Goju Geel
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Geschiedenis - Karateclub-Goju-Geel

Geschiedenis - Karateclub-Goju-Geel | Goju Geel | Scoop.it
Geschiedenis

Het Goju Ryu is een traditionele stijl waarvan in de 18de eeuw de basis werd gelegd op de Ryu Kyu eilanden ten zuiden van China in Okinawa. Goju betekent letterlijk : HARD en ZACHT (men kan dit ook zien als de YIN en YANG balans); Ryu betekent leerschool.

Een stijlgroep accentueert een eigen benadering van karate technieken gebaseerd op de richtlijnen van de voorvaders van de verschillende groepen.

De hedendaagse verdedigingssporten (karate, judo, ju-jutsu, aikido, enz) zijn sterk beïnvloed geweest door oude vechtkunsten uit China, India, en sommigen breiden dit zelfs uit tot Turkije en Egypte. Vermoedelijk moeten we daarvoor teruggrijpen tot het kruispunt van beschavingen waarvan het Midden Oosten lange tijd de bakermat geweest is en waar een zeer actieve uitwisseling van kennis leefde tussen verschillende culturen van geneeskunde tot religie, van filosofie tot 'technologie', enzoverder. Handelsroutes en migratie zorgen voor uitwisseling van kennis, zo was Okinawa het centrum van handelsroutes tussen de omringende landen en vooral met China. Met de groeiende mobiliteit is het karate over de ganse wereld verspreid.

De grondlegger van het Goju Ryu, grootmeester Chojun Miyagi, had in de jaren 30 reeds voorspeld dat het karate wereldwijd bekend zou raken.

In China is de kunst van het verdedigen verder ontwikkeld, geperfectioneerd en van generatie op generatie overgedragen. Via Japan is de huidige en meest bekende vorm van het karate (wereld)bekend geworden. Het eiland Okinawa dat een handelspunt was tussen China en Japan, heeft hierin een zeer belangrijke rol gespeeld. Men kan stellen dat het hedendaagse karate ontstaan is door de mix van Chinese, Okinawaanse en Japanse kennis van de martiale gevechtskunst.

Deze krijgskunst is onstaan als persoonlijke verdediging en is een complete levenswijze die zowel practisch als theoretisch (geschriften) doorgegeven werd.

Een interesante bundel in boekvorm is de Bubishi, men noemt deze 'de martiale bijbel'.

De teksten zijn lange tijd voor de buitenwereld verborgen gebleven om verschillende redenen en er heerst een waas van geheimzinnigheid rond deze geschriften. De auteur is niet gekend en men vermoed dat het een bundeling en opbouw van kennis is van verschillende personen met een uitgebreide kennis of specialisatie. Men mag niet uit het oog verlieren dat deze teksten in een tijd ontwikkeld zijn waar de technieken een kwestie van leven of dood betekenden. Dit aspect vergeet men nogal eens in de hedendaagse beoefening van gevechtsporten. De meest destructieve zaken worden weggelaten om tot een sportvorm te kunnen komen waarin krachten op een gestruktureerde manier gemeten worden.

Aan de 4 hoofdstijlen werd vorm gegeven omstreeks 1936 tijdens een samenkomst van autoriteiten die in die jaren als grootmeesters erkend werden. Zij hebben alles in een bepaalde vorm gegoten, elk vanuit zijn specifieke kennis. Hieruit zijn 4 stijlen ontstaan die men de hoofdstijlen noemt en wereldwijd verspreid zijn. Het WKF heeft deze stijlen geselecteerd als basis voor het wedstrijdkarate en zij probeert het karate als Olympische sporttak te laten erkennen. Deze stijlen zijn het Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu, Wado Ryu en Shotokan.
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Karate ni Sente Nashi: What the Masters Had to Say

This is a slightly revised version of a paper that originally appeared in Vol. 27, No. 1 of the Hiroshima University
of Economics Journal of Humanities, Social and Natural Sciences.

 

Karate ni Sente Nashi: What the Masters Had to Say
©2004 Mark J. Tankosich


Introduction
Perhaps no Japanese phrase is more familiar to karate practitioners around
the world than “karate ni sente nashi.” Typically translated as, “There is no first
attack in karate,” this maxim has become known primarily through the teachings of
Gichin Funakoshi. The founder of Shotokan and, according to many, the “father of
modern karate-do,” Funakoshi made the principle the second of his Niju Kun
(“Twenty Precepts”), following only the directive to not forget that “karate begins
and ends with courtesy” (Funakoshi, “Karate-do nijukajo”).
Clearly, for Funakoshi, the maxim karate ni sente nashi was of great
importance. In addition to including it as one of his “Twenty Precepts,” he stated in
a 1935 magazine article that he “view[s] it as [expressing] the essence of karate-do”
(Funakoshi, “Karate no hanashi” 65). Nor is he alone in this view: Shoshin
Nagamine, respected founder of the Matsubayashi school of Shorin-ryu karate,
wrote that, “This phrase [. . .] embodies the essence of Okinawan karate” (Nagamine
13). Similarly, Masatoshi Nakayama, longtime head of the Japan Karate
Association, stated that, “[. . .] it is not an exaggeration to say that it is these words
that succinctly and fully express the spirit of karate-do” (Nakayama 80).
With such esteemed masters as these expressing such strong sentiments
regarding the significance of the sente nashi principle, one can only assume that the
principle represents a way of thinking that is -- or at least should be -- profoundly
important for those who consider themselves to be serious practitioners of the art of
karate-do. Specifying just exactly what that way of thinking is, in all of its
subtleties, would perhaps be a difficult task, but obviously, at its most basic level,
the maxim at least clearly proscribes the use of any “first strikes” on the part of
karate-ka. Or does it?
Differing Opinions
Certainly many of today’s karate practitioners would argue that striking first
is a violation of karate ni sente nashi. Iain Abernethy notes, for example, that when
he published an article in some British magazines advocating the use of pre-emptive
striking in certain situations:
[. . .] I received a markedly increased level of correspondence. Some
were very supportive of [my position] [. . .]. Of those who contacted me
in the positive, many stated that their immediate peer group were
wholly opposed to the idea [. . .].
The ones who responded in the negative were often VERY strong
in their opposition. Their objections were essentially based on moral
grounds, but a number cited “karate ni sente nashi” as if I was
encouraging the breaking of an 11th commandment! (Abernethy,
“Striking First?!” Emphasis in final sentence added.)
Similarly, in his book Steady Training, Antonio Bustillo notes:
2
I’ve heard many instructors quote the [sente nashi] slogan stating it
means you must first wait for an opponent to attack and strike out
before you retaliate. As verification to their testimony they use the
katas as examples. “Every kata starts with a block. [. . .]” (Bustillo
247)
Yet, there are also those karate-ka who disagree with this position, who believe that
the sente nashi principle does not necessarily rule out all first strikes. These
practitioners typically argue that a “first attack” can also consist of something other
than a physical blow and that once an opponent has engaged in such an attack the
karate-ka is free to “defend” himself by striking first. Abernathy, for instance, says:
I believe that ‘karate-do ni sente nashi’ and the pre-emptive
strike are in no way mutually exclusive and can exist side by side. To
my mind, once an assailant has decided to attack us, the attack has
begun. We are then well within our rights to use whatever methods
are appropriate to ensure our safety. [. . .] If an individual is
behaving in an aggressive way whilst attempting to invade our
personal space then there is a strong possibility that their verbal
aggression is about to escalate to the physical. This verbal assault is
an attack in itself and waiting until the attack becomes physical is
foolhardy in the extreme. (Abernethy, Bunkai-Jutsu 122)
Similarly, an anonymous author, after describing a hypothetical situation in which a
female karate-ka dispatches three men who accosted her on the street late at night,
writes:
Only when we factor in the intent of your opponents do we get a
better picture of “karate ni sente nashi.” [. . .] They surrounded you at
midnight. They closed mae (sic) [i.e., engagement distance]. They
assumed kamae [i.e., fighting postures] even if only American
streetgang type nonchalant kamae. [. . .] Their intents were probably
violent for such actions as the above can hardly be interpreted as
altruistic.
If you felt your life was in danger by their intent your first attack
is defense. The war broke out when they stepped across the line of
intent and into your personal protected space. [. . .]
When you feel the breach in peace it is time to strike. [. . .] The
war has begun. The person who throws the first strike is immaterial
(sic). The war began with mobilization, entrapment and perceived
intent. [. . .] You would be foolish to delay until after the first physical
strike is thrown at you [. . .].
[. . .] The well-trained martial artist [. . .] may find certain
situations [. . .] as conditions where she justifiably throws the physical
first strike without breaching “karate ni sente nashi.” (Karate Ni Sente
Nashi)
What the Masters Had to Say
Kohaku Iwai lists four Okinawans -- all of them legendary martial artists -- as
“the warriors who introduced karate-jutsu to the [Japanese] mainland”: Gichin
Funakoshi, Choki Motobu, Chojun Miyagi and Kenwa Mabuni (Iwai 187-211).
What, one wonders, did these men have to say about interpreting the karate ni sente
3
nashi maxim? A future paper will examine Funakoshi’s thoughts; here, let us look
at some of the writings of Miyagi, Motobu and Mabuni.
Chojun Miyagi
To the best of this author’s knowledge, there were three documents produced by
Chojun Miyagi (or at least three have been made public): Goju-ryu kenpo, Ho goju
donto and Karate-do gaisetsu (“Outline of Karate-do”) (1). The first two of these,
written in 1932 and 1942 respectively, contain no reference to sente nashi. In
Karate-do gaisetsu, Miyagi does briefly mention the sente nashi principle, but not in
any way that is particularly helpful to our discussion. In the version that appears in
Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts, we find the following paragraph:
Folklore contends that the teaching methods of long ago focused
mainly upon self-defense, with little emphasis placed upon training the
mind, or cultivating the precept “karate-do ni sente nashi” (there is no
first attack in karate-do). I have observed the neglect of this diligent
principle, although, with the passage of time, teaching policies have
gradually improved to where that imbalance has, for the most part,
been corrected. My conviction is that the fist and Zen are one of the
same (sic). Together, this balance cultivates intellect ahead of
strength. The transmission of budo’s essential precept must be
fostered. (Miyagi, “Karate-do Gaisetsu” 50) (2)
Other than in this passage, Miyagi makes no mention of the sente nashi maxim.
Choki Motobu
Choki Motobu, in his 1932 publication Watashi no karate-jutsu (“My Karatejutsu”),
expresses his thoughts on sente nashi in a way that is directly relevant to
the question being asked here. In a one-paragraph section titled Karate ni sente
nashi, he writes:
There is an expression, “karate ni sente nashi.” Apparently some
people interpret this literally and often profess that “one must not
attack first,” but I think that they are seriously mistaken. To be sure,
it is certainly not the budo spirit to train for the purpose of striking
others without good reason. I assume that you already understand
that one’s primary purpose must be the training of mind and body.
The meaning of this saying, then, is that one must not harm others
for no good reason. But when a situation can’t be helped, in other
words, when, even though one tries to avoid trouble, one can’t; when an
enemy is serious about doing one harm, one must fiercely stand and
fight. When one does fight, taking control of the enemy is crucial, and
one must take that control with one’s first move. Thus, in a fight one
must attack first. It is very important to remember this. (Motobu 58-
59) (3)
Indeed, on at least one occasion Choki Motobu did demonstrate his willingness
to strike first, if a story told to karate researcher Charles Goodin is to be believed.
Goodin reports that he heard the story from Motobu’s son, Chosei, who in turn had
heard it from Chozo Nakama, a former student of the elder Motobu (4). According to
the account provided Goodin, Choki Motobu, in his seventies at the time, was
4
attending a large party when a former student burst in and, waving a knife,
challenged Motobu. Goodin reports:
“I can use this,” [the student] declared stabbing the knife into Motobu’s
table, “I will never lose the fight.” (sic)
[. . .] “I won’t fight with any weapon,” [Motobu] stated calmly. “I
won’t fight with a knife.” Although he tried his best to convince the
student not to fight, the student insisted. “Are you really that
determined to fight me with a knife?” asked Motobu.
“I am,” proclaimed the student defiantly. “I won’t change my
mind!”
“All right then,” said Motobu finally. “I will take you up on your
offer, but we should not fight in the house.”
The student grabbed the knife and headed for the door. Motobu
followed closely behind. Just before the student reached the door,
Motobu kicked him in the back, shattering his backbone. (Goodin 12)
Assuming that the above account is accurate, whether or not the situation in which
Motobu found himself can truly be called one in which physical conflict was
unavoidable is, perhaps, open to debate. Motobu’s willingness to strike first,
however, is clear.
Additional information regarding Motobu’s thoughts on striking first can be
found in Motobu Choki sensei: Goroku (“A Collection of Sayings of Sensei Choki
Motobu”) (5). There, listed as saying number nine, we find a statement that
seemingly contradicts the karate ni sente nashi principle: Karate wa sente de aru
(“karate is the first attack”). (Nakata 42). Given the opinion that he expresses in
Watashi no karate-jutsu (see above), it seems reasonable to conclude that with these
words Motobu meant to stress the importance of striking first when trouble is
unavoidable.
Kenwa Mabuni
Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of the Shito-ryu school of karate, produced a
number of publications during his lifetime. Among them, and co-authored with
Genwa Nakasone, was the book Kobo kenpo karate-do nyumon, about which noted
karate historian Patrick McCarthy has written:
Considered his best work of all [. . .]. [. . .] this [. . .] was considered by
one writer to be the real “Master Text” of karate-do. [. . .] Mabuni
Kenwa won widespread recognition during that pre-war era with this
book and, considering the magnitude of this work, it is surprising to
hear that it has never been translated into English. (McCarthy,
“Standing” 30)
In this book, in a section of Chapter 10 entitled “Correct and Incorrect
Understanding of the Meaning of ‘Karate ni Sente Nashi,’” we find the following
extremely relevant comments:
There is a precept “karate ni sente nashi.” Properly understood,
this indicates a mental attitude of not being eager or inclined to fight.
It is the teaching that just because one has trained in karate does not
mean that one can rashly strike or kick others. It seems that there are
5
two types of mistaken interpretations regarding this precept, and [I’d]
like to correct them.
The first is a mistaken understanding held by some people who
are not karate practitioners. Such people say, “In all fights the
opportunity for victory is seized by getting the jump on your enemy; a
passive attitude such as sente nashi is inconsistent with Japanese
budo.” Such a view forgets the essential purpose of budo: Bu (6) takes
as its ideal the stopping of the spear (7), and its aim is the maintenance
of peace. Those who make such statements do not understand that the
true spirit of Japanese budo means not being bellicose.
When faced with someone who disrupts the peace or who will do
one harm, one is as a warrior gone to battle, and so it only stands to
reason that one should get the jump on the enemy and preempt his use
of violence. Such action in no way goes against the precept of sente
nashi.
Second is a mistaken understanding found among some karate
practitioners. It is a view that does not see sente nashi as an attitude,
but rather as a literal, behavioral rule to be rigidly followed. As noted
above, when absolutely necessary, when one is already facing a battle,
it is an accepted truth of strategy that one should try to take sensen no
sen (8) and forestall the enemy’s actions.
In conclusion, the expression karate ni sente nashi should be
properly understood to mean that a person who practices karate must
never take a bellicose attitude, looking to cause an incident; he or she
should always have the virtues of calmness, prudence and humility in
dealing with others. (Mabuni and Nakasone 82-83) (9)
Discussion
Examining the writing of Chojun Miyagi reveals little regarding his
interpretation of the karate ni sente nashi maxim. Our look at the thoughts of two
other legendary karate pioneers, though – Choki Motobu and Kenwa Mabuni –
clearly shows that they strongly believed that striking first does not necessarily
violate the sente nashi principle. Indeed, both men seem to have felt that a first
strike is, under certain conditions, the only reasonable course of action for a karateka
to take. It is interesting to note that, just as is true today, when Motobu and
Mabuni were writing their books (in the 1930s), there were apparently those who
viewed sente nashi as being a prohibition on striking first; both masters
unambiguously condemn such literal interpretations.
Given his (assuming here for the purposes of discussion, well-deserved)
reputation as somewhat of a ruffian who had more than his share of fights, one
might argue, perhaps, that Choki Motobu’s views on the properness of striking first
should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. What of Kenwa Mabuni and his
views, though? In what light should we see them? According to McCarthy, Mabuni
was “a staunch advocate of the moral values established to govern the behavior of
karate-do practitioners” (McCarthy, “Standing” 34). If this is true, then one could
hardly “explain away” Mabuni’s expressed willingness to strike first as the view of
someone not particularly concerned with whether or not karate-ka behaved in a
morally-proper manner. Apparently, when Mabuni (with Nakasone) stated that, “[. .
.] when one is already facing a battle, it is an accepted truth of strategy that one
should try to take sensen no sen and forestall the enemy’s actions,” he did so with
6
complete awareness of the moral issues involved.
Acknowledgments
The author would like to express his heartfelt gratitude to his wife (and best friend), Yasuko
Okane, and to his colleague and friend, Izumi Tanaka, for their patient Japanese language
assistance. He would also like to thank leading karate researcher Joe Swift for his helpful email
correspondence, and martial arts author Iain Abernethy for his kind help. Any and all
errors are, of course, solely the fault of the author.
Notes
1. Actually, there are apparently two versions of Karate-do gaisetsu: one written in 1934 and the
other in 1936 (Kinjo 54-55). It is assumed that the 1936 version to which Kinjo refers is the
one that appears in Higaonna (81-88). Also, the Goju-ryu kenpo that appears in Toguchi’s
Karate no kokoro, dated August 29, 1932, and signed “Chojun,” was one presented to a Mr.
Kiju Azama. The author learned from Swift of the existence of a document with the same
title and date, also signed “Chojun,” but presented to a Mr. Tatsutoku Senaha (Swift, “Re:
Miyagi Document”). Apparently Miyagi produced and gave out several copies of the
document (Swift, “Re: Miyagi Translation”). It is assumed that the copies, however many
there are, are the same in content. Finally, it is interesting to note that the title of the
second piece mentioned – Ho goju donto – is, according to Higaonna (68), a line from a poem
found in the so-called “Bible of Karate,” the Bubishi. Translating its meaning as “the way of
inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness,” Higaonna identifies the expression as being
the inspiration for Miyagi naming his style of karate “Goju-ryu.”
2. Whether owing to differences in translation or to differences in the 2 “original” Japanese
versions, Higaonna’s account of this paragraph differs somewhat. It does not, however,
provide any more information that is relevant to our discussion than does McCarthy’s
version.
3. The translation presented here is this author’s. For an alternative translation, see McCarthy
and McCarthy (Karate-jutsu: 96).
4. Noble was told essentially the same story by the same source (Noble 47).
5. This collection was put together by Mizuhiko Nakata, under the supervision of Kenji
Marukawa. Nakata, while a martial artist, was not actually a student of Motobu’s. He
writes that from the time he first formally met Motobu (around 1935) until Motobu left
Tokyo to return to Okinawa (which Iwai puts at 1939), he saw Motobu at least once a week.
He reports that he and Motobu would eat and (“thoroughly”) drink together while discussing
karate and other things. Motobu would also actually demonstrate for him. The second
person mentioned above, Kenji Marukawa, was one of Motobu’s top students. (Nakata 56-
58; Iwai 200)
6. That is, 武, the first syllable / ideogram of budo (武道).
7. This is a reference to the theory that the ideogram for bu is made up of the characters戈
(hoko) and 止(tomeru). The latter of these, tomeru, means “to stop.” A hoko is defined by the
Kokugo Dai Jiten Dictionary as a long-handled weapon used to stab or thrust at an enemy.
The dictionary further states that this weapon developed into the naginata (a Japanese
halberd) at the end of the Heian period (794-1185), and into the yari or spear at the end of
the Kamakura period (1185-1333). It should be mentioned here that Shogakukan’s Shinsen
Kanwa Jiten also notes other possible origins for the character武, in addition to the “stop
spear” one.
8. Sensen no sen is one of three kinds of sen or initiative. Go no sen and sen no sen are the
other two. Kim et al. define these as follows: Go no sen is reactive or responsive initiative,
sen no sen is simultaneous initiative, and sensen no sen is preemptive initiative.
9. As far as this author can tell, the passage presented here has never before appeared in
English. The translation provided is this author’s.
7
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Bustillo, Antonio. Steady Training. Lincoln: Writers Club, 2001.
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and Yuriko McCarthy. Boston: Tuttle, 1999. 54-55.
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Yojusha, 1996.
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Onuma. Kawaguchi, Jap.: Sojinsha, 1993. 39-58.
Nakayama, Masatoshi. Karate-do: Seishin to giho. Nagano, Jap.: Kazusa, 1985.
Noble, Graham. “A Meeting with Chosei Motobu.” Classical Fighting Arts, Issue 1: 41-47.
“Sen no sen” Tuttle Dictionary of the Martial Arts of Korea, China & Japan. Comp. Sun-Jin Kim,
Daniel Kogan, Nikolaos Kontoggiannis and Hali Wong. Rutland: Tuttle, 1995.
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Kim, Daniel Kogan, Nikolaos Kontoggiannis and Hali Wong. Rutland: Tuttle, 1995.
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Swift, Joe. “Re: Miyagi Translation.” E-mail to the author. 20 Oct. 2003.

 


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