The Bubishi and Tang Soo Do

Makalakumu

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I recently purchased this book, The Bubishi - The Classical Manual of Combat translated by Patrick McCarthy. This is the new 2008 edition by Tuttle publishing in which ALL of the articles in the original Bubishi are translated directly. Mr. McCarthy stated that in this edition is corrected a number of mistakes that he made in early works and he has added several chapters tracing the development of Okinawan arts back to their base sources.

You can find the newest version of McCarthy's work here.

That said, I want to start a discussion on how this material could apply to Tang Soo Do. I personally think that this book might be one of the most important books the Tangsoodoin could read about the art they practice. You will be left with far more questions then answers. So, let us know what you think.

How do you think the material in the Bubishi applies or could apply to Tang Soo Do?
 
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Makalakumu

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Here is the wiki on the Bubishi. This entry really needs to be updated. There is not much info here yet.
 

MBuzzy

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If the book contains the ideas included in the wiki, I think that it is extremely important, first in its innovativeness. For that time period, I would venture to guess that a compilation like that had not been published to that point. The ideas themselves were probably not earthshattering, but putting them in the same place is. Of course, without reading the book *yet* I have a limited amount to say about it. It is on order.
 
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Makalakumu

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The more I read in this book, the more interesting things I learn. One thing that struck is this...

"Bushi" Matsumura, the teacher of most of the modern karate teachers and the person considered the founder of "shurite" is said to have combined Chinese Quanfa with indigenous Okinawan martial arts, and Japanese Jigen ryu. Mr. McCarthy has tracked down sources to document Matsumura's training including a Menkyo certificate in Jigen Ryu.

When he asked the current Soke of the Jigen Ryu if the system had influence on Karate, the man replied, "Of course, but the real question is which influenced which!"

Wow.

This should give everyone a clue to the depth of the Tang Soo Do system. The depth carried in the hyungs that we practice.
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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One of the things that the Bubishi really focuses on is healing. Vital points and herbs are taught in order to give a martial artist a well rounded education in the healing arts. That said, how many of our Tang Soo Do dojangs require their students to learn healing arts? How about basic first aid and cpr? I see the wisdom in sending people out people who know how to hurt other with the knowledge also to heal. Perhaps this knowledge gives a better vision of the effects of one's skills.
 

MBuzzy

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I've never seen a TSD school that taught any type of Eastern medicine. In fact, come to think of it, I've not even seen verification that there was a certified CPR or First Aid person on site....although I am, so I guess if I'm there to see it, its ok!
 
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Makalakumu

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My teacher required certification in CPR and First Aid for all assistant instructors. Of course, he's read the Bubishi...
 

MBuzzy

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I just received my copy and I must say....not exactly what I expected - in a good way. I'm very excited to read it. I thought that it may be more like The Book of Five Rings or The Art of War. The article set up is much different and seems to offer a much wider range of solid information.
 
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Makalakumu

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Awesome! I can't wait to hear your thoughts. This is going to be a great thread!
 
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Makalakumu

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Here's an excerpt on what I wrote on the Bubishi for my book.

Another element that was drawn into the development of the art that Matsumura taught were systems of kung fu imported from China. According to Patrick McCarthy, these systems of kung fu were passed from Matsumuras teacher Sakagawa and were taught to Matsumura directly by a Shaolin Boxing Master Iwah when he visited Okinawa. In order to understand what these sources added to karate, we need to turn to our only known written record of these sources, the Bubishi.

The Bubishi is an interesting book, if it can be rightly called a book. It is more a collection of articles, thirty-two in all. No one knows for sure how the book made its way into Okinawa, but there are many theories and most of them surround some direct link with China. The importance of this text cannot be understated. Nearly every karate master on the island of Okinawa hand copied the book from their teachers copy. In my lineage, Gichin Funakoshi had a copy of the Bubishi and included some of the articles verbatim in his 1934 edition of Karate Do Kyohan.
There are also many theories about what, exactly, the Bubishi really is. As I said above, it cant rightly be called a book because of the disparity of its articles and lack of coherent organization. The Bubishi is more of a compilation of articles on Chinese Kung Fu. A popular theory states that the Bubishi is actually a copy of a kung fu students notes that somehow made its way to Okinawa.

One can get a pretty good idea of the contents of this book by looking at the titles of the articles in it. That list is as follows.

1. Origins of White Crane Kung Fu.
2. Master Wang Reveals His Secrets.
3. Advice on Correct Etiquette.
4. Philosophy.
5. Waster Wangs Observations on Monk Fist Boxing.
6. The Four Quan of Monk Fist Boxing.
7. Nepai Quan.
8. Discussions on Seizing and Striking Veins and Tendons Using the Hard Fist Method.
9. Twelve-Hour Vital Points Revealed.
10. Prescriptions and Medicinal Poems.
11. Twelve-Hour Theory Recuperative Herbal Prescriptions.
12. A Physicians Treatment for Twelve-Hour Injuries.
13. The Eight Precepts of Quanfa.
14. The Principles of Ancient Law.
15. Maxims of Sun Zi.
16. Grappling and Escapes.
17. Seven Restricted Locations.
18. Four Incurable Diseases.
19. Effective Twelve-Hour Herbal Prescriptions to Improve Blood Circulation for Shichen Related Injuries.
20. Six Ji Hands of the Shaolin Style.
21. Delayed Death Touch Twelve-Hour Diagrams.
22. Twelve Hour Green Herbal Remedies.
23. Crystal Statue Diagram.
24. Bronze Man Statue.
25. Shaolin Herbal Medicine and Injuries Diagram.
26. The Guardian Deity of Jiu Tian Feng Huo Yuan.
27. Zhengs Twenty-Four Iron Hand Applications and White Monkey Style.
28. Eighteen Scholars White Crane Fist and Black Tiger Style Fifty-Four Step Quan.
29. The Forty-Eight Self Defense Diagrams.
30. Valuable Ointment for Treating Weapon Wounds and Chronic Head Pain.
31. Ointment, Medicines, and Pills.
32. Shaolin Hand and Foot, Muscle, and Bone Training Postures.

All in all, six of the articles are on history and philosophy, ten of the articles regard various healing methods, five of the articles are on vital points, and eleven of the articles are on fighting techniques and strategies. This is an incredible array of topics and they were all originally included in the martial art that became Tang Soo Do. Also, it should be noted that there is no distinction between grappling, striking, and throwing techniques. All of the articles on fighting technique and strategies combine them equally.

Another thing that becomes apparent in the Bubishi is that a number moves in our forms are described in the self -defense diagrams. There are a number of takes downs, throws, and counters to throws and take downs that you can see in the postures of our forms.

The Bubishi is describing a martial art is capable of dealing with all types of violence and with the after effects of this violence. The Bubishi also gives a student of this martial art moral guidance as to when these skills are to be used. A lot of the philosophy we typically associate with karate originates here. For example, the articles on etiquette and philosophy were copied directly by Gichin Funakoshi in his book Karate Do Kyohan.

One last point about the Bubishi. The articles on healing dominate a third of the material in this book. In my opinion, I think that all practitioners of karate need to take a look at just how much information on healing was valued by the old karate masters. This, in my opinion, makes a powerful argument for including basic first aid, CPR training, and perhaps some restorative massage into martial arts training. This would help students deal with training injuries and better understand the workings of their own bodies.
 

MBuzzy

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The extensive material on healing, health and anatomy was the first thing that struck me about the book. I was shocked by the amount and array of material on these subjects. In thinking about it though, it does make sense, we as martial artists tend to not focus enough on this until a much later time in our training. But in depth anatomy and health should be taught from day one.

Actually, in Korea the FIRST THING that my instructor did was take a Sharpie and go down your body, hitting pressure points, then marking them. I ended up shirtless with something like 15 marks and in a great deal of pain.

I did eventually convince him to stop doing this because of the number of students he was scaring away! But it demonstrates a good point. Before even teaching stance or etiquette (which are typical first lesson topics), he started with his strange idea of anatomy....
 

SahBumNimRush

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I know this thread is a bit old, but I just read Mr. McCarthy's book, and I must say it was the best read I've had in years. Possibly the best martial arts text I've ever read. As a Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo practicioner, it has greatly helped me to understand the cross-fertilization, background and history of the the hyungs that we practice. It also helps me to recognize many of the various applications "lost" in my art. I have spent the past 4 years, since I first learned of Boonhae, looking at various arts that practice our forms. Looking at their interpretations of the movements.

Mr. McCarthy has done a great job in explaining the diagrams found within the Bubishi. I read the book in just 3 days, and I'm in the process of re-reading it again. I think that if you have a good foundation of knowledge within any Korean, Japanese, Okinawan, or Chinese MA, this is a valuable text to read and own.

I only wish I would've read it earlier in my martial arts journey.

P.S. Thank you Borders for your great liquidation savings!
 
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Makalakumu

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Which kata do you practice, Ben?

One of the things that struck me about this book was that it represents a source document for our art. When we acknowledge that our art comes from Shotokan and is part of the karate family, it becomes obvious that this material applies to us.

The big question, in my opinion, is what now? Is it enough to just read it and practice a few bunkai here and there? Or do we start thinking about how to practice this more holistic art? What would that look like?
 

SahBumNimRush

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Kicho Hyungs 1-3, Pyung Ahn Hyungs 1-5, Bassai, Naihanchi 1-3, Chinto, Kong Sang Kun, Rohai, Ship Soo, Wanshu, Jion, and Seisan. The last 5 our KJN threw out of our curriculum years ago, he thought there were too many hyungs to perfect. However, I still teach them, even though the students are not graded on them at examinations.
 

SahBumNimRush

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I have started incorporating much of the bunkai into 1 step sparring for the gups. At BB level, I have introduced variable one steps (grabs, kicks, chokes, etc. rather than the traditional punch). I am cautious to introduce too much at the gup level (first 3 years of training), because the foundation that we have always taught takes a lot of dedication to absorb. So far our black belts have taken to the new concepts really well. Once they become more adept at these concepts, we are going to start speeding up the one step sparring with the ultimate goal of free sparring with the bunkai. Obviously, this can be dangerous, so the techniques are modified just as the kicks are modified in regular free sparring.

I have been fortunate, in that my instructor has always incorporated much of what was "hidden" in the hyungs, but he just labeled it as self defense techniques. They were just never shown to me that they were present in the hyungs until a few years ago. Now that I run my own dojang, I've had the freedom to play around with the day to day curriculum somewhat, which is where the adapted one step is coming into play. Using the bunkai as a guidebook, it will be easier, IMO, to create a more standardized curriculum with the self defense incorporated in day to day classes.
 
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Makalakumu

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Kicho Hyungs 1-3, Pyung Ahn Hyungs 1-5, Bassai, Naihanchi 1-3, Chinto, Kong Sang Kun, Rohai, Ship Soo, Wanshu, Jion, and Seisan. The last 5 our KJN threw out of our curriculum years ago, he thought there were too many hyungs to perfect. However, I still teach them, even though the students are not graded on them at examinations.

So, it looks like you are still doing some old school karate.
 
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Makalakumu

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I have started incorporating much of the bunkai into 1 step sparring for the gups. At BB level, I have introduced variable one steps (grabs, kicks, chokes, etc. rather than the traditional punch). I am cautious to introduce too much at the gup level (first 3 years of training), because the foundation that we have always taught takes a lot of dedication to absorb. So far our black belts have taken to the new concepts really well. Once they become more adept at these concepts, we are going to start speeding up the one step sparring with the ultimate goal of free sparring with the bunkai. Obviously, this can be dangerous, so the techniques are modified just as the kicks are modified in regular free sparring.

I have been fortunate, in that my instructor has always incorporated much of what was "hidden" in the hyungs, but he just labeled it as self defense techniques. They were just never shown to me that they were present in the hyungs until a few years ago. Now that I run my own dojang, I've had the freedom to play around with the day to day curriculum somewhat, which is where the adapted one step is coming into play. Using the bunkai as a guidebook, it will be easier, IMO, to create a more standardized curriculum with the self defense incorporated in day to day classes.

What does your curriculum to teach bunkai and self defense look like?
 

SahBumNimRush

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So, it looks like you are still doing some old school karate.

Yeah, we still practice the old hyungs. Our KJN was okay with us learning the WTF poomsae back in the 80's and 90's when we competed on the USTU circuit, but after the USTU fell, we haven't practiced them. Our basic curriculum when I started back in 1985, was floor exercises, hyungs, three step and one step sparring, and then free sparring. Occasionally we practiced breaking, conditioning/skill drills and other self-defense techs.

The curriculum structure hasn't really changed much since then.
 

SahBumNimRush

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What does your curriculum to teach bunkai and self defense look like?

As I said, the curriculum structure hasn't really changed. I have started slowly unveiling general self-defense concepts to my black belts that have been traditionally taught but weren't traditionally identified in our forms. For example wrist locks identified in stacks, then applying a particular portion of a form in a one step sparring situation. For instance, in Bassai: The double punch/block (upper hand blocking/deflecting the attacker's punch, the lower hand punching the abdomen) -> stack (wrist lock) -> outside in crescent kick (striking the doubled over opponent to either the back of the head).

Now that they are beginning to identify the more obscure movements in the hyungs (stacks and preparations movements), I've started giving examples of applications of the basic movements (i.e. block to the down from a grabbing scenario with wrist lock, wrap (elbow strike to the jaw), block (locked wrist -> locking elbow with the "hidden fist", take down strike to the throat, ending with the opponent's head striking the knee of the front leg in the front stance). All the while emphasizing the execution of the technique the way our KJN has always taught, illustrating the use of the details of the stance, wrap up, end movement, etc.

Because I have only been running my own dojang for 3 months now, the black belts are still digesting the basics of what I've been showing them. Incidentally, I've learned much of the bunkai from Karate practitioners I trained with while away in college, and I showed what I had learned to my Sahbumnim, who wanted me to incorporate what works into my curriculum as long as it built on our foundation of movements (i.e. not changing our wrap ups, stance details, etc.)

So far, the black belts are loving it, they have told me that they have a new found purpose to their movements. They now have purpose to a block to the down, which they would've never done as a block to the down in an actual fight because of all of the openings it would've created for their opponent.

I am not taking away from anything that was ever taught to me, just adding more explanations to movements to our advanced students. I feel that the first 3 years of study doesn't need to change, since they are concentrating on absorbing the discipline of the curriculum and the motor skills of the basics. Once they have that foundation, I have begun introducing these details to the black belt ranks.

I've read your book, and enjoyed it. How has your curriculum approach changed since then?
 
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Makalakumu

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I've read your book, and enjoyed it. How has your curriculum approach changed since then?

Thanks, Dr. Rush. I'm writing a second edition to it right now. I'm going to format in APA and get some professional editing and then I'm going to transform a larger project into a textbook for the curriculum that I teach.

My approach has been refined since I wrote my book. The general catagories of techniques that I talk about still exist, but I've shuffled around basics, principles, and concepts based on my evolving understanding. The hardest part settling on something that will stand the test of time. When I put it down on paper and I publish, that work becomes a frozen copy of the method that is out there for people to practice.

My students really love the approach. I tend to hold on to people longer and find them to be more committed because they aren't practicing techniques and drills that are disconnected from the rest of the curriculum. When I practice a throw, strike, or lock, it's exactly what you find in a form and it's pretty much exactly what one might do in a self defense situation. I have a lot of converts from other styles of karate who say they like learning bunkai like this because it's more practical then how they were learning before.

I just tested two students for green belt. It was awesome to see how the beginner's mind can open up to the moves in the kata and begin to see what is there for them.

All of this ties back to the bubishi. I think what I'm doing captures the original intent of the art and people can feel how the consistency of approach really does matter.
 
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