A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

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A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby Victor Smith » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:17 pm

I've just posted on my blog an article on Funakoshi Ginchin's 1914 article on Okinawan Karate as published in 1914. I believe it has many important lessons to consider.

It can be found at:
http://isshin-concentration.blogspot.co ... koshi.html
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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby Bill Glasheen » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:52 pm

Nice article, Victor!

Through the wisdom acquired by age, I've begun to read pieces of literature from generations past with a critical eye. That being the case, I find the post hoc rationalization of the attack on Pearl Harbor vis-à-vis the mantra karate ni sente nashi to be a bit on the expedient side. Let's just say they screwed up, and history proved it. If avoiding the appearance of a bully means making oneself less of a target, well there you go. It's never wise to awaken a sleeping dragon.

Interesting about Funakoshi sharing his present studies. To me the process of learning is more important than what was learned. That often leads to new discoveries. Most have no patience for this, and just want "the" answer. My tolerance for failure is higher, and thus my room to grow in new directions greater.

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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby f.Channell » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:51 am

1914 was the beginning year of WWI. Japan was an ally of Britain and later us when we joined the conflict in 1917.

Prior to WWII Japan had been invading Korea, Russia and other nations. If there was a bully at that time, it was them not us.
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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby Bill Glasheen » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:57 am

f.Channell wrote:
If there was a bully at that time, it was them not us.

That's exactly what I was saying, Fred.

Victor Smith wrote:“From olden times there has been a valuable message passed on called “Karate ni sente nashi” (There’s no first strike in karate). It has been handed down to this day as an important education lesson for young learners. Without this guidance it’s possible that a contradiction may surface in functional application with things the way they are these days. Preemptive qi control is the more effective strategic deterrent in self-defense. However, if you cannot achieve this outcome right away, then you must seek to achieve the next stage of the confrontation. If and when these concepts are applied in karate, a defender can overcome his adversary by first receiving the attack and then countering. However, the exception to this … “ni sente nashi” theory is precluded when it’s a matter of life and death for [our] nation, or someone is about to harm or kill one’s parents, wife or children. In the case of street encounters, or even being surrounded by a group of hoodlums, there are many ways to use your skills but I had better not explain such details for young people here & now.”

{snip}

The section I’ve highlighted in red is the formal explanation Japan had to their attack on Pearl Harbor beginning WWII.

And how did that work out for them? Not so well, eh? Indeed they were the bully, and thus attracted unfortunate "attention" to themselves. No fuel for action is quite like moral indignation. Pearl Harbor had us swarming the South Pacific far faster and far more brutally than anyone could have imagined. And the rest is history.

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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby f.Channell » Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:59 pm

An interesting comparison I've never thought of before is Funakoshi and Kanbun Uechi.
Although Funakoshi was forced to remove his topknot by the mainland Japanese and westernize, from what I have read against his wishes. He later seems to have embraced his Japanese overlords and moved to the mainland. Probably more for economic reasons than to spread Karate. while Kanbun Uechi rejects Japanes culture and the draft and moves to a less influential, weaker nation China (at the time). Pretty different choices.
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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby Victor Smith » Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:12 pm

Actually when Funakoshi was a schoolboy the decree about the elimination of the topnots took place. His family was against removing it but he went ahead and did so anyway wanting to stay in school I believe.

Then he became a teacher in the school system controlled by Japan, so it's not surprising his attitudes were sympathetic with government policies I guess.

Furthermore I recall sometime in the past year or so there is a book out explaining that Teddy Roosevelt made some treaty with Japan to let them deal with Russia and China as they pleased to keep the US out of issues in that area. I recall there was some discussion this led the groundwork for what Japan continued to do up onto the outbreak of WWII.

I'm not a history expert just recall those issues somewhat. It just helps understand the context of what Funakoshi was doing when he went to Japan to sell Okinawan karate as a thing of value. I'm sure it made sense to him to show Okinawa as Japanese, with the reality of politics at that time.

For those interested I just found an interview with the author of the book about Roosevelt's agreement with Japan, interesting! http://hnn.us/articles/121083.html
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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby f.Channell » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:18 pm

That treaty was signed in your neck of the woods in Portsmouth NH.

I was up at the NH archives in Concord a month ago and they had a huge display on it.

I was hunting a British spy in NH during the Revolution for a book I'm writing. Still hunting him.

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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby f.Channell » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:39 am

One thing I can tell you Victor as a guy who writes and researches a lot of history, is that autobiographies written years after the fact are not as reliable as a diary that he wrote at the time. The years have a way of changing thoughts and ideas on subjects. Funakoshi may have felt very differently in 1914 than he felt when he wrote decades after the fact. And we have the filter of the language barrier and the hope the translator caught the nuances of his writing. I know many words that the Japanese used then are no longer typically used today. Letters from WWII are very difficult in some cases for even Japanese to translate.
But far better to have what we do have than not to have it, and certainly worth reading.
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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby Victor Smith » Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:52 am

F,

Thanks, not a native of NH I haven't done a Concord tour, I'll have to try and get to see it sometime.

You are correct about both the accounts we have and the issues of translation. All we can do is try and work with what is available and always keep our minds open that our efforts are perhaps logical but never necessarily correct.

What makes the publications from the 20's and 30's so meaningful for me is when they match training I've received, especially in the case of the Sutrisno family arts which came from Japan in the 1930's.

Sutrisno Achmed was a Doctor in Indonesia, who was drafted into the Japanese Navy and attended the Naval War College (because he was a Doctor) which is where he studied Shotokan under Funakoshi as well as Aikido from one of Usheiba Sensei's students. So much of the works of Funakoshi, Mutsu and Nakasone describe drills I was trained in and have taught to my students for over 25 years. So reading these translations is personally meaningful because i see the connection, not just a literary description.

As i understand his history, he was released from the Japanese Navy when Japan tried to show to the world they were not 'bad' and gave up their control of Indonesia pre-WWII. Later he fought against the Japanese during the war when they returned in guerilla war. I imagine later he did the same against the Dutch (though that was not described to me).

His art taught to his son Sutrisno Tristan uses Shotokan as it's base but is a fusion of karate, aikido and Indonesian Tjimande as well as kobudo practices. I trained with Tristan from roughly 1980 through 1993 and have a slight understanding of their training.

These days Tristan's senior student teaches Shotokan and Tristan mostly focuses on his Indonesian arts.
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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby f.Channell » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:18 am

Sounds like a great learning opportunity. The fighting in Indonesia if I remember correctly from a documentary was extremely nasty.
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Re: A very unique view of Okinawan Karate in 1914

Postby f.Channell » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:24 am

That event was the Treaty which ended the Russo-Japanese War. The only international peace treaty ever signed in the US. Took a while to come back to me! getting old....
Good old Teddy Roosevelt put that together.
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