Meaning of Pyung Ahn Hyung

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As we all should know, JKN Hwang Kee took the Pyung Ahn Hyung from Shotokan's Heian Kata (they are almost exactly the same, but the Shotokan versions are known to have existed first). The Shotokan versions taught by Gichin Funakoshi themselves are really just the Pinan Kata which are known to have been created my Master Anko Itosu (Hwang Kee referred to him as Mr. Edos). These forms were created from a much older form, Kusanku (known to many Tang Soo Do practitioners as Kong San Koon), which is purported to have originated from Kanga Sakugawa (he learned the techniques of this form from a chinese official named Kusanku who was sent to Okinawa) and was later taught to Sokon Matsumura (also known as Bushi Matsumura).

There's an awesome article from Iain Abernethy (a Master of Wado Ryu, a Japanese style of Karate do) in which he shows some evidence that the Pinan/Heian kata may actually mean "safe from harm" or "free from danger" and not actually have as much to do with "peace of mind" or "tranquil thought" as many students of Japanese arts and Tang Soo Do are led to believe.

You can find the article at http://iainabernethy.com/articles/there_is_nothing_peaceful_about_the_pinans.asp

The writing used for our Tang Soo Do "Pyung Ahn" is exactly the same Chinese writing that was used by Anko Itosu for "Pinan". I wonder if anyone else thinks that we should refer to these forms as meaning "safe from harm" or "free from danger" then since there's a very good chance that this is much closer to what the original writing actually meant.

I think this meaning would actually inspire more students to seek an understanding of the applications of these forms. I've met a lot of students who know these forms and yet don't know what most of the moves may be useful for (which is odd since every movement in these forms has at least one if not several applications). Peace of mind is important and is a good thought to have when considering your form, but it is the fact that the form is teaching you how to remain safe from harm that gives you the peace of mind. Shouldn't peace of mind just be a given and the real meaning be "safe from harm" then?

Any thoughts?

Instructor Lau
 

Tez3

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I read the article a while back and all I can say is..... I'm training with Iain on 21st February!!!

I do believe he's right and 'safe from harm' makes so much more sense.
Thank you for posting, Iain deserves huge recognition for all his hard work on Bunkai and for his skill in passing on his knowledge.
 

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There's an awesome article from Iain Abernethy (a Master of Wado Ryu, a Japanese style of Karate do) in which he shows some evidence that the Pinan/Heian kata may actually mean "safe from harm" or "free from danger" and not actually have as much to do with "peace of mind" or "tranquil thought" as many students of Japanese arts and Tang Soo Do are led to believe.

You can find the article at http://iainabernethy.com/articles/there_is_nothing_peaceful_about_the_pinans.asp

Hi Astro—there's a thread on this suggestion of Abernethy's from a while back here. IA has a lot of fans on this site ...

I read the article a while back and all I can say is..... I'm training with Iain on 21st February!!!

I do believe he's right and 'safe from harm' makes so much more sense.
Thank you for posting, Iain deserves huge recognition for all his hard work on Bunkai and for his skill in passing on his knowledge.

... to take just one example! Tez, I'm green with envy... I'm hoping to pick up a seminar with him when we're in the UK in late summer of through the autumn of this year.

To me, one of the greatest things about Abernethy is that he works hard to show you why the ideas he's presenting are worth examining and (as he himself would insist on) testing under pressure. I think a lot of those BCA chaps are like that. Guys like Thompson and Consterdine (who is an eighth dan in Shotokan and an England International team competitor, to boot!) have around a decade each of survival and triumph in some of the toughest club security/bouncing assignments in Europe. Manchester? Coventry? Those places are scary. All the pretense and puffery and I'm-an-Nrth-dan-therefore-what-I-say-is-true posturing goes out the window, I think, when you have that kind of experience. People like Abernethy and the BCA lads are primarily interested in what works; the nature of their jobs demands ruthless practicality, and when someone like Geoff Thompson says, there's a huge amount of combat-worthy information encoded in the kata, it's best for people interested in SD to pay attention to it—after all, he staked his health, probably life, on paying attention to what works and what doesn't for almost ten years of real violence on a daily basis.

It's like the military: the ones who really, really know what it's like to live through a firefight are the ones to pay attention to. And usually, they're the ones who are least worried about impressing you—and who are, therefore, the most impressive.
 
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Makalakumu

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IMO, whether you call it Peaceful Mind or Safe From Harm, it shouldn't make that big of a difference. If the kata are taught with the applications and you are drilled in the applications in such a way that you can pull them off in an alive situation, then both translations make sense.

I like what Mr. Abernethy has to say in regards to kata application. In many ways, I think it's an innovative way to approach the subject. Yet, in this case, placing so much emphasis on the name that basically says the same thing is parsing out too fine a point.

The material speaks for itself. It works to give you a Peaceful Mind and keep you Safe From Harm.
 

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IMO, whether you call it Peaceful Mind or Safe From Harm, it shouldn't make that big of a difference. If the kata are taught with the applications and you are drilled in the applications in such a way that you can pull them off in an alive situation, then both translations make sense.

I like what Mr. Abernethy has to say in regards to kata application. In many ways, I think it's an innovative way to approach the subject. Yet, in this case, placing so much emphasis on the name that basically says the same thing is parsing out too fine a point.

The material speaks for itself. It works to give you a Peaceful Mind and keep you Safe From Harm.

But I think there is an important difference. The 'tranquil mind' reading is one I've seen people play on to try to emphasize the sanitised vision of karate as a kind of Asian mind discipline/character builder that lends itself to the kind of mystification many of us can't stand in the MAs. The 'safe from harm' reading emphasizes the business end—this works, buddy, so listen up. 'Peaceful Mind' certainly wasn't what Anko Itosu was thinking of when he confronted Tomoyose and broke the latter's arm in combat because of the insults T. had directed towards the Shuri style of karate. It was a classic kakidameshi duel, something that is not exactly unknown in the history of the TMAs. Choki Motobu? Chotoku Kyan? Same story, but even more so! For all those guys, the main consideration was what worked in a fight.

Maybe it's just me, but I find the Mr. Miyagi halo that some people insist on drawing around the MAs to be an exasperating kind of denial of the historical basis of those arts—to keep you safe from attack, in a nutshell. The difference between the pseudo-Zen overtones of 'Peaceful Mind' and the bottom-line practical 'Safe from harm' does seem to me to be worth a long footnote, at least, in the interest of keeping things relatively more real.
 

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As with many things, there is also the danger in reading too much into a name.

For me, personally, I go with Peaceful Mind and I tell my students that these kata were designed to give a student enough self defense skills to give them a Peaceful Mind. I also tell them that in some Okinawan systems, under various sensei, this set of five kata is what you learn for black belt. Then I go about showing them some of the applications.

My point is that there is a way to spin Peaceful Mind into a truly self defense orientated mindset. I understand the point being made with the translation "Safe From Harm" and I agree that it might clear up some confusion. However, I think it may be too fine of a point to argue about.

Both readings are saying the same thing and I think if we had more people on this board who could take a look at the characters, we'd see that the subsets of what is actually there points to a hard self defense orientated reading.

So, what do we call it in English?
 

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So, what do we call it in English?

My own feeling is, 'Feeling lucky, punk?' would probably capture the basic intention of the katas/hyungs in the set... but somehow I don't think it would go over very well amongst the tradition-minded as a name for them! :D

Any thoughts on this question, folks?
 

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I like the name Peaceful Confidence. I don't see a need to recast the translation. For one thing, I think we need to balance the hard and soft aspects that the old translation provides us with. We aren't fighting all of the time, or perhaps I should say, we aren't fighting others all of the time. Sometimes the fight really is in ourselves...and if you look at the few writings that Itosu and Matsumura left us, they knew this also. I think this is where the name comes from.
 

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I see what Iain is saying as this is the original name for the hyungs rather than changing the name. I too get rather fed up with the supposed 'spiritual' side of martial arts in which you're never supposed to strike first, have to wait to be half beaten up before defending yourself and then afterwards regretting it was necessary! That I think is a Western idea of Eastern martial arts.
 

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I see what Iain is saying as this is the original name for the hyungs rather than changing the name. I too get rather fed up with the supposed 'spiritual' side of martial arts in which you're never supposed to strike first, have to wait to be half beaten up before defending yourself and then afterwards regretting it was necessary! That I think is a Western idea of Eastern martial arts.

This is something that we in the West often do—project our own sense of where we're lacking something onto other cultures, which typically have the same diversity, conflicts and range of attitudes that we have. There is a mystical tradition in Western society just as in Eastern, and there are hard-headed pragmatic 'get the job done' types in the Eastern world just as there are in our 'can-do' Western society.

The question here is where the stress should be put. My reading is, Itosu wasn't trying to project a spiritually therapeutic virtue to the forms; rather, if Abernethy's interpretation is correct, he designed the Pinan set to reflect effective actions at each of three progressively closer fighting ranges, with the last two kata in the set being 'supplementary/advanced' tactics for those who had gotten the basic ideas of the first three. He was, in a sense, writing a living textbook of karate, one that was intended to be practical at several levels: physical training for kids (the school system version, with the dangerous techs concealed), the more businesslike for adults (who were supposed to seek out the more combat-realistic applications), and still deeper applications for those who were going to be serious karateka. It's true that Itosu in particular held strong views about the 'virtuous application' of karate (he is said to have banned Motobu from his classes because of the latter's propensity for taking what he learned to the rougher parts of town and, um, 'pressure testing' them against would-be toughies)—but he also had a reputation as someone who wouldn't back down from a fight, and in true kakidemishi fashion would even seek out physical confrontations when something important was at stake (hard to see Mr. Miyagi, the movie version, getting involved in a streetfight with Tomoyase just because the latter had dissed Shuri-style karate as inferior to what the Naha lads practiced).

To my way of thinking, it makes a difference where you start from. If you start from the premise that the Pinans were supposed to be a complete self-defense system that, as such, would 'keep you safe', then you're going to look at them for realistic self-defense methods in a very matter-of-fact way. If you start from the premise that they have something to do with mental tranquility, then it's easy to take them to support the 'moving meditation' view of kata—which I think the bunkai-jutsu group has shown in detail to be the wrong end of the stick.

Maybe I'm just being bloody-minded about this because I've been reading the Park/Gerrard book Black Belt Taekwondo, with its official endorsements from the WTF, its absolutely ludicrous bogus history of TKD at the beginning, its absurd 'applications' for the higher-rank hyungs, and its mish-mash of an increasingly tired bunch of spiritual-sounding clich矇s in talkng about what the point of Koryo, Kumkang and the others are. To me, it looks like anything that can be done to get people's feet on the ground and their heads out of Karate Kid Asian-wisdom mystification where the MAs are concerned, even little things like restoring the original intention of the name that Itosu chose for his masterpiece, is a step in the right direction...
 
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Greetings to all,
This series of Hyung/Kata are among the most practiced of all series in traditional Karate systems today.

I had an opportunity to meet and talk with Sensei Takao Nakaya many years ago when I visited him at the Jewish Community Center in Dallas Texas. Sensei Nakaya is a world renouned historian specializing in Okinawan and japanese martial arts sysems and their forward progression. He authored a book; Karate-Do, History and Philosophy many years ago outlining the different systems. This book is hard to find. It took me 6 years after meeting him to locate and acquire my copy. This book is on the "Preffered reading" list of most Japanese Karate associations.

In my conversation with Sensei Nakaya he discussed the Pinan series. He stated that the five Kata are a complete fefensive system in them selves. He stated that the meaning;The first Kata is called Shodan. Shodan meaning : The Beginning. As a student learns this kata he/she is starting to develop their ability to defend themselves. Once that student has learned all five Kata and has established a clear and thorough understanding of the Bunkai on multiple levels this student is in the mental state of confidence that if attacked, he/she has the knowledge and ability to defend just about any attack shrt of a firearm from a distance.

This is where the student has established "Peaceful Confidense". The student is at peace and wishes to harm anyone. Should an attack be presented the student is confident in his/her ability and can survive the attack... "Peaceful Confidence".

This is not to say that the meaning presented by Ian is incorrect. In can be recieced as being the same.


I will be teaching a seminar at Red Lion Karate the second weekend in February. All are welcome to participate. I will cover Bunkai, Henka and Oyo of the Pyong Ahn, Pinan/Heian Kata at this seminar...


All the best,


Sensei Jay S. Penfil
 
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I should have checked that last posting prior to posting it. The spelling is off and I intended to state that the student does NOT wish to harm anyone...

Sorry for the errors...
 

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Nice to hear from you, Jay! I wouldn't disagree with anything you or John have posted above; my differences are really matters of emphasis, rather than content. So far as the meaning of 'Pinan' is concerned, my general view, which I've outlined earlier, is just that while 'Peaceful Mind' and 'Safe from harm' may overlap so far as the external state of affairs they describe are concerned, they have fundamentally different senses, and that that difference becomes important in the context of certain cultural agendas that (from my point of view, anyway), distort the realities of TMAs and their origins. There is I think another reason to go with Abernethy's ideas about the Pinans and the meaning of their name: it's good to be reminded that we need to see Okinawan without so much of the distorting lens of the past century, which tends to focus on the Okinawa/Japan connection, and to represent the Ryukyus as what is politely called a 'protectorate' of the Japanese superstate, a dependent at the mercy of the Satsumas and a hewer of wood/drawer of water for the various regimes that held power on the Japanese mainland. The fact is thatas we're always being remindedthings are more complicated than that, and the relationship between Okinawa and China, both in terms of MA information transmission and the larger economic and political context, has to be taken into account if we want to understand 'where we came from' as MAists. If Itosu really was thinking in terms of a Chinese transcription, then issues of flat-out authenticity suggest that we follow his practice.
 

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I want to share some light on this matter from the people who are directly responsible for the Pinan Kata. This first peice was given to us by Graham Noble. It is a letter from Sokon Matsumura. He was Itosu's teacher.

Matsumura was normally known as Bushi (warrior) Matsumura, and he sometimes called himself Bucho. He once put down some notes for one of his students Ryosei Kuwae. Fortunately these have been handed down by the Kuwae family and published in several Japanese karate books. Because of their archaic style they are difficult to understand, but Ian McLaren and Prof. Karasawa were eventually able to come up with the following translation:



The Precepts of Master Matsumura You must first resolve to study if you wish to understand the truth of martial arts. This resolve is very important.

Fundamentally, the arts and the martial arts are the same. Each has three fundamental elements.

As far as Art is concerned they are Shisho-no-Gaku, Kunko-no-Gaku and Jussha-no-Gaku.

Shisho-no-Gaku is the art of creative writing and reading - in a word, literature.

Kunko-no-Gaku means to study the past and gain an understanding of ethics by relating past events to our way of life.

Both Shisho-no-Gaku and Kunko-no-Gaku are incomplete until supplemented by Jussha-no-Gaku, (the study of the moral aspects of the teaching of Confucius).

Have a tranquil heart and you can prevail over a village, a country, or the world. The study of Jussha-no-Gaku is the supreme study over both Shisho-no-Gaku and Kunko-no-Gaku. These then are the three elements necessary for the study of the Arts.

If we consider Budo, there are also three precepts. They are Gukushi-no-Bugei, Meimoko-no-Bugei and Budo-no-Bugei.

Gukushi-no-Bugei is nothing more than a technical knowledge of Bugei. Like a woman, it is just superficial and has no depth.

Meimoko-no-Bugei refers to a person who has physical understanding of Bugei. He can be a powerful and violent person who can easily defeat other men. He has no self-control and is dangerous and can even harm his own family.

Budo-no-Bugei is what I admire. With this you can let the enemy destroy himself - just wait with a calm heart and the enemy will defeat himself.

People who practice Budo-no-Bugei are loyal to their friends, their parents and their country. They will do nothing that is unnatural and contrary to nature.

We have "seven virtues of Bu". They are:



  1. Bu prohibits violence.
  2. Bu keeps discipline in soldiers.
  3. Bu keeps control among the population.
  4. Bu spreads virtue.
  5. Bu gives a peaceful heart.
  6. Bu helps keep peace between people.
  7. Bu makes people or a nation prosperous.
Our forefathers handed these seven virtues down to us. Just as Jussha-no-Gaku is supreme in the arts, so Budo-no-Bugei is supreme in the martial arts.

"Mon-Bu" (Art and Martial Arts) have the same common elements. We do not need Gukushi-no-Bugei or Meimoko-no-Bugei - this is the most important thing.

I leave these words to my wise and beloved deshi Kuwae.

- Bucho Matsumura
Itosu's teacher was teaching that a warrior was more then just a violent brawler. He emphasized learning, humility, and having a peaceful heart. He also emphasized the practical.

Next, lets look at Itosu's 10 precepts. This is one of the only extensive fragments of writing that we have from the man. This is a letter he wrote to the Ministry of Education in Japan in 1908 after he had created the Pinan series.


Itosu's Ten Teachings Karate does not derive from Buddhism or Confucianism. In olden times two styles, called Shorin style and Shorei style, came from China. We consider that both have distinct advantages and should not be altered or combined - they should be left as they are. I leave the following precepts:
  1. The aim of karate is not only to train the body. If you train at karate eventually you will gain the spirit to be able to sacrifice yourself for your ruler or nation. Never fight over insignificant matters; do not fight ruffians or villains. Avoid such people as often as possible.
  2. Training in karate will make your muscles powerful and your body strong. As a result you will develop a courageous spirit. If you train at karate from childhood you will find that you are able to make a great contribution to society, even as a soldier. For example, the Duke of Wellington said after his victory over Napoleon the First, "Our victory was because we exercised and played disciplined games when we were at school.
  3. You cannot master karate easily, or in a short time. The process is like a herd of cows grazing across a field. No matter how slow the herd moves it will eventually reach the end. Even if it moves slowly it could cover 100 miles. If you train one or two hours every day, your body will change after 3 or 4 years - you will get to the core of karate.
  4. The most important point in karate is "Ken-soku" (fist-foot), so use the makiwara to develop these weapons. Keep your shoulders down, expand your chest and develop your power. Root your stance to the ground. What you have to do is 100 to 200 zuki every day.
  5. In the upright stance of karate you must keep your back straight and your shoulders down while keeping your legs strong and then focus your attention on the tanden.
  6. There are many movements in karate. When you train you must try to understand the aim of the movement and its application. You have to take into account all possible meanings and applications of the move. Each move can have many applications.
  7. When you train in karate you must study in advance whether the application of each move is more useful for training or defence.
  8. When you train in karate you should train as though you were in the battlefield fighting the enemy. You should keep your shoulders down and fix yourself in the stance. When you block or thrust you should picture the enemy. In so doing you will gradually master how to fight in a real battle.
  9. Your training must be according to your bodily strength. If your training is too great for your condition, it is not good for you. Your face will turn red, as will your eyes, and you will damage yourself.
  10. People who train at karate usually enjoy a long life. This is because the training strengthens muscles, improves the digestive organs, and strengthens the blood circulation system. I think that from now on karate should be introduced to the curriculum of the Elementary Schools and in doing so we could produce men capable of defeating ten enemies single-handed.
If you keep these precepts at the Elementary Schools then in 10 years karate will have prevailed, not only in Okinawa, but all Japan. Karate would also be able to contribute to military society. Ankoh Itosu. 41st year of Meiji.


Again, you have a balance of the practical with the mental training and physical benefits that go along with karate practice.
All of this comes from the Bubishi. This book was copied by hand by all of the major Karate masters of the time. Matsumura probably had Itosu copy his own copy. Funakoshi copied his own Bubishi from either Azato or Itosu.

The Bubishi is a series of articles written by practitioners of the original chinese martial arts that fed into karate. There are a total of 32. Six of them are on philosophy, ten of them are on healing and first aid, five are on vital points, eleven are on fighting techniques.

From all of this, I think we can clearly see that the focus of karate was never totally on fighting technique. There is a lot more that went into it and, IMO, it fits very well with the general yin and yang philosophy that is prevelent throughout that culture.
I think that you can read the characters as Safe From Harm if you want to, but you'll miss some of the other aspects that the creators originally intended. That said, I think the original translation of Peaceful Mind or Peaceful Confidence really is more correct.

I see the point that is being made generally, then pendulum has swung too far away from the practical. This doesn't mean that the pendulum cannot swing back.
 

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I think that you can read the characters as Safe From Harm if you want to, but you'll miss some of the other aspects that the creators originally intended. That said, I think the original translation of Peaceful Mind or Peaceful Confidence really is more correct.

Again, m., I understand the point you're making, but I think it's different in kind from the one IA is making. His argument is an historical claim about the writing system that Itosu was appealing to, and given Itosu's background and the sociopolitical context of the time, I think he's definitely forced the burden of proof onto the shoulders of anyone who asserts that Itosu was using Japanese transliteration rather than Chinese. And if that's correct, then, regardless of what Itosu may have thought (or publicly declared) about the motivation for karate—and the political uses of karate were probably never far from his mind, since he depended on the goodwill of both the Okinawan school bureaucrats and the Japanese governorship of the Ryukyus to promote karate—if he was using the Chinese transliteration system, then what he wrote was, literally, 'Safe from harm'.

Suppose I give something a title in one language which means X, but by some weird coincidence it winds up meaning Y in another language. It's entirely possible that you may think that what Y means is actually more appropriate, even truer to my own thinking, than X. Fine—but if I was consciously writing in the first language, then the meaning Y in the second has nothing to do with my own intentions in choosing the name that means X. I can't stop you from second-guessing whether Y is a better characterization than X, but it would be, in that situation, a matter of historical fact that I chose a name that meant X, not Y. Bringing in Itosu's general view of karate (again, as expressed publicly, and with a mandate as an educator to sound certain kinds of notes about character, responsibility and so on) is a separate question: the question that IA brings up is just, if Itosu was using a Chinese transliteration of those characters, what does the name he himself gave the Pinans literally mean? The claim has been that Itosu gave the Pinans a name that literally means 'Tranquil mind.' IA is saying that the literal meaning, based on the more likely transliteration system, is 'Safe from harm'.

It's a straight question about historical accuracy: was Itosu assuming a Chinese interpretation of those characters, or a Japanese one? The other issues are interesting, but to me it seems that the most important one is which of these two possibilities is the correct one? My own sense is that IA has made a very strong case for the former.
 
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It's possible he meant both. It's also possible that he meant one or the other. I wish it were possible to just ask. I'd bet the answer would be very interesting.

That said, I wonder if this is a question that can be answered. Itosu is dead. Most of the writings on Okinawa were destroyed in 1945. We would have nothing but second hand sources, unless someone manages to dig up a gem somewhere.

In the end, I think this debate is really healthy because it forces karateka to take a closer look at the self defense aspects of the Pinan kata.
 

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It's possible he meant both. It's also possible that he meant one or the other. I wish it were possible to just ask. I'd bet the answer would be very interesting.

That said, I wonder if this is a question that can be answered. Itosu is dead. Most of the writings on Okinawa were destroyed in 1945. We would have nothing but second hand sources, unless someone manages to dig up a gem somewhere.

In the end, I think this debate is really healthy because it forces karateka to take a closer look at the self defense aspects of the Pinan kata.

Total agreement there!
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It's possible he meant both. It's also possible that he meant one or the other. I wish it were possible to just ask. I'd bet the answer would be very interesting.

That said, I wonder if this is a question that can be answered. Itosu is dead. Most of the writings on Okinawa were destroyed in 1945. We would have nothing but second hand sources, unless someone manages to dig up a gem somewhere.

In the end, I think this debate is really healthy because it forces karateka to take a closer look at the self defense aspects of the Pinan kata.

Aye!

Agreed. I started the thread because I really do think that too many practitioners of Tang Soo Do think that their forms are only about exercise and personal development. These are aspects of training in a martial art, but too many of our peers do not actively look at the self-defense applications of their movements. If forms were only about exercise then why not just include some jumping jacks and a few pushups in a form? I know that seems a little crude, but you get my meaning. The forms are great for exercise, but they contain a lot of information for learning to defend oneself and others. Students need to see this as well.

There is a deep philosophical aspect to the martial arts. The beauty of martial arts training is that as the body gets stronger, the mind too grows stronger. The student who takes the time to study and introspectively understand what martial skill means will indeed be a strong person. Maunakuma, I appreciate your sharing of those writings from Bushi Matsumura and Ankou Itosu. I think we can all agree that none of the Masters were just out there to beat people up. They found the depth to their arts.

But, that said, if we only focus on the character development, then we may end up with students who have "peace of mind" when it comes to performing a hyung in a dojang or in a tournament, but who will be scared poopless and may freeze when they are actually, unfortunately, confronted with a situation where they must defend themselves. I don't want to get into a fight, but I feel more confident that I will react in a more optimal manner now that I have been actively considering self-defense. The Pyung Ahn Hyung have taught me moves that will help to keep me safe from danger because i will react.
 

robertmrivers

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If you all have not read Dave Lowry's "In the Dojo", you should. He touches on a topic related to this.

In a nutshell...

Imagine someone from Asia moves here, learns our language, and then moves back to Asia to teach our language. In the topic of greetings, the phrase "morning/ mornin'" comes up. Some of the more astute students realize that the phrase meaning "how do you do/ good morning" (and a plethara of other implications) is expressed by simply saying the English word for the time period between 12AM and 11:59AM. Now, the scholastically inclined students try to figure out the connection...without REALLY knowing the language, and start to reverse engineer the meaning. What we (hypothetically) come up with is something other than the simplest answer...we simply took the "good" out of it. My paraphrasing does not do my point justice, however, what I would offer is this:

I am nobody in the grand scheme of things, but I'll offer this based on my meager experiences. You must understand that there are multiple reasons, definitions, implications to any single phrase/ expression depending on the context. Trying to figure out these things without speaking the language, studying the root art a bit, and actually training in the country of origin is absolutely futile. Forget how open minded, culturally aware, and research savy you think you are. If you presented these questions to a Japanese/ Okinawan teacher and then presented most of the presumptions listed here, you might get a smile, thumbs up, and a "very good"...which either means "nice job" or "what is this idiot talking about"... you won't know until you immerse yourself in it. But regardless, you are going to go home thinking that you "understand it".

The conversations here seem to get going in the right direction sometimes... then it seems that the majority realize that they have to come to grips with more demons than they realize and decide to become complacent. There are some cultural and historical things out there that will blow your mind if you are willing to go after it.

All the best

Rob Rivers
 
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