Wikipedia is a wealth of sagely advice – much of it misleading, incomplete and out of context. For instance, the author dealing with the ‘Tai Sabaki’ page - states that the usual interpretation of Tai Sabali in the West which involving ‘evasion’ is ‘wrong’. However, if an individual can ‘read’ Chinese and/or Japanese ideograms – it is obvious that whatever this concept is - ‘evasion’ forms a central aspect of it. The author in question does not fully comprehend the entire concept of Tai Sabaki and is attempting to join the two ends of an idea together whilst omitting a (vast) theoretical centre-ground!
1) 体 (Tai) - Japanese Equivalent of Chinese ideogram ‘體’ (ti3) = ‘body’
This is related to a body (comprised of - and structured by - its internal bone structure) which is augmented in the physical world through musical rituals (involving drumming) and the adornment of jade of jewellery. The body is enhanced by the placement and alignment of its inner structure and the means (rituals) through which this body traverses the outer world. That which is ‘detrimental’ is avoided and that which is ‘nourishing’ is embraced. There is an implication in the Japanese language that ‘体’ (Tai) refers primarily to the trunk and the abdomen – and only secondarily to the limbs. It is the ‘centre’ of the body which has priority over the ‘periphery’ of the body.
2) 捌 (Saba) - Japanese Equivalent of Chinese ideogram ‘捌’ (ba1) = Disentangle
This ideogram - (in its Chinese interpretation) can mean ‘eight’ - an alternative form of ‘八’ (ba1). A ‘hand’ which expertly uses a ‘knife’ - cuts through the flesh and bones of a fish so that it is separated into ‘eight’ clean parts (probably a generic term meaning ‘many’). There is also the central idea of ‘disentanglement’ - so that no unnecessary error (or resistance) is met. This is because ‘entanglement’ means ‘hindrance’ - and the skill referred to here involves the ‘avoidance’ of such self-imposed difficulty. Evading ‘resistance’ is the correct path that leads to such a skill. The blade of the knife skilfully feels its way around (and along) the natural contours of the bones – and does NOT cut directly (at right-angles) into the bone-structure at any time. There is a ‘going with’ rather than a ‘going against’. This ideogram is the central element of this Karate-Do principle - and probably means slightly different things within the various styles which make use of it.
3) き(Ki) - Japanese Equivalent of Chinese ideogram ‘幾’ (ji3) = Skill
There is an indication of ‘quantity’, ‘measurement’ and ‘refinement’ within Japanese language dictionaries. The suggestion is that the correct manipulation of exact amounts is a great skill which has to be mastered in any successful avenue of life. This idea spans both the material and the spiritual world! An individual can carefully follow the established criterion laid down by those who have gone before – or if such an individual possesses the correct (and right) amounts of psychological insight and physical strength – then they might set out on their own path and become an inspiration for those who are to come!
When taken as an integrated whole – the martial principle of Tai Sabaki (体捌き) suggests that the physical body (its central core and not just its periphery) is skilfully used (manipulated) in a combat situation so that there is no direct conflict between the defender deploying this technique - and an attacker ignoring this technique. Tai Sabaki (体捌き) is NOT just the skilful movement of the arms and legs in ‘protection’ of the central core (the torso). Tai Sabaki (体捌き) is a ‘centre-out’ technique that requires the core and periphery to work in concord. Strength does not clash with strength. The ability to assertively ‘give-way' is the key to this technique. Indeed, when the timing is perfect - ‘giving-way’ becomes far stronger than the momentary strength associated with a dramatic (but short-lived) show of strength! Giving-way, at its highest manifestation, not only ‘absorbs’ and ‘nullifies’ ALL incoming power – but when performed correctly, generates the basis for ‘greater’ power to be produced that is not reliant upon linear (muscular) strength – but rather the ‘circular’ movement associated with the structures of the bones and joints! The bodyweight ‘drops’ into the ground through the shaft of the (aligned) bones and rebounds upwards through the centre of the bone-marrow – producing a seemingly endless supply of ‘muscle-free’ power! As this power is greater than that associated with the muscular ‘tension’ of thuggery – the defender occupies a unique time-space frequency within which the attacker cannot access (or penetrate) regardless of the willpower exhibited. The linear attacks cannot land on an object continuously moving in perfectly timed circles. Once such a level of mastery is achieved – the defender can decide the level damage perpetuated upon the attacker depending upon circumstance. Should the body of the attacker be temporarily or permanently disabled? Should the body of an attacker be only (gently) nullified as if in play? Someone who has mastered Tai Sabaki (体捌き) possesses all these choices. This is why the Wado Ryu Style of Karate-Do posits the highest ideal of a defender possessing the ability to prevent damage to both their own body AND the body of the opponent! An ideal of the highest nobility!
This is a 'PS' to my earlier 'Gyaku Tsuki' article regarding the Karate-Do 'Lunge Punch' or 'Leading Forward Punch' (追 い 突 き). The last two Japanese ideograms (突 き- Tsu Ki) we may take as read. Therefore 'Oi' (追 い) can be read as follows:
a) 追 (zhui1) - Japanese Kanji (ou) = chase, follow and pursue
b) い (I) - Japanese Hiragana = 'to do' (verb) as in '追い払うこと' (Oi harau koto) or to 'drive something away'
This seems to suggest that an 'Oi Tsuki' is a leading punch which (fluidly) follows the movement of an enemy target (similar to - but not identical with - a Western Boxing 'Jab') - and is used to 'drive' the opponent away! There might also be an implication that this punch 'follows' the opponent and then is 'driven' through their centre of mass using immense 'penetrating' power!
Within the Wado Ryu Karate-Do tradition 'Oi' (追 い) is replaced with the Chinese ideogram '順' (shun4):
1) 順 - Japanese Kanji (also written as 'じゅん') and pronounced 'Jun' - meaning 'order', 'sequence' and 'obedience'
The Chinese ideogram '順' (shun4) is comprised of two constituent particles:
i) Left-hand particle = '川' (chuan1) - river, flow and direction
ii) Right-hand particle = '頁' (ye4) - head, top and beginning
Therefore, the use of '順' (shun4) within the context of a 'Jun Tsuki' - refers to a 'leading' (as 'head' equals 'forward') and 'penetrating' punch (like a torrent of rushing water hitting and overcoming an obstacle) which follows closely the movement of the opponent. However, as with all these concepts - a play on words might be in operation. It could be that a continuously 'flowing' punch strikes at the spiritual and physical origin of an opponent ('driving' through their literal and metaphysical centre, so-to-speak) - thus rendering them useless and unable to respond.
Master Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) [1947-2018]
Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) [1947-2018] is an ethnic Chinese man born in Hong Kong who committed his life to establishing and normalizing an Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do club within Hong Kong – amongst ethnic Chinese people. At his death (on July 21st, 2018), Mr Lin Jingfeng was considered a ‘Grand Master’ (师范 - Shi Fan) - pronounced ‘Shihan’ in the Japanese language. Due to the behaviour of the Imperial Japanese Army throughout Northeast and Southern China between 1931-1945 – and the hundreds of thousands Chinese men, women and children throughout China (and the millions killed and wounded throughout Asia) - the ethnic Chinese people understandably possessed (and still possess) a ‘dim’ view of Japanese morality and martial arts ability! The Japanese military forces had routinely carried-out endless atrocities – often using traditional martial arts as a vehicle for hurting, maiming and killing, etc! My family, like millions of others in China, have a direct experience of this barbarity which brought endless lineages to an end. I will not go into the horror of the details here, but I am building the picture so that the average non-Chinese reader will begin to understand just a little of the problems Mr Lin Jingfeng faced whilst trying to popularise Karate-Do within the ethnic Chinese cultural milieu – where many older people had witnessed Chinese prisoners tied to posts and ‘reversed-punched’ (Gyaku-zuki - 逆突き) to death by Japanese soldiers lining-up to take their turn landing three punches each with their left-hand and then their right-hand – until a Senior Japanese NCO would pronounce the victim ‘dead’ and order the body took down and dumped into a pile – and the next prisoner brought out to take their turn!
Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) [1964-2018] understood Goju Ryu in much the same manner that I do. In the late mid to late 1980s in the UK, I walked into a Goju Ryu Dojo in the city of Hereford and was astonished by what I encountered! Whilst travelling around the UK participating in various education courses (at a time when such endeavours were still ‘free’), my Hakka Chinese gongfu Master – Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) - suggested that whilst keeping my Chinese background ‘secret’ (I look Western), I should attend a number of local martial arts schools (all of which appeared ‘Japanese’) learn as much as I can about their teachings, and then when I returned home, I could make a full report about what I had found. All the styles I had encountered were all variants on a theme with blocks, punches and kicks all seemingly replicating the Japanese sword systems (although I respected the motivations behind the Wado Ryu philosophy). The techniques were aggressive, delivered in a straight line and designed to demonstrate dominance at the point of first contact.
Goju Ryu Karate-Do looks and feels nothing like the average ‘Japanese’ Karate style! Chinese language historical sources are unclear about how long the Ryukyu Islands were a tributary State of China – but this relationship ended in 1879 when the islands were annexed by the Imperial Japanese regime. Not long after this, Higaonna Kanryo returned to Okinawa bringing with him a number of White Crane fighting styles, together with a number of ‘Southern Fist’ fighting Forms all gathered from martial arts Master living in and around the Fuzhou region of Fujian province. As these typically ‘Chinese’ styles advocate a system of self-defence premised upon the smooth interaction of yin and yang – this combined fighting style became known in Okinawa as ‘Goju’ or the ‘Hard-Soft’ School! The blocks are ‘rounded’ whilst the attacks are straight or circular and the stances are regularly transitioned from deep, to medium and high! This is all held together with a very well-timed ‘body-shifting’ ability! These techniques work because of the arduous body conditioning which the Goju Ryu student must undergo as part of the mind-body preparation process. This is reflected in the ‘tension’ retained whilst performing the Sanchin and Tensho Katas, etc.
Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was 17 years old (during February 1964) when he first encountered a Goju Ryu Karate-Do class being held in Hong Kong. At this time, Hong Kong was still a British ‘colony’ and Japanese businesses were given free access to the island. This led to leisure clubs being established that existed for certain ethnic groups only. For instance, there were leisure clubs for ‘White’ British (where all non-Europeans were excluded), and there were similar clubs permitted by the British Colonial Authorities for the Japanese business community living within the colony. A Japanese-only Goju Ryu Karate-Do class was established at the Causeway Bay World Fitness Club. To gain entry an individual had to be ethnically Japanese or the ‘guest’ of an ethnic Japanese person. This is how Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) gained access to this Goju Ryu Karate-Do class that was then being held by a ‘Sensei Harada’. Mr Harada was a rich and influential businessman who possessed the right connections with the British Colonial Authorities. It was his (private) Goju Ryu Karate-Do class which was the ‘first’ Japanese martial arts class to have been established upon any Chinese territory post-1945. It is said that Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was amongst the very first students accepted into the class – with the implication being that despite the strict colonial regulations – Mr Harada may well have intended to establish a class open to all!
In 1965 due to work reasons, Mr Harada had to return to Japan for a time. This meant that control of the Dojo passed into the hands of Mr Masaru Suzuki (later the founder of Shobukan) with Mr Hange Uehara (founder of the Okinawa Gojo Ryu Uehara Hang Dojo) as second-in-command. By this time, Mr Lin Lingfeng (林竞峰) had been training for nearly three years and had taken and passed his 1st Dan Blackbelt Test during December 1966 (Sensei Suzuki had presided over the grading and awarded the 1st Dan qualification). In 1968, the British Colonial Authorities permitted the establishment of an official ‘Japan Goju Ryu Association’ (organised by Mr Harada but this time with official diplomatic ties to the Japanese government) - with its own recognised public ‘Dojo’ that could (in theory) allow people of all ethnic groups to train together! As Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was not Japanese, had never trained in Japan and had never graded in Japan – he was required to take his 1st Dan Blackbelt grading once again. After the official ‘opening’ of the new Dojo - Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was re-examined under stricter testing conditions designed to satisfy the government of Japan. After his successful ‘Passing’ of this new examination for the grade he already possessed - Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was awarded his new Certificate by Yamaguchi Gogen – whilst the grading itself was presided over by the representatives of Yamamoto Atsuyuki. After this, Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) successively obtained his 2nd and 3rd Dan qualifications through the ‘Japan Goju Ryu Association’. (The 2nd and 3rd Dan grades were overseen by representatives of Yamamoto Kagura – whilst Tasaki Shuji acted as witness and Yamaguchi Gogen issued the Certificates).
林竞峰师范 1947年 5月5日 出生於香港。1964年2月， 林先生未满17岁时参加了日商原田注先生在香港铜锣湾世界健身会场地里开办的日本刚柔会空手道班。这是香港的第一个空手道班，林竞峰先生是该班的第一批学生。1965年间 因工作原因，原田注先生一度回日本，道场经营者让铃木正文先生（后来正武馆的创立人）与上原恒先生（冲绳刚柔流上原恒道场）来代课。 林先生在这个空手道班中坚持训练了接近三年，1966年12月取得初段资格（铃木正文主持考核颁发段位资格）。1968年 日本刚柔会 （原田先生的组织）正式成立道场后，林先生复考日本刚柔会初段资格 （山本权之兵衞主持考核，山口刚玄签发证书） ，之后林先生相续取得日本刚柔会的二段与三段资格（两次考核都由山本権之兵卫，田崎修司一起主持，由山口刚玄签发段位证书）。
For about a six-month time period between 2005-2006 - myself and a number of Chinese friends would get into a car and drive the three and a half hour journey from Sutton in South London - to Hereford to train with Sensei Tony Smith 5th Dan of Goju Ryu. At some point in all this activity, Tony Smith invited us to a martial arts symposium in Birmingham held on one Sunday (I think in Summer). This had hundreds of people attending, all demonstrating their own particular martial arts and this is exactly where I had the honour to meet (and talk) with Sensei Frank Johnson 6th Dan. Although my family style is (Chinese) Hakka Gongfu - Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) instructed me to explore other styles whilst travelling around the country as a young student. This is where I encountered 'Southern Karate-Do Wado Kai' - and where I trained under Sensei Alan Bound 1st Dan (1983-1984). I was told that this was a lineage emphasising a return to the principles of 'traditional' Wado Ryu! This why I was very interested in talking to Frank Johnson as I believe Wado Ryu is a very advanced and sophisticated style emphasising the highest level of 'internal' awareness and development. Wado Ryu is like Taijiquan where exact positioning and timing is used - coupled with the use of dropped (and rebounding) bodyweight - which replaces the need for forceful muscle contractions (which wastes and depletes the available 'external' energy). Obviously, muscle-contractions can be used - but only when required rather than as a matter of habit. When I shook Frank Johnson's hand - and put my arm around his shoulders in 'thanks' for him signing my book - I sensed immediately the advanced state of his mind and body. This is an ability following years of advanced Taijiquan 'Pushing-Hands' practice - and the need to quickly assess anyone who walks into our training hall!
Dedicated to Sensei Alan Bound of the Southern Karate-Do Wado Ryu Dojo - Redhill Scout Hut (1983-1984) - Opposite Redhill Train Station!
Wado Ryu (和道流 - He Dao Liu) is probably the most ‘spiritual’ of te styles of Karate-do that spread from the island of Okinawa to Japan – and took-on a distinctly ‘Japanese’ genuine spirit that defied the right-wing politics of the 1930s and 1940s. Indeed, the Founder of Wado Ryu - Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982) - chose characters from the older Chinese script to describe the purpose, objective and direction of the style of martial arts self-cultivation that evolved out of his experience in training. ‘He Dao Liu’ is expressed in the Japanese language as ‘Wa Do Ryu’ - or ‘Harmonious Way School’ As I have written elsewhere about ‘道’ (dao4) I shall focus primarily upon the ideogram ‘和’ (he2).
Etymology of Dao (ICBI) Article: https://icbi.weebly.com/etymology-of-the-ideogram-lsquodaorsquo.html
The character ‘和’ (he2) is comprised of the left-hand particle ‘禾’‘(he2) represents a growing plant-stalk, or a rice plant that is developing is a steady and perfect manner. As a distinct ideogram it can also be used to represent the concept of ‘cereal’ and ‘grain’. This ideogram is ancient and is found etched upon Shang Dynasty Bone Oracle inscriptions. The grow of the stalk and leaves emerge out of the ground in a timely manner and are healthy, strong and yet flexible and able to absorb all the often-dangerous changes evident in the external environment. It stretches from the ground and extends upward toward the divine sky! It extends from darkness into the light! The right-hand particle is ‘口’ (kou3) which represents an open-mouth. More specifically, this ideogram represents the anatomy of the inner mouth and dates back to the Shang Dynasty Oracle inscriptions. When the mouth is used to convey clear and concise instructions – its inner structure is clear for all to see. When instructions are ‘wise’ and in accordance with the conditions of the external environment – then ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ align and ‘balance’ is attained and preserved. When combined in the character ‘和’ (he2) - the concept of out and out ‘harmony’ is achieved where the inner world and outer environment are unified through purification and education! Profound harmony is a matter of ‘seeing’ what needs to be done – and then enacting this strategy precisely.
As regards ‘流’ (liu2) - this is comprised of the upper particle of ‘氵’ (shui3) which is a contracted version of ‘水.’ - this indicates ‘water’, ‘flow’ and ‘dispersal’. The right-hand particle is ‘𠫓’ (tu) which is an upside-down baby (as if waiting to born within the womb) - which is more usually found the other way up as ‘子’ (zi3). I can find no other pinyin designation for 𠫓’ other than ‘tu’ (with no accompanying number – such is its unusual nature). As the baby is upside-down – its head is pointing downward and there is ammoniac fluid (as the waters ‘break’ in preparation for birth into the outside world) with ‘hair’ being evident (which is a common phenomenon with children born to Chinese parents). The lower particle is comprised of ‘川’ (chuan1) - which represents a fast, strong and flowing river. This river is broad and carries objects far and wide! When taken together the character 流’ (liu2) refers to the successful beginning of life (perhaps a baby born into water) - and a river which on the material plain joins one geographical location to another as it flows from one place to another. On the historical plain – this type of ‘vehicle’ represents a ‘flow’ that joins one point in time to another. On the metaphysical level – this is the river of conscious expansion and physical longevity! In this case, ‘Wado Ryu’ Karate-Do is a boat that takes a specific direct on the river of life!
My Chinese gongfu teacher (living in Sutton) - Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) - advised me to ‘explore’ the many martial arts that were then around, bearing in mind that virtually all Japanese karate has its roots in the Chinese gongfu styles imported into Okinawa from China’s Fujian province over the last few hundred years. As long as this exploration was carried-out away from Sutton (where I did not live at the time), there was no problem despite the memories of the Japanese atrocities carried out in China still being fresh in the minds of the elderly members of the British Chinese community (many of whom had witnessed these barbarous acts, been subjected to them or lost relatives). Whilst attending college in the Reigate area, myself (and a friend – Robert Townsend) decided to make a study of a Japanese school of karate. As we started in September, 1983 and only had to July, 1984 at this college, our study would be relatively short, but committed. The classes were held once a week (I think Tuesday evenings – 730pm-9pm) at the Sovereign Leisure Centre, and conducted by Sensei Alan Bound 1st Dan (at the time).
We did not know what style this was to start with, but just turned-up (we were both 16 years old). It turned-out to be administered by the ‘Southern Karate-Do Wako Kai’ association which interpreted its mission as returning to the ‘true’ of the Wado Ryu (和道流) style founded by Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982) - who had only passed away the year before. It was felt that the original ‘spirit’ of Wado Ryu had been departed from, and a return to the ‘Way of Peace’ was needed. Within the Chinese language ‘和道流’ is pronounced ‘He Dao Liu’ - and means ‘Harmonious Way Tradition’. Like many ‘old’ traditions in Japan, Chinese ideograms are used to describe its principles. In this style I was taught power through correct positioning. There was no body conditioning such as in my family gongfu style, but a practitioner was taught to assume a superior psychological and physical positioning from the very beginning (which eventually culminates in ‘enlightenment’ for those who pursue the spiritual aspects), a dominance which is maintained in combat through continuously out-manoeuvring an opponent so that they cannot set themselves to deliver their best techniques against your body. Within our Ch’an Dao System, this is reflected in the principles of aligned power and correct approach found within Taijiquan (and internal martial arts), although Wado Ryu has part of its roots in Jujitsu. We generated power through exact movement and we learned a reverse-punch drill I have never seen in any other karate style (involving ‘snake’ stepping). Sensei Alan Bound was a very good and talented teacher.
Eventually, the classes (which always seemed to have around 20 or 30 people attending), were moved to the Scott Hut next to Redhill train station. The spiritual message was that if you align yourself with the deepest and loving principles of the universe (and do not conflict with life), then you will be invincible in the face of untoward violence and harassment. I have a soft spot for Wado Kai (and genuine Wado Ryu) despite the fact I am a Hakka Chinese martial artists! As young students, Sensei Alan Bound gave use a karate suit each and allowed us to pay for it over a few weeks. He was a gentleman! We successfully graded for our yellow belts (and probably our orange belts) - I think we travelled to Guildford to do this (and were graded under Sensei Barry Wilkinson 4th Dan) – and many years later, whilst looking through boxes of old documents and academic work, I came across my Wado Kai ‘licence’ and a grading certificate! It is my belief that Wado Ryu could do a lot of good bringing the Chinese and Japanese communities together! Thank you Sensei Alan Bound for enriching our lives!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.