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Geoff
5th August 2013, 02:30
I've been rereading "Karate-Do Kyohan" and it has, once more, brought up more questions than it has answered. From clues dropped in the text and other sources I'm trying to piece together the groups of karateka Funakoshi was associated with during his Okinawa days.

Funakoshi writes that he was associated with a group of senior karateka making public demonstrations in 1914/15. The group included Mabuni, Motobu, Kyan, Gusukuma, Ogusuku (Ogosoku in Richard Kim's book), Tokumura, Ishikawa and Yabiku.

So, here's my first stumper. If these guys were the public face of karate, and they performed all over Okinawa including Naha how come Naha-te karateka were not involved? Was it a class issue? Was it an intentional snub? It seems like the Shuri-te guys often seemed to come from higher classes than the Naha-te men. Was there some other bias present? Or, did the Naha-te people choose not to publicize their karate (note, I don't think this is true because there were Naha style public school programs)?

Question number two: Was the Kyan mentioned in this group Chotoku Kyan or the Kyan listed as a student of Kentsu Yabu in Richard Kim's "Weaponless Warriors" (not a great source, but I haven't seen another Kyan listed anywhere else).

Question Three: Who were Tokumura and Ishikawa? I haven't found record of them anywhere else. This group seems heavy on Itosu's students, so perhaps they were from Itosu's stable?

Once I get these questions hashed out I have a whole other batch of mysteries related to the 1920 Okinawa Martial Arts Association and subsequent friendships and animosities exhibited by the masters, but first things first.

Thanks for all your help!

Joseph Svinth
5th August 2013, 03:49
Q1. My guess (and it is only a guess)? These guys were somehow connected to the group of karate men instructing the Japanese Navy. In 1912, some officers from the First Fleet studied karate for a week or so. Admiral Dewa and Captain Yashiro were among them. Having an admiral and a three-stripe captain giving you recommendations meant something in those days.

Admiral Dewa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewa_Shiget%C5%8D

Captain (later Admiral) Yashiro: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yashiro_Rokur%C5%8D

They got their training at Daiichi Middle School. So, again, my guess is that Funakoshi's demonstrators were people that supported teaching karate in the public schools, to non-Uchinanchu, and so on.

What's interesting about the Crown Prince's observation of karate in 1921 is that the Japanese were saying that karate resembled Western boxing. So, they's seen boxing, but most likely had *not* seen southern Shaolin (which is definitely related).

There is a little on this in Harry Cook's Shotokan Karate: A Precise History, but I'm guessing you'll need to read old Japanese-language papers to get any additional detail.

Q2. Again, a guess, but my money is on Chotoku Kyan.

Q3. No idea, not even a guess. Have you asked Patrick McCarthy?

Not a karate man, as far as I know, but here's a fellow that may be important. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iha_Fuy%C5%AB . I'm guessing that Funakoshi based a lot of his research on the research done by Iha and other folklorists and anthropologists of the day.

Geoff
5th August 2013, 11:30
Thanks, Joe.
I'm going to look at some non-MA material to look at the differences between Shuri and Naha communities in the early 1900s. That might help answer some of my questions. I think you're right about the Middle School group being the heart of the 1914/15 demo group. Interesting that I've seen photos of Funaksohi earlier and later, but not in this group or association from this time period. Funny that except for a quick mention this group isn't really described in detail in Cook's book either. For a group of karateka this influential their association seems somewhat a mystery.

Q. 2 I agree, probably Chotoku Kyan. The age seems right.

Q. 3 I've never corresponded with Mr. McCarthy and know him by reputation only. But maybe I'll bother him with an email after I dig a bit more.

I'm away for work for a few days and won't have consistent computer access, so I appreciate your quick (and, as always, erudite) response!

Andrew S
6th August 2013, 10:53
Geoff, I'm wondering about a class difference at work, in terms of who was connected to the aristocracy via either family or position. Quite possibly the style of the bodyguards of the Okinawan royal family was chosen as the representative style.
I'm also thinking geography may have been at work - if the karate men were demonstrating in the Shuri area, it seems likely that the local system would have been favoured.

Geoff
8th August 2013, 01:55
Andrew,

It's interesting because these guys were the face of public karate - even in Naha. Geography didn't seem to matter that much. But I think you're right regarding class differences. Most of the group including Funakoshi were in Bushi Matsumura's lineage. He was very high class. Also, Azato, Motobu, Kyan and Funakoshi were related to various levels of the Okinawan aristocracy. Most of the Naha masters, especially those who had traveled to China for study, were from the merchant class. In Confucian society merchants were quite low-class.

I've got some more research to do on Meiji Okinawan society in general and this group specifically. I'll post it as I get it.

Joseph Svinth
8th August 2013, 02:09
Geoff --

Check out the books by Lebra on Okinawan shamanism. Then follow the references, leads, and so on.

Also check University of Hawai'i at Manoa, as the library there has as good of an Uchinanchu collection as you're likely to find without traveling too far. (Okay, it's a good distance, but I guarantee that your wife will let you go to Hawaii if you a) agree to take her, and b) let her go to the beach or shopping while you're at the library. UH Manoa also has an online karate collection (courtesy Charles Goodin): http://www.hawaii.edu/asiaref/okinawa/collections/karate/ . Several texts are digitized.

For Ryukyuan studies, Josef Kreiner's books and articles represent a very good starting place, especially if interlibrary loan is a possibility.

Guy Buyens
26th August 2013, 05:16
how come Naha-te karateka were not involved? Was it a class issue? Was it an intentional snub? It seems like the Shuri-te guys often seemed to come from higher classes than the Naha-te men. Was there some other bias present? Or, did the Naha-te people choose not to publicize their karate

I believe in 1921, during the visit of Prince Hirohito (Showa) to Okinawa, Chojun Miyagi demonstrated kata.

Geoff
27th August 2013, 12:52
Guy, I believe you are correct. The 1921 group did include Naha-te. However, it seems like the 1914/15 group excluded Naha-te. I'm inclined to believe it was because of family/class relationships - the Shuri men were had more social standing, often better classical education and greater prestige. I'm still doing some reading on this.

cxt
27th August 2013, 13:08
Geoff

Maybe it was less "exclusion for social/class reasons" and more to do with stylistic reasons?

Maybe.

Andrew S
27th August 2013, 13:24
Would the timing of Itosu's death have played any part? (memorial demonstration, etc. )

Guy Buyens
27th August 2013, 15:06
May-be it is less complicated (i.e. not driven by socio-cultural forces) and less intentional (i.e. little to do with style preference).

Itosu and later Funakoshi enabled karate to enter the school system. They were also instrumental to get it more known to the larger public, mainly because they were the first to choose to do so.

Other masters were still in the more select mode of teaching.

In the period around 1910-1916 Funakoshi would publicly demonstrate a lot and of course he would do so together with his Shuri-te fellow students, followers of Itosu.
Also Funakoshi could give demonstrations with larger groups, composed of children, since he was teaching karate in schools. I believe when giving a demonstration to the Navy (around 1912) it must have been possible through his connections with the school system (hence relationship with the Ministry of Education). Forming a demonstration team composed of children on the one hand and some of his friends with whom he demonstrated already seems logical.

Also once involved in demonstrations (certainly associated with the school system) it is understandable that it was he who got invited by the Ministry of education to go to Kyoto in 1917 and of course he would bring along his close friends and students.

Although the difference between Naha and Shuri (merchant versus more elite) is well documented, there was no wall between the 2 area. Certainly to get invited by a public school in Naha must have been quite acceptable for a schoolteacher in Shuri. I remember one of the first wake-up experiences when I visited Okinawa is that Naha, Shuri and Tomari are so close that they now all belong to the same city.

A little later, in the early 20s, Miyagi certainly followed the stream of going more public and even went to mainland Japan.

Andrew S
27th August 2013, 21:21
Didn't Miyagi actually visit Hawaii before visiting mainland Japan?

Guy Buyens
28th August 2013, 17:17
No, he already went to mainland Japan before, but in contrast to his friend Mabuni, he would not settle himself there.

Andrew S
28th August 2013, 21:07
I seem to recall that Yabu was also teaching karate in the school system around this time.

KaikanDojo
4th September 2013, 08:13
Chojun Miyagi was traveling for several months in 1915 on two trips to China. He was also in the military from 1910-1012. That makes it unlikely that he would have been available for demos in 1915. Also likely that he would still be in training-mode, rather than demo-mode, in 1914 as he had only been back in Okinawa for 2 years at that point. Kanryo Higaonna started teaching karate in public schools in 1905, and was very well respected amongst the Shuri-te practitioners, so I doubt Naha-te absence from the 1914/1915 had to do with elitism.

Geoff
5th September 2013, 19:14
Well, that's the thing, Jaret. Higaonna was around and well-known, but he was excluded from this group. There was also a Chinese martial arts teacher in either Naha or Tomari (I'm not in front of my library right now) who was active in the kenkyukai that Funakoshi later was appointed president and he was excluded, too. So, my question still stands, why only Shuri-te guys and why only certain Shuri-te guys, at that? This was sort of like the "official" Okinawan karate group as far as the government and press was concerned, so why the exclusivity?

Guy Buyens
5th September 2013, 21:57
Tension between China and Japan arose from Japan's control over Okinawa (around 1870) and relations between Japan and China evolved the way we all know (the first Sino–Japanese War was fought in 1894 –1895).
May-be Naha-te was just too much Chinese influenced and the Shuri guys were, fort hat time, a better political move towards Japan, hence were more acceptable to promote Okinawa art.

cxt
6th September 2013, 15:32
Geoff

You keep using the term "excluded" and phrasing it as if it were a deliberate, calculated action for specific reasons--as several people have pointed out there are any number of perfectly good reasons for the lack of "naha" based guys in the group

If you have a case to make then please make it. We can hash it out......respectfully :)

I see no evidence of any sort of any form of calculated "exclusion."

As you, yourself, point out:

"Why only Shuri-Te guys and only those Shuri-te guys"

Perhaps because they WERE all "Shuri-te" guys--sharing a similar style would likely have meant that knew each other better--had the same teachers in common and practiced a similar style---which to me would seem to be good reasons to group up.

Nothing sinister about it.

Plus the list seems to include most--not all but most-- of the more well-known folks of the period --IMO another pretty reasonable idea. If your going to put a group together then it makes sense to pick the more well known of the "Shuri" set. Again, nothing sinister.

Interesting question and discussion--just don't see any reason to automatically see it as some sort of deliberate "exclusion" when something as simple as normal tendency of stylists to form cliques can explain it.

Geoff
6th September 2013, 15:58
I think you're attributing motives to me that I'm not aware of. People are excluded consciously and unconsciously all the time. I have no agenda other than historical interest. If there is a group and some people join others are, by definition, excluded. If people are lumped into a group through some political or social process (i.e they make the team), others are excluded. As you say, nothing is sinister in that - it just is. Maybe it was just like-minded people getting together, but then again maybe not - especially since A) they took their show on the road in public demos as "the" karateka of Okinawa, and B) there were people in the group who were not great friends (e.g. Funakoshi, Motobu and Kyan) and yet they associated for the purpose of this group. What explains that? Also, if someone "put this group together", who was it and why? I'm curious as to the role and motives of this group, but the available English-language sources are meager. That's what has prompted my initial post.

I think it's a question worthy inquiry, but not an argument.

cxt
6th September 2013, 18:46
Geoff

I get it--and I'm not looking for a an e-fight either.

Its an interesting question/s.....and not that I have any say-so, but I also think its worthy of discussion.

Did Funakoshi have the clout at that point in time to have been the driving force behind getting the group together---or would it have been more likely to have been one of the older generation?

Some of them might not have gotten along personally but they (many of them) had teachers in common. Which might have served as enough "common ground" to get them to overlook their personal differences--for a while at least.

I can also see it being more of an "ad hoc" kinda thing with some of the people sort of inviting themselves along--a sort of "Funakoshi is putting a group together? Cool, sounds like fun" kind of thing. Motobu and Kyan etc. were well-known in their own right it would have been hard to turn them away.

In my own group there are any number of people that don't really get along, but if someone is going to a meet or doing a demo its not uncommon for people to invite themselves along.....maybe that is not a "new" phenomenon?

Just think out loud here--like I said interesting question/s.

Guy Buyens
6th September 2013, 20:04
Itosu and Higaonna passed away around 1915 so obviously they were both not involved in promoting Karate (Tode) after that.

Miyagi, Higaonna’s best student, as already mentioned, left for China, so he was not in Okinawa.
I don’t think he was ever excluded though.

His friend Mabuni (student of Itosu) was introduced by him to Kanryo Higaonna already in 1909.
Miyagi spent a great deal of his time promoting Naha-te. And as already mentioned he demonstrated before Hirohito in 1921.
Miyagi was also instrumental in creating a Karate Research Club (together with Motobu and Mabuni) in 1926.
In 1930 and 1932 he demonstrated in Japan (after an invitation of Kano who had seen him in Okinawa). Later he would go to Hawai.

And for the real reasons behind the Group gathered around Funakoshi: who will tell, there are no people around who can recall what the motives where, so we can only speculate.

Kevin73
11th September 2013, 01:46
I just don't think the time frames really allowed the two branches to do alot of group work at the time in question. Higaonna taught in schools since 1905, but always maintained a strict adherence to what he had learned in China. In fact, before studying in China Kanryo studied Shuri-Te. The same thing with Kanbun Uechi when he started teaching, it was the same method he learned in China and it reflected a more chinese art. Most of the Shuri based styles seem to have taken what they learned and made it their own and has a longer history on Okinawa.

In Funakoshi's book, he makes the statement that Shuri is made for smaller people and Naha is made for larger people. So, there were some stylistic differences between the two schools. So it wouldn't surprise me that our stuff is better than your stuff type thing going on. But also, most of the time you are going to hang out with those you know and it wasn't until the 1940's that Miyagi and Shoshin came together to create some "generic" kata to be taught in the school systems and try to make a united karate.

Geoff
11th September 2013, 16:36
Kevin,

Would the Miyagi/Nagamini system be the forerunner of Shito-ryu or was it more of an introduction to karate for students that did necessarily not develop into it's own lineage?

Andrew S
11th September 2013, 21:31
Of course, Funakoshi was also involved in organizations whose goal was to push Okinawa "closer" to mainland Japan (remember the whole topknot issue?). It seems pretty likely that if some of Funakoshi's political contacts were successful in getting royal visits to Okinawa, then Funakoshi and his karate associates would be the ones to demonstrate.
I'll have to check my local library again. I was flipping through a photographic history of Okinawa, and there was a shot of Funakoshi along with several other people, none of them famous in the karate world - I believe it was one of those political organizations I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Geoff
12th September 2013, 13:58
Scratch that last question. I found a reasonable and thorough explanation here: http://seinenkai.com/articles/art-fukyu.html

Kevin73
15th September 2013, 00:44
Kevin,

Would the Miyagi/Nagamini system be the forerunner of Shito-ryu or was it more of an introduction to karate for students that did necessarily not develop into it's own lineage?

I believe it was more for introduction to karate for students and having a "set curriculum" type thing that they would learn that was kind of a non-style bias.

CEB
18th September 2013, 20:58
I just don't think the time frames really allowed the two branches to do alot of group work at the time in question. Higaonna taught in schools since 1905, but always maintained a strict adherence to what he had learned in China. In fact, before studying in China Kanryo studied Shuri-Te. The same thing with Kanbun Uechi when he started teaching, it was the same method he learned in China and it reflected a more chinese art. Most of the Shuri based styles seem to have taken what they learned and made it their own and has a longer history on Okinawa.

In Funakoshi's book, he makes the statement that Shuri is made for smaller people and Naha is made for larger people. So, there were some stylistic differences between the two schools. So it wouldn't surprise me that our stuff is better than your stuff type thing going on. But also, most of the time you are going to hang out with those you know and it wasn't until the 1940's that Miyagi and Shoshin came together to create some "generic" kata to be taught in the school systems and try to make a united karate.

Exactly what was this method Higaoshionna learned in China?

Kevin73
19th September 2013, 01:30
Exactly what was this method Higaoshionna learned in China?

Both Kanbun Uechi and Kanryo Higaonna taught what they learned in China hard/soft or half-hard/half-soft and the methods were VERY similar until the breathing patterns and hands were closed to fists (some people say that Miyagi made the changes, others say that Higashionna made the changes).

He learned it in Fuzhou China at the Kojo Dojo, and many believe that it was Fujian White Crane. Higashionna also had training in Monk fist boxing.

CEB
19th September 2013, 20:51
I don't know. People who read a lot of books and internet stuff say that stuff a lot.

I seen a lot of Fukien boxing and A LOT of White Crane and it doesn't look anything like Goju Ryu. I am inclined to take Miyagi Sendai at his word when he wrote the Historical Outline of Karate-Do. (Brought to Okinawa in 1828).

Something I always found curious was students of Aragaki Shoshin did a demo at a ceremony celebrating the installment of the last Ryukyu King. Higoshionna was a student of Aragaki. This is before Higaoshionna went to China. The names of the kata performed at the demo match names of Goju kata.

I never understood why a man would go to China during that time and work hard to learn martial arts only to change it completely out of recognition.

The only way you will Goju in China is if a Goju man took it there. But that is just me.



Ed Boyd

ZachZinn
20th September 2013, 02:30
The Chinese connection has always seemed less important to me than some make of it, even if you find the same kata, usually it's not only changed beyond recognition, but the entire method of Nahate, locomotion, striking etc. seems fundamentally different than white crane etc. People like super-secret links and mysterious stuff though.

Kevin73
20th September 2013, 05:02
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IpHRpmu320

You're right it looks nothing like it.

Also, we have Kanbun Uechi that was known to have learned only in China and learned something very similiar to Kanryo. Historical evidence would suggest that they are connected. In Uechi we know one of the sources was Tiger boxing. We also know from statements that Uechi made that he learned some katas that he did not pass on and that Suparenpei was a kata that he did not learn. The base katas are both the same in Goju/Uechi (Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseiryu and Suparenpei), although Miyagi taught more than those 4. If we look at the art of To'on Ryu, we also see that the base 4 are the same from Kanryo and Juhatsu added in some others himself, which suggests that the other katas were added in later by Miyagi.

Fujian White Crane should not be confused with Fuzhou White Crane even though they are both southern white crane styles. there are many different white crane styles (feeding/whooping etc).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85fPZ5daZas

CEB
20th September 2013, 13:20
I had a brain fart yesterday. Aragaki Seisho is what I should have typed not Shoshin. I'm getting old you know. LOL.

I like Uechi. My teacher has a 4th dan from Uechi Kanei. He has taught me some of Uechi System. A lot of our striking comes from Uechi. My teacher can hit harder with his thumbs than I can hit with my fists. I don't teach any Uechi kata. Heck I still can't get my Goju right.

CEB
20th September 2013, 13:29
The Chinese connection has always seemed less important to me than some make of it, even if you find the same kata, usually it's not only changed beyond recognition, but the entire method of Nahate, locomotion, striking etc. seems fundamentally different than white crane etc. People like super-secret links and mysterious stuff though.

Occum's razor alone leads me to believe the any Chinese connection through Higaoshionna is way over blown. Miyagi Sendai trip where he went to Jing Wu may have been more influential and maybe not. I find it interesting that Miyagi himself never mentions his teacher's trip to China but say they inherited a Chinese boxing system in 1828.