At the end of the day, in a threatening position, an individual purporting to practice a traditional (Chinese) martial arts - must be able not to win trophies or gain coloured belts or sashes - but rather REMOVE the systemic threat existing in the immediate environment through the use of a 'decisive' act of disciplined violence. Unlike the modified martial arts used within modern sports, an 'effective' technique being deployed in a 'live' situation does NOT need to look good or conform to an unreasonable 'aesthetic'. The person being threatened, at the moment the decisive action is being deployed, is entirely on their own for the duration of the conflict. Whatever happens next becomes a matter entirely of their own affair - as other people (logically) tend to 'distance' themselves from the conflict as a matter of life-preservation and self-defence by association. Of course, the action might go wrong and the chosen technique fail to work. Above, a conflict begins between two young men (speaking Putonghua) arguing over who has the right to 'sell' in a certain area - with an Old Man attempting to de-escalate the situation. The young man launches a 'punching' attack which works precisely as intended. The armed young man is knocked down and is unconscious for a short time. He is kept in place by a foot on the chest - as NO further action is used against him once the knife is taken away from him. As you can see - violence is a horrible answer to any question - and a well disciplined and peaceful society is preferred over that of a violent situation. In this circumstance, the young man with the knife may well be suffering from mental health issues that now need to be treated. Although violence is NOT the answer - even though it may be required at certain times - when violence is needed it must be decisive enough to END the over-all level of existential violence and prevent any further damage to society and the people living in it!
I am slowly reading my way through the Chinese language encyclopaedias regarding Karate-Do! There are many histories of (and for) Karate-Do - and I was taken by surprise! One entry states that Higaonna Kanryo is the true father of modern Karate-Do! This is because the Fujian White Crane Fist he learned from Master Ryu Ryu Ko (Xie Chongxiang) in China during the 1870s was brought back to Okinawa and mixed with 'te' - before eventually diversifying into all the different Karate-Do styles we know today! I like the symmetry of this idea. These Okinawan Karate-Do styles then travelled to Japan and were physically altered to reflect the Japanese sword-fighting traditions! All this seems to be one complete history!
I think there are three Karate-Do lineages in Ryukyu:
1) Tang Dynasty = Chinese 'Treasure Fleet' transmission and 15 Japanese Missions to China (7th-10th Century CE)
2) Ming Dynasty = The 36 Fujian families resettled on Ryukyu - 1392 CE
3) Qing Dynasty = Higaonna Kanryo trained in Fuzhou 1867-1881 CE
Despite these three clear lineages, the Chinese language encyclopaedias all state that Karate-Do originated during the 15th century CE. This is because of the reign of Ryukyu King Sho Shin (476-1526 CE) who confiscated the weapons from all over the Kingdom and locked them in Shuri Castle! Therefore, Ryukyu became a country with almost no military equipment amongst the ordinary people! This act negated the 'armed' component contained in the first two martial arts transmissions between China and Ryukyu - but led to the 'unarmed' components being emphasised to a greater degree! Historically speaking, this episode marks the beginning of the 'Spirit' of Karate-Do! The idea that one punch must equal one kill - so that the opponent is swiftly dealt with! This means that Karate-Do has various lineages of transmission - but only ONE historical event that forced the Ryukyu people to specialise in unarmed combat to a very high degree of effectiveness and proficiency!
What I was investigating is why Karate-Do is (or was) referred to as 'Tang Shou' (唐手)! Although I showed you the Karate-Do movement in Fuzhou that refers to 'Karate-Do' as '唐手道' or 'Tang Shou Dao' (Tang Hand Way) - what I did not mention is although founded in 2016, during 2018 the organisation was placed on a list for 'abnormal organisations'. I know this because these notices are public in China and uploaded onto the internet. In this instance, the issue was over some deficient paper-work which was eventually rectified. The local government then took the Tang Shou Dao organisation off of the 'abnormal organisation' list and posted a public message to this effect! It was a year or so after this, that this group held its first successful Seminar in Fuzhou.
I am not convinced by the argument this group puts forward, and I suspect the use of the imperial title of 'Tang' is not going down too well! What this group has done is returned the name of Karate-Do to its pre-1901 Okinawan designation. My research today, however, suggests that 'Tang Shou' is a misnomer, but I was surprised to find that Chinese martial arts were being enthusiastically transmitted to Japan and Ryukyu during the time of the Tang Dynasty (7th-10th centuries CE)!
This fact offers yet another 'history' or 'lineage' for the transmission of Chinese martial arts to Ryukyu! This would be a different and earlier transmission than that secured by Higaonna Kanryo - so where did it all go? Another lineage is the 1392 CE relocation of the 36 Fujian families on Ryukyu - with many bringing their family martial arts with them! The Chinese sources state that all these lineages of 'different' Tang Shou were operating on Ryukyu when Higaonna Kanryo was alive - but a number of Okinawan Masters were not happy with their structure and were inspired to travel to China to find contemporary gongfu Masters and learn afresh!
Translator's Note: Master Mekaru Kenichi was born in '旧大里' (Jiu Da Li) Village in Okinawa during 1947 (that is the 'Old Big and Wide' Village) - as the island was still recovering from the cataclysmic (1945) Battle of Okinawa! His surname '铭苅' (Mekaru) appears to be a District of Northeast Naha City (perhaps named after a tortoiseshell) - whilst his first names of '拳一' (Kenichi) possess a definite martial connotation meaning a 'Single Fist' or a 'Fist that Unifies', etc! Times were hard when he was young and life was difficult - but Mekaru Kenichi and his clan were held together by their Karate-Do mind and body discipline - knowing full well that its inner structure was historically from China! During the early days of his life, his biography relates how even as a young child he was holding the 'Horse Stance' and participating in general 'Tang Hand' training with no particular 'name' or 'style' association (a typical situation amongst many traditionally minded Okinawans at the time)! In 1958, when he was 11 years old, his family emigrated to the Sao Paulo area of Brazil to join the already substantial Japanese and Okinawan population already living their and doing well with lots of open space to build and plenty of work opportunities! During 1977, when Mekaru Kenichi was 30 years old, he met Mr. Kakazu Yoshimasa - who had come to Brazil to participate in an 'Open' fighting competition! Upon his return to Okinawa - Mekaru Kenichi followed him and became his martial arts disciple! When returning to Mr. Kakazu Yoshimasa's Dojo in Naha City, he was tasked with mastering the 'Kobayashi Ryu' (小林流) - style of Okinawan Karate-Do - a branch of the 'Shorin Ryu' (少林流) fighting style - which uses the Chinese ideograms that read 'Shaolin Lineage'. - as there is a belief that this style of Okinawan Karate-Do was originally linked directly to the Shaolin Temple tradition of China. Kobayashi Ryu was founded by Chibana Chōshin (知花朝信) [1885-1969]. His family practiced the 'Chinese Hand (唐手 - Tang Shou) - and refused the Japanese order to change the name to 'Empty Hand' (空手 - Kong Shou) for decades! Master Mekaru Kenichi became a very great Master of the Kobayashi Ryu style and was renowned for travelling the world and relentlessly teaching anyone who wanted to learned genuine, Chinese-based Okinawan Karate-Do! This led to him eventually entering China and working very hard to introduce the modern Chinese people to a martial art that belonged to them - but which had been transmitted to another culture hundreds of years ago! Master Mekura Kenichi dedicated 25 years of life to China before retiring and leaving a place in 2013 (aged 66) he had called 'home' for quarter of a century! The record books now show that Mekura Kenichi was the first person to introduce an Okinawan Karate-Do style (Kobayashi Ryu) into an independent and thriving Mainland China during 1988! ACW (23.8.2022)
Master Mekura Kenichi Demonstrates 'Basic Kata Number One'!
Mr Mekaru Kenichi first visited China in 1988 – where he is well-known for performing what would become known as his inaugural Karate-Do cultural exchange performance at the Shanghai Wushu Academy! The reaction from the thousands in attendance at the time was very appreciative and supportive! Since then, people from all walks of life in Shanghai became very interested in learning the martial art of Karate-Do, and this positive reaction gave him the idea of developing the teaching of Karate-Do in Shanghai!
In 1990, Mr Mekaru Kenichi was introduced by the Brazilian President in a letter and recommended by the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai. With the help of Mr. Zhu Rongji (朱镕基) the Mayor of Shanghai at that time - he was contacted by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai Municipal Commission for Sports - and entirely at his own expense, established China's first officially recognised Karate-Do training class held at the Shanghai Physical Education Training Hall. At that time, a large number of willing practitioners flocked in an endless stream to the classes, and the registration was extraordinarily high! To help with the training process, the Japanese government provided 300 Karate-Do training suits (termed ‘gi’) for free - for the newcomers to use!
In Japan, karate is taught as part of the School Physical Education Curriculum! Therefore, Mr Mekaru Kenichi wanted to establish Karate-Do as a sport in China’s Primary and Secondary Schools and Universities in China, so as to popularise this martial art amongst the youth! In 1992, he taught for free and borrowed 100 further sets of Japanese Karate-Do uniforms for which he distributed for free. He founded the Fudan University Karate Association and opened the first Karate-Do training class to be held in a Chinese university and was hired as the Honorary President and Chief Instructor of the Association (which provided him with a small room to live, three meals a day and a small stipend). From this firm foundation, he opened a Karate-Do training course and served as the Head Coach for the Shanghai Metallurgical College.
The following year, he aimed at establishing Karate-Do classes throughout the whole country yet again! This time he was successful, and he managed to establish fully functioning Dojos in Chengdu, Kunming, Xi'an, Shenyang, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and other major cities – attracting the huge number of 80,000 ethnic Chinese students!
Mr Mekaru Kenichi was appointed by the Okinawa Fist Study Association of Japan to promote traditional Karate-Do all over the world! He has taught in major cities in dozens of countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. After 20 years, the number of students around the world has reached 35,000! He has stated, however, that as China is the birthplace of Karate-Do – China remains the country with the most potential for development. In order to spread and develop Karate-Do in China, he would rather give up the materially superior conditions of other countries, relocate to a remote part of China for meditative study, and invest whatever money he could raise and donate it to the Chinese people - to be used for the promotion of Karate-Do!
After years of hard work by Mr Mekaru Kenichi , the regular practice of Karate-Do has developed rapidly throughout China – a process which has proven especially strong in Shanghai. Today, dozens of colleges and universities, including Fudan University, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, Donghua University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, and Peking University, have all established regular Karate-Do associations and offer Karate-Do courses (including medicine and weaponry). At the same time, many fitness clubs have also launched Karate-Do as a form of fitness exercise, training tens of thousands of students!
On April 25th, 1999, China's first official Karate-Do body – the ‘Shanghai Wushu Association Karate Committee’ - was established through the authority of the World Karate-Do Federation! Through the introduction of Mr. Wang Zhaoji (王肇基) - the Director of the Karate-Do Committee of the Shanghai Wushu Association - Mr Mekaru Ginkari was hired as the first Consultant Head Coach. This appointment was confirmed at the inauguration ceremony, where enthusiastic Karate-Do students were called upon to hold a demonstration and competition! Mr Shimizu Seno - the Deputy Consul General of the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai - also came to the Shanghai Wushu Academy to watch the inauguration ceremony! At the invitation of Mr Mekaru Kenichi important members of the World Karate Federation and All Japan Karate Federation attended the inauguration ceremony – including director Arakawa Tong and director Hasumi Keiichi! These Karate-Do experts personally guided Chinese students in their Karate-Do practice – and helped explain the competition rules as established by the World Karate Federation! Everyone who attended, regardless of rank, ethnicity or origination, all chose to support China by joining the Karate-Do Committee of the Shanghai Wushu Association!
During May 2000, following negotiations between Mr Mekaru Kenichi and the Japan Kyokushinkaikan - the first Sino-Japanese karate exchange competition (for college and high school students) was held (including full-contact sparring, Kata and weapons demonstrations), with many more high-spirited Sino-Japanese exchange competitions being held since then!
During February 2001, Mr Mekaru Kenichi invited the All-Japan Karate Women's Champion to Shanghai to participate in the exchange competition with Shanghai karate students – to offer advice regarding practice methods, Kata performances and actual combat (self-defence) experience!
Chinese Language Source:
Respect To 102-Year-Old (Japanese) Shuri Ryu Karate-Do Master - Yoshitaka Inokuma (猪熊佳孝) (b. 1920] (17.8.2022)
Sensei Yoshitaka Inokuma (猪熊佳孝) was born on the 25.2.1920 - and as of 2022 - he is currently 102-years-old! Although he currently holds an 8th Dan Black Belt Grade - he gave-up wearing the White 'gi' uniform and coloured belts years ago as he focuses to an ever greater degree on the 'Chinese' spiritual and physical roots of the martial art he tells everyone should be known as 'Chinese Hand' and not 'Empty Hand'! His Dojo is open twice a week for two 24 hour stints - where students can walk in and out as they please. (During its 'closed' days, individuals and groups can attend through arrangement)! Sensei Yoshitaka Inokuma (猪熊佳孝) does not teach all the classes (which are often directed by Sensei Masahiko Ando 8th Dan) - but can often be seen wandering in and out in a natural manner - very different to the average Japanese Dojo.
At the conclusion of training, for instance, the teacher often sits with his students sharing a meal and a cup of tea with them - food that he has prepared himself! He describes his Karate-Do as being premised upon perfecting the following attributes:
・Concentrating unified power whilst performing and landing each technique.
・Unified power in generated within and expressed through the outer body.
・Karate is about gathering unified breathing power - and not brute strength.
・It is a martial art that includes throwing and joint-locking techniques.
・Okinawa Kobudo includes the weapons of Sai, Nunchaku and Bojutsu, etc.
Shuri Ryu karate-Do is a traditional fighting system formed in Kyushu before the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) - which combines Okinawan Shuri-te (Shuri-Hand) and various elements of old Japanese martial arts. As is typical with many Okinawan martial arts - Shuri-Te has both Chinese and Okinawan influences. By combining these influence with Japanese fighting arts - a more all-round system was produced. This is the martial system that Yoshitaka Inokuma (猪熊佳孝) has taught at the Hasshokan Dojo for more than half a century - where he has established a temple for storing important historical objects and documents relating to the theory and practice of the martial art of Shuri Ryu. This Dojo is located Japan's Kagawa Prefecture, situated within Takamatsu City. Shuri Ryu involves the alignment of the bones and joints, as well as the alignment of the mind, body and environment! The must become calm, expansive and all embracing - whilst the bodyweight drops through the aligned bones and joints before hitting the ground and rebounding upwards - creating a massive counter-force which is transitioned around the body through 'will-power' and 'intention' - so that it can be emitted through the relevant (attacking) anatomical weapons. The Shuri Ryu practitioner is 'still' and perfectly 'centred' - and yet can move with a surprising speed and agility whilst applying an explosive power which is enhanced by a profound relaxation of body and mind! By breathing deeply and fully all these attributes fall into place and the centre of gravity is 'dropped' - ready to stabilise, move and evade, or 'explode' with a surprising force!
Chinese Language References:
Japanese Language References:
Although the martial arts term ‘Ninja’ is a distinctly ‘Japanese pronunciation – the two ideograms used to express this concept are of Chinese origin – namely ‘忍者’ (Ren Zhe). Whether this concept originally spread from China as a martial arts principle – or was distinctly developed in Japan - is open to debate. Certainly, the ‘Ninja’ of medieval Japan occupied entire clan-systems which ‘mirrored’ perfectly their Samurai equivalents with the only difference being that the Samurai clans were socially accepted and the ‘Ninja’ clans were clandestine and considered ‘illegal’. The ‘Ninja’ communities were made-up of the peasantry and any outcast members of the nobility and criminal fraternity, etc. Although the ‘Ninja’ communities were hidden from open view, they were disciplined, followed strict codes of conduct and were dedicated to perfecting many different martial skills designed to ‘counter’ or ‘negate’ every martial advantage the Samurai believed they possessed. In-short, the ‘Ninja’ communities represented a ‘different’ but related blue-print for Japanese feudal society – perhaps one that was internally democratic and fairer than its Samurai alternative, as women were considered ‘equal to men – and practiced martial techniques designed by women for women to use on the battlefield or during ‘assassinations’ - a key skill of the ‘Ninja’ warrior.
The character ‘忍’ (ren3) is comprised of a contracted version of the lower particle ‘心’ (xin1) - which translates as ‘mind’ and ‘heart’ - and the upper particle ‘刃’ (ren4) - which represents a ‘bladed weapon’ such as a ‘knife’ or ‘broad-sword’, The Japanese version of this ideogram appears to have a handle affixed to a blade – a blade said to be covered in ‘blood’:
When combined together, the ideogram ‘忍’ (ren3) suggests a situation where the human mind (and body) is said to be highly skilled swordsmanship – together with ‘tolerating’ the ‘lose’ of a certain amount of one’s own blood – as well as spilling that of the opponent. The training in this martial art is arduous and painful to experience – but this is the path that must be ‘endured’ if mastery is to be achieved. Whereas the ideogram ‘者’ (zhe3) is comprised of the lower particle ‘白’ (bai2) which carries the meaning of the colour ‘White’, whilst the upper particle is ‘耂’ (lao3) and refers to a ‘an old man who is bent-over and has long hair’ - usually implying ‘acquired wisdom overtime’. Therefore, ‘者’ (zhe3) appears to mean a ‘body of expert knowledge acquired by an individual over a long period of study’. The combined term of ‘忍者’ (Ren Zhe) - or ‘Ninja’ - refers to the concept of an ‘accumulated body of knowledge and martial arts skill and acquired by an extraordinary person overtime’. Or, an ‘acquired body of knowledge and martial arts skill that transforms an ordinary person into an extraordinary person’.
忍術 (Ninjutsu) - ‘Ren Shu’ = ‘Endurance Art’
忍法 (Ninpo) - ‘Ren Fa’ = ‘Endurance Law’
Ninjutsu originally derived from an indigenous, traditional Japanese fighting technique known as the ‘Thorn Kill Art’ (刺杀术 - Ci Sha Shu) - perhaps implying the ability to ‘assassinate an opponent using a poisoned-dart'. Later, this art absorbed several Chinese cultural influences such as the ‘Art of War’ by Sunzi", and the martial principles contained within the ‘Six Secret Teachings’, etc. There is a legend that a Chinese Buddhist monk travelled to Japan early-on, and brought various Tantric Buddhist and Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques (perhaps around the 8th century CE) which were combined with Japanese Shintoism. This mixture of Chinese and Japanese martial elements was integrated to finally form ‘Ninjutsu’. The techniques of ‘evasion’ and ‘invisibility’ in were emphasised in the city – whilst ‘ambushes’ and the ability to suddenly ‘disappear’ was perfected in the mountainous areas.
Chinese Language Reference:
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.