You must first resolve to study if you wish to understand the truth of martial arts. This resolve is very important.
Fundamentally, the arts and the martial arts are the same.
Each has three fundamental elements.
As far as Art is concerned they are Shisho-no-Gaku, Kunko-no-Gaku and Jussha-no-Gaku.
Shisho-no-Gaku is the art of creative writing and reading – in a word, literature.
Kunko-no-Gaku means to study the past and gain an understanding of ethics by relating past events to our way of life.
Both Shisho-no-Gaku and Kunko-no-Gaku are incomplete until supplemented by Jussha-no-Gaku, (the study of the moral aspects of the teaching of Confucius).
Have a tranquil heart and you can prevail over a village, a country, or the world. The study of Jussha-no-Gaku is the supreme study over both Shisho-no-Gaku and Kunko-no-Gaku.
These then are the three elements necessary for the study of the Arts.
If we consider Budo, there are also three precepts. They are Gukushi-no-Bugei, Meimoko-no-Bugei and Budo-no-Bugei.
Gukushi-no-Bugei is nothing more than a technical knowledge of Bugei. Like a woman, it is just superficial and has no depth.
Meimoko-no-Bugei refers to a person who has physical understanding of Bugei. He can be a powerful and violent person who can easily defeat other men. He has no self-control and is dangerous and can even harm his own family.
Budo-no-Bugei is what I admire. With this you can let the enemy destroy himself – just wait with a calm heart and the enemy will defeat himself.
People who practice Budo-no-Bugei are loyal to their friends, their parents and their country. They will do nothing that is unnatural and contrary to nature.
We have “Seven Virtues of Bu”. They are:
Bu prohibits violence.
Bu keeps discipline in soldiers.
Bu keeps control among the population.
Bu spreads virtue.
Bu gives a peaceful heart.
Bu helps keep peace between people.
Bu makes people or a nation prosperous.
Our forefathers handed these seven virtues down to us.
Just as Jussha-no-Gaku is supreme in the arts, so Budo-no-Bugei is supreme in the martial arts.
“Mon-Bu” (Art and Martial Arts) have the same common elements. We do not need Gukushi-no-Bugei or Meimoko-no-Bugei – this is the most important thing.
I leave these words to my wise and beloved deshi Kuwae.
- Bucho Matsumura
Around the turn of the century, Ankoh Itosu introduced Karate (Tode) to the Okinawan Board of Education, and was asked to develop a program suitable for inclusion in the Physical Education curriculum. This Karate was to be distinguished by a different Kanji, being read as “Kute” or as “Empty Hand”, instead of “Tode” or “China Hand”, however both are pronounced as “Karate”.
In 1904, Itosu introduced the “Pinan” Kata 1-5.
He also designated a total of fourteen kata for his PE karate program. The kata’s named were Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yondan, Pinan Godan, Naihanchi Shodan, Naihanchi Nidan, Naihanchi Sandan, Bassai Dai, Bassai Sho, Kosokun Dai, Kosokun Sho, Chinto, and Gojushiho.
In 1908, Itosu presented his “Toudi Jakkajo” (Karate Report) to outline his less lethal form of Te by way of his famous “Ten Teachings”.
10 precepts from Yasutsune “Ankoh” Itosu
°Tode did not develop from the way of Buddhism or Confucianism. In the recent past Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu were brought over from China. They both have similar strong points, so, before there are too many changes, I should like to write these down.
°Tode is primarily for the benefit of health. In order to protect one’s parents or one’s master, it is proper to attack a foe regardless of one’s own life. Never attack a lone adversary. If one meets a villain or a ruffian one should not use tode but simply parry and step aside.
°The purpose of tode is to make the body hard like stones and iron; hands and feet should be used like the points of arrows; hearts should be strong and brave. If children were to practice tode from their elementary-school days, they would be well prepared for military service. When Wellington and Napoleon met they discussed that ‘tomorrow’s victory will come from today’s playground’.
°Tode cannot be learned quickly. Like a slow moving bull, that eventually walks a thousand miles, if one studies seriously every day, in three or four years one will understand what tode is about. The very shape of one’s bones will change. Those who study as follows will discover the essence of tode:
°In tode the hands and feet are important so they should be trained thoroughly on the makiwara. In so doing drop your shoulders, open your lungs, take hold of your strength, grip the floor with your feet and sink your intrinsic energy to your lower abdomen. Practice with each arm one or two hundred times.
°When practicing tode forms (kata) make sure your back is straight, drop your shoulders, take your strength and put it in your legs, stand firmly and put the intrinsic energy in your lower abdomen, the top and bottom of which must be held together tightly.
°The bunkai (application of kata techniques) should be carefully practiced, one by one, many times. Because these techniques are passed on by word of mouth, take the trouble to learn the explanations and decide when and in what context it would be possible to use them. Observe principles of torite(grappling) and applications will be more easily understand.
°You must decide whether tode is for cultivating a healthy body or for defense.
°During practice you should imagine you are on the battle field. When blocking and striking make the eyes glare, drop the shoulders and harden the body. Now block the enemy’s punch and strike! Always practice with this spirit so that, when on the real battlefield, you will naturally be prepared.
°Do not overexert yourself during practice because the intrinsic energy will rise up your face and eyes will turn red and your body will be harmed. Be careful.
°In the past many of those who have mastered tode have lived to an old age. This is because tode aids the development of the bones and sinews, it helps the digestive organs and is good for the circulation of the blood. Therefore, from now on tode should become the foundation of all sports lessons from elementary schools onward. If this is put into practice there will, I think, be many men who can win against ten aggressors.
The reason for stating all this is that it is my opinion that all students at the Okinawa Prefectural Teachers’ Training College should practice tode, so that when they graduate from here they can teach the children in the schools exactly as I have taught them. Within ten years tode will spread all over Okinawa and to the Japanese mainland. This will be a great asset to our militaristic society. I hope you will carefully study the words I have written.
Itosu Ankoh 1908
Following are twenty oral transmissions (Kuden) for the understanding of kata as taught by Kubota Shozan (a student of Gichin Funakoshi), from his student, Higaki Gennosuke:
1. Countering: Motobu Choki commented that the blocking hand must immediately become the attacking hand. It is not a true martial technique to block with one hand and counter with another. When the block and counter-attack are simultaneous that is true martial technique. “There cannot be multiple attacks against true Okinawan karate, because if an attack is countered properly, there can be no further attack.”
2. Immobilize the Opponent before Striking: The opponent must be rendered into such a state s/he cannot attack again, or even move, before executing a strike or kick.
3. The Names of Movements have been Disguised: Originally there were no names for the movements. It wasn’t until about 1935 that Shotokan established the terminology to teach large groups. However the terminology hid the meaning of the techniques. Many “blocks” were actually attacks.
4. There are no Techniques that End with a Block: There is no combative movement that ends with a block; there is always a counteroffensive movement. Moves that are called blocks are really attacks.
5. Block with Both Hands: In reality it is difficult to block an attack with one hand. When the hands cross across the chest, it hides a double block, which holds the true meaning. This is based on the fact that it is a natural movement to raise both hands when something comes suddenly at you.
6. Grabbing Hand and Pulling Hand: You pull your hand to your hip because that pulls the opponent into position for attack. The opponent will be pulled off-balance, you double the speed and power and the grabbing and pulling can be used for the beginning of throws and joint techniques.
7. The Front Hand is the Attacking Hand: By attacking with the front hand you attack from the closest possible distance. (The back hand is the blocking hand).
8. Perform a Movement that Consists of Two Counts in One Count: Many movements in kata that are shown as two count are really one-count techniques, which can be explained by a switch step.
9. Switch Step (Fumi kae): Most of the movements in kata use a walking gait. To correctly use the movements, it is necessary to change to a switch step. When this is understood, the meaning of kata will deepen. More power can be applied to the punch when the feet slide and the distance can be adjusted between you and the opponent as well.
10. Kicks are Performed Low While Grabbing the Opponent: “Kicks are meant to be delivered below the belt.” In most of kata bunkai, kicks are executed when grabbing the opponent. This helps stabilize a person when “standing on one leg.” Also, in close fighting where one can grab an opponent, the field of vision is limited, so it is difficult to defend against a low kick.
11. There is One Opponent to the Front: Do not be fooled by the embusen (performance line). As a rule, there is only one opponent to the front. S/he is actually being dragged to the front and rear and to the left and right in a Copernican (the method of tori maintaining the center) change.
12. Hang the Opponent to Sky: This is the same as a forearm twist (yuki chigai) in Aikido. It is represented in between techniques in kata.
13. Re-block and Re-grip: This refers to controlling the opponent by shutting down the attack by using both hands. The first three blocks of Heian Sandan cross the opponent’s arms (fushu in Chinese; juji garami in Aikido).
14. Take the Opponent’s Back: This is the most difficult position for an opponent to counter attack from.
15. Crossed Leg Stance: Signifies Body Rotation or a Joint Kick
16. Jumps and Body Shifts: Represent Throws
17. Break the Balance: in a triangle whose Base is the Base of the Opponent’s Feet, and the third point being the Head, the center of balance can be manipulated accordingly.
18. Me-oto-te (The Use of Both Hands Together): An example would be morote uke. The supporting hand (against the elbow) is the grabbing and pulling hand. The “blocking” hand makes the attack.
19. Cut the Forearm: Try to use a technique similar to kendo in which the forearm is “Chopped” leaving damage to the tendons.
20. The Kamae is an Invitation: When you know where the attack will occur, it is easier to defend against it.