Posted On:7/15/2003 7:28pm
I'm a long time traditional Okinawan ShorinRyu stylist here..and to be honest with you, I wasn't alive some 2-300 years ago, so I really don't know FOR SURE..or 100% anyway on this subject of nobility vs peasants protecting themselves. All I know is what I have been taught by my seniors, most of whom have lived and trained on Okinawan and directly from the heads of the system.
Now, since I've never been to Okinawa, nor never will most likely, I get my information from them, as they are closer to the sourse than I ever have been.
Also, when you're quoting this book by this guy, or that book by that guy...please consider this. Opinions are like assholes...everybody has one! Just because you have some black belts in various styles, and you've read this guys book, and that other guys book..then write and publish one of your own with your opinion on what you perceive is correct information..doesn't make it right. See my point?
Case in point..people used to think the world was flat (some do, actually), and published all sorts of proofs supporting their theory. did that make them right?
Anyway, like I said. I don't know for SURE which theory is correct, but I have my opinion...right or wrong..and until somebody invents a time machine that I can go back and see for myself, then I guess I'll just have to believe what my gut tells me to believe....right or wrong.
Posted On:7/15/2003 7:35pm
Oh **** off. Use your goddamn head. Don't spout this nonsense that all opinions are equal without indisputable proof. There are educated, logical opinions and there is fantasy.
A bunch of farmers killing armed and armored samurai with their barehands is a crock of ****. If they were that fucking good, why weren't THEY running Japan? Whatever.
I've always heard this tale too, and was very skeptical. This is the first time I've heard the revisionist history that SB posted and it instantly clicked as MUCH more likely than the fantasy land stories you believe.
Shut up and train
Posted On:7/15/2003 10:08pm
Incidently,educated people in Europe at the time of Columbus (to pick a particular date for debate) did not generally believe the world was flat. See "Lies My History Teacher Told Me" by James Loewen, (Touchstone, New York, 1995) p. 56. This myth was actually pushed by Washington Irving in 1828 to spice up the Columbus story, but I suppose there were illiterate peasants, up to our century who believed it, as well as a lot of other things.
The point here is that when two systems of beiefs compete at a particular time, it is often apparent which has the stronger argument. the pre Christian Greeks had even figured out the world was round using proofs that utilized geometry. In other words, just because a particular fable has a strong folk following does not mean that people with experience believed such tripe. Otherwise numerous cultures would not have taken to the sea for long voyages.
Now if you want to argue that Mark Bishop is full of it be my guest. Please however provide some evidence as to what mistakes he has made in his book. When someone tells a somewhat improbable story of unarmed peasant/samurai combat as a REGULARITY it is reasonable to ask if there is a single historical account or record to support such a claim. Perhaps a letter from a Japanese governor of Okinawa to his mainland bosses discussing such a problem. There is such a document written by a Manchu governor discussing the problems they had with the Boxer rebellion in China. So to support the traditional view there should be something surviving in the historical record.
In Donn Draeger and Robert Smith's book "Asian Fighting Arts" (citation previously provided on this thread) they don't make this claim when discussing the development of Okinawan Karate which makes me believe that the traditional story has no support in the historical record. Draeger and Smith's books is one of the few authoritative texts (in English) on Asian Martial Arts if you want to convincingly argue the traditionalist view on this thread please provide some evidence that would support the contentions of your seniors who may even know the Japanese Language but have not necessarly spent any time in the archives.
Edited by - on July 15 2003 22:10:55
Posted On:7/15/2003 10:32pm
As I said, I don't know for SURE either way as to the correct answer to the debate, since I, and nobody living presently on this planet was there when it happened.
During WWII, many of the top ranking martial arts masters were killed either during combat, or during the taking of that island by Allied forces. Also, most libraries were destroyed by some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
Physical evidence is nearly non-existant, and the history has therefore been passed down from father to son, sensei to sempai over the years. As I've stated twice, what is 100% accurate, I really don't know.
I'd like to take exception to Loredon's comment about Hohan Soken being "senile" in his later years. Again, I had never met the man, but talking to the late 10th Dan Yuichi Kuda (one of Soken's successors), 7th Dan Ron Lindsey, 5th Dan Jim Knoblett, 3rd Dan Denny Miller, and 6th Dan Greg Ohl..ALL of whom trained with O Sensei Soken in his later years, not one of them ever described him as anything but a vital and active man in his advanced years, that up until just a few years of his death, actuively taught regular classes.
Again, I get my information from others, but they are all legitimate ShorinRyu instructors with firsthand knowledge that they have passed on to me.
Posted On:7/15/2003 10:44pm
Oh yeah...I forgot. The Matsumura Orthodox (Seito) branch did split after Soken's death..this is true. As I understand it, there are 2 main devisions of it now. One headed by Fuse Kise, who (I understand from past students of his) has made MANY modifications to the system, including flashier techniques.
The other branch was headed by the late Yuichi Kuda, and has been making all efforts to actually go backwards as much as possible to the oldest ways of doing things we can find. I understand his son is the head of it now, but I have made no attempt to affiliate myself with them as of now.
I'm a traditionalist at heart, and have no interest in ring fighting or testing my skills against another person except in a selfdefense situation. I train because I enjoy the art, and enjoy teaching it to others. I strive to be as accurate in my teachings as possible. I know this grates against many people in this forum who dislike traditionalists, and from the comments I've recieved in the few posts that I've made, I doubt if I will spend much time at this site, as it seems geared more towards those that like to argue aggressively and think non-ring fighters are wimps and cowards.
I am one of those people I guess, but my reasons for learning and practicing the arts has nothing to do with a desire to hurt others, or to prove that I can defeat another human being in a contest. If I wanted to do that, I'd just shoot them with a .44 mag..a whole lot easier, and much less work.
Posted On:7/15/2003 11:51pm
It is true that during the battle for Okinawa during the Second World War, this island was trashed and many important historical documents were destroyed. On the other hand Corcoran and Farkas and Kim for all the faults in their narrative were able to find documentary evidence of Okinawan martial arts dating from 1692 (see my previous post on their book on this thread).
One would think that because this island was being governed/exploited by the Satsuma clan from Southern Kyushu that some documentation supporting your point of view would have survived on the Japanese mainland and would be used by martial arts scholars to support the traditionalist position.
To my knowledge this has not happened but I am asking you if you know of any such evidence since I do not pretend to be familar with all relevant historical records from this time period and freely admit that I cannot speak or read the Japanese language.
The problem with oral history is that it is frequently inaccurate, especially when it stretches multiple generations or even centuries. To give a personal example I was told by my family that my ancestors arrived at Jamestown VA in 1611. Unfortunately the available records support a date in the 1620s, even without any agenda such an inaccuracy crept into my families oral history despite there being a standard family genology that had been published in the late 1800s which provided the proper date of arrival.
In such a case, no offense to your masters, but a 400 year word of mouth history with no support from the historical record is a weak and unreliable reed on which to rest a historical claim. Lets suppose that one master was a bit of a tall tale teller in 1735, he would have altered the historical record on this point with none of his successors being the wiser. This in essence is what I believe happened in this case. Someone along the line made up a resistance story and it got repeated without ever being examined.
I have no opinion on the Hohan Soken issue but it strikes me that it provides an excellent example of what oral history can be properly used for. You have talked to five people with direct contact with this individual and therefore have multiple sources of third hand knowledge as verses a source of tenth (or more)hand knowledge which is inherently unreliable.
Posted On:7/16/2003 1:29am
Rereading my post I realized their could be some confusion about what I mean when I disagree with "the traditionalist view". I am referring to a few but important historical beliefs about Okinawan karate and am not arguing about training methods, katas, ect.
Posted On:5/19/2005 10:41am
Style: Kung Fu
I'm bringing this thread back from the dead to class some additional info with it (plus it's solid content as usual from Mr Browning).
A number of historians are rexamining the notion of the (in)famous weapons bans. A number of current historians are suggesting that our beliefs about this result from mistranslations of a number of document. I need to head back to the Journal of Asian Martial Arts for the specific histories, however this website does a good job of summing them up (quoted below)
Originally Posted by http://www.oshirodojo.com/kobudo_sai.html
The first time that the Okinawan samurai's weapons were supposedly confiscated was during the reign of King Shoshin (1477 - 1526). While it is documented that King Shoshin ordered his provincial lords, or aji, to live near his castle in Shuri, many historians no longer believe that he totally disarmed his ruling class. A famous stone monument, the Momo Urasoe Ran Kan No Mei, which is inscribed with the highlights of King Shoshin's reign, talks about the King seizing the aji's swords, and how he amassed a supply of weapons in a warehouse near Shuri castle. But some Okinawan historians now interpret that King Shoshin was actually building an armory to protect his ports and prepare for any potential invasion by wako, or pirates, not that he was stripping the Okinawan samurai or the general population of their weaponry.
The second time that the Okinawan samurai were purportedly disarmed was after the Satsuma invasion of 1609. But documents have been recovered that state that the Satsuma outlawed the ownership and sale of firearms, all the Okinawan samurai of the Pechin class and above were allowed to keep those muskets and pistols that were already in their family's possession.
There is further documentation that in 1613 the Satsuma issued permits for the Okinawan samurai to travel with their personal words (tachi and wakizashi) to the smiths and polishers in Kagushima, Japan for maintenance and repair. From the issuance of these permits, it is logical to infer that there were restrictions on the Okinawan samurai carrying their weapons in public, but it is also clear evidence that these weapons were not confiscated by the Satsuma.
Based on this misconception that the Okinawan samurai were stripped of their weapons by the Satsuma most modern martial arts students are taught that Okinawan kobudo developed because the Okinawans turned to farm implements for their self-defense and training. When we consider the sai specifically we can see that the plausibility of this common myth is significantly strained.
The page also goes into the history of Kubudo weapons backing up The Punisher's claims.
Student of Wan Yi Chuan Kung Fu,
Kali, & what ever works
Renaissance Martial Arts
Posted On:5/19/2005 10:45am
Style: Shi Ja Quan
It makes sense that the peasants would not be allowed weapons, after that, things would get "hazy".
Posted On:5/19/2005 11:07am
The far better explanation is an economic and social one for the lack of swords. First off, these were Peasants. Heck even the nobles on Okinawa were not the richest out there. Considering that metal was a prized commodity, swords and other metal weapons, were considered luxuary good. And therefore outside the price range of most folks.
Secondarily, contradicting the orientalist notions of every day being a battle between good and evil, filled with exciting duels and tea ceremonies, chances are things were more or less equal to today in terms of personal violence. As Punisher pointed out these folks were far more concerned about putting food in thier mouths than fighting wars.
Articles and Reviews
Tools and Info