What is Tote?

B

Battousai

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From a recent discussion on e-budo I heard that Karate was a modern martial art, and that within Bujutsu the term for what is called Karate today never existed. Karate is totally Okinawan in origin and that Bujutsu doesn't have any sort of Karate in its history. (This is what I have read in other posts.)

Coming up with a term for the striking elements of Bujutsu seems difficult for me, striking is karate plain and simple, from my background. The term Atemi waza does not seem accurate to me, seeing Atemi/Chuan Fa as the weak points of the body, a term to describe target areas, not the art of striking itself.

This leads me to a question about Tote, what does the "To" stand for, and is this the ancient Japanese term for the striking art?
 
Originally posted by Battousai

This leads me to a question about Tote, what does the "To" stand for, and is this the ancient Japanese term for the striking art?

I think this is more commonly transliterated as tode and I also believe that the meaning is To=T'ang=China (the T'ang dynasty) and te=hand=method of fighting, so that the meaning is Chinese hand. The character for To is the one that can also be read as kara=empty, leading to the name karate=empty hand. See this site for example.

As to whether that's Japanese: Linguists think that Ryukyuan is a Japanese dialect, while the Ryukyuans think it's a separate language.
 
It is the ancient name of karate, before Master Funaki Gichin.

-Bushido :samurai:
 
The word Tode was very much around during Funakoshi's time.
Motobu Choki used it for his book called Ryukyu Kempo Tode Jutsu.

De is the kanji for hand and can be pronounced as te, ti, or even di.
The first word To is the Kanji for Tang in Chinese, same as the Tang Dynasty.
The To kanji can be pronounced To or Kara depending on the usage. (long complex Japanese grammar explanation omitted)

At some point in time the kanji To/Kara was changed to Kara=meaning vastness or sky.
The kanji is believed to have been changed due to anti Chinese feeling at the time by Japanese.
Some claim it was Funakoshi, even Funakoshi tries to take credit for the change, but it was actually 2 other gentlemen that used the Kara/Sky kanji first.
One was Itosu and the other was Hanshiro Chomo.
 
Originally posted by RyuShiKan

At some point in time the kanji To/Kara was changed to Kara=meaning vastness or sky.
The kanji is believed to have been changed due to anti Chinese feeling at the time by Japanese.
Some claim it was Funakoshi, even Funakoshi tries to take credit for the change, but it was actually 2 other gentlemen that used the Kara/Sky kanji first.
One was Itosu and the other was Hanshiro Chomo.

I hadn't heard this. Do you know about when they started doing that?

I thought that there was principally anti-Japanese sentiment around this time, due to their relatively recent formal take-over of the Ryukyus. I didn't realize there was significant anti-Chinese sentiment also.
 
Originally posted by arnisador



I hadn't heard this. Do you know about when they started doing that?

I thought that there was principally anti-Japanese sentiment around this time, due to their relatively recent formal take-over of the Ryukyus. I didn't realize there was significant anti-Chinese sentiment also.


I have heard that they started using the Kara/sky kanji around 1905.........don't know for sure.

To this day there is ant-Japanese sentiment.
At that time since Japan was preparing for war and had just won the war with Russia there was a certain amount of "connection" with Japan since Okinwan's were being drafted into the Japanese Army.
 
When Okinawan karate was being introduced to Japan in the early 1900's, the generic name for the arts in Okinawa was, "Okinawa-te."

The Japanese maintained their posture as the "devine race," so naturally they wouldn't study or admit to study anything tied to the "lowly" Okinawans. This is when the name change came about to "Kara-te," to gain more acceptance. Plus, as mentioned, karate, is the same as "tode," in the kanji.

R. McLain
 
It is my understanding, both from training with RyuShiKan as well as my reading in other areas, that Japan never really had a formalized system of striking in the form that Karate has developed into.

Japan had jujutsu systems that included some striking training, but that training, in my humble understanding, was as a lead into the joint locks and throws, not as an end in itself.

Okinawa, having had the influence of Southern Chinese kung fu, developed indiginous striking arts into what would later (early 1900s) be imported into Japan to become known as Karate...

RyuShiKan - am I close on this one? I defer to your knowledge...
 
Originally posted by Dim Mak

The Japanese maintained their posture as the "devine race," so naturally they wouldn't study or admit to study anything tied to the "lowly" Okinawans. This is when the name change came about to "Kara-te," to gain more acceptance. Plus, as mentioned, karate, is the same as "tode," in the kanji.

R. McLain

Ummmm.......actually no. It really had nothing to do with being Okinawan.
Japan was not the first to use the Ku kanji for Karate............and neither was Funakoshi.
The first person was believed to be Itosu Anko.
Funakoshi opted for using the Ku (empty/vastness ) version instead of the To/Kara (also read Tang=Tang Dynasty of China) version because he was trying to get Karate established in Japan and since Japan was on the verge of war with China it would have been virtually impossible to do so using the To/Kara kanji.
 
Originally posted by Yiliquan1

It is my understanding, both from training with RyuShiKan as well as my reading in other areas, that Japan never really had a formalized system of striking in the form that Karate has developed into.
Japan had jujutsu systems that included some striking training, but that training, in my humble understanding, was as a lead into the joint locks and throws, not as an end in itself.

I have yet to hear about a Japanese koryu art that was devoted to striking (punching and kicking) in the same way as karate.

Originally posted by Yiliquan1

Okinawa, having had the influence of Southern Chinese kung fu, developed indiginous striking arts into what would later (early 1900s) be imported into Japan to become known as Karate...

There was an obvious influence from several parts of China on Okinawan's already established fighting system "Te".............so much so that Te is hardly taught today and understood by very few. Some Te teachers must have learned Chinese arts while they were either in China or while Chinese teachers were in Okinawa. Either way the two were combined to some degree which explains why Okinawan Karate looks "similar" to but not exactly like Chinese Kung Fu.

Te is the indigenous art of Okinawa dating back several centuries and in many ways resembles Chinese Bagua. I don't think Bagua could be called the foundation of Te since I think the development of Bagua post dates the development of Te.
Regardless of which came first they are similar in concept and delivery of technique.............but then most effective systems all have that in common. Be it Bagua or Te it truly sucks to be on the receiving end of either.
 
Hi Ryushikan,

Thanks for the additional information. I didn't think or read about the chance of war with China during that time. It makes sense.

It also makes sense that Itosu was reputed as the first to use the new terminology, since he was one of the first to publicly demonstrate Okinawan martial art at that time.

R. McLain
 
Originally posted by RyuShiKan


To this day there is ant-Japanese sentiment.
At that time since Japan was preparing for war and had just won the war with Russia there was a certain amount of "connection" with Japan since Okinwan's were being drafted into the Japanese Army.

My parents have newspaper clippings from the early 70's about Okinawans setting off car bombs (or maybe setting cars on fire and ramming them) near U.S. military base gates after the U.S. gave control of Okinawa back to Japan in 1972. They weren't terribly happy about it then, and some still harbor bad feeling for Japan.

Cthulhu
 
I hadn't realized that the islands didn't revert to Japan until 15 May 1972--I thought it had been much earlier than that.
 
I've been visiting Okinawa since 1984 and have always seen the people there as different from the Japanese. The older people still tell tales of the things they suffered at the hands of the Japanese stationed there.

Like all small nations they exist at the mercy of larger ones who have ambition. China laid claim in the past, and Japan invaded in 1602 [?] becasue the ryukyuans wouldn't help with a planned invasion of China some years earlier. It was a way for the Tokugawa shogunate to keep the Shimizu clan occupied and dish out a bit of 'pay-back' at the same time.

When the Japanese were finally kicked out in WW2, is it any wonder the locals were upset about being given back to Japan again! America still has an unhealthy presence on the island to this day. Still, it could be worse, just look at Guam!

Mike.
 
From what I've seen from talking to a few other Okinawans from this generation and some from their parent's generation, there isn't as much anti-Japanese sentiment as their used to be. Most of that seems to come from the older generations.

There seems to be more and more anti-American sentiment these days, due to the large U.S. military presense on Okinawa, and numerous rapes inflicted on Japanese women (some girls!) by U.S. servicemen. I know one of my Okinawan cousins made it a point to learn a few choice words and phrases in American English and liked to go to clubs and such frequented by Americans to yell his new vocabulary at them.

Cthulhu
 
And of course, after living there for four years and paying attention to the news, none of the Japanese nor Okinawans seem to get up in arms nearly as much about the many rapes of local girls by local guys as they do about the relatively few (given the population size) incidents involving Americans...

Don't misrepresent the actions of a very small few as their motivation for anti-American sentiment - it is strictly political, and if they didn't have the rapes to work with, they would find something else to use as a reason for their anti-American feelings.

Simply put, they want the real estate back, and can't find a way to get it. They are latching onto whatever they can in order to find a way to leverage a little bit of the property back into their control.

RyuShiKan should chime in on this one - he really keeps up on the news from the mainland.

Gambarimasu.
 
Military crimes in Okinawa and Japan always get front page attention.

Humourously enough, a while back when there was a big investigation into an Air Force guy accused of raping an Okinawan girl in a shopping mall parking lot (broad day light, mind you, and nobody came to see what was wrong), further back in the paper was the story of an older Okinawan man who was under investigation for the alleged rape (and I think abduction) of not just one, but several young Okinawan girls...

Wonder why the American guy got front page and Mr. Local was buried back in the back...
 
Hi Matt,

You know, one rape is one too many regardless of who does it.
I agree that there is a big push to get some land back, and why not, it's theirs!!!!

Depending on which side of the fence a person sits the Americans are doing a great job defending the free world, or your just trying to take it over? If I were an Okinawan I'd want my land back or at the very least half the service personel off the island.

You guys fought a war with England over two hundred years ago because you wanted your home land to be free.
Self determination, everyone wants it.
Why is it so hard to see the Okinawan want that too?

I've got lots of American friends, and family members, So I'm not anti-American at all, I love going there, and I've met some great guys in Okinawa who were there on duty.
But I've also witnessed more than one jumped up crew cut G.I. pushing their weight around. It's ugly.

You sound a little bitter Matt, or am I reading too much into your comments? Okinawa is a fantastic place and I think it would be a shame if it's culture was lost to the world.

Political fighting is no different from fist fighting, you do what it takes to win, right!

Peace to all,
Mike.
 

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