Uhugushuku No Tan Mei and Wakinaguri No Tan Mei - Who were they?

Makalakumu

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While doing some research, I found this article...

http://www.ryukyueastasianmartialarts.com/article2.html

Imagine this scenario: A teenager living on the island of Okinawa around 1945. He has an intense gravitation toward anything that involves Okinawan martial arts. One day, by chance, he meets a very old man in his 90's resting in the shade with a six-foot staff close
by his side.

The old man uses the staff to aid him when he slowly strolls by the ocean. As the teenager approaches, he realizes that the old man is wearing his hair in a kampo, the traditional style of the ancient Bushi warrior. The teenager, knowing that the wearing of the kampo
had been forbidden by the Japanese government. approaches the old man. The teenager strikes up a conversation and finds out that he is. in fact. a retired bushi warrior.

The bushi and the teenager have more pleasant conversation and the bushi finds out from the teenager that he is a descendant within a family lineage of bushi himself. Over a period of time. because of the teenager's warrior lineage. the old bushi decides to make the teenager one of the only students he has ever had and instruct him in his ancient warrior art.

The ancient bushi art was "Tuite Jitsu" and "Kyusho jitsu," the retired bushi was Uhugushuku No Tan Mei and the teenager was Taika Seiyu Oyata.

More from the article...

Taika Oyata is the only karate practitioner today to have received training from Uhugushuku and is the sole heir to the Uhugushuku family system of bushi arts. The training was special and included all the ancient Okinawan weaponry as well as empty hand techniques.

The training was different because Uhugushuku had used his techniques in real battles. It included fighting theory, history and how to study techniques that were hidden in the empty hand and weapons kata. Uhugushuku trained with his lifelong friend Wakinaguri No Tan Mei. Wakinaguri was also in his 90's when Taika Oyata met him through Uhugushuku. Wakinaguri was a 6th generation Okinawan whose family migrated to Okinawa from China. Wakinaguri was an expert in vital point striking. Uhugushuku and Wakinaguri trained together for most of their lives, becoming almost inseparable when they reached their 90's.

Taika Oyata is the only man alive who was presented the Menkyo Kai Den, a very special scroll that named him as the successor to the Uhugushuku family system of karate. To be added to this scroll was the Uhugushuku family stone signature seal and permission to teach Uhugushukus'techniques. Taika Oyata trained under Uhugushuku until Uhugushukus'death.

Who were these two men? What is their story? Who did they learn te from? What is the connection with Shorin Ryu since Oyata's method uses Shorin kata? Does the story presented sound legitimate? Are there any additional sources that people can find to support it?

Lots of questions, but very important because the 12 kata of Ryu Te are the most commonly practiced kata by karateka. If you've ever seen Oyata Sensei (or his students) move you know he's got some real knowledge. Lets did into it!
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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You know, its so hard to believe that one person, out of all the frauds, liars, self-aggrandizers/promoters and ego freaks, that one person had this once in a lifetime experience. Once you see what is possible, its hard to say that this story is wrong or false or whatever. It's got to be true...and that's the exciting part. These people really did exist. They had to have been trained somewhere. Maybe even they trained with some of the other more popular founders of Karate. That's why it's so interesting. Who are they? Why do they use the kata they do? Where did they learn them? These are real questions that can be answered rather then questions that can be debunked by undermining the veracity of the background story. Or maybe there is more too it. Regardless, this is an important topic for karateka because if you want to see what is possible with bunkai, this is a good place.
 

twendkata71

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The only Ufugushuku(no Tanmei meaning the village they were from.) I know of was a master of Ti and Kobudo, creating several of his own kata. Mainly a master of the sai. He commited suicide. In the traditional manner of seppuku. The other man Wakinaguri, I have not heard of other than from articles of Oyata. Go to Oyata Hanshi's website and email him, perhaps you will get a more in depth response to your quiry.
 

searcher

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You want me to run over and ask him? He only lives about an hour and a half from me.
 
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Makalakumu

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That would actually be super cool. No body out here knows who these two men might have been. I'm going to go and check the karate library at the hikari no dojo and see if there is anything. Mainly, I'm just curious about these two men. I'm wondering about their connection to shorin ryu and I'm wondering where Oyata sensei learned the kata. How did all of this come together?
 

twendkata71

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With Okinawa being a small island it would be quite easy to train with many great teachers. Perhaps they lived close by, was introduced by a mutual friend.
 
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Makalakumu

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Right, it's not so much the story that I'm interested in. It's certainly plausible and it certainly is backed up by skill. I am more interested in how these two men connect to the greater karate world in general. How do these two men fit into all of the other karate narratives?
 

searcher

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Depending on what My Wife and I do today, I may try to head up and talk to Mr. Oyata.
 
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Makalakumu

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Depending on what My Wife and I do today, I may try to head up and talk to Mr. Oyata.

You know Jon, this is one of those rare things that you can give to people if it works out. Regardless of whether or not it works, I have the ability to meet some very remarkable people in the martial arts. If you do this, I can definitely pay it forward or back. Anyway, I am mainly wondering where Oyata sensei learned the kata for Ryu Te and how did these two men fit into that picture. Also, some of the history regarding how these two mens' connection to the greater karate world would be greatful. Like I said before, if you practice shorin kata, you are practicing Ryu Te kata.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry贖-te

The 13 kata taught in Ryū-te are called:

  • Naihanchi Shodan
  • Naihanchi Nidan
  • Naihanchi Sandan
  • Tomari Seisan
  • Pinan Shodan
  • Pinan Nidan
  • Pinan Sandan
  • Pinan Yondan
  • Pinan Godan
  • Passai
  • Kusanku
  • Niseishi
  • Shi Ho Happo no Te
 

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I don't know anything about the two men in question, but I would guess that one of the reasons, maybe even the biggest reason, why Ryute uses Shorin kata is that (one of) Oyata's instructors was Shigeru Nakamura, who founded Okinawan kenpo, which is Shorin ryu karate under a different name. If I remember correctly, Nakamura was a devout christian and didn't therefore like to use the name of buddhist monastery in his style's name.

if you practice shorin kata, you are practicing Ryu Te kata.
IMO, the other way round. Ryute kata are (mainly) Shorin kata, for reasons I gave above
 
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Makalakumu

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Thanks for the info TimoS. That explains a lot especially since I met Peter Carbone Sensei and was informed that he was the one who initially brought Oyata Sensei to the United States. Apparently, they trained in the same system.

This brings up an interesting question, if the kata came from Okinawan Kempo, where do these two men's training enter the picture? Is that training extrapolated over shorin kata or was it always part of the shorin kata?

If its extrapolated over, then we have a bit of reverse engineering of bunkai happening? If it was always part of the training, then why doesn't everyone who practices in shorin lineage look like Oyata sensei?
 

TimoS

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This brings up an interesting question, if the kata came from Okinawan Kempo, where do these two men's training enter the picture? Is that training extrapolated over shorin kata or was it always part of the shorin kata?

That is actually a very good question. I know that some people do not believe that Uhugushiku and Wakinaguri even existed and to be quite honest, I just don't know enough to believe or not to believe either "camp" on that issue. Be that as it may, if we assume that they were real people and really taught Oyata, I would guess that their teachings are seen more in the kata applications. After all, at least according to my understanding, the applications varied (and still vary) from one instructor to another, so maybe what he learned from them could easily be adapted into Shorin kata.
 
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Makalakumu

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Like I said above, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but there are so many fakes, frauds, and egomaniacs out there, its hard not to be skeptical. That said, I've trained with Oyata sensei's students and I've had the opportunity to meet and speak with Carbone Sensei on the matter. There is real skill here and the people who have it, beleive the story. So, unless I see some information that would cast doubt on the story, I'll assume that it is true for now.

That said, I can see where you would guess that their teaching would be seen more in application. However, if you consider the material that is put forward in the Bubishi, there is a good possiblility that it was always there in the first place. Assuming the Bubishi really is the basis for many of the more esoteric parts of karate, it would seem that the uniqueness of the art that Oyata practices is just part and parcel of what Okinawan karate really was like.

Perhaps the modern forms of Okinawan karate deviated from this?
 
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