically two ways of opening at the beginning of the kata:

Method 1

  • a. Stand in Musubi-dachi, with open hands crossed in front of the tanden.
  • b. Open stance to Heikō-dachi while closing the fists and place them at the side of the body.
  • c. Begin kata.

Method 2

  • a. Stand in Musubi-dachi, with open hands crossed in front of the tanden.
  • b. Begin kata.

According to Miyazato (1978: 85-86), the opening of kata developed as follows.

Posture of preparation at the beginning of the performance [of the kata]
Until 1945 (before the war), people stood upright in the posture of musubi-dachi with their hands crossed in front of them. From there, while changing the feet into heikō-dachi, they clenched both hands and placed them at the sides of the body (at the thighs), with the backs of the hands pointing outward. This is how [the performance of the kata] started.
From 1948, Miyagi Sensei changed the performance to start from standing upright in the posture of musubi-dachi with both hands crossed in front (below the navel). Eventually, he changed the posture at the end of the kata to be identical with the posture at the beginning of the kata. Due to food shortages and difficulties in transportation and communication after the war, it was difficult to implement these measures thoroughly.

In short, Miyazato says that Method 1 was used until 1945, and that Miyagi changed this to Method 2 in 1948. He also says that notification about these changes did not reach everybody involved in Gōjū-ryū at that time.

Moreover, when Mabuni Kenwa’s in 1934 described the beginnings of Sanchin and Sēenchin, he alreay described Method 1.

As a side note, in 1941, Nagamine and Miyagi developed Fukyū-gata I and II. In Nagamine’s school they are still called Fukyū-gata I and II, but in Gōjū-ryū, Fukyū-gata II is called Gekisai Dai I. Interestingly enough, in Nagamine’s school the kata start as in Method 2. Therefore, Method 2 might have been used by Miyagi already in 1941.

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Kunjan Sabakuyi 2

Here is another example of the “Kunjan Sabakuyi” performing art. Watch until the end to see a posture reminiscent of “Kusanku” of karate, or “Sakugawa no Kon” and several other kata of bojutsu. Just to be clear: I am not saying there is a historical connection, however, since Funakoshi Gichin in 1914 said that “rural dances are not-yet developed karate,” it could be interpreted to mean that “karate are rural dances developed into a martial art.” Certainly not solely, and there were other influences, but it cannot be ruled out that what became early karate around 1900 was partly transformed from ancient performing arts.

Such modern performances cannot be taken as proof, because they in turn might have been influenced by modern karate. At the same time, modern karate also cannot be taken as a historical proof, since much of it is a modern creation since around 1900, and there was another wave of innovations since the 1950s with countless new inventions.

In short, modern karate does not necessarily reflect its assumed predecessors.

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Kunjan Sabakuyi

For the Ryukyu royal government, the Yanbaru mountain forests in northern Okinawa were important resources for materials used in construction and shipbuilding, and as firewood and charcoal. Isn’t it said that Higaonna Kanryo transported “firewood” with a boat type referred to as “Yanbaru-sen”? Just a thought.

Still today the woodcutters’ chant called “Kunjan sabakuyi” is handed down as a folk entertainment. “Kunjan” is the Okinawan pronunciation for Kunigami, i.e., the northern part of Okinawa Island. “Sabakuyi” refers to local government officials stationed in the guardhouses of the northern rural districts to manage timber distribution, among other things. In other words, “Kunjan sabakuyi” means “The Local Government Officials of Kunigami District.”

The “Kunjan sabakuyi” includes music and chanting while wearing workers’ dresses and typically clownesque beards and wigs, but also with different stage settings. Some of the movements are reminiscent of karate and bōjutsu moves, or maybe it is vice versa. The “Kunjan sabakuyi” was quite popular among the people and fragments of it have been handed down over generations until today.

The “Kunjan sabakuyi” is the only performing art left from what was once a whole program of performances. Back then, these performing arts where played on occasion of the reconstruction of Shuri Castle’s main hall. The last of these reconstructions took place in 1846, and it is said that karate was part of these performances.

I remember having read that Higaonna Kanryo “was known for being very supple and quick on his feet.” Well, if you transport, load and unload timber, you better be quick on your feet.

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On the establishment of dan and kyu grading regulations in Okinawa

  • 1882: Establishment of the Kōdōkan by Kanō Jigorō.
  • 1895: Establishment of the Dai Nippon Butokukai. Titles Hanshi, Kyōshi, Renshi. Seirinsho certificates.
  • 1919: The Dai Nippon Butokukai renames bujutsu to budō.
  • 1920: Kōdōkan Judō announces the dan kyū regulation.
  • 1933/12/8: Dai Nippon Butokukai establishes an Okinawa Prefecture Branch. Karate is achknowledged as a Japanese martial art on December 8.
  • 1934: Registration of “Gōjū-ryū Karate” with the Dai Nippon Butokukai.
  • 1937/5/5: Miyagi Chōjun awarded the title of kyōshi by the Dai Nippon Butokukai.
  • 1939: Funakoshi Gichin, Mabuni Kenwa, Shinzato Jin‘an awarded the title of renshi by the Dai Nippon Butokukai.
  • 1940: Higa Seikō and Nagamine Shōshin awarded the title of renshi by the Dai Nippon Butokukai.
  • 1946 After World War II, the Dai Nippon Butokukai is dissolved.
  • May 1956: Establishment of the Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei.
  • December 30, 1960: The Okinawa Karate-dō Renmei implements a dan and kyu ranking system for the first time in the Okinawa karate world (3rd dan: 25 persons, 2nd dan: 23 persons, 1st dan: 40 persons).

See here for the Okinawa Regional Headquarters of the Zen Nihon Karate-dō Renmei (JKF).

See here for the Okinawa Kobudō Kyōkai, established 1961.

See here for grading regulations in Matayoshi Kobudo.

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Okinawa Karate Exam

Issue 1: In 1960, the first dan and kyu grading regulation of Okinawa karate circles was implemented by the Okinawa Karate-do Renmei. 25 people graded 3rd dan, 23 people graded 2nd dan, and 40 people graded 1st dan.
TASK: Name an Okinawan school and the time when it first implemented its grading regulations? (hint)

Issue 2: In postwar Okinawa, karate and kobudo tools were mainly made by blacksmiths, cart makers, and the like, or they were self-made. Water cans used by the US armed forces or 18-liter cans were used as Sanchin-gami (jars). Then, in the 1970s, it became common to purchase everything from sporting goods manufacturers. Mirrors were began to be placed in the dojo to study one’s forms. In case of Makiwara, until that time straw was used, but this was changed to rubber and leather. Also, kobudo weapons and weapons racks began to appear.
TASK: Name a manufacturer of karate and kobudo equipment.

Issue 3: In postwar Okinawa, old photos show karatmen wearing judo clothes or jujutsu clothes.
TASK: Who manufactured modern karate dogi in Okinawa today?

Issue 4: As for the interor design of Okinawan dojo, in the 1950s it was common to use the living room of one’s own home, or to train open-air, or half of the courtyard at the master’s house was used as the dojo. Then, since the 1960s, and similar to mainland dojo, home Shinto shrines (kamidana), photos of teachers, dojo instructions (dojokun), etc. were placed in the dojo, and art pieces such as “the eight poems of kenpo” or hanging scrolls of martial arts gods were placed in the dojo. Shisa are also used more and more.
TASKS: Name some specific features of Okinawan dojo interor design.

ISSUE 5: Women began to appear in Okinawa Karate in the 1960s, which was the beginning of female participation in karate.
TASK: Qualify and quantify the origin and development of female participation in Karate.

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平系とは

[井上元勝(著者):琉球古武道(上巻)。監修 琉球古武道保存振興会 総本部・内地総本部。東京、有限会社ブレーン出版、昭和47年6月7日。1刷、pp. 582-583。]

一 責務をあらたに

このたび、当会生みの親、故平信賢先生を失い、一時は会員一同断腸の思いで追憶かぎりなきものがありました。沖縄・内地の会員達、または各空手界の諸先生方に励まされ、いまや亡き先生の意志を全うすべきことを決意し、会員の要望ももだしがたく、新会長の位置を辱(かたじけな)うし、その責務の重大さを痛感するものであります。また、会長就任直後、時あたかも一九七〇年十月十日、全日本空手道連盟主催の第一回世界空手道大会において、琉球古武道保存振興会を代表して正統なる琉球古武道の一技、津堅砂掛けの棍を演武したことも当会のため欣快にたえぬことと思います。ここに内地総本部長井上元勝先生の手によって本書を発行し、琉球古武道の正しい発展を基礎づけるとともに、故平信賢先生に対する報恩の一助にしたいと思います。

琉球古武道はしだいに盛んになるとともに、誤伝される恐れが多分にあります。現在、古武道に関する出版物が多少ありますが、そのいずれにも間違いがあります。琉球古武道保存振興会で保存している各型については、その誤謬をふせぐため、総本部及び内地総本部長の事実上の監修を経て、両本部名を明記したもののみ責任を負い、正統本とすることを付記します。

一九七一年九月

琉球古武道保存振興会

総本部会長 赤嶺栄亮

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