I need help writing a dissertation on the origins of Okinawan Karate

Discussion in 'Japanese Culture and History' started by Ivan, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. Ivan

    Ivan Orange Belt

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    I am doing an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) in the UK, and I have chosen to write a dissertation on the origins of Okinawan Karate, and I was hoping that different history experts could assist me in doing so. For starters, I need to find some good sources, that can be cross-referenced to each other. So far, I have found a book called the Journal of Asian Martial Arts which provides some understanding on the impact of immigration on Karate. I have also managed to find this website:
    HISTORY OF OKINAWA KARATE
    However, I need more sources and I was hoping someone on here could provide me with something trustworthy?

    Next, I have to structure my question in the form where I must provide arguments and counter-arguments i.e. I have to debate myself and the different points I make within the dissertation. To do this, I must structure my question in a manner that will allow me to do so. I have drafted up a couple of questions, but I also would like some input on which would be the most convenient to tackle:
    1. To what extent did immigration and cultural assimilation* impact the origins of Okinawan Karate?
    2. To what extent did conflict and the ban on weapons affect the origins of Okinawan Karate?
    3. To which degree has eastern philosophy affected the development of Okinawan Karate?
    *: I could choose to talk about both, or one or the other

    Moreover, when referencing Okinawan Karate, should I refer to a specific style such as Shito-Ryu?
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  2. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Patrick McCarthy is THE authority on karate and other MA history. His book Bubishi should be a very good reference.
     
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  3. Ivan

    Ivan Orange Belt

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    Thanks very much, I will take a look for sure.
     
  4. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I did the same thing in college on Okinawan karate. I hope you have as much fun as I did.
     
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  5. Ivan

    Ivan Orange Belt

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    So you ain't gonna help? :(
     
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  6. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    It would be my pleasure.

    Here's a few things to think about. You probably know more about the subject matter than the person you are writing for, so that's a good thing.

    You might want to start with all the books by, and about, Gichin Funakoshi. And even if you get conflicting information, you could always use that to your advantage. You could use the old "There seems to be conflicting historical references concerning the history of Okinawan Karate, but perhaps that should be expected considering the history of Okinawa itself." And then go on a long rant about Okinawa and how it fit into the world back in the times of Funakoshi.

    When doing that, should you choose to, if you come across anything that you have trouble understanding, use that to your advantage. Tell the reader exactly that, and why it isn't clear to you.

    Consider getting any of the books by George Mattson.....George Mattson (martial artist) - Wikipedia.

    His books were written in the nineteen sixties, and give a good example of an occidental studying something in the Orient that wasn't readily understood by people of the West. Mattson has been around a long time, and has become a well know man of the Arts. It will also give a good contrast to the "books Funakoshi."

    Mattson,Parker,Lee.jpg

    Mattson, top row, second from left. Heck, one could probably write an EPQ on that photo alone.

    I think the most important thing to do is have fun with this project. Let your love for the subject matter shine through. Be less authoritative in writing than you might be, and more passionate of subject matter. Readers love that. Teachers do to.

    Go have some fun, Ivan. Rock it, bro!
     
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  7. Ivan

    Ivan Orange Belt

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    Thank you very much, this information has been extremely helpful. I think I want to specifcally concentrate on Gichin Funakoshi and the way that Kung Fu influenced the foundation of karate. In this case, what do you think would be the best way to phrase my question for the EPQ?
     
  8. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I don't know. Maybe you could ask how an Island nation, approximately one fifth the size of Warwickshire, developed so many different styles of Martial Arts.

    And then proceed to tell them.
     
  9. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    Buka,
    I always loved that pic but it makes George look tiny and Trias look like a giant. Lol
     
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  10. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    I think it will be very difficult to make links from Funakoshi to the Chinese arts. Be very careful not to confuse the Shorin styles and the Naha Te styles. They have totally different histories.
     
  11. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I know, right?

    You know, that might very well be my favorite martial photo of all time. Just blows my mind.
     
  12. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Master of Arts

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    I think the answer you're looking for is...... Korea.


    (I had to.. I had toooooooooo!!!)
     
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  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Nice. That'll confuse the hell outta anyone who comes along later, if they didn't run into those threads.
     
  14. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Master of Arts

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    Yeah true, I was initially gonna preface it with it's an inside joke from previous threads haha..
     
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  15. Orion Nebula

    Orion Nebula Green Belt

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    I don't have much advice for you other than don't use Wikipedia ;)

    I did my senior project back in high school on karate as well. We had the option of doing a research paper, or doing some activity and writing a reflective paper and giving a presentation on it. I did the latter. I don't remember much about what I wrote but I do remember showing a video of myself doing a basic kata as part of my presentation.

    A committee evaluated my project, and one of my committee members was an English teacher who also ran a TSD school. After I concluded my presentation, his first question was "why didn't you join my school?" My answer: "your website wasn't very good." Which was sort of true, but the main reason was his prices were too high.
     
  16. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    If ivan does want to make an okinawan/china link, this thread might give him somewhere to start. Pan Gai Noon - dead martial art?
     
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  17. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    there is a lot of information about Uechi,& Goju since these are relatively newer to the Island. the older arts are much harder to get defined history on. there is another art on the island called Kojo Ryu which also is Chinese with a direct lineage. its not very well known since it has been mostly passed down within the family.
     
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  18. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, it would be much tougher finding info on shotokan than uechi ryu in that regard.

    Ive never heard of kojo ryu, going to go look it up now!
     
  19. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Unfortunately, during the battle of the Pacific in WW2, most of any written records were lost during the bombing of Okinawa. Much of what we know is based on oral history passed on in regards to the earliest years.

    There were 36 clans/families sent from China to Okinawa to help starting in 1392. The number "36" is symbolic and it is really unknown if that number was picked due to it symbolism and there were more/less sent, or if that number was specifically sent due to it significance. Either way, it is one of the earliest documented places where China and Okinawa had open relationships. From there, you get into oral tradition, that can't be confirmed about certain okinawan katas. Wansu, Chinto and Kusanku are all thought to be either created by, or created from teachings from Chinese kung fu practitioners that were on Okinawa.

    There were 3 main cities in Okinawa that gave birth to "karate" Shuri, Naha and Tomari. They were known by the city and "te" meaning "hand". So, Shuri-te later became styles like Shorin-Ryu and Naha-te later became styles like Goju-Ryu. Tomari-te no longer exists as an independent style and is believed to have been incorporated into the Shuri based styles.

    Naha-Te styles originate mainly from Kanryo Higoanna who went to China himself and studied a type of karate/kung fu while there. There are many theories on what he learned and who his teacher was. Kanryo had two main offshoots from his karate. To'on-Ryu and Goju-Ryu, both have the main four katas (seisan, sanchin, sanseiru and suparenpei) but differ on the other katas. One theory is that Chojun Miyagi did not learn all of Goju-Ryu's katas from Kanryo but created the others himself based on what he had learned, the other theory being that Kanryu taught him the "secret katas" that he shared with no one else. The other main style of Naha-Te is Uechi-Ryu. Kanbun Uechi also went to southern China and learned kung fu and brought it back to Okinawa. It was taught exactly how he learned it in China without changes when he taught in Okinawa. Uechi had seisan, sanchin and sanseiru but not suparenpei, there is dispute among people if he didn't learn the 4th kata or if what he studied did not include it. Kanei Uechi, changed what his father taught as karate spread and modified it to a more japanese approach and it was during this time the other kata were created.

    Shuri-Te styles go back further and seem to be based on chinese kung fu that was brought to Okinawa and was combined with their own indigenous art(s). The main Shuri style today is Shorin-Ryu (Funakoshi was a student of this lineage in his creation of Shotokan). Sakugawa is the main person who was responsible for the "importing" of karate to Shuri. His student was Matsumura and then Itosu. Itosu was one of the first who wanted karate to be widespread and taught to everyone. He went on record stating that he altered the katas to make them safe for school children. Itosu also created the Pinan forms based on older kata. Itosu penned the "10 Precepts" and states that karate did not come from Confucianism or Buddhism.

    There are other karate masters who were very important in its development, but this is kind of a quick overview.
     
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  20. spidersam

    spidersam Orange Belt

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    This sounds awesome. I don’t study karate, so I’d be no help, but I’d love if you shared it with MT when it’s done. I’d like to read it.
     
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