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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 1999 6:01 am 
On another thread the comment was posted that most North Americans do not understand Okinawan culture or the oriental mindset. I felt that this was a very true statement with some very important and far-reaching implications. From this truth I have drawn a few conclusions. These are my own and they are in no way linked to the originator of the comments.

I freely admit that I know nothing of the Okinawan culture or how someone from that culture would think. I have never been to Okinawa. I have never trained directly with an Okinawan or anyone who has ever lived for an extended period in Okinawa. Learning a culture and understanding the nuances of a culture is a large project. Based on my experience, there really is no way I could really know Okinawan culture.

So this leaves me passing on what others have struggled to learn. All of these are subject to misunderstanding and alteration as we shove them through our personal filters. This is no one's fault, merely the way real life is.

The same point was made as to whether or not we understood the oriental mindset we supposedly study. I am again in full agreement with this statement. For the same reasons as to why I cannot hope to truly understand the Okinawan culture, I must admit that I will not understand the oriental mindset. In fact, if truth is to be presented here I cannot say that I study in an oriental mindset. I can only study in my own mind set (with direction from my teacher).

I think this is a simple fact. Most North Americans will not truly understand Okinawan culture, or the oriental mindset. The question is should we? Or does it matter to the study of the martial art that we love?

Let us examine that. Uechi Kanbun Sensei went to China and learned a Chinese martial art. When he returned to his homeland, what did he do?

He called it Karate and made it fit his culture and his mind set. And he had lived in China for YEARS!

Here comes along a North American who goes to Okinawa and learns an Okinawan (Chinese) martial art. He returns to North America. Now what?

Well, for a large part there has been a strong attempt to keep the connections between the art and Okinawa. But as has been pointed out this was destined to fail. In fact, there really wasn't much that could be done to stop it. Oh, there are those who have in fact trained in Okinawa, but for the most part we keep a very superficial connection to the people who gave us this art.

Do we then abandon Okinawa? There is absolutely no reason to. In our world today it is easier to reach out, than in Uechi Kanbun Sensei's time. Would he have kept in touch with his Chinese teacher if he could have? I can only guess yes, but that is based on my own thinking. It would be a good thing to have strong connections to those who gave this art to North America.

But this leads us to an even greater challenge. One that has been approached already by some of the North American SENIORS, and that is to merge this style with North American culture and North American mind set without losing what makes this style great.

Having the fact that most of us will never truly understand Okinawan Culture or the oriental mind set pointed out to us, should also point out that it is time for North American Karate to sprout its own wings and fly on its own. NEVER should we forget, or disrespect our roots. We are being pushed from the nest. Let our North American Seniors teach us to fly.


Peace,

Rick


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 1999 8:18 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 181
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Rick:

Wouldn't it be fun to know the future of anything? Well maybe.

Your point about making this art we study more our own though is well taken. I wonder how this medium we use so frequently will change and alter martial arts. I enjoy looking at changes that have occured in our style and others over the last forty years. I doubt that Funakoshi would recognize the art he spawned, but if we look closely we can see the influence of kendo (especially the tournament format and stances) the more native Japanese art, upon Okinawan karate. Would Kanbun recognize all the bouncing many Okinawans and Americans are doing (my predicition is that bouncing will either fade away as a fighting style, or be incorporated in a kata), and where did all the bouncing come from. Western boxing? Kendo? The Koreans?

Ah, the Koreans. Talk about diversification and evolution. 1954. The darn style is younger than me. (But I am still younger than Prof. Neide.) Goodness, look at the changes it has gone through. And speaking of cultural influence, since I am rambling anyway, is it any wonder that in a world where soccer is the number one sport that a style of martial arts emphasizing kicking would not also climb to number one?

Many of us look back fondly on a time when we were all one group (OK, we were never really all one group, but we sort of pretended we were or didn't mention any of the splinter factions). But, as many of the masters who the American seniors trained with age, we will be faced with a frightening prospect...there will be Americans with more experience, more years, and perhaps more knowledge of Uechi than many of their Okinawan counter parts. Will the lack of cultural identification with karate, that is the fact that karate is not part of our American culture as opposed to it being an very important part of Okinawan culture, diminish the accomplishments or lessen the skills of the American seniors. Will it harm the evolution?

In twenty years, provided we are still around, it is unlikely there will be anyone left who studied with Kanbun. How many will be left who attained mastery under Kanei?

I believe the challenge placed before us was best articulated by Funakoshi who observed, "To search for the old is to understand the new. The old, the new This is a matter of time. In all things man must have a clear mind. The Way: Who will pass it on straight and well?" (Karate Do Kyohan, by Gichin Funakoshi, translated by Tsutomu Ohshima; Kodansha International Ltd. 1974.) Let us hope the answer to Master Funakoshi's question can be found here in America with those of us crazy enough to study this art the Uechi family has so generously shared with us.

Peace.
Robb in Sacramento


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 1999 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 148
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Robb,

"The darn style is younger than me. (But I am still younger than Prof. Neide.)"

What?! Didn't your mother teach you never to discuss a woman's age in public? Especially your MA instructor. Shame on you!

Moe Mensale


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 1999 8:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Benny Goodman...ah yes! J.D., your tastes (occasionally) warm my heart (Uma's not bad either).

Imagine the fallacy of seeking THE rendition of a jazz piece. How moronic. How OXYmoronic!

But....now and then you will see posts on this page from people who obsess about old Master X's way of doing things. At times, we should be Grateful that some of these masters are Dead. How else can we make people appreciate the momentary nature of an artistic act? Of a real fight?

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 03-19-99).]


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 1999 5:52 am 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Back in 1978, Larry Tan wrote an article in Inside Kung Fu magazine on our style. The title was Uechi Ryu - An Okinawan Cousin of Kung Fu. In it, Larry pointed out how a non-native artform will naturally take on the culture of those who practice and teach it.

Imagine that perspective - viewing "pangainoon" as removed from its roots, with the Okinawan culture changing (hide the children!!) the artform. And now, in the words of the incomparable Yogi Berra, we have "deja vu all over again."

Did the Chinese artform that Kanbun studied change from what it was that he saw near Fuzhou city? Undoubtedly. Has the change been good? I think most would say yes. What we have today is more than what Kanbun first taught. But those who have studied some of the "cousin" artforms might argue that some of the art was lost in the translation process.

Since one of my students started a Uechi school in Regensburg, Germany, I have had the pleasure (and the horror) of watching the Germans learn a Chinese artform that has been passed from China to Okinawa to New England to UVa to Germany. I have watched them learn an artform that is something like what Kanbun first saw and practiced. And....I have watched them pick up "Glasheenisms" and "Hirabayashiisms" as if they were truth. I see imperfections revered and cast in stone. And occasionally I see things being done that are, well, distinctly the "German" way (and sometimes distinctly the Bavarian way).

Now and then I think about all this...and see the reality of what we do.

Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 03-19-99).]


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 1999 9:27 pm 
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Posts: 619
The U.S. has been a "melting pot" of individuals. People from many diverse cultures who bring a bit of wherever country they're which has made our lifestyle & society uniquely "American."

You, then, no longer have something that is "pure" ... for the moment it is introduced to another ... it changes. To remain the same and unchanging is nearly impossible. To do so would indicate stagnation and lifelessness.

In this gathering together circle of what we call Uechi-Ryu, Shorhei-Ryu etc., there are also many diverse students and teachers. Each brings their uniqueness to bear on the style, depending on their studies and background. It is what keeps this form growing and fresh. The basics and foundation are always (and should be) there. In order for the movements, the interpretatations, the applications to have life .... they must be allowed to flow and evolve.

I think it was Bruce Lee who once said that kata should flow like water ... Water is ever-changing from various forms: frozen, fast, fluid, slow, raging, gentle. And so should our Art be as fluid.

I hope this is all clear and not like "muddy water" as I have been sick with the flu/chest cold and am under the influence of cough medicine dreams...

By the way JD ... I too, love, Gene Krupa. When I was little I wanted to play the drums -- my parents had given me a Spike Jones drum set -- But, they couldn't stand the sounds, so I soon started playing the piano.

An old musician boyfriend played the skins and I was able to sit in on one jam session with Krupa and another with Buddy Rich ... I didn't realize then how lucky I was ...

--Jackie


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 1999 11:19 am 
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Dear J.D.,

... I meant no offense ... didn't even realize I missed the customary salutation ...

Well said ... yes we do cherish masters, despite their faults. I often wondered how I would know when I was in the presence of a true master. Would I recognize him or her ... despite obvious talents or appearances?

Perhaps a true master can be recognized as someone who has experienced life in greater measure than the average human? Their quest, their passion has driven them to surrender to an inner strength ... where most would have given up long ago...

-Jackie


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 1999 3:50 pm 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Jackie

You are (thankfully) not in a position to address him with "Dear John". There are others.... If you don't behave online, J.D., I have their phone numbers and they will talk!

Oh and, by the way, saw Uma last night on the Academy Awards. I believe she was introduced as "the sumptuous....". Hell, her dress was really crappy looking and yet her face oozed with....Uma.

Speaking of masters (of their respective talents)....

I think you need to know a lot about either the field in question or about people to understand when you are in the presence of one. For example, I don't believe you NEED to know a lot about karate to appreciate a person like Nakahodo. First time I saw him at a camp imitating students' mistakes (for their edification), he had me in stitches. I kept thinking of Marcelle Merceau - another master of his respective art. I don't believe you need to know much about boxing to appreciate a Muhammed Ali. I don't believe you need to know much about baseball to appreciate a Joe Dimaggio. You do not need to know politics and diplomacy to appreciate Winston Churchill.

I believe that true masters live their passions on a daily basis. Joe Dimaggio carried his attention to detail and excellence into the way he dressed. Muhammed Ali (then Cassius Clay) was nicknamed "the ambassador" during the 1960 Olympic games because of his personality.

Some may get fooled by charletans. But 'you can't fool all the people all the time.' When you know and have experienced life, you will learn to appreciate it.

Bill


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 1999 3:16 am 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
J.D.

Might you be a bit more...er...eloquent and....er...constructive in your description of those who insult others? Surely bad behavior can stand on its own and make the perpetrator appear as he is without you lowering your highly-skilled fingers to similar ungentlemanly, egotistical, and intellect-free discourse.

For further information, please go to the following:

http://www.xpres.net/~gmattson/ubbs/charter.html

Thanks.

Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 03-22-99).]


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 1999 7:51 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 28, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 2438
Location: MARSHFIELD, MA. USA
Bill, J.D. et al:

The mere observation of something can change it.

(Star Trek-The Prime Directive)

JOHN T

------------------


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 Post subject: What is our future?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 1999 8:13 pm 
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John T

That is also a fundamental understanding in the field of measurement.

"Yes, Mrs. Jones, we froze you husband's brain, thin-sliced it with a microtome, and observed the cellular structure in the electron microscope. We came to the conclusion that he was fine all along - before we killed him to figure out what was wrong."

Bill


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