What is the Tradition of Okinawa Traditional Karate?

(Extract from 8th Okinawa Traditional Karate Ceremony booklet)

Karate originated in Okinawa and has now spread around the world. It is an intangible cultural treasure for Okinawa and the Okinawan people take pride in their island being the birthplace of karate. Okinawan Traditional Karate has been passed down from generation to generation, from teacher to student, and from parent to child, without changing its essence.

There are two essential elements in the teaching of traditional karate. The first is technical instruction through physical training and the second is oral trasmission throug instructions and dialogue.

Without oral trasmission kata becomes an empty form without essence. Kata training becomes a real self defense system through the teachings that are passed on via oral trasmission.

The teacher shows the form and movements of kata to the student and through physical training, the student begins to understand the form, movement and proper breathing. The teacher enhances understanding by providing additional details by words, correcting student’s form, and trasmitting the finer details and essence.

Student listen to their teacher’s words and practice repeatedly for years striving to achieve the essence of this art. Along with technique, the mind and spirit of the student becomes one with the teacher.

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Traditional karate has been passed down from the teacher’s heart to the student’s heart.

This is how true and traditional karate has been passed down from generation to generation.

© 2019, Roberto Ugolini

 

Chōjun Miyagi and Gōjū Ryū’s “news”

The exhibition room of Okinawa Karate Kaikan is currently dedicated to Chōjun Miyagi as well as the history and characteristics of Gōjū-ryū.

And we can find very interesting “news”… here the list of more relevant ones in my opinion.

1928:  a copy of an article of Kyoto Imperial University Newspaper (November 1, 1928) about a karate (tode) training session. There also two photos in the article, one of a group training session (all in morote chudan no kamae, sanchin training?), and the other of Chōjun Miyagi in neko ashi dachi / yama uke (like at the end of seiyunchin kata). I never saw these two photos before.. This article is really important because is a written document about the first trip of Chōjun Miyagi in mainland Japan. In the same period there was the meeting with Gichin Funakoshi and Yasuhiro Konishi (see photo below).

miyagifunakoshikonishiazama

1930: copies of three articles about Jin’an Shinzato performance in November 1930 during “The 10th Anniversary Festival of the Establishment of Meiji Jingu”. The event included a martial art kata exhibition and karate was performed together judo and kendo on November 3 and 4 at Tokyo Metropolitan Hibiya Public Hall. The articles was published by “Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun” (Nov. 5, 1930), by “Okinawa Asahi Shimbun” (Nov. 11, 1930) and “Hawaii Hochi” (October 16, 1930).

1935: during the tug-of-war held in 1935, Chōjun Miyagi carried out the very important duty “Kanuchibo“, ie helding the Kanuchibo pole that joined the “female rope” with ” the “male rope”. There’s a photo in the exhibition about that matter which is more detailed and enlarged than the known one (see below), where the pole is displayed in almost the full lenght.

tugofwar

1936: of the trip of Chōjun Miyagi in Shangai, we have the commemorative plaque signed by Miyagi and others. There is also a photo displayed at the exhibition with Miyagi seated during a dinner, very similar to the one taken in 1940 at Kyoto (see below), but with a lady in front, together with men in military uniform and jacket – tie.

dinner

1940: do you remember my article about the Gōjū-ryū‘s video? You can find it at THE Goju-Ryu video

In the article I stated: “According to Okinawan Prefectural Museum, the photographer, Manshichi Sakamoto, took many pictures during the film and Chōjun Miyagi was in one of the pictures “performing shime on Kotaro Kohama at the Teacher’s College” (as reported in Morio Higaonna’s book). To have more information about the pictures, I wrote to Akiyoshi Sakamoto: he answered me that at the beginning of 2005 they gave all the plates to Japan Folk Craft Museum.

I wrote two times to Japan Folk Craft Museum to have more information about the video and the photos but, unfortunately, I hadn’t receive any answer.”

And the news is…. there the photos! Other than the sanchin shime on Kotato Kohama they displayed:

  • a smiling Chōjun Miyagi looking at the scene with other operators (you can find a portion of this photo in the brochure of the exhibition);

miyagiexhibition

  • two more photos of Chōjun Miyagi during sanchin shime;

shime

  • Chōjun Miyagi supervising the group training of seiyunchin kata;
  • a student in kuri uke during kururunfa kata;
  • a student in neko ashi dachi / tora guchi during kururunfa kata;
  • two students in kururunfa bunkai;
  • a student during tensho kata;
  • a student during tan exercise.

To conclude: a terrific exhibition with a lot of material about Chōjun Miyagi and Gōjū-ryū. My hope is that in the future will be available a catalog of the exhibition to have materials to research about…

 

© 2019, Roberto Ugolini