Why is kobudo not the study of Chinese weapons?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by arnisador, Apr 10, 2002.

  1. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    This is related to my previous thread Why is karate different from kung fu?. Given the strong Chinese influence on Okinawan karate and the number of karateka who studied literal kung fu, either in Okinawa or actually in China, why aren't there more Chinese weapons studied in these systems? Why is there no three-section staff, nine section whip, butterfly knives, Chinese broadsword, etc.? For some I'll accept that they were principally Northern weapons, not Southern, but I can't think of a single clearly Chinese weapon that's studied in kobudo or Okinawan karate. Where is the long spear? The fan?

    I know of the claim that the sai comes from a Southern Chinese weapon (made for example in The Secrets of Phoenix-Eye Fist Kung Fu : The Art of Chuka Shaolin
    by Cheong Cheng Leong and Mark V. Wiley, and previously discussed here though I can't find the thread). I don't know that that is a widely held belief though.

    (Edited to fix URL.- Arnisador)
     
  2. Cthulhu

    Cthulhu Senior Master

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    Possibly because of the ban on most weapons placed first by an Okinawan king (Sho-sin?) around 1400 and then another placed by the invading Japanese a couple of hundred years later (may have gotten these dates screwed up).

    Almost all of the kobudo weapons originate from farm tools, so not only were they easy to acquire, but more importantly, they were easy to hide. A Chinese broadsoard or three-section staff is kind've hard to explain. "Er...I use it cut tofu?" :D

    Cthulhu
     
  3. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    The weapons ban is a common answer, yet...I am unprepared to accept it as a full explanation. If karate was practiced in secret, mock wooden weapons could have been hidden and used in secret.
     
  4. Cthulhu

    Cthulhu Senior Master

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    Okay then, combine the weapons ban with the knowledge that for the most part, kobudo weapons fighting was developed by farmers and fishermen, not a warrior caste with access to large bladed weapons.

    Cthulhu
     
  5. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well--I am somewhat swayed by the arguments of Patrick McCarthy and others that karate was actually practiced more by the relatively well-to-do caste than the farmers/fishers caste. Kobudo weapons however come more from the latter than does karate I suspect. If indeed karate was developed from kung fu by the upper castes, wouldn't it have some Chinese weapons, while the farmers'/fishers' kobudo would have farming and fishing implements? Shouldn't there be some Chinese weapons somewhere in Okinawan systems?

    Look at Uechi-ryu, developed in the 20th century from Southern Chinese kung fu--shouldn't there be some Chinese weaponry in it?
     
  6. Cthulhu

    Cthulhu Senior Master

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    I once had an issue of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts that contained an article on Motobu Ryu Udun Di, claimed to be the martial art taught to the Okinawan royal family. I seem to remember them showing a bunch of weapons, many of them not considered traditional kobudo weapons. Of course, I can't find this damn issue when I really need it:rolleyes:

    I agree, though, somewhere, there should be more Chinese weapons, though I would tend to eliminate broadwords and stuff like the Kwan Dao. I'm surprised there isn't a lot of arnis/escrima-like stick fighting, since both Okinawans and Filipinos use the sai (tjbang...fun word :)) and nunchaku (tabok tayok...or is it the other way around?).

    Cthulhu
     
  7. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I agree--as widely as the Ryukyuans traded, I would expect to see weapons other than Chinese as well. But due to the kung fu connection (is that the name of a Bruce Lee movie?), I'd especially expect to see some traditional weapon from China. The butterfly knives seem an obvious candidate.

    It's hard to say if the sai or nunchaku are an example of a foreign weapon, or if the bo in some styles has a Chinese spear influence. Even still I'd expect more.
     
  8. islandtime

    islandtime Guest

    ...................................................................
    The lack of Chinese weapons does raise some interesting questions.. As far as fishing/farming weapons there are kata for the hoe (garden type) and also the boat oar.


    GEne Gabel
     
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  9. GojuBujin

    GojuBujin Guest

    Kanryo Higaonna travelled to China in the late 1800's and brought back to okinawa what is now evolved into Goju-Ryu. Higaonna Sensei apparently learned weapons, but because no condition of war existed when he brought his art back, he never passed alot of the weapons knowledge on.

    This is for Goju anyway

    Michael
    http://www.inigmasoft.com/goyukai
     
  10. RyuShiKan

    RyuShiKan Guest


    Actually there is. Look at Motobu Ryu.........chocker block full of Chinese weapons, broad sword, halberd, 3 sectional staff, etc.
     
  11. RyuShiKan

    RyuShiKan Guest


    Karate/Te was practiced ONLY by the upper class. It was only until after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 that commoners got to practice Karate or Te.
     
  12. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I didn't know that but that is exactly what I expected to see more of. I'll check this out.
     
  13. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I believe this to be largely correct but am less convinced that the kai, sai, tonfa, etc. were not practiced at some level by peasants.
     
  14. GojuBujin

    GojuBujin Guest

    I believe you are correct there. I'm most positive the peasants were atleast using the Oar, Bo, tonfa, sai, etc after all alot of these were farming implements.

    Michael
    www.inigmasoft.com/goyukai
     
  15. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    But even some of that--that the tonfa, sai, nunchaku were farming implements--is conjecture, is it not? I am not entirely convinced that this is the case but I am prepared to be corrected.
     
  16. GojuBujin

    GojuBujin Guest

    I only have to go on what my Senseis have hold me. I'm for sure the Kama was as well the Sai for farming. Apparently the logic behind it all was, since there was a ban on weapons, the peasants turned to their tools for defense.

    Michael
    www.inigmasoft.com/goyukai
     
  17. RyuShiKan

    RyuShiKan Guest

    The sai was actually a "Police" weapon so it is doubtfull if peasants were using it.
    The reason why you see so many "farm tools" being used could be due to the fact that after the Meiji restoration many Okinawans lost everything and had to find actual work.
    Choki Motobu's family were extremly high up in Okinawa's Social Class System, however they tried to start a horse drawn taxi service, among other things, but failed.
    Many fairly well off families became very poor overnight.
    That is one theory anyway.
    Another is due to the ban of metal weapons, this was almost entirely directed at the sword, many Okinawans decided to use wood weapons.
     
  18. GojuBujin

    GojuBujin Guest

  19. RyuShiKan

    RyuShiKan Guest

    Regarding the Sai.
    The Sai was used by the Okinawan Police in both pre Meiji as and possibly post Meiji period. It was used in the same way the Japanese Jutte was. (the Jutte has only one prong where the Sai has two)


    Michael,
    I noticed your dojo is in St. Louis. I used to live there for a while, University City and work in East St. Louis..........nice place.
     
  20. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I've asked this before--was there a traditional Okinawan sword? One imagines there muct have been but I have never heard of one.123
     

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