Why did the non Japanese branches retroactively label themselves Karate after Funakoshi?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Acronym, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Acronym

    Acronym 2nd Black Belt

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    Gishin Funakoshi named his modified Japanese system "Karate". It stands to reason that other Japanese branches of Okinawan - Te would do the same, but what I don't follow is why the Okinawan styles did too? It was not called Karate in Okinawa and had very different training culture, as well as technical deliveres.

    Was it to jump on the band-wagon more than anything?
     
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  2. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    well names stick,why are vacuum cleaners commonly called hoovers, unless you have a kirby then yoyr just a gulable fool

    why does it matter to you ? a rose by any other name would smell as sweet
     
  3. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    There is no single answer. There were multiple actors with multiple schools/styles both on the Ryukyu islands and Japan proper with their own motivations. The Dai Nippon Butokukai and governmental educational agencies also played a huge role in exerting pressure on the Okinawans to shift the meaning of the name karate from China Hand to Empty Hand. Not all the Okinawan masters were instantly on board with the change. I gather the ones with stronger and more recent ties to Chinese gung fu like Miyagi and Juhatsu were less hostile to China.

    Short summaries of the reasons include:
    • a desire in pre-WWII Japan/Okinawa by some to move away from any perception of Chinese cultural influences
    • a desire to standardize and popularize karate as a mainstream physical educational activity and sport within public schools - the name change would have been necessary to receive the cooperation from both official and quasi-official governmental agencies
     
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  4. Acronym

    Acronym 2nd Black Belt

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    If you don't know, just accept that and refrain from the attitude.
     
  5. Acronym

    Acronym 2nd Black Belt

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    So unlike Korea and TaeKwonDo, it wasn't so much about National identity but had more to do with pragmatism? Kinda what I suspected in my OP in other words.
     
  6. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    google is your friend,
    International Ryukyu Karate Research Society/琉球唐手術国際研究會: The [1936] Meeting of the Okinawan Karate Masters
    if your interested you can read the transcript of the meeting here.

    this meeting took place in October of 1936. honestly if you have ever studied history in your life that should be all that need to be said on the subject but i can break it down.

    The world was leading up to WWII. Japan had already invaded Manchuria, China and established the Manchukuo Japanese state there. The cultural feeling of Nationalism was being pushed by the Government heavily and many attitudes were changing. Okinawa was being sucked into this and was becoming even more of a Japanese territory,more so than previously.
    in July of 1937 Japan and China were officially entered into the Second Sino-Japanese wae . In December of 1937 Japan had attacked China in the Massacre of Nanjing. where between 40 and 300 thousand people were killed as well as some of the worlds worst atrocities being committed.


    Fascism in Japan | History of Western Civilization II
    "Left-wing groups had been subject to violent suppression by the end of the Taishō period, and radical right-wing groups, inspired by fascism and Japanese nationalism, rapidly grew in popularity. The extreme right became influential throughout the Japanese government and society, notably within the Kwantung Army, a Japanese army stationed in China along the Japanese-owned South Manchuria Railroad. During the Manchurian Incident of 1931, radical army officers bombed a small portion of the South Manchuria Railroad and, falsely attributing the attack to the Chinese, invaded Manchuria. The Kwantung Army conquered Manchuria and set up the puppet government of Manchukuo there without permission from the Japanese government. International criticism of Japan following the invasion led to Japan withdrawing from the League of Nations.

    The withdrawal from the League of Nations meant that Japan was politically isolated. Japan had no strong allies and its actions had been internationally condemned, while internally popular nationalism was booming. Local leaders such as mayors, teachers, and Shinto priests were recruited by the various movements to indoctrinate the populace with ultra-nationalist ideals. They had little time for the pragmatic ideas of the business elite and party politicians. Their loyalty lay to the Emperor and the military. In March 1932 the “League of Blood” assassination plot and the chaos surrounding the trial of its conspirators further eroded the rule of democratic law in Shōwa Japan. In May of the same year, a group of right-wing Army and Navy officers succeeded in assassinating the Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi. The plot fell short of staging a complete coup d’état, but effectively ended rule by political parties in Japan."

    Funakoshi Gichin while in mainland Japan had established his martial art as a viable method for young people to "foster the Japanese spirit" .
    this Okinawan meeting by Nakasone Genwa was essentially to push Okinawan Martial arts into the realm of Socialistic nationalism. to get them in line with the Japanese nationalist party. it can be interpreted as a warning that Chinese sympathizers will not be tolerated.

    in the Okinawan meeting master Ota Chofu says : "i dont think anybody dislikes the term KARA however, there are those who resent the term TOU" .
    Toudi the original term used throughout Okinawa was in reference to "China Hand".

    it was quite obvious that to continue to call your art Chinese and acknowledge its Chinese origin was not going to do you any favors in this new cultural climate.

    and that boys and girls is how hundreds of millions of people die by the hands of the darkest malevolence the human race can muster. evil can be building under the surface, it can be invisible. unless you can see the ripples on the surface, how it changes the little things, the simple things like the word Toude to Karate. sound familiar?
    all go back to my cave now and let Y'all think about it.
     
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  7. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    I think it's pure pragmatism. Likewise, some Tang Soo Do schools in the USA call themselves "Korean karate" or just "karate" because of name recognition.
     
  8. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

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    To sum up and consolidate, and add a little, to what dancingalone and honshin posted:

    Okinawan karate (Okinawa has its own unique dialect/language, Uchinaaguchi or Hogan) was called toude, Okinawan for "Chinese hands".

    About mid/late 1920's, after it got established in Japan, it was called karate, the Japanese translation of toude but still meaning Chinese hands. In Okinawa, however, it was still commonly called toude up through the 1940's (they still had an independent streak.)

    In mid 1930's the kanji (Japanese pictographic writing) for "kara" was changed so it now meant "empty" instead of "Chinese", although still pronounced the same. This was done, as previously noted, to reflect the growing anti-Chinese attitude of the Japanese government (and by extension, the Japanese people) as they prepared to invade China, and insured karate's acceptance in the school system and elsewhere. I, however, would not put this change on Funakoshi - it reflects a much larger picture.

    So, Ancronym's conclusion that the name change was "jumping on the bandwagon," is essentially correct. His terming Okinawan karate as "te" is just a little off, as that often refers to an earlier, more native and generalized term that predates the evolution of most Okinawan styles. As for his comment re: the difference between Okinawan and Japanese styles, it has been discussed at length in other threads centering on the Japanese style (Shotokan) being adapted for public schools.

    As a personal note, I find that the entire evolution of karate is closely connected to, and reflects, the overall history and changing culture of the region. By studying one, you can learn much about the other.123
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2020

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