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Textes intelligents au sujet de la pratique du Karate / Bright texts about the practice of Karate
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Une comparaison de deux arts martiaux japonais apparemment ...

Une comparaison de deux arts martiaux japonais apparemment ... | Karate | Scoop.it
L'aïkido et le karaté Shotokan sont généralement considérés comme deux « styles » très différents. Ils semblent, en tant qu'arts martiaux, provenir des deux extrémités d'un spectre qui opposerait souplesse et dureté.
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Heian Shodan : Le premier pour la ceinture noire | Karaté-Blog.Net

Heian Shodan : Le premier pour la ceinture noire | Karaté-Blog.Net | Karate | Scoop.it
Description détaillé et cours en vidéo d'Heian Shodan : calme et paix. Kata pédagogique permettant d'évoluer vers la ceinture noire.
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Fédération Francophone de Karaté et Arts Martiaux Affinitaires ...

En choisissant le karaté comme sport ou technique de défense vous avez fait un choix qui peut vous rendre meilleur, plus sur de vous, vous permettre de dépasser vos limites et vous donner un plus grand self-contrôle.
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Practice Kata Correctly, translation by Mark J. Tankosich

Practice Kata Correctly, translation by Mark J.
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Historical Outline of Karate-Do, Martial Arts Of Ryuky

by Chojun Miyagi

Translated by Sanzinsoo


Remarks: The title in Japanese is "Ryukyu Kenpo Karatedo Enkaku Gaiyo". This essay appeared as a supplementary article in two books, "Okinawano Karatedo" by Shoshin Nagamine (1975, Shinjinbutsu Oraisha) and "Okinawaden Gojuryu Karatedo" by Eiichi Miyazato (1979, Jitsugyono Sekaisha). Some parts are omitted in this translation.

Original Remarks: This essay was written and prepared by Master Chojun Miyagi especially for the club members when he gave us the lecture "About Karatedo" and its demonstration at the lecture hall on the 4th floor of Meiji Shoten at Sakaisuji, Osaka on 28th January 1936.


1. Preface

What is karate? It is the art we exercise mind and body for health promotion in daily life, but in case of emergency it is the art of self-defence without any weapon. In most cases we fight with our bodies - hands, feet, elbows etc - to defeat opponents. However, in some cases, in accordance with circumstances, we may also use weapons (such as Bo, Sai, Nunchaku, Tonfa, Weeku, Kama etc).

People often misunderstand karate. When they see someone breaking five wooden board or a few pieces of roof tile by his or her fist, they think it is a main part of karate. Of course, it is not a main part of karate but a trivial part of karate. Like other fighting arts, the truth of karate or Tao of karate can be understood and mastered at the ultimate goal which is beyond teachings and impossible to describe by words.


2. How the martial arts was introduced to Ryukyu (= Okinawa)?

The name "karate" is a special term in Ryukyu. Karate originated from Chinese kungfu. We have few books on origin of Chinese kungfu, so we cannot conclude immediately, but according to a theory, the martial arts originated in central Asia and the area around Turkey when the ancient civilization was developed. And then it was introduced to China gradually. However, we still another theory. It says that about 5,000 years ago Chinese kungfu originated at the age of Yellow Emperor (= Emperor Huang) who built the brilliant culture at the Yellow River basin. Anyway, it is not difficult to imagine that the prototype of martial arts was born by fighting spirit for struggle which human being possess by nature. For example, most styles of Chinese kungfu were created by mimicking fights of animals or birds. You can see it from the styles' names such as Tiger Style, Lion Style, Monkey Style, Dog Style, Crane Style and so on. In the age a little later, Chinese kungfu split into Southern school and Northern school. Moreover, each school split into Neijia and Waijia. The characteristic of Neijia is mainly softness, and it is a defensive fighting arts. Wudang kungfu (= Taichi for example) is typical of Neijia. The characteristic of Waijia is mainly hardness, and it is an aggressive fighting arts. Shaolin kungfu is typical of Waijia, which was created at Shaolin Temple in Songshang Mountaion, Henan province.

And later, in the ages of Tang dynasty and Song dynasty, we can find many kungfu warriors at the height of their success.

When we consider how karate was introduced to Ryukyu (= Okinawa), we have various opinions without any historical evidence. We have not yet come to a correct conclusion on this matter. There are three main opinions, namely "Thirty-six Chinese Immigrants", "Oshima Notes" and "Importation in Keicho Period". Simple explanation of each opinion are as follows.


(1) Thirty-six Chinese ImmigrantsIn 1392 (Ming dynasty in China), thirty-six Chinese immigrants came to Ryukyu from Fujian province. At that time karate was introduced to Ryukyu by Chinese immigrants from Fujian province.


(2) Oshima Notes

In 1762, the merchant ship of the Ryukyu Kingdom was caught in a heavy storm on the way to Satsuma (= Kagoshima prefecture now), and cast ashore on the coast of Oshima, Tosa (= Kochi prefecture now). Shiohira Pechin, a high rank official of the ship, was an intelligent person. He was helped by Choki Tobe, an intellectual who lived in Oshima. Tobe wrote down Shiohira's interesting stories about the Ryukyu Kingdom. His notes was called "Oshima Notes". The 3rd volume of "Oshima Notes" says "Koshankun, a kungfu warrior, came from China to Ryukyu (= Okinawa) bringing his disciples with him." According to the Notes, at that time people called the martial arts "Kumiaijutsu" instead of karate. This notes is the most reliable literature on karate.


(3) Importation in Keicho Period

In 1609 (14th year of Keicho period), the Shimazu clan of Satsuma (= Kagoshima prefecture now) invaded the Ryukyu Kingdom, and they prohibited possessing weapons by people of Ryukyu. Some believe that karate was created spontaneously due to the cruel oppression by Satsuma. The others insist that karate was not a domestic creation but what was imported from China. I think it is reasonable to consider that karate was a fusion of a martial arts from China and "Te" a native martial arts which had already existed, so karate was developed remarkably and even today it is still improved rationally and developed. We have a few different opinions on origin of karate, but they are popular misconceptions and not worth listening.

As mentioned above, so far we do not have any definite and convincing opinion yet. Anyway, karate has been developed, modified and improved for so many years.

3. Karate circles in the pastWe also do not know origin of the name "karate", but it is true that the name "karate" was made recently. In the old days it was called "Te". At that time people used to practice karate secretly, and a masters taught a few advanced Kata out of all the Kata only to his best disciple. If he had no suitable disciple, he never taught them anyone, and eventually such Kata have completely died out. As a result, there are many Kata which were not handed down. In about middle of Meiji period (1868-1912), prominent karate masters abolished the old way of secrecy. Karate was opened to the public, so it was soon recognized by society. It was dawn in the development of karate. In accordance with the rapidly progressing culture, karate was also recognized as physical education, and it was adopted as one of the teaching subjects at school. Therefore, at last karate has won the social approval.


4. How we teach karate at present.

According to oral history, in the old days, the teaching policy of karate put emphasis on self-defence techniques. With just a motto of "no first attack in karate", teachers showed their students the moral aspects. However, I heard that in reality they tended to neglect such moral principles. So gradually the teaching policy was improved with the change of the times. Now we discontinued and abolished the wrong tradition of so-called "body first, and mind second", and we made our way toward Tao of fighting arts or the truth of karate. Eventually we have obtained the correct motto "mind first, and body second" which means karate and Zen are the same.

Those who are engaged in teaching karate in Okinawa prefecture and outside Okinawa prefecture at present are as follows. (in random order)

In Okinawa prefecture:Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Anbun Tokuda, Juhatsu Kyoda, Choshin Chibana, Jinsei Kamiya, Shinpan Shiroma, Seiko Higa, Kamado Nakasone, Jin-an Shinzato, Chojun Miyagi

Outside Okinawa prefecture:

Gichin Funakoshi, Choki Motobu, Kenwa Mabuni, Masaru Sawayama, Sanyu Sakai, Moden Yabiku, Jizaburo Miki, Yasuhiro Konishi, Shinji Sato, Mizuho Mutsu, Kamesuke Higaonna, Shinjun Otsuka, Shin Taira, Koki Shiroma, Kanbun Uechi


5. About karate styles or RyuThere are various opinions about Ryu or styles of karate in Ryukyu (= Okinawa), but they are just guess without any definite research or evidence. With regard to this matter, we feel as if we are groping in the dark.

According to a popular opinion out of them, we can categorize karate into two styles; Shorin-Ryu and Shorei-Ryu. They insist that the former is fit for a stout person, while the latter for a slim person. However, such an opinion proved to be false by many studies. In the meantime, there is the only opinion we can trust. It is as follows: In 1828 (Qing or Ching dynasty in China), our ancestors inherited a kungfu style of Fujian province in China. They continued their studies and formed Goju-Ryu karate. Even today, there still exists an orthodox group which inherited genuine and authentic Goju-Ryu karate.


6. The feature of karate

Some good points of karate are as follows.

(1) A large place or a spacious area is not required for practicing karate.(2) You can practice karate by yourself. You can also do it together with other karate members by forming a group.

(3) You don't have to spend many hours in practicing karate.

(4) You can choose Kata suitable for your physical strength and practice it regardless of age and gender.

(5) Without spending much money, you can practice karate with simple equipment (such as Makiwara) or without it.

(6) Karate is very effective as a means of health promotion. There are many karateka who are healthy and live long.

(7) As a result of training in mind and body, you can cultivate your character and acquire indomitable spirit.


7. The future of karate-doThe days when karate was taught secretly was over, and has come the new age in which we practice and study karate publicly and officially. Therefore, the future of karate-do is bright. Taking this opportunity, we should stop advertising karate as if it was a mysterious and magical fighting arts in a small island called Ryukyu. We should open karate to the public and receive criticism, opinions and studies from the other prominent fighting artists. In the future, we should invent complete protectors for a safety karate tournament like other fighting arts, so that karate become one of Japanese fighting arts.

Nowadays karate-do has become popular all over Japan, where many people study karate-do very hard. Even outside Japan, karate-do is popular. There is a man who graduated from university in Tokyo. He is now propagating and studying karate-do in Europe. In May 1934, I was invited to propagate and teach karate-do in Hawaii, U.S.A. by Okinawans there and a newspaper company. Karate clubs have been established in Hawaii since then.

As mentioned above, now karate-do has become not only a Japanese martial arts but also an international martial arts.


8. The teaching method of karate

As each person has his or her distinctive character, the muscle development is different depending on his or her muscle use. Therefore, at first, we do "Preparatory Exercise" to develop our muscles so that we can practice karate exercises easier, and then "Fundamental Kata", "Supplementary Exercise", "Kaishu Kata" and "Kumite Training". We teach karate in this way. Each outline is as follows.


(1) Preparatory ExerciseWe exercise each muscle of our body in order to enhance its flexibility, strength and endurance, and then we practice the fundamental Kata, namely Sanchin, Tensho and Naifanchi. We do again this preparatory exercise after practice of Kata to relax our muscles. And we take a breathing exercise and take a rest quietly.


(2) Fundamental Kata

Sanchin, Tensho and Naifanchi are the fundamental Kata. Through practicing them, we can take a correct posture. We can inhale and exhale correctly. We can adjust increasing or decreasing our power harmoniously. We can develop a powerful physique and a strong will of warrior.


(3) Supplementary Exercise

This exercise enable us to learn and perform Kaishu Kata well. We exercise each part of our body with a particular movement. We also practice with various equipments to enhance our outer whole strength and particular part strength.


(4) Kaishu Kata (= Kata except Fundamental Kata)

Nowadays we have about twenty or thirty kinds of Kata, and their names are various depending on their creators. Kata has techniques of defense and offense which are connected appropriately. It has various directions of the movements and it is something like gymnastics. We should perform Kata by using power of mind and body in accordance with its technical purpose so that we can learn the principle of untying and tying.


(5) Kumite Training

We untie Kaishu Kata which we already learned, and we study techniques of defense and offense in Kaishu Kata. Understanding its technical purpose, we practice the techniques of attack and defense with fighting spirit like a real situation.

I summarize as follows. We induce the interaction of mind and body from the fundamental Kata, Sanchin, Tensho and Naifanchi. We develop the spirit of martial arts by acquiring fighting techniques through practicing Kaishu Kata and Kumite training correctly.Translation copyright © Sanzinsoo (sanzinsoo@hotmail.com)

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Hawaii Karate Museum

The Hawaii Karate Museum, a division of the Hikari Institute of Honolulu, Hawaii, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
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基本, Kihon, la base, fundamentals - Budo no nayami

基本, Kihon, la base, fundamentals - Budo no nayami | Karate | Scoop.it
Il y a quelque temps j'avais mis en ligne une vidéo qui m'avait touchée de la conférence de Randy Pausch intitulée"The last lecture". Randy Pausch n'était pas seulement un être humain remarquabl… Hébergé par OverBlog.
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Partez au Japon | Actukarate.com

Partez au Japon | Actukarate.com | Karate | Scoop.it
Le cours est structuré de la manière suivante : kihon, kata et kumite, avec une pause de 15 minutes au bout de 45 minutes d'efforts. A cette occasion, Fuse sensei demande à Muriel la marque de son appareil photo, un Canon ...
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Un signe expert en karaté | Chewbageek

Un signe expert en karaté | Chewbageek | Karate | Scoop.it
Pour les amateurs de karaté je vous laisse savourer cette vidéo qui nous prouvent que les arts martiaux peuvent être pratiquer par les singes, je me demande combien de temps il faut le dresser pour en arriver là !
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The Paradigm Shift- From Conflict to Harmony



I have spent the last week letting the impact of Ushiro Sensei’s teachings begin to settle into my being. Listening to Ushiro Sensei talk, feeling his kata and techniques is like reading and watching material from and about O’Sensei. I cannot do Shindoryu Ushiro Karate and I feel as though I am just beginning to do Aikido decently. The profound starting point/foundation for each of these arts is in a fundamental transformation away from a paradigm of conflict to one of harmony.

In some respects, conflict is hardwired into the human body. For every muscle group, we have one muscle that extends and the other that contracts. The dynamic equilibrium between these two opposing forces helps us to maintain balance, equilibrium, movement, etc.. It should then come as no surprise that when two opposing bodies meet, there is a language of dynamic and reciprocal tensions between the two bodies. This allows each person to act and react within the same time continuum as the other person.


When a person does not receive the reciprocal tension that the person expects to receive (consciously or unconsciously) the body “searches” for this feedback in order to “know” how to respond in a timely manner. If a person walks into a solid object that his securely anchored, the body reactively tenses certain muscle groups so as to get seriously injured. If this “solid” object is not anchored and simply falls away, the person usually ends up falling down because the necessary reciprocal feedback that the body needed to maintain an upright posture was not there. The body was searching for that information at the expense of remaining balanced. By the time that the body responds to the sensations associated with the loss of balance, the body is reacting too late to effectively maintain the necessary dynamic equilibrium to remain securely balanced.


Learning techniques is not that difficult a task from simply a physical perspective. The task that seems to take a significant time to learn and consistently do, is to harmonize with the attacker. Remaining connected to the energy of the attacker, while remaining soft, energized and centered is a most difficult task. This is the necessary paradigm shift that makes Aikido work! When it does, the technique feels impossibly easy and an outside observer simply does not believe that what happened was not contrived in advance. It is hard enough to stay centered and connected from a static attack or test, that making the same state occur undisturbed in the face of a severe, fast attack is a real sign of “beginning to get it.” When you are in that state, things appear to occur slower than you would expect. You and the attacker are literally operating on different time continuums. This time continuum is kept in place by the continual lack of expected tensions that the attacker’s body needs in order to effectively fight.


There is always communication that exists between the attacker and the person being attacked. The communication paradigm is based on the conflict that exists between the two people. When the person being attacked can harmonize with the attacker, the attacker is left to search for communication within that conflict-based paradigm. In absence of receiving that information in a timely basis, the attacker in placed in a state of being ineffective and too late.


I would like us to focus this week on what is happening inside of us and the other person, both as nage and uke, when we can achieve that state of harmony. Feel what happens when we make that paradigm switch. Listen to the communication and listen to what happens when we cannot maintain ourselves within that paradigm and fall back into a state of conflict. What we hear when we do this tells us what we really need to work on in our sincere practice of Aikido.


Marc Abrams Sensei

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Karate et Aikido - FEUILLES DE CHOUX

Karate et Aikido - FEUILLES DE CHOUX | Karate | Scoop.it
Je me demande si c'est vrai ! Hébergé par OverBlog.
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Wang Shu Jin

Wang Shu Jin | Karate | Scoop.it
Wang Shu Jin was a legendary master of baguazhang and the internal arts. Besides teaching Bruce baguazhang, Wang Shu Jin taught him invaluable lessons about chi development.
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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

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:
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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)
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
complete awareness of the moral issues involved.
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.
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
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.
Abernethy, Iain. Bunkai-Jutsu: The Practical Application of Karate Kata. Cockermouth, UK:
NETH, 2002.
Abernethy, Iain. “Striking First?!” E-mail to the author. 20 Sept. 2002.
“Bu.” Character Explanation. Shinsen Kanwa Jiten. 5th ed. Shogakukan, 1987.
Bustillo, Antonio. Steady Training. Lincoln: Writers Club, 2001.
Funakoshi, Gichin. “Karate no hanashi.” Kaizo July 1935: 56-72.
Funakoshi, Gichin. “Karate-do nijukajo to sono kaisetsu.” Karate-do taikan. 1938. Ed. Genwa
Nakasone. Ginowan, Jap.: Ryokurindo Shoten, 1991. 67-87.
“Go 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.
Goodin, Charles. “Choki Motobu: Revelations from His Son, Chosei. (Pt. 2)” Dragon Times Vol.
20: 9-12.
Higaonna, Morio. The History of Karate: Okinawan Goju-ryu. 2nd ed. N.p.: Dragon, 1995.
“Hoko.” Def. 1. Kokugo Dai Jiten Dictionary. Rev. ed. Shogakukan, 1988. On Microsoft /
Shogakukan Bookshelf CD-ROM, Ver. 2.0.
Iwai, Kohaku. Motobu Choki to ryukyuu karate. Tokyo: Airyudo, 2000.
Karate Ni Sente Nashi: In Karate there is no First Strike. Aoinagi Karate. 3 Oct. 2002
Kinjo, Hiroshi. Postscript. “Karate-do Gaisetsu: An Outline of Karate-do.” By Chojun Miyagi.
Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts Volume Two: Koryu Uchinadi. Comp. and trans. Patrick
and Yuriko McCarthy. Boston: Tuttle, 1999. 54-55.
Mabuni, Kenwa, and Genwa Nakasone. Kobo kenpo karate-do nyumon. 1938. Ginowan, Jap.:
Yojusha, 1996.
McCarthy, Patrick. “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Mabuni Kenwa Story.” Ancient
Okinawan Martial Arts Volume Two: Koryu Uchinadi. Comp. and trans. Patrick and Yuriko
McCarthy. Boston: Tuttle, 1999. 1-37.
McCarthy, Patrick, and Yuriko McCarthy, trans. Watashi no karate-jutsu. By Choki
Motobu. My Art of Karate. Comp. and trans. Patrick and Yuriko McCarthy. Virginia,
Austral.: International Ryukyu Karate Research, 2002. 74-110.
Miyagi, Chojun. “Goju-ryu kenpo.” Karate no kokoro. Seikichi Toguchi. Tokyo: Okinawa Bunka
Kyokai, 1986. 129-33.
Miyagi, Chojun. “Ho goju donto: Karate zakko.” Gekkan bunka Okinawa. Aug. 1942: 4-7.
Miyagi, Chojun. “Karate-do Gaisetsu: An Outline of Karate-do.” Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts
Volume Two: Koryu Uchinadi. Comp. and trans. Patrick and Yuriko McCarthy. Boston:
Tuttle, 1999. 39-55.
Motobu, Choki. Watashi no karate-jutsu. Nippon denryu hyoho motobu kenpo. Superv. Chosei
Motobu. Kawaguchi, Jap.: Sojinsha, 1993. [61-173.]
Nagamine, Shoshin. The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do. Rutland: Tuttle, 1976.
Nakata, Mizuhiko. Motobu Choki sensei: Goroku. Superv. Kenji Marukawa. Ed. Tamotsu
Onuma. 1978. Motobu Choki seiden: Ryukyu kenpo karate-jutsu tatsujin. Ed. Tamotsu
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.
“Sensen 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.
Swift, Joe. “Re: Miyagi Document.” E-mail to the author. 10 Oct. 2003.
Swift, Joe. “Re: Miyagi Translation.” E-mail to the author. 20 Oct. 2003.


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Japanese Ego Negation and the Achievement of Self, by Mark J. Tankosich

Japanese Ego Negation and the Achievement of Self, by Mark J.
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Breathing In and Breathing Out In Accordance With "Go" and "Ju":

A Miscellaneous Essay on Karateby Chojun Miyagi

Translated by Sanzinsoo


This short article first appeared in "Bunka Okinawa" Vol.3 No.6 dated August 15, 1942, and re-appeared as an appendix in the book "Chugoku Okinawa Karate Kobudo no Genryu" written by Masahiro Nakamoto published on April 1, 1985 by Bunbukan.

I don't know when it was changed, but "karate" is now written with letters as "Empty Hand" instead of "Chinese Hand". Anyway, I am happy to know that nowadays karate is popular all over Japan as a unique Okinawan martial arts, and even it has been officially recognized by Dai Nippon Butokukai (=Great Japan Fighting Arts and Moral Association) as one of Japanese fighting arts. However, without doubt, I am sure that the roots of karate is in China. I suppose the prototype karate might be modified in various ways in my home Okinawa, but I think it is worth enough as we can see the evolution of karate which was influenced by the uniqueness of Okinawan culture. Therefore, maybe, it is not unreasonable to change the letters of karate as "Empty Hand" instead of "Chinese Hand".


Anyway, this time I would like to tell you my private opinion regarding, of course, karate as follows.


I have heard that it is not sure but there is a martial art called "Three Hand" in India. I don't know the original Indian name. "Three Hand" is the direct translation of Chinese language from Indian language. I suppose maybe such a martial art was brought to China from India by Darma during the Emperor Wu dynasty, and it became the origin of Shaolin Temple.


It is very interesting for me that I saw the performance of martial arts played by a Filipino youth when I visited Hawaii last year. I was so impressed and very delighted to find that there is a similarity in techniques between the Filipino youth's martial arts and our karate. Regrettably, I lost the notebook in which I wrote down the youth's name and the name of his fighting arts in alphabets. I suppose it might be kept somewhere else, so I still have a chance to tell you the names if I find it.


I think Shaolin kungfu is a newly systematized fusion of previously existent classical Chinese martial arts and Indian martial arts. This opinion has not been proved yet. We require more research on this hypothesis.


I have been practicing karate for a long time, but I have not yet mastered the core or truth of karate. I feel as if I walk alone on a distant path in the darkness. The further I go, the more distant the path will become, but that is why the truth is precious. If we go forward to find the truth of karate by all our strength of mind and body, we would be rewarded little by little and day by day. The truth is near but hard to reach.

My friend, Mr. Jingyu told me the maxim as follows: "The ultimate formula to the truth is no formula. If you wish to master no formula, you have to master a formula. If you master a formula and no formula at the same time, you can transcend live and death." I suppose the ultimate formula to the truth is Tao, the Way. I cannot understand this maxim well, but sometimes I feel I understand it well. I think we have to master "a formula and no formula", then we can study karate in depth and get the truth of karate.


This is a miscellaneous essay for which I have not prepared, so let me talk about another subject.


As to karate styles, I hear there are two types, the southern type and the northern type. In the aspect of techniques, the southern type specializes in upper body and hand techniques, so it has soft, gentle and quiet features. It is defensive in the fighting. On the other hand, the northern type specializes in lower body and leg techniques, so it has hard and active features. It is aggressive in the fighting. The former steps forward to thrust and steps back to block. The latter steps forward to kick and steps forward again to throw down an opponent. Of course both types thrust, kick and throw down, but the point of view is different each other.


Now I would like to tell you about "Heishu" or "Heishu Kata" and "Kaishu" or "Kaishu Kata" to give some information to those who study karate.


"Heishu" means fundamental Katas. Before entering the way of karate, you have to develop your body and mind by doing Sanchin exercise of Gojuryu.


I will explain in detail. You stand straight firmly with stable stance of feet, and hands positioned properly, breathing harmoniously, then you can feel Sanchin ecstasy. It is a still version of Sanchin.


We also have active version of Sanchin which has another name "Peppuren". Usually we call Sanchin for both versions.


Tanden (= a point a couple of inches below the navel), the back of the head and the buttocks are three focus points on which you have to concentrate your attention during Sanchin exercise.


Brief instructions are the following. Tuck your chin in. Lift the back of your head high. Focus on Tanden (= a point a couple of inches below the navel) to charge with the energy. Your buttocks should be tucked in. These three focus points are not originally separated from each other, but have inseparable relationship. In addition to them, there is another focus point: the middle point between the eyebrows.

I have heard that principles of Zen and other sitting meditations are the same as Sanchin.


When I see karate-do in Okinawa, I think we tend to pay too little attention to "Heishu Kata" such as Sanchin. What do you think of this? Therefore, even if I see your best performance of "Kaishu Kata", I would not be satisfied with it and I feel something is lacking for perfection, as you do not have a stable and fundamental base powered by Sanchin. Hearing my opinion regarding "Heishu Kata" or Sanchin, Mr. Jingyu, my friend told me an interesting story as follows. "I" in the story is Mr. Jingyu himself, not me.


"Although my knowledge is limited, but I heard the following about so-called the South style Chinese paintings namely the paintings of the South Zong dynasty, and the paintings of the North Zong dynasty.


Strong and vital strokes of paintings are the characteristics of Li Si-Xun who is believed to be the founder of the North style Chinese paintings. I feel strongness and toughness as steel when I see his favorite painting technique called 'Cut by Large and Small Axes'.


On the other hand, pure and gentle strokes of paintings are the characteristics of Wang Wei, the founder of South style Chinese paintings. His painting way is called 'the Classic Style of Playing with Threads'. They say that Mr. Wang Wei is on a vegetarian diet and never eats meat, so his works reveals auras of tranquility and purity. It is not exaggerate to praise that Mr. Dong Qi-Chang calls him the King of Paintings.

According to a certain book, the difference of both styles is derived from the different natural environment of the Yellow River valley in the north and the Yangtze River valley in the south.


Also according to a certain man who traveled around China for a long time, the difference of the North paintings and the South ones is derived from the different character of each natural environment. In short, the South style of painting is idealism, light, flexible, gentle and quiet. On the contrary, the North style of painting is strong, solemn, magnificent and dynamic.


If we apply it to Chinese fighting arts, it is completely coincident with each other. I think it has some hints."


The writer really agreed with Mr. Jingyu. He continued the story as follows.

"I think the relation between 'Heishu' and 'Kaishu' in karatedo is similar to the relation between the square style of writing Chinese letters and the cursive style of writing Chinese letters in the calligraphy, the Way of Writing. 'Heishu' is 'the square style', while 'Kaishu' is 'the cursive style'. The square style of writing is quiet and calm, while the cursive style of writing is active and dynamic. Therefore, obviously we can see which one is the fundamentals. It is also clear that we should go forward step by step from the fundamentals."


Again, I nodded and completely agreed with him. I think all the arts originated from the same roots and have the same Way.


At the end of this essay, I will give you a phrase which is quoted from the famous book "Bubishi" or "Wubeizhi" written by Mao Yuan-yi in the late Ming era, in which he commented on the martial arts by taking examples of calligraphy and horsemanship.

"If you master how to stroke Chinese letters, then I can teach you all the techniques of calligraphy. If you master how to take the saddle, then I can teach you all the techniques of horsemanship."

Translation copyright © Sanzinsoo (sanzinsoo@hotmail.com)

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