Okinawan Warrior Arts Research Association
-RyuKyu Kenpo Bujutsu Koryu Kyokai-
MATSUMURA SEITO HAKUTSURU SHORINRYU
KARATEJUTSU & KOBUJUTSU
Karate aims mentally to foster such heart as acts right in the sight of God
and men, and technically to have such power as (to) bring any savage beast
to one's knees. That is, Karate is perfect when both the mental and the
technical is completed together."
Fusei Kise - Shorinryu Hanshi, Founder of Ken Shin Kan Shorinryu Karate & Kobudo
Association - Now known as: Matsumura Seito Shorinryu Karatedo & Kobudo Federation
"Amidst the noise and rapid changes of modern society one can find
in Karate-do a peace of mind that will never be shaken."
Shoshin Naganime (1907-1996), Shorinryu Hanshi, Founder of Matsubayashi Shorinryu
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes."
Sensei Kise & Sensei Perez - 1988
Self-defense and much more:
In Japanese, Karate-do means 'empty hand path'. This 'Path' or 'Way' as in 'Do' which is the Japanese pronunciation of the word 'Tao' is a spiritual journey of self discovery, not to be confused with Taoism. In Karate, it represents the journey of mental and physical development through which each student must travel. We believe there is only one way to learn Karate-do; through commitment, effort, patience, and self discipline. There are no short cuts. Although self defense is the common denominator of all martial arts, if you take away the physical techniques from many martial arts, little is left. However if you take them away from true Karate-do, you will still find a strong spiritual, ethical and moral foundation. The traditional Karate dojo is a place of learning the 'Way' or simply put, a school of enlightenment. In it we learn to avoid physical confrontation whenever possible.
Proper use of skills acquired:
Only as a last resort is the use of one's martial skill justified. Then and only then, and without any restriction or rules should these skills be used. This is what the tactical and strategic training of authentic traditional martial training is all about....survival! This learning approach is philosophically as well as in practice incompatible with modern 'sport Karate'. The ultimate goal is, as Sun Tzu's Art of War stipulates, to defeat an adversary without fighting at all. The more advanced one's fighting ability, the greater the need for self-restraint. The student of Karate-do exudes natural strength and confidence, but is above all humble, courteous and respectful of others.
Benefits of training:
Dedicated practice of Karate-do builds confidence, self esteem, and self discipline. It provides an enjoyable health and fitness activity for all ages* and levels of physical ability. The training develops flexibility, balance, strength, coordination, and promotes proper breathing and posture. Karate-do is an excellent form of relaxation, stress relief, and weight control. Of course it is also an effective means of self awareness and personal defense.
Other important benefits:
Our program reinforces the principles of courtesy and respect, not only for instructors, but for peers and most importantly for oneself. In a traditional Karate dojo, participants gain a special sense of achievement and self esteem. Students learn the principles of leadership, etiquette, self discipline, and commitment. Academic and or occupational performance often improves as concentration and effort increases. While the physical techniques may rarely if ever be used in real life, Karate-do helps defend practitioners against insidious dangers, those of unhealthy stress reducers, such as alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse. In adolescence it also helps prevent unhealthy social behavior due to peer pressure, mass media influences and indiscriminant sexual conduct due to lack of self control or self respect.
Philosophy of our Association:
The real art of Karate-do is not a sport or merely a means of exercise. It is a physical, intellectual, and spiritual pursuit which is practiced in nearly every country in the world for self defense, health and longevity. Learning Karate-do is learning to face life's challenges and conditioning oneself to truly succeed. Once learned, it can never be lost or taken away.
“To be a pacifist is to be a man of peace. To truly be one you must first be able to defend yourself. Then you have a choice you can make: To fight or not to fight. If you cannot defend yourself, you do not have that choice to make. You are merely helpless.”
Excerpt from: "The Sales Call"
By Sensei Phil Perez
Law Enforcement Thoughts On Self-Defense:
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. said on Monday (1/28/2013) in a radio ad in which he urges residents to take a safety course in handling firearms*** because “calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.”
Clarke doubled down on CNN’s “Starting Point,” saying that there are certain instances where calling the police would be of no use.
"There are certain situations — and I think most people get that — where 911 is going to be of no use. For instance, once the wolf is at the door, once the intruder is inside your home, once you’re on the street and someone sticks a gun in your face to take your car or your wallet, you don’t have the option of calling 911,” Clarke said.
He continued: “In those situations, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself. It’s a public safety message, and I’m just here to let the people know, give them the information as to what’s going on, and to give them options, if you will, as to how to defend themselves in those situations.”***
In the ad released earlier this month, Clarke says: “I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal…your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game, but are you ready? With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.”
He continues: “You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back; but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?”
***But what if that firearm is not readily available? How fast can one pull one out and bring it into firing position? Empty hand self defense skills would be crucial in buying the time necessary to utilize whatever weapon is available for use. A firearm would certainly be preferable but any weapon that is readily available and handy is the best weapon. You should always keep in mind that when life balances on the next few seconds, the police is still minutes away.
Police officers from North Carolina to New York have stated the unfortunate truth about the time it takes to respond to calls for help and what citizens can do until officers arrive.
Among the comments:
l "We try. We can't always get there." - North Carolina
l "Sometimes we can't be anywhere at all because everybody's tied up."
- North Carolina
l "Lock yourself in a bedroom, start yellingand screaming." - Jersey City,
l "Some people have dogs." Yonkers, - New York
l "go get some bleach. Go get ammonia." - east Orange, New Jersey
l "A rifle and shotgun is actually for luxury." - Kew gardens, New York
l "It's 2013. It's the United states of America. You lock your doors and
you hope nothing happens." - New York City, New York
In June of 2005 the United States Supreme Court ruled that police do not have any duty to protect individuals from criminal acts. This ruling stemmed from a legal case brought by a woman to the courts regarding a complaint to police in Colorado that her estranged husband had kidnapped their children. The woman stated that because the police failed to act, the man was not apprehended before he killed all three children. The court’s ruling indicates that police only have a duty to enforce laws but not protect individuals.
Northern Crane is a Karate-Do dojo but the art we teach is technically called Karatejutsu, which is the ancient battlefield art of Kara-Te and not to be confused with its modern and popular 'sport Karate' version. Our Karatejutsu curriculum is primarily based on an active and ongoing research of the Bunkai, which are the martial applications of motions, some quite disguised or hidden within the traditional Okinawan Karatejutsu kata (empty hand forms) and Kobujutsu kata (weapon forms).
Karatejutsu or empty hand kata research includes unraveling information from Suitejutsu or Suite waza (striking techniques) Tuitejutsu or Tuite waza (grappling techniques) and Kyushojutsu or Kyusho waza (vital pressure point striking techniques), Tegumi (ground fighting) as well as weapon disarming techniques.
Kobujutsu or weapon kata research includes the understanding of not just strikes but also entangling, disarming and leverage techniques to mention just a few of the Bunkai. We at the Northern Crane Martial Arts Association feel that it is vitally important to understand how a weapon is used if one is to understand how to defend against it, with or without yourself having a weapon.
Our Karate dojo is therefore not merely a place where self defense information is disseminated, but an association of individuals committed to the research and practice of authentic ancient Okinawan battlefield tested survival techniques. In essence we are a 'Bujutsu Kai' or a Samurai warrior research society dedicated to the study of Okinawan Samurai fighting arts.
Furthermore, we at Northern Crane are of the opinion that this art has to be adaptable to circumstances that were otherwise unknown to the ancient warrior, otherwise it will fail to adequately prepare its practitioners for the reality of modern self defense. This means that it must be able to deal with modern weapons such as firearms like hand guns and assault rifles. Omitting this from a curriculum is a disservice to the practitioner. We are not in the business of strictly keeping an art form alive just for the sake of doing so. The art is there to serve the practitioner, not the other way around. Schools that teach only the traditional methods without adapting them to modern situations and weapons run the risk of becoming obsolete.
THESE ARE THE FIELDS OF STUDY RESEARCHED AND TAUGHT:
SUITEJUTSU: Striking Arts
TUITEJUTSU: Grappling Arts (Tegumi / Jujitsu)
KYUSHOJUTSU: Pressure Point Striking Arts* ***
***See the Acupuncture chart below***
KOBUJUTSU: Traditional Okinawan & Japanese Weapon Arts*: Bo - 6 ft. staff; Jo - 4 ft. staff; Nitan Bo - double 2 ft. sticks; Sai - metal truncheon; Kama - sickle; Nunchaku - rice flail; Tonfa - baton; Eku - oar; Tanto - knife; Yumi - bow; Katana - sword; Tetsuko - metal knuckles
MODERN WEAPONS:* knife, baseball bat, stick, cane, handgun, rifle, improvised weapons such as umbrellas, belts, household items, etc.
KUMITE: Free Sparring (continuous motion)
ZAZEN: Zen Meditation Techniques*
SHIATSU: Traditional Okinawan Acupressure Point Massage*
KATA: Traditional formal solo and partnered exercises that teach proven battlefield principles, tactics, techniques and strategies of self-defense.
Traditional Karate kata is the time proven method of imparting the most sophisticated techniques and information in a Karate system to a student. Therefore it should be at the heart of Karate training. Kata training also trains the mind to stay in the present moment which is critically vital for survival in combat. The Northern Crane Martial Arts Association's curriculum includes 21 empty hand kata and 18 weapon kata.
Below is a chart which shows the body's meridians of energy and the acupuncture/acupressure points of interest in healing as well as martial applications. Wikipedia asked and was granted rights to reproduce it in their Meridians of Acupuncture web page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meridian_(Chinese_medicine)
* Taught at appropriate experience level.
ORIGINS OF THE MARTIAL ARTS
It is estimated that probably 90% of American martial artists know little, if anything, about their martial art other than the physical aspects. Most of these martial artists seem content merely to practice their martial art and have little interest in studying the origins of their art. We at the Northern Crane Martial Arts Association are of a different mind. While we enjoy the physical aspects of karate, we also have a burning desire to learn the history, philosophy, theory and origins of our art. The following historical analysis of the martial arts is a starting point, much more could be written on this interesting subject.
The origins of the martial arts and or warfare/warrior arts are almost as old as humanity itself. However, there have been geo-social events that have propelled the development of the martial arts. One example: It has been surmised by many archeologists that a great conflict took place between primitive human beings as they advanced from the nomadic hunter-gatherer period, known as the Paleolithic or Stone Age through to the Neolithic or New Stone Age.
During this era there was a profound split among humans into two different types of cultures: 1. Agrarian communities which typically settled in fertile lands agreeable to farming or fishing and 2. Nomadic herder tribes which roamed from place to place in search of good grazing grounds for their livestock. The small settlements of the agrarian communities in the Neolithic Age were the first flourishing of civilization as we know it.
Before this great conflict, the fighting arts were very rudimentary, consisting mostly of hunting techniques like ambushing and the use of crude weapons such as sticks, clubs, stones and the more advanced bone or flint tipped spears and knives. Only the bow and arrow, which was a state of the arts weapon developed during the Neolithic Age has remained in use for warfare right up through the Renaissance in Europe when it was finally replaced by firearms, even later in Africa, the Orient and the Western Hemisphere.
The strategies and tactics or techniques used by Paleolithic humans were very likely passed down through untold generations as part of a tribe’s crucial survival skills and learning them became a ritualized part of a youth’s passage into manhood. They can still be witnessed in primitive societies around the world. Evidence of these archaic fighting arts can still be viewed in existing cave wall paintings that have been discovered throughout the world dating back into the great Ice Age.
Recent archeological evidence has shown that these agrarian communities that developed during the Neolithic Age tended to be relatively peaceful and egalitarian in nature. Warfare between agrarian communities being extremely rare. It has been theorized that this period may have been the one described by the ancient Greeks as the Golden Age of Man. It is also possible that the Judeo Christian Bible's Genesis story of the 'Garden of Eden' may have been a metaphorical description of this long forgotten 'age' as a 'place'.
Neolithic Village - circa 10,000 BC
The development toward agricultural settlements and its alternative lifestyle - nomadic herding may have been promulgated by the thinning of the great herds that had sustained primitive humans during the Paleolithic Age (Stone Age) period when hunting and foraging or gathering fruits, nuts, roots and edible plants was the prevalent survival lifestyle. The great herds began to disappear when the great glaciers covering most of the land masses in the northern hemisphere began to recede. Conflict between these two divergent Neolithic cultures was inevitable. Nomadic tribes eventually had to come into contact with settled communities by simply migrating into the areas already settled by agrarian communities. Again, the Judeo Christian Bible may be metaphorically referring to this great conflict in humanity through the Genesis story of 'Cain and Able'.
In Europe and the Middle East there is much new archeological evidence showing that settled Neolithic communities which, as stated earlier, were rather peaceful egalitarian agricultural communities, came under invasion through mass migrations starting around 4300 BCE from warlike nomadic herding tribes traveling from the more arid areas east of the Caucasus. These massive migrations of tribes called 'Kurgans' by archeologists decimated the peaceful Neolithic agricultural settlements of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the fertile 'Crescent' of the Middle East.
Some of these older Neolithic cultures had been quite advanced, like the Minoan Civilization of Crete which actually had developed indoor plumbing, multiple storied dwellings and paved roads but apparently no defensive walls surrounding their settlements. Interestingly, archeological evidence has shown that many of these egalitarian Neolithic cultures also tended to be matriarchal, worshiping female nature deities. The importance placed on the clearly observable yet mysterious cycles of nature for agricultural reasons and their associated symbolism expressed through the female fertility cycle may have led to this tendency toward female nature deity worship. Stonehenge, a Neolithic worshipping site has been shown to also be an astronomical calendar. There are many other less well known Neolithic sites that demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt the profound connections between cycles of nature, astronomical signs and the deities the agrarian Neolithic peoples worshipped.
Archeological evidence has also shown that the warlike nomadic cultures that decimated and replaced the Neolithic settlements, on the other hand, tended to worship a pantheon of deities with male war deities at the top of the pantheon 'hierarchy'. They also brought with them metal weapons primarily composed of copper. Although metal work was not unknown to Neolithic agricultural communities, apparently they did not systematically develop them into weapons. Weapons were now rarely necessary in these agrarian communities since hunting was no longer important for survival. Archeological evidence has shown that this phenomenon of invasions through mass migrations by warlike nomadic tribes against egalitarian agricultural cultures also took place in East Asia at around the same time period, affecting all East Asian countries. For more information regarding the massive invasions in the western world that changed human history see: The Chalice & the Blade by Riane Eisler - published in 1988.
Many matriarchal Neolithic settlements which were now ruled by patriarchal warlike tribes were transformed by the invaders into the ancient cultures we are much more familiar with. Indeed, the invading tribes became civilized by the very cultures they had conquered. However, and very importantly, the ancient, peaceful Neolithic nature deities were replaced by the newer, Bronze Age male war deities. These new hybrid cultures understood that they had to protect their new domains from further conquest by other competing tribes yet to arrive on the scene or already settling nearby. They fortified their conquered communities by erecting defensive walls or other barriers around them. As these new fortified communities grew in size, the beginnings of hierarchic classes of society and subsequent specialization of labor were established. Some of these communities eventually grew into cities states and or kingdoms such as the Mesopotamian city states like Ur and Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greek and Anatolian kingdoms like Athens, Sparta and Troy (Ilium).
With warfare and specialization of labor came the advent of the warrior classes which became very necessary for the defense of these societies and to expand their spheres of influence. From this time forward we begin to see the sophistication of the martial arts.
We would put this time period as from 4000 BC to 1200 BC which is considered to be the Bronze Age. As previously stated, this is the age in which the great ancient societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia were established and flourished.
The famous 'The Iliad and The Odyssey', is a chronicle reputedly written by the Greek poet Homer, who may have only been the person who actually wrote down the much older oral story about the ten year war which was waged at the city of Troy (Ilium) during the later part of this age. The heroes that appeared in this epic poem, such as Ajax, Achilles, Hector, Priam and Odysseus are still considered by Western European cultures to be the very Archetypes or models of noble manhood and masculine heroism prevalent in Patriarchal Societies, from which Western Civilization has evolved.
This being stated, we can only wonder what the history of the western world would have been like had the peaceful egalitarian and matriarchal Neolithic cultures never been or repulsed the invasions of the warlike hierarchic and patriarchal 'Kurgans' instead of ultimately being replaced by them. Would we have achieved the 'peace on earth' that humanity has always yearned for?
Babylon - circa 1,750 BC Babylonian Warrior
We should also understand that from the very beginnings of humanity, religious beliefs have been used by societies in order to bring a semblance of order and stability. The fighting arts are no exception, they have always been especially controlled by the society's religious beliefs in order to harness and channel the potentially dangerous power of warriors for the welfare of their governing society.
In ancient Western, Middle Eastern and Oriental Civilization as well as in the Subcontinent (India), the fighting arts have always been associated not only with the noble/warrior classes of those societies but also and more importantly, with their spiritual or religious traditions.
In ancient India the relationship between Hinduism and the warrior arts is deep, ancient and ingrained. In Imperial China, the relationship between Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism with the martial arts is also just as ancient and profound. In Japan the warrior caste of the Samurai adhered to the Code of Bushido which is based on Buddhism and Shinto. In the ancient west: Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamian as well as the Semitic Tribes like the Hebrews also linked their religious beliefs with their martial philosophies. In other words, in the ancient world, a man of great worth was very likely a warrior measured not merely by his fighting skill but by his wisdom.
In Medieval Europe we see vestiges of this in the Code of Chivalry as well as in many knightly orders such as the Knights Templar and Hospitalers. It has always been thus, societies have always instinctively understood all too well that when teaching a killing art, the training must always be balanced with wisdom, ethics and reverence. To do otherwise would be too dangerous to contemplate for the very society producing the warriors and as we have already stated, these warriors are absolutely necessary for the survival of societies since warfare, as history has unfortunately shown, is also inevitable.
Roman Centurion - 80 AD Knight Templar - 1120 AD Feudal Knight - 1400 AD
We know that some vestiges of Neolithic type of nature worshipping societies like the Celtic Gaul and the Druidic Britons did survive in Western Europe until they were finally conquered by the Romans or converted, perhaps forcibly, to Christianity during the 'Dark Ages' after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. They put up a strong if ill-fated fight due to the technical martial superiority of the Roman War Machine and its Christian 'Feudal' European inheritors. Is this also what may have occurred during the much earlier Great Conflict? Could the Neolithic communities have been defeated solely because they may have been overwhelmed by the technical superiority of the metallic weapons used by the 'Kurgans' or could it have been because of their peace loving religious beliefs? Only future archeological discoveries can answer these questions more definitively.
Technical superiority has however always played a part in warfare. Common sense tells us that most likely this may have made all the difference in the Neolithic Age. Technical superiority starts at close quarters combat tactics and strategies derived from the indigenous martial arts of their respective societies and extends out from there. The Egyptian Chariot and reflex bow, the Greek Phalanx and cavalry, the Roman War Machine fueled by Roman roads, the Roman military unit called a Century, the catapult and other siege weapons, the Medieval shield wall, moat and stone castle, trebuchet and later the musket, canon, rifle, machine gun, etc. have all played their role at superiority in the battlefield.
Unfortunately, religious beliefs have not only help to control and contain martial use, have also triggered, or some would say have been abused to trigger some of the most brutal struggles in history. We have already discussed the struggle of the prehistoric societies worshipping male war gods vs. female nature goddesses. Chronicled through known history many of the struggles between humans have been fueled by religious beliefs: The god of Mesopotamia named El, as in Elohim of the Semitic tribes of the patriarch Abraham against the Canaanite and Philistine god Baal. The gods of Egypt versus Yahweh of the patriarch Moses, apparently a newer personification of the Mesopotamian war deity El of Abraham. The pantheon of gods of Greece against the Zoroastrianism of the Persians. Allah and the Islam of the followers of the prophet Mohammed against Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism as well as the pantheon of gods that were worshipped in the Middle East in the Seventh Century by most Bedouin tribes.
Fundamentalist Islam, now known as extremist Islamism lumped them all of those 'competing' religious beliefs together under the banner of 'unbelievers' or 'infidels' to be conquered, enslaved or eliminated. Early Christianity was no better once Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The remaining worshippers of the 'Pagan' gods of Rome were either converted or brutally eliminated as were the Celtic, Germanic and Norse god worshipping European barbarians after the fall of Rome. European history continued to see religious warfare during the ensuing Middle Ages and Renaissance then against the indigenous beliefs of the peoples of the Americas and Africa.
The struggle between Christianity and Islam continues to spill human blood. The Papal Bull to liberate the 'Holy Land' through 'Holy Crusade' was an understandable rallying call in reaction to repeated militaristic Islamic invasions of the Iberian peninsula and southern France from the Seventh through the Tenth Century. Christian religious zeal was used by the Christian Church to unite the constantly warring Medieval kingdoms established during the 'Dark Ages' in Europe to fight a common enemy by sending their combined armies to the Levant to fight the vilified Mohammedans.
It is doubtful that the confrontations between religious beliefs and their respective civilizations will ever end. It is also quite doubtful that the fault lies within the spiritual messages that founded religions. The fault may lay with the men who control religions and by the faulty interpretations of the divine message of these avatars or sages who brought them to humanity. Typically, to suit their own agendas, even into the distant past of the Neolithic Age.
It is not too ironic to note that it was a wandering religious Buddhist guru/yogi/monk from India that founded the martial art that then developed into the art we research, practice and teach at the Northern Crane Martial Arts Association and most Oriental martial arts.
Whether due to religious conflict or any other reason, warfare unquestionably as stated here earlier, is one of the oldest and most continuous of human activities, dating back to the 'Great Conflict' caused by the Neolithic migrations. This being stated, and because of it, preparation for war has therefore always been crucial for the survival of any worthy civilization - as Sun Tzu stated in the opening sentences of his famous Art of War which he wrote in the 6th Century BC:
"The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life or death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected."
Consequently, as Sun Tzu stated in the opening sentences of the Art of War, the same is absolutely true for each and every individual. It can be stated as:
"The art of self-defense is of vital importance to yourself. It is a matter of life or death, a road to either safety or ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected."
It is because, since we live in a world where, unfortunately, might usually makes right that we have the obligation to pursue training in the fighting arts, from hand to hand combat all the way to the most advanced weapons available. To disregard this is to refute history and go the way of the agrarian cultures of the Neolithic Age. Warrior training at the hand to hand, close quarters combat realm is just as important for survival in civic society as nuclear weapons are in the geopolitical survival of modern societies.
At the heart of warrior training, no matter what discipline one studies, or where it may have originated, if it is an authentic warrior art, there is always an emphasis placed on strategy and tactics, weapons and empty hand combat training. Weapons training has always been based on the assumption that only a madman or a fool would enter a battlefield without one or competent skill in its use. Empty hand training, on the assumption that a weapon may be lost, broken or not be available at any given moment.
Empty hand or hand to hand close quarters fighting has always been based on one simple supposition: There is always a chance that a weapon can either break, be lost or not be available at any given moment in the midst of a life or death struggle. All true martial arts, have therefore, especially those preceding the twentieth century, to achieve proficiency through their syllabus, in all of the different and necessary martial disciplines, for survival in the battlefield depended on it. More importantly, the skills acquired had to be kept up and perfected over an extended period of time if not over an entire lifetime, since through short term training only rudimentary skills can be acquired. Those who are trained over a short period of time are not true warriors and have always been considered expendable in the battlefield.
CHINESE FOUNDATIONS OF OKINAWAN KARATE
The earliest known practitioner and teacher of what we now refer to as a Shaolin type of Martial Arts was an Indian Buddhist yogi or guru, the term monk is a more modern term used to differentiate Buddhist practices from Hindu practices. However, it must be noted that Buddhism was originally considered to be only a particular sect of Hinduism. The same can be said of Christianity since it was originally considered to be only a particular sect of Judaism. The name of this yogi/guru/monk was Bodhidharma who was also known as Ta Mo or Da Mo. Bodhidharma traveled all the way from India to the Chinese Imperial Court, no easy journey even today. He was the third child of King Sugandha in Southern India. His Status was that of the Warrior Caste, "Kshatriya". His childhood was spent in Conjeeveram, a small Buddhist province south of Madras. He is said to have traveled to China after the death of his Buddhist guru or teacher. Accounts of his activities in China vary considerably depending on the reference cited.
Bodhidharma Shaolin Monastery Gate - Honan Province, China
The traditional date of his arrival in China was during the Sung Dynasty, 500 A.D. His life in China centers within the Shaolin Temple Monastery in Honan Province, in the Song Shan Mountains. Tradition states that upon seeing the emaciated condition of the monks at this temple, Bodhidharma instructed them in physical exercises to condition their bodies as well as their minds.
In several works dealing with Chuan Fa and its Okinawan counterpart, Karate, reference is made to the close ties between Bodhidharma’s Shaolin exercises and these fighting arts. However, evidence of martial arts in the Orient dates back as early as 600 B.C. (the time of the warring states period in which the general and supreme tactician Sun Tzu lived) and much earlier with temple statues and even earlier with cave drawings that appear to show martial arts stances and combat.
The physical drills that Bodhidharma introduced to the Shaolin Monks were called "Luohan Shou" or 18 hands of Luohan (also known 18 Buddha Hands or Palms). The method of learning these moves and becoming proficient with this system was to repeat these moves many times in many directions. This intense focusing of energy coupled with demanding daily physical practice led to excellent health and awareness. He stressed breathing exercises and meditation in conjunction with his self-defense exercise system. As a member of the “Kshatriya” warrior caste of India he would have been exposed to all existing forms of weapon and weaponless fighting. The exercises of which he taught to the monks of the temple and it may indeed be that the Luohan Shou may just be his interpretation of them.
Several decades after his death, a Chaun Fa master (Ch’uch Yuan Shangjen) verified the existence of Bodhidharma's 18 Luohan Shou exercise and combined these with numerous other forms to develop his own style. He is credited with increasing the original 18 hand and foot positions to 72, and then later to 170 offensive and defensive movements.
HISTORY OF OKINAWAN MATSUMURA SHORINRYU HAKUTSURU KARATEJUTSU AND KOBUJUTSU
Generations of secrecy have placed a veil of mystery around the history and origins of Okinawan Karate. To a certain degree this veil of secrecy still exists. This, coupled with a general lack of written records in part due to the destructive consequences of the battle of Okinawa in World war II, has created a void of information on the early days of Ryu Kyu martial arts. What little information we have has come to us through scattered bits and pieces that somehow have come into the possession of modern Karate historians or from an Okinawan Sensei. Nevertheless, any attempt to write on Karate history will leave many stones unturned, and the following is no exception, a lot of questions are left unanswered.
EARLY HISTORY OF OKINAWAN KARATE
Early Okinawan Karate or Tode (Tuite & Suite) as it was called owes its origin to a mixture of indigenous Okinawan fighting arts and various “foot fighting” and empty hand systems of southeast Asia and as stated above especially China. The Okinawans, being a seafaring people, were in almost constant contact with mainland Asia. It is quite likely that Okinawan seamen visiting foreign ports of call may have been impressed with local fighting techniques and incorporated these into their own fighting methods. Interest in unarmed fighting arts greatly increased during the 14th Century during China's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when king Sho Hashi of Chuzan established his rule over Okinawa and banned all weapons. More rapid development of Tode followed in 1609 when the Satsuma clan of Kyushu, Japan occupied Okinawa and strengthened the existing ban of all weapons. Thus Tode or Okinawa-Te, as the Satsuma clan soon called it, became the only means of protection left to the Okinawans. It was this atmosphere that honed the early karate-like arts of Okinawa into such a weapon that they enabled the island people to carry on a guerilla-type war with the Japanese Samurai that lasted into the 1800’s.
So, Tode or Okinawa-Te developed secretly to keep the Japanese from killing the practitioners and the teachers of the deadly art. Tode remained underground until the late Nineteenth Century. It was introduced to the general public in Okinawa and Japan through public demonstrations of the art starting in the 1870's and especially when it was introduced into the Okinawan school system to be incorporated into physical education methods early in the Twentieth Century as the Japanese Empire started to prepare for expansion of its sphere of influence in the Orient through warfare.
DEVELOPMENT OF SYSTEMS OF KARATE
Chatan Yara was one of the early Okinawan masters of whom some information exists. Some authorities place his birth at about 1670 in the village of Chatan, Okinawa, others place his birth at a much later date. In any case, he contributed much to Okinawan Karate. He is said to have studied under Kusanku and also in China for 20 years. His kata, 'Chatan Yara No Sai', “Yara Sho No Tonfa” and Chatan Yara No Kon” are still widely practiced today.
Most modern systems or styles of Karate can be traced back to the famous Satunuku (Kanga) Sakugawa (1733-1815) also called 'Tode' Sakugawa. Sakugawa first studied under Peichin Takahara of Shuri. He later studied with Kosu Kun, also known as Kusanku who was renown as a famous master of a Kenpo style referred to as Kumai Jutsu which he apparently learned from a Shaolin monk in China. He was highly skilled in fighting. In 1756 Kusanku was sent to Okinawa as a military envoy. Kusanku began instructing 'Tode' Sakugawa in the martial arts after the death of Takahara, Kanga Sakugawa’s first instructor. Upon master Kusanku’s return to China, Sakugawa followed him and remained in China for 6 years. He reputedly studied the bo and twin swords, Hsing-i and Chi Kung while in China which he eventually integrated into his martial art. Although he never officially established a formal dojo, he did teach his art to a few martial disciples.
Kusanku is actually a Chinese diplomatic title. Kusanku never instructed the kata that is named after him. Followers of Kusanku were responsible for the combining of the techniques believed to be his best into the kata. There are two primary lineages for the kata of Kusanku, Chatan Yara no Kusanku and Sakugawa No Kusanku. Master Sakugawa's teaching of this form came from the instruction he received from Kusanku. This was the version taught to Soken "Bushi" Matsumura by Sakugawa. This lineage was then further divided into two other forms of the kata Kusanku Sho and Kusanku Dai.
Satonuchi Sakugawa - (1733 -1815 ) Bushi Sokon Matsumura - (1797 -1889 )
In 1762 Sakugawa returned to Okinawa and introduced his Kenpo; this resulted in the Karate we know today. Sakugawa became a famous samurai, he was given the title of Satunuku or Satonushi, these were titles given to Samurai for service to the king. Sakugawa had many famous students, among them were:
1. Chikatosinunjo Sokon Matsumura (Bushi Matsumura)
2. Satunuku Makabe (Mabai Changwa)
3. Satunuku Ukuda (Bushi Ukuda)
4. Chikuntonnoshinunjo Matsumoto (Bushi Matsumoto)
5. Kojo of Kumemura (Kugushiku of Kuninda)
6. Yamaguchi of the East (Bushi Sakumoto)
7. Usume (old man) of Andaya (Limundun)
Sakugawa contributed greatly to Okinawan Karate, we honor him today by continuing many of the concepts he introduced. Sakugawa's greatest contribution was in teaching the great Sokon 'Bushi' Matsumura. Bushi Matsumura (1797-1889) studied under Sakugawa for 4 years. Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura was born into a well known Shizoku family at Yamagawa Village, Shuri. As a small child he lived with Kanga (Tode) Sakugawa, The 'Father of Okinawas Karate'. Matsumura grew into a good scholar and noted calligrapher and like many youths from an early age studied the basics of 'Te'. He rapidly developed into a Samurai. He was recruited into the service of the Sho (king's) family and was given the title Satunuku, later rising to Chikutoshi. He worked as a body guard for the last three Ryu Kyuan Kings, (Sho Ko, Sho Iku and ShoTai). While working as a body guard he twice visited Fuchou and Satsuma Japan as an envoy on affairs of state. At Fuchou he visited several Chinese boxing schools, and was able to study under the military attaches, Anson and Iwah. He also took time to visit the Fukien Shaolin (Shorinji) Temple. He is alleged to have remained in China for many years. While at Satsuma, Matsumura was initiated into the Jigen-Ryu sword fighting system.
Upon his return to Okinawa, Matsumura established the Shurite that later became known as Shorinryu. Matsumura combined Okinawan 'Te' and Chinese Chaun Fa into an organized system. He called this system Shuri-Te, all Shorin styles originated with this man. After his retirement, Matsumura taught karate in an open area in Sakiyama Village, Shuri.
Shorinryu is the Okinawan pronunciation of the Chinese written picturegram characters (kanji) for Shaolin in Chinese. In both languages Shorin or Shaolin means 'pine forest'. Ryu simply means “stream” as in a mountain stream or a stream of though or method of teaching such as those of a school.
Bushi Matsumura lived a long and colorful life. He fought many lethal fights; he was never defeated. He contributed greatly to Okinawan Karate. He brought the 'Hakutsuru' (White Crane) concept to Okinawa from the Shorinji in China. He taught many students and indeed many modern Karate systems trace their lineage back to Matsumura. He passed on his Menkyo-kaiden (Certificate of Full Proficiency), the complete secret Hakutsuru style only to his grandson, Nabe Matsumura.
Nabe Matsumura - (1850 - 1930) Hohan Soken - (1889 - 1983)
Nabe Matsumura brought the old Hakutsuru secrets into the modern age. His name does not appear in many Karate lineage charts. He was alleged to be very strict and preferred to teach mainly family members. Not much information on him is available, his date of birth and death are unknown. He must have been born in the 1850's and died in the 1930's. He was called 'Old Man' or 'Tanmei' and is said to have been one of the top karate masters of his time. He passed on his Menkyu-Kaiden to his nephew Hohan Soken.
Hohan Soken was born in 1889, this was a time of great social changes in both Okinawa and Japan. The feudal system was giving way to modernization. The aristocracy was forced to work beside the peasantry. Hohan Soken was born into a Samurai family; at an early age he chose to study his ancestral art of Shorinryu under his uncle, Nabe Matsumura. At the age of 13 young Soken began his training. For the first 10 years Hohan Soken practiced the basics of Shorinryu. At the age of 23, Soken began learning the secrets of Hakutsuru. So proficient did Hohan Soken become in the art that his uncle, Nabe Matsumura passed on the Matsumura Shorinryu style’s Menkyu-Kaiden to him.
In the 1920's Hohan Soken emigrated to Argentina. He remained there until 1952. It is not clear why he moved there but while in Argentina he made a living as a launderer and photographer. Upon his return to Okinawa, the Matsumura Seito (Orthodox) Shorinryu Karatejutsu and Kobujutsu style returned also. Soken saw that Karate had greatly changed; sport Karate had all but replaced the ancient methods. Soken did not change, he valued himself as the last of the old masters. He refused to join some of the more fashionable Karate associations. He stayed with the old ways and did much to cause a rebirth in Kobudo and the old Shorinryu ways. Master Soken retired from Karate in 1978. For many years he was the oldest living and active Karate master. Master Soken passed away in 1983.
CURRENT STATE OF SHORINRYU KARATE
Sensei Kise's organization is considered to be the authorized inheritor of Soken Sensei's family art form. However, upon close inspection of the information (kata/waza/bunkai) given by Soken Sensei to his most advanced students, Okinawan as well as American, there is great dispute within the Shorinryu Karate community in general as to the validity of that assumption, especially since Hohan Soken never issued anyone a Menkyu-Kaiden. Also, many are professing that Soken Sensei's original art form has been severely "watered down" by Kise Sensei's curriculum since the late 1990's when his son Isau Kise took control of the organization as its chief instructor. Under his directorship the organization has quickly been transitioning towards a more sport oriented version of the ancient art than that which was passed down from Soken Sensei. Most likely this has happened primarily for financial gain.
Fusei Kise - ( b. 1935 ) Takaya Yabiku - ( b. 1945 )
NORTHERN CRANE'S SHORINRYU CONNECTION
Sensei Perez started training in Shorinryu Karate in 1984 after having trained in Shotokan Karate from 1966 to 1970 and Gojuryu Karate from 1973 to 1983. He started teaching Karate in the Spring of 1986 at the request of Sensei Fusei Kise and his Shorinryu organization by founding the Kittery Ken Shin Kan Karate Dojo. Subsequently, Sensei Perez resigned Sensei Kise's Matsumura Seito organization twice, both times due to serious ethical disagreements with Sensei Greg Lazarus, Sensei Kise's U.S. east coast director. The first time in 1990, turning over the Kittery Ken Shin Kan Karate Dojo to Kise's organization. Sensei Perez returned to Kise's organization in 1992 at the invitation and direct intervention of Sensei Kise in resolving the dispute.
The second and last resignation took place in 2000 after a second serious ethical disagreement with Greg Lazarus. This disagreement essentially concerned the unethical behavior exhibited by Sensei Lazarus towards Sensei Perez. A sensei should act ethically in general as an example to his students and a sensei should act ethically towards his students specifically. A true sensei owes this to his students since it should also be what is expected from each student in return because what is taught in a Karate dojo is potentially dangerous to society. Instead, an unhealthy 'cult' like atmosphere of sensei idolization had been taking place in the Lazarus dojo for several years. This type of atmosphere can foster an attitude of superiority in a higher ranked individual due to the subservience shown to them by lower ranking members. In an unbalanced person this can become dangerous.***
Sensei Perez subsequently studied Matsumura Shorinryu Karate and Kohokan Koshin Kojoryu Karate with Sensei Chuck Chandler until his death in 2009. Chandler Sensei was a student of both Kise and Soken Sensei as well as the senior student of Takaya Yabiku Sensei, himself a senior student of Soken Sensei and founder of Koshinryu Karate. More on the history of the Northern Crane Martial Arts Association and Sensei Perez can be found in the ABOUT US tab in Northern Crane's website.
***On August 14, 2014, A judge in New Hampshire handed down the maximum sentence to 31 year old Seth Mazzaglia. Mazzaglia was the assistant instructor of Bob Modee, himself a senior student of Greg Lazarus and the sensei of the Kittery Ken Shin Kan Karate Dojo since Sensei Perez left it in 1990. Mazzaglia was convicted for the brutal sexual murder of 19 year old Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott, a student at the University of New Hampshire. On July 11, 2015 the Okinawa Shorinryu Matsumura Orthodox (Seito) Karate and Kobudo Federation issued an official statement on their website; kenshin-kan.com that as of June 15th, 2015 they have no interest in being further involved with Greg Lazarus in any way.
Chuck Chandler - (1955 - 2009 ) Phil Perez - ( b.1954)
CURRENT STATE OF THE MARTIAL ARTS IN THE USA
At the end of the nineteenth century as projectile weapons became more and more effective with the introduction of rapid fire weapons such as the machine gun and hand held explosives like grenades, the older battlefield arts were seen to become less and less important. The heads of many of these styles of combat then came to the erroneous conclusion that in order to keep them alive in the twentieth century they had to convert them into sporting activities like boxing and wrestling had done a bit earlier in the west. In the latter part of the twentieth century in order, again to improve the financial health of these new sports, they then began recruiting younger and younger participants. With modern mass media and marketing it has now become very common to see even preschool children participating in so-called martial arts programs. This has brought great shame to the traditional martial arts community and its true masters. The recent popularity and emphasis on cage fighting matches has further soiled the reputation of the true martial arts. For the most part, the martial arts community today at least in the USA seems to have sold out for financial gain and it has become exceedingly difficult to find competent instruction in the ancient and well tested battlefield arts.
The following interview with Hohan Soken was made by Ernest Estrada Sensei and illustrates this very clearly:The following interview was conducted at the Kadena NCO Club located at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Present were Soken Hohan and one of his senior student, Kise Fusei. Soken is a Shihan 10th Dan in Shorinryu Matsumura Seito Karate-do. His Honbu dojo is located at 104 Gaja, Nishihara City, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.
The date of the interview was September 10, 1978. The interview was conducted in Spanish to the great annoyance of Sensei Kise. Soken spoke excellent Spanish due to the fact that he had lived in Argentina for over twenty-five years. I should also make mentioned that I was a Spanish language translator for the Pentagon for two plus years and worked in Washington, D.C., hence, I am familiar with the language.
Interviewer: Sensei, can you please identify yourself.
Soken-Sensei: My name is Soken Hohan and I was born on May 25, 1889. I come from (I live in) Gaja Village, Nishihara City, Okinawa Prefecture. I am a native Okinawan. My style is officially called the Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-ryu Karate-do and I am a Shihan 10-Dan. My Honbu dojo is presently located at Gaja Village, Nishihara City.
My style comes from Kayo Soken. To mark the occasion when Kayo was appointed the chief body-guard to King Sho Ko (and later to Sho Iku and then Sho Tai), he was allowed to change his name. This was a custom back then, especially if something important or notable happened to you; he changed his name to Matsumura, -- Matsumura Soken.
It was later that King Sho Tai officially gave Matsumura the title of "Bushi" (The term "Bushi" is different from the Japanese meaning. In Japan a "Bushi," in simplistic terms, is a warrior. In Okinawa, the term "Bushi" also refers to the individual being a martial-man/warrior but with a strong slant to also being a true gentleman -- hence, the meaning, "a gentleman warrior." - Editor) and to this day he is, with affection, referred to as Bushi Matsumura.
When Bushi Matsumura died he left the "hands" of his teachings to my uncle, who was his grandson, Matsumura Nabe. My mother was Nabe-tanmei's sister. Tanmei means "respected senior or respected old man," this was and still is a title of much respect in Okinawa. I became a student of my uncle around 1902 or 1903 and learned the original methods of Uchinan Sui-di (Sui-te), as it was then called.
Back then, there weren't large followings of students for a master of the warrior arts. Itosu Ankoh had less than a dozen students and he was one of the greatest of teachers at the time. My uncle had only one student, and that was me. He was still a practitioner with an "old mind" and would only teach or demonstrate for family members. Since I was the most interested, he allowed me to become his student.
I should also state that Matsumura Orthodox is not the only authentic Shorin-ryu style. This style, my style, was passed on from Matsumura Sokon to my uncle, Nabe-tanmei but Nabe-tanmei was not Bushi Matsumura's only student. Matsumura had a good dozen or so dedicated students. Each one learned his methods and then expanded on them.
My uncle only learned from Bushi Matsumura and only taught me what he had learned. So, it can be said that it is an "old version" with no updates. By studying my Matsumura Orthodox you walk back into ancient times when karate was more forceful and challenging.
Interviewer: Sensei, can you tell me something about your training methods?
Sensei: Old training was always done in secret so that others would not steal your techniques. Nabe initially taught me stepping before anything. He would cut the leaves off the banana tree and place them on the ground. He would then have me do exercises to develop balance. If the balance was not good you would fall and since the exercises were always vigorous, a fall could seriously hurt you.
We would also use the pine trees that were found throughout Okinawa. We would slap or kick the trees and develop our gripping methods for close in fighting. This kind of training was very hard and severe on a person who had to work hard all day and then train hard at night. Life was very hard back then.
We would train twice a day. Early in the morning we would train on striking objects and conditioning to prepare one for the day. After working hard in the fields, we would have nightly training in two person techniques and conditioning like present-day kotekitai (korte-yate). We had to toughen our legs and hands - like iron, then they became true weapons. During the late hours we would practice the kata of Matsumura.
Interviewer: Can you tell me something about the kata you teach.
Sensei: Well, kata, yes, the most important Matsumura Seito kata is the Kusanku. Sometimes we would practice the Kusanku with kanzashi (hairpins) held in the hands - this was a common method of fighting. The hairpins were symbols of rank and many Okinawans carried them for decoration and also for protection.
Interviewer: I understand that you teach a white crane form. Is this the Hakucho kata?
Sensei: No, Hakucho, is another kata that, I believe, came from the Chinese tea seller, Go Kenki. He moved to Japan but my kata is much different. I call it Hakutsuru. It was about... no, it was after ten years of training my uncle taught me the most secret kata of Matsumura Seito Shorin-ryu, the Hakutsuru (White Crane) kata. This form stressed the balance -- all the Matsumura kata stressed balance but this form was the most dangerous in training.
The practice of the Hakutsuru form forced me to learn better balance by performing the techniques while balanced on a pine log. Initially I learned the form on the ground and then I had to perform it on a log laying on the ground. For the advanced training the log was put into the river and tied down so as not to float away. I was then instructed to perform the kata while balanced on the log. It was very difficult and I almost drowned several times by falling and bouncing my head off the log.
Interviewer: You are recognized as a leading practitioner of traditional weaponry. Can you tell something about your weapons training?
Sensei: I studied traditional weaponry under Komesu Ushi-no-tanmei and later under Tsuken Mantaka. Tsuken is known for the bo form called Tsuken-nu-kun or Tsuken-bo. It is very famous.
Interviewer: Sensei, you speak excellent Spanish. Where did you learn to speak Spanish?
Sensei: Yes, Spanish. In 1924 I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to find my fortune. I apprenticed myself as a photographer and later I worked in the clothes cleaning business. I learned Spanish there and I taught Karate after they found out who I was. Most of my students in Argentina came from the Okinawan community - some Japanese.
All in all, in Argentina, I only had a small handful of students but we gave numerous demonstrations throughout the country. There were many, many Okinawans and Japanese living in Argentina. I returned to Okinawa in 1952.
Interviewer: What happened when you returned to Okinawa?
Sensei: I did not teach karate at first. Yes, not to the public but I began to teach a few family members which then opened up to a small dojo. I initially called it by the "Hogen" name Machimura Sui-di or in Japanese, Matsumura Shuri-te.
Around 1956 I changed the name of my teachings to Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-ryu karate-do. I still trained in the old ways and did not understand the new methods that were being taught. It appeared to be softer (watered down) and more commercial. Because of this, I did not join the new organizations that were being formed at the time. My old way of Karate was not readily accepted by everyone. They thought it too old and too crude -- I think it was just too hard or maybe my training methods were too severe. Whatever it was, it was the way I learned and the way I taught. It was later, when the Americans came to learn, that I changed my ways.
I found that there were two kinds of students - one was a dedicated and motivated student who wants to learn the Okinawan martial arts. The other is an individual who only wants to say he is "learning Karate". There are more of the latter. It is the latter that you see everywhere. They say that they "know" Karate or that they "use to" practice Karate - these are worthless individuals.
Interviewer: Can you tell me some more about your kata.
Sensei: I teach the Matsumura kata. The kata that I teach now are Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Naihanchi Shodan, NaihanchiNidan, Pasai-Sho and Dai, Chinto, Gojushiho, Kusanku, Rohai Ichi-Ni-San, and last, the Hakutsuru. The last one is my favorite kata that I demonstrate - because it is easier to do. When I was young, the best kata was the Kusanku. This is the Matsumura Kusanku -- the older version that is not done much now.
I also teach bo, sai, tuifa, kama, nunchaku, kusarigama and suruchin. My favorite weapons form is Tsukenbo (I learned that from Komesu Ushi) but in the old days it was the furi-gama or kusari-gama. We, on Okinawa, use a hand made rope to tie the kama to the hand or wrist. In Japan they use an iron chain but this is too cumbersome and can damage the student that practices that method.
I knew Taira Shinken very well before he died. I taught him some of my older forms. In 1970 I formed the All Okinawa Kobujutsu Association. I hope that this will spread all over the U.S. and mainland Japan. I am also a member of the Ryukyu Historical Society. We are trying to preserve the "Hogen" dialect. Many young Okinawans no longer understand or even speak the old Okinawan language anymore. It is shameful.
(It should also be noted that Soken preferred to speak in his native dialect of Hogen. He often stated that he did not care for the Japanese language that much. -- Editor)
Interviewer: Sensei, you say that Shorin-ryu Matsumura Seito Karate-do is an old style with many secrets. Since you also say that you are getting old, what do you feel needs to be passed on to modem day students of Okinawan Karate?
Sensei: There are many secrets in Karate that people will never know and will never understand. These ideas are really not secret if you train in Okinawa under a good teacher. You will see the teacher use these so called secret techniques over and over again until they will become common knowledge to you. Others will look at it and marvel that it is an advanced or secret technique to them. That is because they do not have good teachers or their teachers have not researched their respective styles.
Karate is much more than simple punching and kicking and blocking. It is the study of weaponry and of grappling. Weaponry and empty hand fighting go together. How can you learn about defending against a weapon unless you are familiar with what the weapon can do?
[Soken-sensei used the Spanish word for wrestling when describing this art-form but I felt that a more apt term would be grappling - much like Japanese-style jujutsu. He stated that many people often referred to the Okinawan grappling arts as Okinawan-style wrestling mainly because it was never systematized and looked like a free-for-all form of fighting.
Soken-sensei continued by stating that as a youngster on Okinawa, that grappling was taken very seriously and it was not uncommon for individuals to suffer broken arms and legs as a result of taking part in this light form of entertainment. Soken-sensei would use the terms "Te-gumi" or "Gyaku-te" as identifying this old Okinawan art form.
The danger of reminding Soken-sensei of the "old methods of playing" was that he would often stand up, grab you, and then apply one of these painful methods of common people entertainment - (He enjoyed watching Americans "squeaking like a mouse who had been stepped on." -- Editor)
Grappling is an old Okinawan custom that is commonly practiced in all villages. In America, the children played at "cowboys and indians. " In Okinawa we played by grappling with each other. We would have contests for grapplers in every village and one village would pit their best grapplers against all comers. It was very exciting.
Some people see the grappling and call it Okinawan Jujitsu but this is incorrect. It is the old method called "Ti". (Or Tui-Ti / Tuite-Japanese, this Ti is pronounced in the old dialect of Okinawa -- it sounds like the word "tea" -- Editor) Ti practice was very common during the turn of the century but with the Japanese influences, these methods have almost disappeared.
Interviewer: Sensei, any recommendations for us -- Americans?
Sensei: Yes, but you won't like it! Americans want to learn too much, too fast. You want more this and more that. You have a life time to learn. Learn slowly. Learn correctly. Look. Listen. Practice, practice, practice. Don't be a rash American, but a smart American. Never be in a hurry to learn, OK? Learning in a hurry can cause pain. Do you know about pain? Let me show you!
DEMONSTRATION: At this time, Soken demonstrated basic "Ti" methods involving the use of the "sharp forearm bone" and the "thumbing" methods. All of them hurt - a lot! He had an uncanny command of the human anatomy and would use the thumb to hit the various nerves in the shoulder, the forearm and the sides of the body. He laughed a lot when doing this - he really enjoyed grappling.
A number of techniques resembled Aikijutsu movements and instead of moving in on the opponent, he would step backwards and would use his body weight to increase the power of the technique. He would always block using what he called a "double bone block" and counter with a thumb technique or a grappling technique that took you to the ground.
Soken stated that he could drive an individual through the ground or just simply throw him on the ground either way, the opponent was at a distinct disadvantage. He could then subdue you with techniques like kicks or move away from the confrontation.
Interviewer: Sensei, your kata is very distinct and beautiful to see. I have a question that has been bothering me since the Okinawan Expo. Remember when we saw the bo fighters in Nago. They used the names of many of the kata that are practiced today but they are very different. The only thing that appears to be the same is the name.
Sensei: Yes, they are the same and they are not the same. You say you lived on Okinawa for five years but you cannot understand the Okinawan people. In the old days, when we were really Okinawan and not Japanese, many of the old people were not smart -- or as smart as they are today. They did not travel, they did not watch TV, many never left their villages unless they had to. What we did have was festivals... village festivals. Everyone would come and watch and learn.
These village people would watch the other fancy city people practice their Ti or their methods of weaponry. Say, like... well, ... Yes, a kata that they knew or practice had a number of movements. They come to the city and see and city kata with some of the same movements. The city kata had a name... and maybe their kata did not have a name. So, they would go back and ... yes, you now understand. They would name their kata after the city kata because they had a few of the same movements.
Some of their kata had five or maybe ten movements. Taira, my friend, would go to the village and learn these kata. He says that he learned 500 kata this way! Wah! This is true but he also liked to tell stories. Some of these kata had only 3 or maybe 5 movements. 500 kata, yes, now that is funny but he was a history collector. He knew them but he didnt understand them.
Interviewer: Was Taira a friend or student? He is very famous for his weaponry in Japan.
Sensei: Yes, Taira... he knew a lot of kata, huh. Huh, huh, huh... Yes, he is dead, you know that. He would watch my kata all the time and try to learn my tsuken style stick. But I would trick him and change the kata, wah!! ... just like that. He would still come back and look some more in the hopes of being able to take it back. When we both were young -- our karate was very good. When we both got old, our weaponry was good.
Why do you want to know these things -- these old ideas, these old ways. Their old value was to survive a challenge match. You punch me and I will show you ... good karate means you also test yourself through pain. Like pain... in good Karate... movements are quick, like a mongoose. If you are slow, you can die. If you are quick, then there is a chance that you and your family (???) will live.
Interviewer: Yes, fighting must have been very different at the beginning of this century.
Sensei: Yes, you don't know these old days. In a fight... if you would lose, the loss would be suffered by your family. They could die. You would work hard to support the family working all day, If you were injured or killed while fighting, then your family would starve... maybe even die. Okinawan life was very hard.
Now, the young people want to be Japanese. They don't speak the Okinawan language. They are lazy. They do not respect old people, they have no pride in being Okinawan. Yes, we are a poor country but that is no excuse in putting our culture in the dark and saying we are someone that we are not. This is no good.
NOTE: The second interview ends here. Sensei's mind begins to wander and he begins to get angry. I believe it has to do with painful, old memories that are brought up by the questions
NORTHERN CRANE SHORINRYU KARATEDO LINEAGE:
SATONUSHI “TODE” SAKUGAWA (1733-1815). Studied in China under Kusanku. Early founder of Tode.
SOKON “BUSHI” MATSUMURA (1797-1889). Founder of Shurite (Shorinryu).
NABE MATSUMURA (1850’s-1930’s). Grandson of Bushi Matsumura.
HOHAN SOKEN (1889-1983). Great grandson of Bushi Matsumura. In 1955 Changed name of style from Matsumura Shurite to Shorinryu Matsumura Seito.
FUSEI KISE (b. 1935). Current Grandmaster of Ken Shin Kan Shorinryu Karate & Kobudo Federation. Now known as Matsumura Seito Shorinryu Karate & Kobudo Federation.
PHIL PEREZ (b. 1954). Chief Instructor of Northern Crane Martial Arts Association.
Copyright © 1998 By Phil Perez [Northern Crane]. All rights reserved.