What was Karate originally designed for?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Paul A, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    To answer both Llama's request, and the original post in this thread, the purpose of karate is this:

  2. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

  3. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    I used to own that book!

    My favourite was the "hiding around the corner hook kick"
  4. GaryWado

    GaryWado Tired

    The most amazing thing about that technique is that he is attacked in the passenger seat, but it ends up in the driver’s seat in one simple pinan sandan-esque movement.

    [edit] and... If I am not mistaken that is a Rover P6 which was rear wheel drive - so would have had a fairly bulky drive shaft assembly to negotiate during that.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  5. Kogusoku

    Kogusoku 髭また伸びた! Supporter

    Enough to make your eyes water!
  6. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    Going back to original question (after first kicking back and enjoying the vintage technicolour shots of Enoeda and friend)...

    When we say 'what was karate originally designed for', when exactly do we mean by 'originally'?

    When it was first called 'Karate'? When it was introduced to Japan? When it was introduced to the Okinawan school system? When it was practised secretly by the mid-ranking Okinawan nobility? When its precursor was introduced from China to Okinawa?

    I suspect the OP was thinking of the Okinawan rather than Chinese or Japanese phase of development. In which case I think it had several purposes, in roughly descending order:

    1. Personal self-defence
    1. National security (ie. as part of the skillset of the royal bodyguards, 'police' etc.)
    3. Good health and longevity
    4. Engaging in challenge matches

    You'll note there's no option, but two instances of option 1. That's because I can't decide which I think was more important, or maybe there were equally important?

  7. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Valued Member

    Mike Flanagan wrote:

    I find it interesting that you reference National security and mention two aspects of national security, skillset of royal guards and police.

    I am curious why references to "national security" almost universally omit the military requirements associated with the defense of a critical aspect of the socio-economic system of the Ryukyu aristocracy, namely maritime trade, specifically, tribute trade with China. Do readers here find it odd, that this fundamental aspect of "national security" gets so little attention in the prevalent histories of karate. Nagamine, in his text Okinawa's Great Masters describes the fundamental importance of this trade, and the great challenges of protecting it from the terrible threat of piracy off the coast of China.

    Are there any other MAP posters that find this routine omission of this fundamental national security requirement so lacking in the historical texts?

    -Cayuga Karate
  8. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    Could it a result of the post-WW2 necessity to "demilitarise" Japanese martial arts in order to legitimise their practice in the post-war environment? As a result, judo and karate became "sports", jujustu became a study of historical samurai techniques and aikido became a religion (all very roughly speaking, of course) as they all tried to underplay any military history to the arts.
  9. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Valued Member

    Moosey wrote:

    Interesting thought. Both Kendo and Naginata are now competitive sports, and both were obviously military arts. And it is pretty well recognized that Aikijitsu/Aikido and Jiujitsu developed from the sword arts. Judo is a further evolution of this pattern that turned grappling into sport.

    Might you be open to the idea that karate, as it was practiced in Okinawa over several centuries could have had similar military origins. Funakoshi mentions military attaches teaching Okinawans. One of these military authorities, Waishinzan, was sought out by Higaonna for karate training when he travelled to Fuzhou in the 1870s.

    Is it conceivable that these military authorities could have taught movements that may have had military use?

    It's certainly not a commonly accepted idea.

    -Cayuga Karate
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  10. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    I'm afraid If you're a historian of karate, you'll probably find my views rather shallow as I don't place a great deal of importance on the history and development of karate - for me it's purely a physical discipline. I just like wearing white pyjamas and having a bit of a scrap :hat:
  11. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Military function would entail mainly skills required for fighting in formation. It's been my observation in historical accounts that when non-military individuals went to learn from notable generals and suchlike what they learned was the person's individual practices-sword,spear, hands,whatever the specialty was. While some of the skills,like sticking a spear into someone,would obviously be of benefit in a battle situation,the things taught were more along the lines of dueling systems,rather than military formation fighting. Whole lotta stuff one can't do when shoulder to shoulder w/one's comrades. Weaponry techniques would be fewer due to restrictions,whereas a wider repertoire can be developed when the focus is not on fighting in military formation. Pretty much any weaponry technique which can be practiced in formation can be applied by a lone individual,but the opposite isn't true.

    Would Okinawan systems have been influenced by some of the practices of the Okinawan military forces,wherever these practices came from or evolved out of ? True in northern China, including basic formation fighting to protect one's village/town,so why not Okinawa ? Still, the main influence on civilians from military figures generally seems to be imparting systems/skills for use by an individual,rather than a group.

    OK, bring out your spears!

    And an early Gung Hay Fat Choy to ya!

  12. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Valued Member

    Above I wrote:

    El Medico posted later:

    El Medico's response has illustrated my point. His discussion of the potential military heritage of kata is based on an assumption that the only military requirements the Okinawans may have had was for "shoulder to shoulder" formations that are found in land war. I think we can all agree that once the Japanese "disarmed" the Okinawans, that the requirement for skills in a land war were immediately obsolete. The Ryukyu kingdom was annexed and it was up to the Satsuma clan to defend it, if necessary.

    But this point completely misses the essential requirement of national security that did remain. The Ryukyu aristocracy was fundamentally dependent on tribute trade with China, and it has been amply documented that piracy all along the Chinese coast was a tremendous threat over many hundreds of years.

    In defending a ship against pirate attacks, men don't fight in formation, they fight as small units. As soon as a pirate gets on deck, there would be an organized response of several defenders attacking him from all around.

    More important, the weapons developed for land formations would not be well suited for maritime trade defense. Throughout Chinese history, infantry carried long spears in which they could defend against cavalry, both mounted soldiers and chariots. These are designed when the enemy is in a single direction. But in pirate attacks, the enemies can be all around, and short mobile weapons are required. We all know in Western mythology the prevalence of short bladed weapons (sabers and cutlasses) in the defense of ships once pirates boarded. Prior the to advent of automatic loading, firearms were of little use once fired, and in a crowded fighting environment could wound and kill shipmates, so short bladed weapons are optimal. Even in land wars, we still see that when armies mix and soldiers resort to their bayonets.

    It Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters , Nagamine writes of the weapons used to defend tribute trade. There is no mention of swords, only spears. These were likely short spears, perhaps no taller than the height of the sailor, and likely quite light as bamboo was the wood of choice.

    I mentioned above that the standard karate histories have routinely ignored the national security requirements of the Ryukyu kingdom in protecting maritime trade with China. It's puzzling because this trade was the socioeconomic foundation of the Ryukyu aristocracy. In this short response, I don't want readers to believe that I minimize the role of farming, fishing and artisan manufactures in the overall Ryukyu economy. But for those interested in the history of the development of karate, especially of the transmission of Chinese kata to Okinawans, over hundreds of years, then an understanding of the military requirements of the kingdom is a topic that should simply not be overlooked.

    One last point. Any military art (specifically pre-firearm military training for the defense of maritime commerce on the high seas) would have been taught in the utmost of secrecy. Military concepts, ideas, training, etc. have always been secret, and always will be.

    We have some information that in the 18th and 19th centuries, Chinese military authorities were involved in the training of Okinawans in combative arts. But since everything at that time was done in complete secrecy, we know little more. We have a fairly high confidence that these military authorities taught kata, and some of these kata, with whatever changes have been made since, have likely survived until today.

    It is my hope, and my goal, that in the future, whenever discussions of the military requirements of the Okinawans is discussed, that the first thing that will come to everyone's mind is the requirements to defend maritime trade with China. Let's everyone dispense once and for all the useless notion the Okinawans had no need for military capability since the Satsuma protected their land.

    Once this premise becomes a more widespread phenomenon, then perhaps we all can have a more reasonable discussion about whether any of the movements in kata, handed down by Chinese military authorities, may have had military purposes.

    Let's for a moment briefly imagine that the hundred or hundred and fifty old kata that are documented on youtube have military origins. First let's recognize that many, many kata, never survived. Second, let's all recognize that in these remaining kata there are literally thousands of combinations. The hands move in relation to the body, and the body moves in relation to the ground, in thousands of ways.

    Wouldn't it be logical that the some of these movements designed to thrust or cut or parry, where the hands begin near the torso, and explosively fire out away from the torso, be fully reusable as empty hand movements. Wouldn't it be logical that the body mechanics designed to propel a weapon, the leg, hip and torso twists, much like the body mechanics that propel all manners of objects (baseball/cricket bat and ball, tennis racket, javelin, etc) could be readily translated into movements that could effectively parry and strike, grab, and lock? Remember, we must consider literally thousands of combinations from which to draw from.

    And if that were the case, wouldn't we also expect to find whole sequences that simply don't seem to translate into empty hand fighting. Jiujitsu and Aikido have movements that come from sword movements. Not all sword movements necessarily translate into Jiujitsu and Aikido movements, and Jiujitsu and Aikido have all sorts of movements not found in sword movements. Shouldn't we expect the same if the Chinese did indeed hand down military arts. Some would work for empty hand fighting, but much simply wouldn't.

    This is a simple straightforward solution to the age old question that began this topic, and dozens of similar discussions and this and other on karate forums. Some kata movements just don't seem to be designed for empty hand fighting. Why do we believe this? Because it fully appears that no empty hand explanations of the movements were handed down with them.

    But that still leaves the question. Why were these movements, devoid of empty hand explanations, handed down? Why did the Chinese teach them to Okinawans?

    Perhaps there was plenty of reason at the time. Perhaps the reasons that existed 150 years ago and earlier no longer exist. And perhaps the Okinawans simply excelled at the ancient Chinese custom of tradition, of passing down that which was passed down to you. And perhaps the Okinawans excelled at adapting a wide variety of movements into effective empty hand fighting. It wouldn't be out of character. The Okinawans have a long and rich history of making the best out of the unkind hand of history. (But that is for another topic.)

    If anyone is interested in more documentation supporting this concept, I would be happy to oblige in a new post.

    -Cayuga Karate
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
  13. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Well,that's why I said bring on your spears!

    We should bear in mind that for combat purposes aboard ship the repertoire of technique will still be smaller due to environmental restrictions-ropes,lines rigging,booms,etc. Would then think that whatever may have been taught to Okinawans for maritime purposes would have been specifically designed for same-which is to say that practitioners of land based combat,for individuals or combined arms,would probably not be the first choice for instruction.One would figure that by that period in history the Chinese would have developed shipboard specific oriented technique-so it doth seem to follow that these teachings would come from mariners,not landlubbers. Which doesn't discount your theory. Is it known if any of those Chinese who appear in histories as having taught Okinawans had a naval background?

    However,as I stated 2 or 3 years ago when we were discussing this in DeWitt Park, as the Chinese systems/practitioners who taught Okinawans possessed their own hand forms which they could/did teach it seems more likely that the majority of Okinawan hand kata which are supposed to be descended from China most likely originated as hand forms-why modify spear technique to hands when the Chinese had hand forms they passed on ? Seems rather roundabout.Not that I'm saying this is an impossibility,just that the % of Okinawan hand kata modified adapted from spear technique would have likely been pretty small.

    I'll add that it seems the historical record shows that sword theory/technique is what is adapted to or influences hand work-such as western boxing,Aiki systems as you mentioned,and JKD. T'ai Chi was heavily into lance work and this weapon was what was most likely to be used in defense of the Chen village yet none of the handwork is related to what was their principal weapon.Is the spiraling of the torso lance related? Maybe,maybe not.

    As you spoke of secrecy- The items in kata which have no apparent reasonable application in some instances the apps may have just been discarded or lost.Or-Let's not forget that in Chinese hand forms it's not uncommon for things to be hidden,that an actual different move or highly modified version of the move performed in the form is required for efficient or sometimes any application. You did mention people just passing on something that was taught as tradition,so any of these moves may have been shrouded and after the last guy who knew what it really was dies and never told his guys.....voila! Meaningless move in kata without having the key to unlock it.

    Naturally there's always the possibility that some folks still know what these things are.

    As the Chinese have been known to keep things shrouded from even their long time students it's no stretch to realize an individual Chinese wouldn't necessarily teach everything,such as the second and very different way of executing a hand form to a foreigner.A good example if you can look it up somewhere is the Small Cross Fist form from The Southern 5 Animals System such as Ark Wong taught- you'll see the same form performed in a basic manner and then with a more sophisticated repertoire and different hands,footwork,angles,etc.

    It's still an interesting and possible theory tho' I still hold that it would be a small % of hand kata.I think some of the attacks you've been subjected to on other forums over this idea were unwarranted and avoided the actual debate on your theory. Hope some of your fellow Karate-ka here take up this debate with you.
  14. Knight_Errant

    Knight_Errant Banned Banned

    I think it's wrong to say that karate was 'designed'. A better word word be 'evolved'.
  15. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Valued Member

    El Medico wrote:

    I have posted on this subject extensively on my blog. It's a work in progress and I still have much to add. But I have begun to document the historical record of the development of karate and will continue to add to this over time.

    If we are to have any productive discussion regarding the potential military applications of kata taught, in part, by Chinese military authorities in Okinawa, then it benefits us all if we take the time to better understand the military requirements of the Ryukyu kingdom. The Ryukyu economy was fundamentally dependent on maritime trade with China. Tribute ships came from China every two to twenty years for a period of 500 years. For much of that period, piracy off the coast of China was an ever-present threat.

    It would seem that military authorities traveling on these ships would have been tasked with defending them at sea. Of course, they also would have been tasked with protecting the dignitaries while at port. But the piracy problem was most acute off the coast of China. Pirate attacks on the port city of Naha were extremely rare.

    Karate was handed down in secrecy. Therefore there is no documented evidence to support your statement "most likely originated as hand forms". Any statement about intent of the origin of these forms is speculation. My statement that Okinawan kata appear to have been designed for the spear is speculation. I look at the evidence, the kata, and draw that conclusion.

    That is one perspective. My perspective is that 100% of what has survived appears to ideally designed to propel a spear in useful military close quarters combat applications.

    In my link above, I address the issue of why military authorities would chose to hand down spear forms as empty hand forms. I also have a post of the kata I have reviewed for use with the spear. It includes most kata that have survived on Okinawa today. I still have more to evaluate, and for many, I have spent only a minimal amount of review. To fully evaluate the full complement of Okinawan kata (likely of Chinese origins) will take many more years.

    Cayuga Karate
  16. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    El Medico wrote, he wrote, she wrote.

    This is not the Ninjutsu forum.
  17. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    Cayuga Karate

    I think your theory is an interesting one, but I have a few questions with regard to your research.

    1. Are you looking solely at Naha Te forms in your technique interpretation? Or do you include the other lineages?

    2. Are you well versed in surviving Chinese and/or Okinawan and Japanese Spear (ad paddle) forms so as to make an educated comparison between the techniques?

    3. Do you have strong evidence that the Spear was the primary weapon of defence on oriental ships of this period?

    4. I take it you are aware of Itosu's statement as to the combative purpose of Karate? How does this fit into your thesis given his background and the background of Sokon Matsumura? Or do you deem Shorin fundamentally different to Naha despite the technique overlap?

    5. At what point do you consider technique overlap to be more than the result of common principles of movement with regard to deflecting and striking?


    Now read through your blog, which answers to a degree some of the questions.

    I think you downplay the role of indigenous Okinawan fighting techniques (mentioned in your own sources) in the formation of the majority of Okinawan Kata.

    I'm not at all convinced by your argument for empty handed practise of weapons forms. That goes against all my instincts and experience as a trainer. I do not see this as being an effective training method.

    Have you looked at the differences between Spear Tactics, movements and mobility for solo fighters versus Spear Tactics for teams?

    You mention the difficulty of fighting/training at night ad of slipping on wet decks. Do you have much evidence for nocturnal assaults and practice? Ships decks are designed to allow good water drainage, I can't see slipping being a major hazard.

    Personally I would see the visible display of spears and cannons to be primarily as deterrents rather than something that sailors would have significant training in, and the training they did have to be predominantly in the use of the cannon.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  18. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Valued Member

    jwt wrote:

    In a recent post on my blog, I link to number of posts that review various aspects regarding the historical record of the development of karate. Among other sources, I include Funakoshi (4 texts), Motobu (1 text), Nagamine (2 texts), Miyagi (1 essay), as well as references from Bishop's text, and Kinjo's text.

    I would be grateful if you would provide the specific text that refers to "the role of indigenous Okinanawan fighting techniques in the majority of Okinawan kata". This is a topic I have great interest in, and I have yet to find any such statements in the original sources. But I certainly may have overlooked something. In addition, if you have other original sources that support this argument, I would be more than happy to update my references with the information.

    In my blog, I have made three separate arguments regarding the practice of empty hand forms as a training regimen for developing spear capabilities. Which specific arguments do you find go against your instincts?

    I recall an article some years back in Sports Illustrated on an U.S. Olympic lifter. For every single time she used heavy weight in the practice of the clean and jerk, she performed the lift with a broomstick 100 times. I would argue that the Chinese would have well understood this, that propelling your arms alone, without a weapon, could be an essential component of any training regimen. It would be especially valuable if a key goal were to practice a military art in such a way that fully disguises the movements, so that spies cannot understand what you are doing.

    In my blog, I have reviewed the literature that points to a significant Chinese role, and importantly a Chinese military role in the training of Okinawns. I also have provided historical references that show that the Ryukyu King had clear requirements to develop military capabilities so that tribute vessels could be defended sailing to and from China. This training would, by definition, center around armed fighting. I would be surprised to find anyone who would imagine that military training would be limited to the practice of a single sailor against a single enemy pirate. Rather, I think we all would likely concur that military training for sailors would fully prepare them, whenever possible to fight in teams. Don Draeger, in his text, Classical Bujutsu, has described the influence of Chinese spearmen on the Japanese samurai during the Mongol invasions. Draeger writes that the samurai had trained for "single combat", but the Chinese were trained for "mass engagement". Had not the naginata-equipped samurai prevented the Mongol cavalry from amassing, they would likely have been defeated, in no small part due to the skill of Chinese spearmen and their tactics of mass engagement, as compared to single combat. We should look to Draeger's authoritative text, at least in part, to address this issue. Mass engagement (fighting in teams) was a base component of Chinese military training. Historically, their armies were huge, and therefore they had the advantage of their masses, by ensuring soldiers, whenever possible, fought in teams.

    I am not sure I really understand your point here. You seem to be implying that tribute vessels that sailed to and from China between 1375 and 1875 were all designed such that decks were never slippery. When storms would send spray over the bow, or when heavy rains would occur, one could always have sure footing, even when running at full speed to a target, and reversing direction, the instant the enemy is killed. You may have some specific insight into the historical design of Chinese junks that gives you this perspective. I would expect slippery decks to be the norm in a storm.

    I argue the following. Live team training would include scenarios where multiple sailors sprint to attack a fictitious pirate in a particular spot with maximum speed. As they approach the fictitious pirate, they would be hurling and thrusting their sharp bladed polearms in coordinated movements towards the fictitious pirate. On slippery decks, in close quarters, with obstacles all around, I argue this kind of training would be inherently risky. However, there is a simple solution. If you take the weapons out the sailors hands, and let them do very same spear movements, while sprinting towards their target, the risk of injury, and of serious injury and associade infection, would be dramatically reduced.

    Regarding evidence of nocturnal assaults, again, I am not sure of the point you are trying to make. In my blog I have a post on the challenges of piracy. One band of pirates in the early 1800s had 2000 vessels and 70,000 men. Are you arguing that these pirates would not attack at night?

    These pirates were a constant menace to the Chinese. They routinely sacked towns and entire cities. They bribed both government officials and military officials. For hundreds of years, the menace of piracy caused the Chinese government to divert significant resources to defend their coast. Swanson, in his text, Eighth Voyage of the Dragon, A History of China's Quest for Seapower, notes that some pirate leaders became so powerful that a common tactic was for the Chinese Navy to recruit pirate leaders to serve in the Navy as captains and admirals.

    These pirates were successful at least in part, because they relied on all sorts of devious measures to go about their business looting and sacking vulnerable prey, whether on land or at sea. Night has always given pirates a tremendous advantage. They can't be seen very well.

    I view this issue quite simply, in military terms. Pirates are the equivalent of an enemy in combat. In combat, we should expect our enemy to use all means to defeat us. That often requires elements of stealth that mask their attacks. Night provides for much improved stealthy attacks. We shouldn't expect our military leaders to never expect an attack in the evening. They need to be prepared for attacks at all times, especially those times where the enemy has an advantage in attacking, such as at night.

    My blog has historical references to:

    1. The Chinese navy, as late as the 1700s, having primarily spears as arms,
    2. Nagamine's mention of spears as the primary hand-held weapon of defense against pirate attacks.
    3. Pirate attacks where spears are used.

    The references I have read do show that cannon, and other kinds of artillery were staples on both Chinese and Okinawan tribute vessels. However, Swanson points out that Chinese metalurgy was far behind the West and the cannons were of much poorer quality, prone to blowing up, and lacking the accuracy of cannons in Western ships. That is why the Chinese were so badly routed by the English Navy.

    But cannon are only so effective when a ship is surrounded by numerous enemy vessels, a tactic the pirates used often. Ryukyu tribute ships sailed in convoys of three ships. Storms could separate them. Calm seas allowed pirates to row close enough to burn the sails with incendiary sulfur "stink-pot" bombs.

    There are historical records that I reference, and that Nagamine alludes to, that show that the Ryukyu kingdom lost tribute ships to pirates. In fact, Nagamine has quite a bit of text about Sakugawa coming home a "war hero" for his exploits in defending a ship against pirates. I am not arguing that a display of armed might (cannon and spears) is never a deterent. The historical record demonstrates that these shows of arms were not always effective in detering pirate attacks.

    I recognize my ideas are novel. I don't expect to convince anyone who objects to the very premise of my argument.

    However, I believe some might find these ideas worthy of further exploration. I know there are karateka who are unimpressed with the applications (bunkai) that they have been shown (or more important, not shown) for a significant portion of the kata movements they are required to learn and perform for rank promotion. Those looking for answers may be motivated to look at the kata in a new light.

    I document the historical references that describe the remarkable lack of historical information that we have today.

    What we do have is the kata, and just a bit of information about their transmittal. They were taught by Chinese, who were often military personnel, likely tasked with protecting the Chinese ships from pirates on their voyages to and from Okinawa. And the kata were taught in complete and utter secrecy , just as we would expect military arts to have been taught.

    We have many kata that have survived until today that are attributed to Chinese origins, in some cases, Chinese military origins. These military personnel had a vested interested in teaching the Okinawans how best to defend their vessels on voyages to and from China. And, it is important to note that Chinese military authorities must have had formal government approval for their training Okinawans in combative arts. Kinjo's history of Higaonna makes clear that Chinese military personnel were not really allowed to teach non-military personnel. If, in Okinawa, these military authorities taught groups of Okinawans, they must have been authorized. So we can ask, for what reason did the Chinese government authorize Chinese military authorities (tasked with protecting Chinese maritime trade on the high seas), to teach Okinawans combative arts?

    This is the core question. Why might these military men have chosen the empty hand forms that survive until today, to teach Okinawans combative skills? We can look to other Chinese systems for some guidance. We know that there are other Chinese martial arts, that were practiced at the time, that either include spear forms, (Baguaquan, Taijiquan) or are based on spear movements (Xingyiquan). This overlap between empty hand and spear movements was not an uncommon attribute of several common Chinese arts of the times.

    When we look at the totality of the historical record, we recognize that we have but a few snippets of history, and the kata that were taught. Collectively, we can use these to test a hypothesis. Did these Chinese military authorities pass down military arts when they taught Okinawans their Chinese kata? We are all able to examine these Chinese kata, to determine whether there are movements that work well to propel a spear, a short spear, no longer than the height of the sailor.

    And for those willing to take the time to explore, they might be quite surprised at what they come up with.

    -Cayuga Karate
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  19. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter


    Funakoshi makes reference to it in Karate Do - My way of life. If you look at your own quotation from Karate Jutsu Funakoshi refers to a contribution from CMA - not that Okinawan Karate is Chinese. Okinawan Te is directly referred to in your own quotation from Nagamine. Nakama, in your quotation from Bishop, refers to Okinawan arrangements of Chinese forms, but that quotation attributes Chinese origins to many, not all, of the forms.

    There is no doubt that many Okinawan Kata have their origins in forms learned in China, or taught by Chinese in Okinawa, but the majority of forms have undergone a fair degree of change at the hands of Okinawan teachers.

    1. The validity of practising a weapons form empty handed as a means of gaining proficiency. I've been teaching martial arts for a while now, and I've also been a firearms instructor for almost a decade. I'd never teach anyone rifle drills without the rifle, and I'd never consider teaching people how best to handle a spear without having the spear.
    2. Your reference to the injury you imagine that people would sustain from holding the end of a spear for exercise as a justification for unarmed practise. You don't swing spears round in one hand unless you are doing a single person spear form designed for large open spaces. Spears on ships would be used for short thrusts do the space constraints and the numbers involved.
    3. Slippery decks? I'm not an expert on ships, but I've never seen a model of a decked vessel from any culture since ancient times that did not have an automatic draining design so that water did not sit on the deck. As to how slippery even a damp well scrubbed (to prevent salt damage) deck would be - what do you imagine they would have on their feet?
    4. The visibility of the deck. To see precisely what is going on deck you need to overlook it. How low in the water do you think these ships would be? Most Royal Navy vessels of the same period could not be overlooked from the quayside.
    5. The need for secrecy. Secret spear drills? Really? There are only so many ways you can use a spear in groups - I can't see a case for secrecy (even if people could see the deck). In fact quite the opposite. If I were a military attache I would show off any cannon the ship might have, or the prowess of number of spearmen as a deterrent - then as now there would be easier targets and plenty more fish in the sea.
    I just don't see the validity of any of your three arguments here.

    I have no issue with this, but to me this does not support the other argument you make for secret/hidden unarmed training.

    I'm not convinced the decks were slippery. I'm also not convinced that much live team training took place - if any training took place, I think that like most military training of that era in other cultures it would be slow, simple, repetitive, and artificial - designed to create a simple effective response that could be repeated under the pressure of an attack under the loud orders of a 'drill instructor'. Let's face it, at sea the odds against a 'surprise' attack are fairly high - there is time to get into your fixed defensive position.

    Nor can they see very well themselves. Aside from small raiding parties nocturnal warfare has not been common because it is very difficult for both attackers and defenders. The fighting of pitched battles and the launching of major offensives under cover of darkness is, so far as I am aware, quite a modern phenomenon. Things are different at sea, but navigating and coordinating an attack at sea in the dark would be very difficult.

    I have no issue with this. My only slight issue is with the number of times you use the word 'historical'. :) I used to be a historian by trade - it's not necessary. :)

    Of course. But be careful not to push this too far - that's when you run the risk of losing credibility.

    I think that the concept of spear drills within Kata has merit, but only for a minority of techniques in a minority of Kata. Of those I suspect that many were designed for the use of the spear as taught as a skilled individual's weapon rather than military formation training.
  20. Blade96

    Blade96 shotokan karateka

    *cuddles into little karate forum*


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