Was Funakoshi Gichin a "sell out"?

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isshinryuronin

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As you have acknowledge, One can not find the cadre of great masters that Motobu taught.

Just a note, while there was not a "cadre" of masters Motobu taught, there are a couple of notables: Isshinryu founder Tatsuo Shimabuku (for a short time) and Matsubayashi Shorinryu founder, Sochin Nagamine The latter provided an earlier quote of mine attesting to the fact that Motobu had appreciation and respect for traditional kata. (Yes, I've read his book you referred to.)

Little karate history can be attributed to primary sources due to its secretive nature and the cataclysm of WWII. There are just a handful of such and thus highly valued. What largely remains are legends and orally transmitted stories no doubt embellished over the decades, though often with some spark of, if not truth, at least of value as illustrative myth.
 
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Koryuhoka

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Funakoshi, "The father of modern karate", was a traditional Okinawan master who studied with Itosu Anko in the "old ways" of toude/todi. His time predates the wearing of a gi and even the name "karate", itself. It was his efforts in popularizing this art that are responsible for all of us practicing and treasuring it today, 100 years later. But at what cost?

It was Funakoshi who transformed the art by introducing it to the public schools in Okinawa, and later, Japan. To do this, as most of us know, he simplified the kata, removed many of the truly dangerous techniques, and even changed the names from the native Okinawan language (Hogan or Uchinaaguchi) to Japanese. Karate became something different and was sent on a new trajectory.

It was this "watering down" of the art for the masses that eventually allowed it to reach millions. But, at the same time, what was passed on was a shadow of the original. It is only since this new millennium, what was lost is gradually being rediscovered thanks to a realization that there is more to karate than we thought.

Did Funakoshi sell out the Okinawan legacy in order to popularize it and make it more acceptable to Japanese sensibilities?
I think it was a concerted decision and effort. I believe, from things said throughout the years, that he was sent to intentionally keep Japan from the real knowledge of karatejutsu. He was not a sellout. He was highly educated and well known for his literary work. He was sent to achieve what resulted in Shotokan today.
 

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I think it was a concerted decision and effort. I believe, from things said throughout the years, that he was sent to intentionally keep Japan from the real knowledge of karatejutsu. He was not a sellout. He was highly educated and well known for his literary work. He was sent to achieve what resulted in Shotokan today.

Quite the contrary:

From all the documented evidence from primary sources (i.e. first person accounts, to include verifiable eye witness accounts from creditable sources in and outside of Shotokan circles ) Funakoshi went to the mainland to popularize and spread Okinawan Karate... he in no way tried to keep any knowledge from the Japanese populace.

A country with a thousand Taijutsu (i.e. Samurai battle arts) Karate was initially seen as a back water hillbilly red neck pugilistic art that lacked culture and sophistication. Experienced Taijustu practitioners who first experienced the art came away thinking it was lacking.

IMO A much clearer picture of Funikoshi's Shotokan should entail Takeshi Shimoda: a Ninpo Taijutsu master, who became one of Funakoshi's best student, (basically his 2nd) unfortunately he dies early, I think in 1934 (which is why his influence is over looked... even by some scholars of Shotokan) he heavily influenced Yoshitaka Funakoshi and others like Genshin Hironishi, Shigeru Egami, Isao Obata (Note Hironishi, Egami and Obata were also experienced in various Taijutsu already before they studied under Funakoshi) that's when the departure from what people think of as Okinawan karate and to Japanese karate happened. At that point in time we see Kokutsu Dachi supplanting Neko Ashi Dachi Note: Kokustu dachi is a heavily used stance in many mainland Japanese Taijustu... same goes for Hangetsu and Sochin dachi which are now relied upon over the more Okinawan in nature Sanchin dachi.. (let us also note: neko and sanchin dachi were never removed)

The last paragraph is to emphasize the change to Japanese's karate wasn't a random act, but more influenced by other Japanese martial arts at that time period (various Kendo , some Jujitsu, some Ninjitsu and Aiki Jujutsu respectfully)

 

Koryuhoka

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Quite the contrary:

From all the documented evidence from primary sources (i.e. first person accounts, to include verifiable eye witness accounts from creditable sources in and outside of Shotokan circles ) Funakoshi went to the mainland to popularize and spread Okinawan Karate... he in no way tried to keep any knowledge from the Japanese populace.

A country with a thousand Taijutsu (i.e. Samurai battle arts) Karate was initially seen as a back water hillbilly red neck pugilistic art that lacked culture and sophistication. Experienced Taijustu practitioners who first experienced the art came away thinking it was lacking.

IMO A much clearer picture of Funikoshi's Shotokan should entail Takeshi Shimoda: a Ninpo Taijutsu master, who became one of Funakoshi's best student, (basically his 2nd) unfortunately he dies early, I think in 1934 (which is why his influence is over looked... even by some scholars of Shotokan) he heavily influenced Yoshitaka Funakoshi and others like Genshin Hironishi, Shigeru Egami, Isao Obata (Note Hironishi, Egami and Obata were also experienced in various Taijutsu already before they studied under Funakoshi) that's when the departure from what people think of as Okinawan karate and to Japanese karate happened. At that point in time we see Kokutsu Dachi supplanting Neko Ashi Dachi Note: Kokustu dachi is a heavily used stance in many mainland Japanese Taijustu... same goes for Hangetsu and Sochin dachi which are now relied upon over the more Okinawan in nature Sanchin dachi.. (let us also note: neko and sanchin dachi were never removed)

The last paragraph is to emphasize the change to Japanese's karate wasn't a random act, but more influenced by other Japanese martial arts at that time period (various Kendo , some Jujitsu, some Ninjitsu and Aiki Jujutsu respectfully)

Who in Japan practices and teaches the principles of Okinawan Karate outlined by Masters like Tetsuhiro Hokama, the Late, Great Seiyu Oyata, Katsuhiko Shinzato and others? Who is teaching the body mechanics taught in styles like Kishaba Juku, and Kyudokan Shorin Ryu? These schools teach principles of "Ti", Kyusho, Tuidi. Their movements and applied dynamics are based on concepts from Bubishi. What Japanese karate organization is teaching these things? Everybody has opinions but the truth lies in the knowledge that is passed down, or in what is left out. The evidences point to gaps in the knowledge base of what was transmitted through the lineages, compared to what was transmitted to Japan.
 

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Who in Japan practices and teaches the principles of Okinawan Karate outlined by Masters like Tetsuhiro Hokama, the Late, Great Seiyu Oyata, Katsuhiko Shinzato and others? Who is teaching the body mechanics taught in styles like Kishaba Juku, and Kyudokan Shorin Ryu? These schools teach principles of "Ti", Kyusho, Tuidi. Their movements and applied dynamics are based on concepts from Bubishi. What Japanese karate organization is teaching these things? Everybody has opinions but the truth lies in the knowledge that is passed down, or in what is left out. The evidences point to gaps in the knowledge base of what was transmitted through the lineages, compared to what was transmitted to Japan.
A) you are assuming there are gaps in knowledge there is not. (Visit the JKA Hombu dojo, or the SKIF Hombu dojo etc etc.. you assume what is taught in Okinawa is site specific again it is not. Only the terminology.

B) You also walk into a Conundrum by ignoring Funikoshis linage predating most of Shorin Ryu in Okinawa (I think his linage predates all of what is viewed as Shorin Ryu.. but I could be wrong on that

Who departed from what? Who isnt teaching what? Since Shotokan predates what is viewed as modern Shorin Ryu did Shorin Ryu break from established dogma?

Drawing contention between styles, weighing them to find one style wanting is a waste of time
 

Koryuhoka

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A) you are assuming there are gaps in knowledge there is not. (Visit the JKA Hombu dojo, or the SKIF Hombu dojo etc etc.. you assume what is taught in Okinawa is site specific again it is not. Only the terminology.

B) You also walk into a Conundrum by ignoring Funikoshis linage predating most of Shorin Ryu in Okinawa (I think his linage predates all of what is viewed as Shorin Ryu.. but I could be wrong on that

Who departed from what? Who isnt teaching what? Since Shotokan predates what is viewed as modern Shorin Ryu did Shorin Ryu break from established dogma?

Drawing contention between styles, weighing them to find one style wanting is a waste of time
Im not ignoring Funakoshi's history. I actually pointed it out. But all these things are easily researched, as they have been written about from various researchers.
 

Paul Calugaru

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Im not ignoring Funakoshi's history. I actually pointed it out. But all these things are easily researched, as they have been written about from various researchers.
What has been researched? And By whom?

Quote "From things said throughout the years, that he was sent to intentionally keep Japan from the real knowledge of karatejutsu."

"Do have a primary source either from Funakoshi himself, or a key player in the historical events in question that says exactly that?

We both know the answer to that question


If you scroll through this thread you see a cautionary example of "so called" research. I.e. "The Motobu Fight with Funakoshi." You see a layman of history ... i.e Myself... (with B.A in American History from a major university, who knows where and how to look for primary, secondary sources,) expose the story as fiction, and unprovable.

Jesse the karate nerd didn't do his homework.

The internet is not consistent, factual nor unbiased. People today confused opinion editorials as fact, typically they do not realize there are no primary or secondary sources to back up the article.


There are people out there that have researched Funakoshi, who have spent a lot of time on him, who know way more than I do about Funakoshi. That does NOT mean all print media on Funakoshi are truthful, and un-biased. In the early 2000s, IMO there seems to be an attempt to revise Funakoshi's legacy and his contribution to Japanese Karate and Karate as a whole by many in the Okinawan camp. (as a American historian I saw the revisionist attempts for what they were, having often seen similar techniques with American history in published Journals )

You know its a revisionist attempt when you note the people doing the hit piece on Funakoshi all practice a form of Okinawan Karate. And... they never put their magnifying glass over any Okinawan masters of that era...



Let's do a quick recap of what we do know about Gichen Funakoshi to stabilize this thread and keep it on topic.

* Born in 1868 (three years after the end of the American Civil War)
* Student to two of the top 10 Karate-ka living at the time in Okinawa (Anko Azato & Anko Itosu )
* Classically Educated for that era (in the 5 classics)
* 1890s Given teaching credentials by Anko Azato Sensei & Anko Itosu, Funikoshi opens his own Dojo
* 1890s-to early 1910s teaches in the Okinawan school system, maintains his Dojo also gets married and starts a family.
* 1921 was chosen to participate in a prestigious Cultural Demo at Shuri Castle for the Prince (the future Emperor) in which he demonstrates the Okinawan indigenous fighting art called Tode (soon to assume the name "Karate" )
* Late 1921 the Okinawan Prefectural Board of ED (Directed by the Okinawan Ministry of Education) organizes the first Kobujustu-Taiiku-Tenrankai (Okinawan Athletic Exhibition of Ancient Martial Arts) in Tokyo. The Prefectural Board of ED petitions Funakoshi Sensei for the role (and here I am quoting the famed Nagamine Karate Sensei's book "Tales of Okinawan Great Karate Masters" they chose Funakoshi sensei because he was known to be intelligent, a reputable teacher, and an expert in Karate! (Nagamine's words not mine!)
* 1922 at the age of 54! (he's been teaching karate at his dojo for more than 30yrs at this point!) Quoted to have said " My responsibility to Karate and our nation far exceeds my own personal interests. Departs for mainland Japan (he will not be reunited with his wife till years after the war.. 20+yrs later)
* 1922 authors Tode Ryukyu Kempo and earns the respect of one of the most esteemed Taijutsu practitioners in the country Kan Jigor founder of Judo
* 1922 open first Karate Dojo on the mainland at Keio University, under Kano Jigoro's influence, adopts a Dan ranking system to include similar uniforms.
* 1925 authors second edition of Tode Ryukyu Kempo and befriends famed Taijutsu/Kendo swordsman Nakayama Hakudo ... who introduces Funakoshi and okinawan Karate to many well established practitioners in Koryu bujitsu ..(traditional Samurai martial arts) around this time Takeshi Shimoda: a Ninpo Taijutsu master, becomes one of Funakoshi's best student, unfortunately he dies early, in 1934 Shimoda heavily influenced Yoshitaka Funakoshi and others like Genshin Hironishi, Shigeru Egami, Isao Obata (Note Hironishi, Egami and Obata were also experienced in various Taijutsu (kendo, judo Jujitsu etc) before they studied under Funakoshi) that's when the departure from what people think of as Okinawan karate and morphed to Japanese karate happened.
* 1936 at the age of 68 Karate as a Japanese budo is established Karate-do Kyohan is puplished
*1938 at the age of 70 Shotokan dojo is built
*1956 at the age of 88 publishes Karate-do My way of life
*1957 dies at the age of 89

Sell out?

Not even close, nor was he a subpar Karate-ka! (would not have befriend and earned the respect of either Kano Jigoro or Nakayama Kakudo if his Karate was subpar)

The man took his words "My responsibility to Karate and our nation far exceeds my own personal interests." to the extreme!
 
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Koryuhoka

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What has been researched? And By whom?

Quote "From things said throughout the years, that he was sent to intentionally keep Japan from the real knowledge of karatejutsu."

"Do have a primary source either from Funakoshi himself, or a key player in the historical events in question that says exactly that?

We both know the answer to that question


If you scroll through this thread you see a cautionary example of "so called" research. I.e. "The Motobu Fight with Funakoshi." You see a layman of history ... i.e Myself... (with B.A in American History from a major university, who knows where and how to look for primary, secondary sources,) expose the story as fiction, and unprovable.

Jesse the karate nerd didn't do his homework.

The internet is not consistent, factual nor unbiased. People today confused opinion editorials as fact, typically they do not realize there are no primary or secondary sources to back up the article.


There are people out there that have researched Funakoshi, who have spent a lot of time on him, who know way more than I do about Funakoshi. That does NOT mean all print media on Funakoshi are truthful, and un-biased. In the early 2000s, IMO there seems to be an attempt to revise Funakoshi's legacy and his contribution to Japanese Karate and Karate as a whole by many in the Okinawan camp. (as a American historian I saw the revisionist attempts for what they were, having often seen similar techniques with American history in published Journals )

You know its a revisionist attempt when you note the people doing the hit piece on Funakoshi all practice a form of Okinawan Karate. And... they never put their magnifying glass over any Okinawan masters of that era...



Let's do a quick recap of what we do know about Gichen Funakoshi to stabilize this thread and keep it on topic.

* Born in 1868 (three years after the end of the American Civil War)
* Student to two of the top 10 Karate-ka living at the time in Okinawa (Anko Azato & Anko Itosu )
* Classically Educated for that era (in the 5 classics)
* 1890s Given teaching credentials by Anko Azato Sensei & Anko Itosu, Funikoshi opens his own Dojo
* 1890s-to early 1910s teaches in the Okinawan school system, maintains his Dojo also gets married and starts a family.
* 1921 was chosen to participate in a prestigious Cultural Demo at Shuri Castle for the Prince (the future Emperor) in which he demonstrates the Okinawan indigenous fighting art called Tode (soon to assume the name "Karate" )
* Late 1921 the Okinawan Prefectural Board of ED (Directed by the Okinawan Ministry of Education) organizes the first Kobujustu-Taiiku-Tenrankai (Okinawan Athletic Exhibition of Ancient Martial Arts) in Tokyo. The Prefectural Board of ED petitions Funakoshi Sensei for the role (and here I am quoting the famed Nagamine Karate Sensei's book "Tales of Okinawan Great Karate Masters" they chose Funakoshi sensei because he was known to be intelligent, a reputable teacher, and an expert in Karate! (Nagamine's words not mine!)
* 1922 at the age of 54! (he's been teaching karate at his dojo for more than 30yrs at this point!) Quoted to have said " My responsibility to Karate and our nation far exceeds my own personal interests. Departs for mainland Japan (he will not be reunited with his wife till years after the war.. 20+yrs later)
* 1922 authors Tode Ryukyu Kempo and earns the respect of one of the most esteemed Taijutsu practitioners in the country Kan Jigor founder of Judo
* 1922 open first Karate Dojo on the mainland at Keio University, under Kano Jigoro's influence, adopts a Dan ranking system to include similar uniforms.
* 1925 authors second edition of Tode Ryukyu Kempo and befriends famed Taijutsu/Kendo swordsman Nakayama Hakudo ... who introduces Funakoshi and okinawan Karate to many well established practitioners in Koryu bujitsu ..(traditional Samurai martial arts) around this time Takeshi Shimoda: a Ninpo Taijutsu master, becomes one of Funakoshi's best student, unfortunately he dies early, in 1934 Shimoda heavily influenced Yoshitaka Funakoshi and others like Genshin Hironishi, Shigeru Egami, Isao Obata (Note Hironishi, Egami and Obata were also experienced in various Taijutsu (kendo, judo Jujitsu etc) before they studied under Funakoshi) that's when the departure from what people think of as Okinawan karate and morphed to Japanese karate happened.
* 1936 at the age of 68 Karate as a Japanese budo is established Karate-do Kyohan is puplished
*1938 at the age of 70 Shotokan dojo is built
*1956 at the age of 88 publishes Karate-do My way of life
*1957 dies at the age of 89

Sell out?

Not even close, nor was he a subpar Karate-ka! (would not have befriend and earned the respect of either Kano Jigoro or Nakayama Kakudo if his Karate was subpar)

The man took his words "My responsibility to Karate and our nation far exceeds my own personal interests." to the extreme!
Jeez... you are insinuating that I am saying that Funakoshi was not an accomplished practitioner. I know for a fact that he was. That said, name ONE Japanese Karateka, as in NON Okinawan(Funakoshi was Okinawan), that has an in depth understanding of Karate on the level of Seiyu Oyata. I'll wait for your answer.
 

Paul Calugaru

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Jeez... you are insinuating that I am saying that Funakoshi was not an accomplished practitioner. I know for a fact that he was. That said, name ONE Japanese Karateka, as in NON Okinawan(Funakoshi was Okinawan), that has an in depth understanding of Karate on the level of Seiyu Oyata. I'll wait for your answer.
No of course not.
Im highlighting that much of what has been stated about Funakoshi on the internet, is opinion not fact.. and at the same time raising a flag on where you got your information (Funakoshi held back instruction)

As for your question: thats for another thread. Start another thread and I be glad to list many
 

Koryuhoka

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No of course not.
Im highlighting that much of what has been stated about Funakoshi on the internet, is opinion not fact.. and at the same time raising a flag on where you got your information (Funakoshi held back instruction)

As for your question: thats for another thread. Start another thread and I be glad to list many
The things I heard regarding Funakoshi was waaaaaaaay before the internet was even open to the public... before anyone even had a computer in their home. So please do not assume I am some sort of "keyboard warrior".

Also your education does not make you more capable of discerning truth from BS. The things I heard were through word of mouth, but the truth lies in the results.

If you are familiar with who's who of karate, you will know the names I mentioned, and you will know the depth of skill and knowledge associated with these men. And I only mentioned a 2 or 3.

There is not need for another thread to give 2 or 3 names of Shotokan practitioners or karateka from Japan, who are on the level of the aforementioned practitioners. But you should understand that I am referring to the sub-arts of karate. If you claim these persons exist, they should be adept in these sub-arts.
 

Paul Calugaru

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The things I heard regarding Funakoshi was waaaaaaaay before the internet was even open to the public... before anyone even had a computer in their home. So please do not assume I am some sort of "keyboard warrior".

Also your education does not make you more capable of discerning truth from BS. The things I heard were through word of mouth, but the truth lies in the results.

If you are familiar with who's who of karate, you will know the names I mentioned, and you will know the depth of skill and knowledge associated with these men. And I only mentioned a 2 or 3.

There is not need for another thread to give 2 or 3 names of Shotokan practitioners or karateka from Japan, who are on the level of the aforementioned practitioners. But you should understand that I am referring to the sub-arts of karate. If you claim these persons exist, they should be adept in these sub-arts.



Sub arts???
Your just not prepared to admit Shotokan is a legit Karate possessing all the nuisances within "whatever Okinawan style you practice are you. Like I said before... Ya got to stop comparing karate styles, weighing them, trying to find a reason why your style is the best. It's a total waste of time... It's a kyu mentality.

On my education: On the contrary: My education, when it comes to history (I minored in Asian History also ... Han (i.e Chinese) I failed to mention that... my bad) It gives me the tools to fact check subjective information, through Web Based periodicals, University journals, and museum databases... As much as the internet isn't based in fact, a large proportion is.. Sometimes Internet is a great tool.

I leave you with this... It's a sign of intelligence and wisdom and courage to admit when you are wrong or that you may have heard or interpreted something wrong.
 
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isshinryuronin

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You also walk into a Conundrum by ignoring Funikoshis linage predating most of Shorin Ryu in Okinawa (I think his linage predates all of what is viewed as Shorin Ryu.. but I could be wrong on that

Jeez... you are insinuating that I am saying that Funakoshi was not an accomplished practitioner. I know for a fact that he was.
Guys, we all agree Funakoshi was VERY accomplished, in karate and in letters. He was selected to be the point man for karate introduction to Japan's school system based on his experience as a teacher, his communication/diplomatic skills, as well as his martial arts. His main goal was to popularize the art so all could reap its benefits.

Both of you are correct in many points and agree on more than you differ. On those points in contention: I do believe there was an agreement of sorts by the Okinawan Karate Kenkyukai composed of the main masters such as Mabuni, Chibana, Shiroma (Gusukuma) and Miyagi to name a few (Funakoshi NOT included) to hold back a few of Okinawa's karate "secrets" from Japan. While Okinawa wanted to be accepted into Japanese culture, some of the older masters still remembered when Okinawa was a semi-independent kingdom. And even the younger ones had experienced Japanese prejudice against them, so there was a love/hate relationship.

On the other hand, the shotokan karate taught by the JKA was NOT the same as what Funakoshi originally introduced; it changed, I believe, due to the sportification of the art and the necessities required by competition rules. Thus, many of the changes made in Japan's karate was not of Funakoshi's doing. Additional changes were perhaps influenced, as Paul noted, by the prevailing Japanese arts already being practiced in structure and organization. And in technique as well.

The earliest shotokan had considerable grappling and other Okinawan traits. But Japan had judo and jujitsu, and grappling was in their ballpark. Funakoshi also had skills in Okinawan weapons, but Japan had iaido, kendo, yari and other koryu weapons and already had staked out that territory. So such skills in Japanese shotokan karate were downplayed so every art had their own turf. Japan = organizational harmony.

Last comment - Funakoshi (shotokan) and Kyan and Chibana (shorinryu) were contemporaries. While the formal names of individual karate styles came about in the early 1930's, the flavor of shotokan was established in the late 1920's. The flavor of shorinryu started with the Shuri-te of Matsumura in the later 1800's. So I'd say shorin predates shotokan.

In fairness, it deserves to be noted that Funakoshi and Kyan both had a couple of years study with an aged Matsumura. Itosu spent more time with him, as well as teaching Funakoshi. Itosu had some Naha influence as well, so there was cross pollination throughout karate history. So no matter what branch of Okinawan karate one may be, we are mostly all family related in one way or another.
 

Koryuhoka

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Sub arts???
Your just not prepared to admit Shotokan is a legit Karate possessing all the nuisances within "whatever Okinawan style you practice are you. Like I said before... Ya got to stop comparing karate styles, weighing them, trying to find a reason why your style is the best. It's a total waste of time... It's a kyu mentality.

On my education: On the contrary: My education, when it comes to history (I minored in Asian History also ... Han (i.e Chinese) I failed to mention that... my bad) It gives me the tools to fact check subjective information, through Web Based periodicals, University journals, and museum databases... As much as the internet isn't based in fact, a large proportion is.. Sometimes Internet is a great tool.

I leave you with this... It's a sign of intelligence and wisdom and courage to admit when you are wrong or that you may have heard or interpreted something wrong.
Shotokan IS legitimate and formidable. You keep insinuating I am talking about the art or Funakoshi not being legit. You can learn a kata's movements, and not know a damned thing about the original intention of the movements, as the creators of the kata intended them. Which is why I ask to name a Japanese Shotokan karateka that can interpret the original intention of the movements. So far, you have not. This discussion has become something it should not have. If you name one, and show that person demonstrating deep understanding of application to Shotokan kata, then you would prove that I have missed, or looked over someone of great interest.
 
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isshinryuronin

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You can learn a kata's movements, and not know a damned thing about the original intention of the movements, as the creators of the kata intended them.
Unfortunately, the creators of the katas - of most all styles - are long dead and since they passed on their bunkai orally, there is no record of their original intent. Much was lost in transmission over the decades. More was lost as kata became a tournament competition of form overfunction.

Some of their intent can be inferred by those truly well versed in the principles of traditional Okinawan karate. Some can be replicated thru reverse engineering, though this may produce a variety of results; the original intent may or may not being one of those. And some techniques may remain undecipherable and be subject to pure guesswork. (And there are those uneducated and egotistical instructors that just make up crap and try to pass it off as real karate so they don't seem ignorant about bunkai.)

But, we have to consider that the masters did not intend there to be just one bunkai for each technique or series. There are so many variables in combat that it is impossible to learn specific counters to every possibility. So I think the katas were designed to be flexible, the base techniques being able to be adapted to the specific given situation. In other words, there may be multiple bunkai for a kata's movements.

Itosu said to "perform kata exactly; actual combat is another matter." Mabuni wrote, "A kata is not fixed or immovable. Like water, it is ever changing..." Motobu wrote they are "just templates." So we can see that kata is a main road, but with different detours allowed depending on the road conditions. It is still important to practice kata exactly as passed on so those side roads can be easily and effectively accessed.

To close with another quote from Mabuni: "If one practices kata correctly, it will serve as a foundation for performing any of the infinite number of variations." Without understanding this and the other concepts above, one does not understand kata.
 
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Koryuhoka

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Unfortunately, the creators of the katas - of most all styles - are long dead and since they passed on their bunkai orally, there is no record of their original intent. Some of it can be inferred by those truly well versed in the principles of traditional Okinawan karate. Some can be replicated thru reverse engineering, though this may produce a variety of results; the original intent may or may not being one of those. And some techniques may remain undecipherable and be subject to pure guesswork. (And there are those uneducated and egotistical instructors that just make up crap and try to pass it off as real karate so they don't seem ignorant about bunkai.)

But, we have to consider that the masters did not intend there to be just one bunkai for each technique or series. There are so many variables in combat that it is impossible to learn specific counters to every possibility. So I think the katas were designed to be flexible, the base techniques being able to be adapted to the specific given situation. In other words, there are often multiple bunkai for a kata's movements.

Itosu said to "perform kata exactly; actual combat is another matter." Mabuni wrote, "A kata is not fixed or immovable. Like water, it is ever changing..." Motobu wrote they are "just templates." So we can see that kata is a main road, but with different detours allowed depending on the road conditions. It is still important to practice kata exactly as passed on so those side roads can be easily and effectively accessed.

To close with another quote from Mabuni: "If one practices kata correctly, it will serve as a foundation for performing any of the infinite number of variations." Without understanding this and the other concepts above, one does not understand kata.
This statement eludes to that the masters were also obscuring the content of their art for obvious reasons. They served in government and within the kingdom. The fact that people like Oyata, Hokama and others of that calibre came to be is that the information was transmitted to them. It just didn't evolve from nothing. They understood anatomy and physiology. These teachings were lost by the hush-hush mentality and in recent years, it has made a comeback. The 36 Families - Sappushi, from China exchanged information on martial and medical sciences, as well as cultural interchange. There is so much more to explore.
 

Ugh

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First of all, most of what you said was done by someone else.

But yes Gichin was partially at fault for the loss of Toudi.
 

Ugh

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No one truly knows what was on his mind. I have yet to read about his religious or spiritual inclinations. Perhaps he thought Karate would transcend all the martial aspects and would lead to a betterment of humankind, whoever knows? Didn't he also lay out some 20 rules for his students on how to become better human beings? He must have practiced or leaned towards Buddsim or something like that. Besides, at that time Japan was relatively peaceful and there were no more Shoguns to fight each other, hence no need to study lethal applications by the masses. As in saying, "Hard times create strong men, Strong men create good times, Good times create weak men, Weak men create hard times". Funakoshi must have been that "Strong Man" creating the good times...
LMAO tell that to Motobu Choki.
 

punisher73

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Funakoshi greatly altered Okinawan karate when he exported it to Japan. He says as much in his book about removing things to make it safer for school children. His karate was to be used as a tool to prepare young males for military service and it was designed as such. Lining up according to rank, doing kata by the numbers etc.

Funakoshi greatly altered the katas, for example Wansu became Empi and removed the famous throw from it to add in a spinning jump to emphasize athleticism. Funakoshi stopped sharing application(s) of a grappling nature and stuck to the very basic block/punch/kick application(s) of kata. Later, things were changed in kata to reflect the competition sparring that was brought into it after Gichin Funakoshi's death. Originally, in Okinawan karate, you didn't have the side kicks (especially above the waist) like you see in Shotokan. It exposes the groin too much (although some styles do have those as karate was "exported" back to Okinawa after the war and the sparring was popular with the military men).

These are all verifiable facts. I think arts like Shotokan have gone back to the roots and tried to bring back some of the removed knowledge. I don't think it has been there all along.

Hoping to see Karate included in the physical education taught in our public schools, I revised the kata to make them as simple as possible. Times change, the world changes, and obviously the martial arts must change too. The Karate that high school students practice today is not the same Karate that was practiced even as recently as ten years ago, and it is a long way indeed from the Karate I learned when I was a child in Okinawa. Gichin Funakoshi, 1956
 

caped crusader

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Funakoshi, "The father of modern karate", was a traditional Okinawan master who studied with Itosu Anko in the "old ways" of toude/todi. His time predates the wearing of a gi and even the name "karate", itself. It was his efforts in popularizing this art that are responsible for all of us practicing and treasuring it today, 100 years later. But at what cost?

It was Funakoshi who transformed the art by introducing it to the public schools in Okinawa, and later, Japan. To do this, as most of us know, he simplified the kata, removed many of the truly dangerous techniques, and even changed the names from the native Okinawan language (Hogan or Uchinaaguchi) to Japanese. Karate became something different and was sent on a new trajectory.

It was this "watering down" of the art for the masses that eventually allowed it to reach millions. But, at the same time, what was passed on was a shadow of the original. It is only since this new millennium, what was lost is gradually being rediscovered thanks to a realization that there is more to karate than we thought.

Did Funakoshi sell out the Okinawan legacy in order to popularize it and make it more acceptable to Japanese sensibilities?
Bump this thread...
no i do not think he was. He was really a master. Look at one of his students who i think is filmed in Poland. amazing stuff.
 

Hanzou

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Considering that Shotokan spawned Kyokushin and Machida Karate, he did something right.
 

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