Likes Likes:  0
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Donn Draeger correspondence on karate

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Naha, Okinawa
    Posts
    220
    Likes (received)
    7

    Default Donn Draeger correspondence on karate

    Once upon a time--as all good stories begin--there was a group of karate people on a distant island in the Pacific Ocean who wanted to find a much tougher and effective form of karate than the already legendary style that they followed. Being practical and intelligent folk, they wrote to the much-respected writer and martial arts historian Donn Draeger, asking for his help in finding the best karate teacher in the word so they could study with him.

    A man known for his no-nonsense approach, Draeger wrote back, "Morio Higaonna is the most dangerous man in Japan in a real fight!"...
    http://www.dragon-tsunami.org/Tsunami/Pages/ptrev.htm

    Is this letter, if it exists, published anywhere? I've seen essentially the same story on many homepages, but have seen no identification of with whom this correspondence supposedly took place.
    Nullius in verba

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Canberra, A.C.T.
    Posts
    44
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    can't verify if teh letter exists- and if it does, if it is published... but I can say taht I have heard through reliable sources that Higaonna Sensei was recommended (by Draeger) to one of Draeger's own associates connected with the hoplological society or some such group. I would consider that a fairly serious recommendation.
    -Michael Fitzgerald.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Naha, Okinawa
    Posts
    220
    Likes (received)
    7

    Default

    Thank you for the information.

    Next question - did Draeger do any karate research in Okinawa? It looks as though he was acquainted with many of the karateka in the Tokyo area back in the day. Were these Japan-based practitioners the source of his research into karate, or was he able to visit Okinawa and pursue his research there?
    Nullius in verba

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Posts
    189
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Lambert View Post
    http://www.dragon-tsunami.org/Tsunami/Pages/ptrev.htm

    Is this letter, if it exists, published anywhere? I've seen essentially the same story on many homepages, but have seen no identification of with whom this correspondence supposedly took place.
    It is possible, but I had never heard of the supposed correspondence until reading that video review. However, it is possible that Donn Draeger may have mentioned the same thing several times over his lifetime.

    The quote, or words to that effect, comes from one of Donn Draeger's books, if I'm not mistaken, although I wasn't able to find the exact passage.

    I hope that helps.

    Regards,

    Ron Beaubien

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Nagoya, Japan
    Posts
    522
    Likes (received)
    31

    Default

    FWIW, there's this interview with Hunter "Chip" Armstrong, who studied for some time with Higaonna. The relevant quote is:

    One of the things Draeger had told me was that if I was still interested in karate, as far as he was concerned, the best karate man he had ever met was Higaonna Morio, an Okinawan Goju Ryu man teaching in Tokyo.
    The article also includes some photos of Draeger, Higaonna, and Armstrong. Given Donn Draeger's travels around Southeast Asia examining various indigenous fighting styles, I almost have to assume he traveled around Okinawa, as well.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Naha, Okinawa
    Posts
    220
    Likes (received)
    7

    Default

    Thank you, Josh. Not quite as dramatic as the earlier quote, but interesting. It does make me wonder if Draeger had researched karate in Okinawa. While Higaonna may have been an up-and-comer in those days, teachers such as Miyazato Ei'ichi, Higa Yuchoku, Uechi Kanei, and others in Okinawa were at the forefront.
    Nullius in verba

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Nagoya, Japan
    Posts
    522
    Likes (received)
    31

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Lambert View Post
    Thank you, Josh. Not quite as dramatic as the earlier quote, but interesting. It does make me wonder if Draeger had researched karate in Okinawa. While Higaonna may have been an up-and-comer in those days, teachers such as Miyazato Ei'ichi, Higa Yuchoku, Uechi Kanei, and others in Okinawa were at the forefront.
    Well, one thing to keep in mind was that Draeger's criteria for what made good martial arts were often different from the mainstream.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Canberra, A.C.T.
    Posts
    44
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    I think it would pay to sniff around one of the websites associated with draeger's research (hoplological society). My understanding is that he (and his associates) were well aware of the difference between Okinawan and Japanese Karate/ other martial arts.
    also- as Josh pointed out- his group were serious about 'research' and from what I understand, were not easily impressed.

    Mr Keeley/ Mr Armstrong/ Mr Draeger and others devote/ed their lives to this research, I would say that a clear and unequivocal recomendation to one person for instructinon IS quite dramatic- though not as immotiveley phrased.

    I do recall though some mention of that phrase in one of draeger's books.
    I am sure there is someone on this forum that knows the answer- I would bet on it...
    -Michael Fitzgerald.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Naha, Okinawa
    Posts
    220
    Likes (received)
    7

    Default

    I did have a look around the IHS website. Thank you everyone for pointing it out. Very interesting and informative. Based on everything I've read there and elsewhere, it's my opionion that Mr. Draeger was well informed, and likely talented in Japanese karate. He saw something different and more effective than JKA karate in Higaonna's own expression. However, I do not believe that Mr. Draeger had any Okinawan yardstick to compare with Higaonna Morio - he many not have been to Okinawa, and if he had, he likely had little or no chance to see or study with other karateka there. YMMV.
    Nullius in verba

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Nafa
    Posts
    25
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    For what it is worth C.W. Nichols told me that when he arrived in Japan in the 60's (I believe) for martial arts that one could not go to Okinawa. After the reversion to Japan he then could travel to Okinawa. I am sure that there was a difference in access to Okinawa between American military and a lone Welshman but how much...Perhaps someone can clarify this point.

    Just my 2 yen

    James East

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Washington State, USA
    Posts
    3,324
    Likes (received)
    48

    Default

    From 1945-1972, Okinawa was run by the US Army. Think of getting on a closed Army post today, as a foreign national, and you're getting the idea.

    Part of it was, from 1945-1952, the US wasn't sure if it wanted to give Okinawa back to Japan. For awhile, there was even serious consideration given to changing its language of public education into English.

    Then, during the Vietnam war, the Ace Bunkun Numba One industry on Okinawa became prostitution. Sugar cane production was distant second. Given its typical bureaucratic concerns about public relations, I'm not sure the Army really wanted to make that too public, as it had enough PR problems during the Vietnam era.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    38
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    This quote is from a letter to John Jarvis (Kyokushin Karatem then Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate).

    In November 1976 Donn Draeger wrote to John: “There is no better one for me than the Okinawan Goju Ryu under Higaonna Morio here in Tokyo. Here is a man who exemplifies the word do: humble, resilient, skilled, friendly, strong, all at the right times. His technique is the best in Japan, and in a real fight I know nobody, including Oyama, who can best him. He is damn tough!”

    Australasian Martial Arts Forums - http://www.ozmaforums.com/Forums/for...php?f=20&t=413
    Xichen
    Australasian Martial Arts & Self Defence Forums - http://www.ozmaforums.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Naha, Okinawa
    Posts
    220
    Likes (received)
    7

    Default

    So, there is no evidence that Draeger had done any research in Okinawa, met or spoken to Miyazato Ei'ichi (Higaonna's teacher), nor had any comparison with any other than a mainland Japan karateka.
    Nullius in verba

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Auckland NZ
    Posts
    21
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Hi all,

    This might be of use ?

    http://www.karate.org.nz/reference/kurosaki
    Mike Hendrikse

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Soldotna, Alaska
    Posts
    1
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Thanks for the link! I'll have to get this book.
    The quote rings true to me. I think Draeger sensei was a little exasperate by some of the karatedo in Japan as being too focused on stylized gymnastics, while he also admired the hard training involved. Higaonna's toughness was legendary. I was also pleased to see the careful reference to Chinen Teruo who started the U.S. phase of his career by opening free (and uncredited) training sessions at my high school. I have fond memories of him and was blissfully ignorant of budo politics. btw, here's another good quote from Draeger to indicate his estimation of hand combat skills: "If you want to learn weapons, learn from the Japanese. If you want to learn hand-to-hand combat go to the Chinese."

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •