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Himokiri Karate
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2021 11:25 pm    Post subject: Any Yin style of Karate out there? Reply with quote

I have always heard about Karate being powerful, dynamic and linear. Meanwhile Kung Fu has yin and yang. Hard and soft styles.

Curios to know, are there any styles of karate who utilize gentle moves and less dynamic?

The only example is Mr. Miyagi who is the embodiment of Yin and he dodges and parries violent attacks. Of course this is a movie character but I always thought that Karate has yin styles as well. For whatever reason Google is not giving me anything substantial

My only source is Wikipidea and their chart shows that Kyokushin is extremely hard and others are mixed. But I have not seen a Yin Karate and I ask because I know there are many styles of karate that are still obscure.
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ashworth
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goju karate I have found to be less linear, and using more deflections and re-direction techniques. Goju means Hard-Soft which is pretty much the style of karate you see from Mr Miyagi.

That's just how I see it in my mind anyway... I'm sure there will be others here that will provide a more in depth answer
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Wado Heretic
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orthodox Okinawan karate, in terms of application and ideas of fighting, is fairly homogeneous. Use uke-waza (receiving techniques) to deflect, stop momentum, gain superior position, or limb-control (or all of prior mentioned). Use percussive techniques, take-downs, and throws to knock-down and end the threat. Sometimes in the order given, sometimes not.

There are some heterodox Okinawan traditions that could be described as leaning into Ju, or Yin, in principle. The Haku Tsuru tradition as contained in Kingai-Ryu comes directly from the Bái Hè Quán as taught by Go Kenki. It also contains an older Tora Tsuru kata, or Tiger Crane, which is a Hard-Soft form. Motobu Udundi, the family art of the Motobu family, as inherited by Motobu Choyu and now Motobu Chosei, has famously been compared to Aikijutsu: though in the context of of Tuide (grappling arts) and its practice of kumigata called sōtai-dōsa.

Overall, it is better to review the kata in terms of Go and Ju, Hard and Soft, and you will find examples of both in every system of Okinawan Karate. A lot of the blocks, catches, twists, and turns in the kata demonstrate "soft" techniques which can be lost in the explosive performance of kata.

The truth is you use explosive power even in soft arts: Aiki is to bring balance. Ai, or ju, is to create space for the technique to be performed, and ki is to express your energy and complete the technique. To move out of the way of the initial attack, to gain superior angle, to punch them in the head to disrupt their posture is a soft action in principle, because it is not using strength to meet strength. The idea of using an opponents strength against them is a simplification of a lot of ideas involving distancing, timing, intervals of movement, and posture. It comes down to creating space for your attacker to move into, and then pushing them into the space created from a place of positional advantage.

Karate is a pragmatic, self-defence art, at its heart. As shown through much research on combatives and combat sports: the use of explosive power, and the need to go strength to strength, especially under pressure and in the chaos of real violence makes leaning on soft techniques an unwise training paradigm for self-defence. They exist in karate, but balanced with the hard techniques in a relative harmony, if you know how and where to look.

Speaking of Nihon Karate Do: it is a different beast. It was transformed into a form of Japanese Pugilism comparable to Boxing or Savate during the 1930s, and the post-war environment which saw the rise of shobu kumite completed the transformation. The atemi-waza became the bread and butter at the expense of the rest of the techniques present in karate. Kata were modified to fit the idea of performance, and to fit the rules of competition (see Shotokan's version of Chinte for the worst offender), and the Shitei kata and the guidelines there in as produced by the WKF created a homogeneous idea about kata being a balance of grace and dynamic movement.

With the above said: Wado-Ryu has a significant canon of kumigata innovated by Ohtsuka Meijin or inherited from Shindo Yoshin-Ryu which contain a broad repertoire of jujutsu "soft" techniques. Shi'to-Ryu and Shindo Jinen-Ryu both contain the Seiryu/Aoyagi kata which was designed expressly for women's self-defence, and contains many techniques designed to be used against bigger, stronger, attackers from a disadvantageous position: it contains techniques inspired by Aikido, Shindo Fudo-Ryu, and Nanban Satto-Ryu, and is grounded in the use of "softness". Yashuhiro Konishi included Yakusoku Kumite based on Aikido techniques in his Shindo Jinen-Ryu. Similarly, Mabuni Kenwa created a number of Kumigata based on his knowledge of Shindo Fudo-Ryu, and experiences training with Ueno Takashi and Fujita Seiko, for his Shi'to-Ryu though these excercises are no longer widely taught. Ineou Motokatsu, better known to some as Gonsho, was also influenced by Aikido and Fujita Seiko, and included many "Soft" techniques in the kumite of Yuishinkai Karate. Even the hardest of hard styles, Kyokushinkai, has exercises inherited from Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu based on the idea of using softness against hardness (Though they are rarely taught anymore).

Point being, as with Okinawan Karate, it is again a case of knowing where to look. You can find the Yin to the Yang as it were.

I will say, even the softest of Chinese systems, Tai Chi Chuan, is a powerful, explosive style when applied properly. It is fundamentally a wrestling style designed to knock people to the floor.

Hard and Soft are quite an inaccurate way to talk about martial arts, and I think much is lost in translation from the original premise as formed in China. It is a rather retroactive manner of looking at traditional martial arts. It largely comes down to the basic idea of cultivation and characteristic techniques. Hard generally refers to the use of dynamic, powerful movements improved, and cultivated through physical conditioning via weights and impact tools. Soft to the use of techniques designed to connect and control cultivated through the exercise of movement, and sensitivity training. However, all traditional martial arts have a mixture of both, and organising into hard or soft is for the sake of convenience, not a thorough understanding.

Mr Miyagi, though practicing Hollywood Karate, is a fairly straight forward example of the ideas of Orthodox Okinawan karate. Use movement and deflection to gain position, bridge the limbs, strike to the places you yourself are most afraid to have struck, and put them on the floor as quickly as possible to finish the fight: to either give them a booting, or run away.
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Himokiri Karate
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for reply guys. Good points on pragmatism. In real life situation you have to be explosive as possible. Of course in the dojos that intensity needs to be turned down a whols lot.

Karate comes from Kung fu like pangai noon and crane and tiger. I suppose crane is the yin animal.


I find that when I practice kung fu it is not practical for fighting but it feels very restorative in nature. It also creates a better soil in whuch my karate and boxing can grow.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ashworth wrote:
Goju karate I have found to be less linear, and using more deflections and re-direction techniques. Goju means Hard-Soft which is pretty much the style of karate you see from Mr Miyagi.

That's just how I see it in my mind anyway... I'm sure there will be others here that will provide a more in depth answer


I had heard this as well.

Wado Heretic: that was a fantastic post. If I could nominate a post of the year, that would be it. Very knowledgeable response with great information.

Himokiri Karate wrote:
Karate comes from Kung fu like pangai noon and crane and tiger. I suppose crane is the yin animal.


I think to say that "Karate comes from Kung Fu" is a very blanket statement, and altogether untrue. Karate has been influenced by different styles over the years, like Kung Fu, to be sure. It is well known that those practitioners on Okinawa had contact with Chinese stylists, learned from them, and adapted to what they did. But to say that Karate comes from Kung Fu is to do a disservice as to what the Okinawan stylists also applied to the arts they studied and perpetuated.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bushido_man96 wrote:
ashworth wrote:
Goju karate I have found to be less linear, and using more deflections and re-direction techniques. Goju means Hard-Soft which is pretty much the style of karate you see from Mr Miyagi.

That's just how I see it in my mind anyway... I'm sure there will be others here that will provide a more in depth answer


I had heard this as well.

Wado Heretic: that was a fantastic post. If I could nominate a post of the year, that would be it. Very knowledgeable response with great information.

Himokiri Karate wrote:
Karate comes from Kung fu like pangai noon and crane and tiger. I suppose crane is the yin animal.


I think to say that "Karate comes from Kung Fu" is a very blanket statement, and altogether untrue. Karate has been influenced by different styles over the years, like Kung Fu, to be sure. It is well known that those practitioners on Okinawa had contact with Chinese stylists, learned from them, and adapted to what they did. But to say that Karate comes from Kung Fu is to do a disservice as to what the Okinawan stylists also applied to the arts they studied and perpetuated.


I have heard many conflicting stories. The stories I hear is:

Okinawan martial arts got fused with shaolin kung fu. Another I hear is, everything that is karate is kung fu and that kung fu means chinese hands remained empty hands. A popular YouTuber of Karate genre made a video in regards to karate stealing their kicks from savate. Some say that karate is only tiger/crane kung fu.

Many stories are told to explain the origins of karate. In the IP man movie, Karate was called "Japanese Kung Fu" by one of the karateka. I hear it being associated so much that I too have gotten brainwashed.

Technically you are correct, the okinawans had Tegumi as one of the original styles. The "te" influenced what we have is "karate" its also grappling heavy and so it is a major contribution to karate.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2021 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In understanding the history of karate, it is important to place the influence of the Chinese Arts in context, while acknowledging the innovations of the people of the island of Okinawa.

As we review history with the benefit of hindsight, we are also beholden to the rules of thumb:

1. The victors write the history.
2. Scholars have often been more interested in the story rather than the facts.
3. Each culture has preserved its history through its own world view and biases.

The people of the Ryukyu Kingdom were fascinated, awed, and deeply respectful of the majesty of Chinese culture as they understood it. As were many cultures in the region which the Chinese diaspora affected over the centuries. Even in Japan, which historically rejected a tributary relationship with any Chinese Dynasty after the end of the Heian Period, exempting the disastrous “King of Japan” incident of Ashikaga Yoshimitsa, maintained a respect for Chinese culture. Indeed, many traditions in Japan historically had claims to a Chinese antecedent for the sake of having the claim. This trend, of course, came to an end during the Edo period, and regional tensions continue to keep the matter subdued.

The idea of Karate as an art descended from the Chinese Arts begins with the 18th Century Okinawan Martial Artist Sakugawa Kanga, who is better known as Tode Sakugawa in many circles. He is famous, or notorious, for being the first known example of the word Tode: Tang Hand, or Chinese Hand. It is from Tode that the word Karate comes from: being a compound phrase based on the same characters but interpreted as Empty Hand instead.
Sakugawa trained under Kwang Shang Fu, better known as Kushanku, in Quen’fa of an unrecorded system. Our only clue as to the content of this training is the Kata known as Kushanku and it has elements that can be related to Tiger, Crane, and Monk Fist. However, there is no extant Taolu (forms) to be found in any extant Chinese systems which are comparable. Otherwise, we can only presume, a hint dangerously, that Sakugawa taught a similar set of teachings to his most famous student: Matsumura Sokon. Mastsumura taught, as far as we know, naihanchi, passai, seisan, and gojūshiho from the older canon of Kata. He also taught Kushanku as created by Sakugawa, and Chinto which he created himself. Some state he taught a haku-tsuru (White Crane) kata but I frankly consider the claim dubious because of lack of compelling evidence.

Before continuing, I would state that, historians of karate have retroactively come to identify Chatan Yara - Takahara Peichin - Sakugawa Kanga – Matsumura Sokon – Itosu Anko as the mainline of Shuri-Te. This is because each of them was incredibly prominent in Shuri as Martial Artists, and during the late 19th century and early 20th century, Itosu Anko was the de facto leader of martial arts in Shuri. It was him that pioneered the introduction of Te training into schools, and who started the activity of teaching in large classes openly, rather than to individuals or small groups in relative privacy (or secrecy in many cases). From Itosu Anko comes Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi, the oldest branch of Shorin-Ryu, and considered the spiritual successor to Shuri-Te by many. He also influenced Shorin-Ryu Matsubayashi through his student Motobu Choki. Itosu Anko also taught many pioneers of Karate and founders of the first modern schools, including Funakoshi Gichin (Shotokan), Toyama Kanken (Shudokan), Mabuni kenwa (Shi’To-Ryu) and Chibana Chōshin who founded the afforemention Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi.

I mention this to put the following into its proper context: Takahara, Sakugawa and Itosu never went to China. Takahara was taught by Chatan Yara, who learnt his art in China off a Wong Chung-Yoh. Some identify this Wong as a Xingyiquen Sifu present in Fujian Province. Fujian province was the predominant location of Ryukyu missions to China, so it is plausible, but we have no confirmation available. Plus, there is little resemblance between the Shuri-Te Kata and Xingyiquen. With this said, we can argue that Takahara was taught a Chinese system, or at least a martial art influenced by Chinese Martial Arts, but he never trained in China or became an acknowledged representative of a named system. Sakugawa spent six years training under Takahara, and six years training under Kusanku, and his teachings, as best as we can identify them, show as much reliance on Okinawan traditions as they do Chinese. Itosu, as far as we know, never left Okinawa nor studied with a representative of Chinese Martial Arts, instead training under Okinawan Martial Artists in Okinawan Martial Arts. Furthermore, none of Itosu’s notable students ever went to China either (Toyama Kanken spent time in Taiwan learning Chinese Martial Arts but he is the exception), with their exposure to Chinese Martial Arts coming through Go Kenki, Uechi Kanbun, Arakaki Seishō, or Higashionna Kanryō. The latter two also having largely integrated the Chinese teachings with Okinawan Tradition and evolved and changed through their own personal innovations.

With the above said, Matsumura, one of Itosu’s teacher, spent time in China and brought back martial teachings he received there to Okinawa. Matsumura also studied the techniques of Annan, a Chinese man stranded on Okinawa, according to folklore, from which Matsumura created the Kata Chinto. However, Matsumura was also an expert in Jigen-Ryu and his teachings were influenced by it sufficiently enough for him to create the foundation of what became the Tsuken tradition of Bojutsu, and he also saw sufficient value in Jigen-Ryu to instruct his student Asato Anko in the system. Ultimately, he was influenced by Chinese Arts, but was an innovator, with an appreciation for what he considered effective Bujutsu.

Thus, in the context of what has retroactively become known as Shuri-Te it can be seen that it was strongly influenced by Chinese Martial Arts, but by the 1930s and the birth of modern karate it was already an Okinawan tradition going back 170 years. There are several breaks in the lineage where the acknowledged leader of Shuri-Te did not directly study Chinese Martial Arts: only those aspects that existed as part of the Okinawan Martial Arts. Kushanku comes from the teachings of Kwang Shang Fu, Chinto from the mysterious Annan, and there is a version of Seisan that still exists in Bái Hè Quán (White Crane Boxing). However, the other kata all seem to have Okinawan Origins (though Occam’s razor dictates we accept the possibility that the Chinese versions of the forms are simply extinct), and the techniques contained bear as much a resemblance to other potential influences such as Pencak Silat, Muay Boran, and Koryu Jujutsu as they do any known art from Fujian province: the main, demonstrable Chinese influence. Some of the older kata also potentially have a 400-700 year old history on Okinawa, even if the modern versions are very different from their medieval antecedents.

Ultimately, karate is an Okinawan tradition that is greater than the sum of its influences, and is not a mere, regional continuity of Chinese Martial Arts. Rather, it is a martial tradition grounded in the indigenous arts of the RyuKyu People but influenced by regional influences including, but not limited to, Fujian Quen’Fa from China.

With all the above said, however, we must acknowledge the debt to Chinese Martial Arts we modern students of Karate have. We can do this through historical review of the origins of modern systems.

Goju-Ryu and Ryuei-Ryu both directly descend from the teachings of Ryo Ryo Ko via Higashionna Kanryō and Norisato Nakaima respectively. Miyagi Chojun, the founder of Goju-Ryu and Higashionna’s senior student, also spent time in China where he deepened his understanding of Fujian Martial Arts and created kata such as Tensho from the knowledge he gained.

Uechi Kanbun studied what he called Pangai-Noon under Zhou Zeihe (Shu Shi Wa) in Fujian Province. As mentioned already in this topic, this became the foundation off Uechi-Ryu, which Uechi Kanei renamed the art after his father’s passing. However, It should be noted that Uechi Kanei, and his peers, significantly expanded the content of Uechi-Ryu beyond his father’s teachings and Pangai-Noon. There are many new kata present which were strongly influenced by local traditions, and the practice of formal Bunkai and Yakusoku Kumite are very much conceits of Okinawan and Japanese Karate. Thus, modern Uechi-Ryu is very much Okinawan Karate in spirit and nature.

Kingai-Ryu, as exists as part of the Matayoshi Family Arts, was taught to Matayoshi Shinko by Kingai Roshi. This Kingai is supposed to have been a senior to the same Zhou Zeihe that was Uechi Kanbun’s teacher and thus taught the same Martial Art, or at least one with the same foundation. Interestingly, it is said that Kingai called his art Kingai-Ryu not after himself but based on an understanding of the characters of Kin and Gai. Kin refers to supplely reacting to change, while Gai refers to a steel like hardness. Essentially, the meaning is to combine hard and soft as one, as is the meaning of Pangai-Noon. Matayoshi Shinko was also one of Go Kenki’s most dedicated Okinawan Students and incorporated many of the White Crane Master’s teachings into his Karate, to the point it is difficult to disseminate the Kingai-Ryu from the Bah He Quen contained in Matayoshi-Ryu. In conclusion, however, it can be said the Karate of Matayoshi-Ryu is very much Chinese in origin.

Arakaki Seisho was another direct student of Ryo Ryo Ko and taught a plethora of students including Higaonna Kanryō, Miyagi Chōjun (Goju-Ryu) Funakoshi Gichin (Shotokan), Uechi Kanbun (Uechi-ryū), Tōyama Kanken (Shudokan) and Mabuni Kenwa (Shi’to-Ryu). However, the spiritual successor of his teachings was Chitose Tsuyoshi, founder of Chitō-ryū, and it is that modern school which probably reflects Arakaki’s teachings most closely. However, Hangetsu is probably the most widely practiced Kata which owes its existence to Arakaki, in that it appears to be a blend of Arakaki and Matsumura no Seisan, and aside from existing in Shotokan is the point of origin of Wado-Ryu’s Seishan.

Kojo-Ryu, I will mention to be fair, also has its origins in Chinese Martial Arts. Kojō Uēkata, credited as the founder of Kojo-Ryu, visited China during the 17th century where he spent a significant period of time studying. Sufficient to learn the Chinese method of creating calendars, and produce “the Almanac of Hours, Periods, and Seasons of the Great Qing” from the results of his studies. However, it is likely that Kojo Isae, who studied martial arts in China
in the 19th century is the actual founder of Kojo-Ryu as was taught from his days until 1975, and the closing of the family Dojo by Kojo Shigeru. Sadly, Kojo-Ryu is in a state of disarray and the authentic, historical system is likely lost to history. The authenticity of those claiming to teach Kojo-Ryu today is disputable and none, as far as I know, are endorsed by the Koshiro Family (Koshiro is a modern reading of Kojo, and the preferred name of the family to avoid the controversy of Kojo-Ryu). There is a style called Koshin-Ryu founded by Irimaji Seiji. Irimaji was a senior student of Kojo-Ryu while the family dojo stood, but it is impossible to say how well Koshin-Ryu reflects its parent art. Though, based on my sources it includes a set of unique kata not found in orthodox Okinawan Karate but which are similar to kata found in Matayoshi-Ryu suggesting a similar point of origin: China. Controversy aside, Kojo-Ryu was of Chinese origin, and before the family dojo closed, generations of Okinawan Karateka studied within its walls and it has left its influence.

There are some examples of kata out there developed later in history that are like Kusanku and Chinto in origin. Kyan Chotoku famously spent time in Taiwan studying the Chinese Martial Arts and codified what he learnt into the kata Ananku. One version of the kata is still practiced in Shorin-Ryu Matsubayashi and another in Shi’to-Ryu. Anaku, a kata invented by Robert Trias for his Shorei-Ryu/Shuri-Ryu, is an abridged version of Ananku as found in Shorin-Ryu Matsubayashi. Several kata unique to Shudokan, as founded by Tōyama Kanken, were created by Toyama based on his studies of Chinese Martial Arts during his time in Taiwan. These include Penpei, Penpo, and Empi Taki and Empi Iwa (Not related to Shotokan’s Empi which is a version of Wanshu)

Lastly, Go Kenki (Wu Xiangui), whose name I have mentioned several times deserves a more thorough explanation. Go Kenki was a master of Whooping Crane Boxing, a branch of White Crane, active in Okinawa from 1912 until his death in 1940. However, his importance to the history of Modern Karate begins in 1918. That year, a collection of Okinawan martial arts enthusiasts formed the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai: an exclusive research/knowledge exchange group for the study of Martial Arts. In 1915, both Itosu Anko and Higashionna Kanryo, the de facto grandmasters of Shuri and Naha, died and left the many of their students without guidance. The Kenkyukai hosted many names which should be familiar to any students of Okinawan karate and kobujutsu history. Names including:

• Choshin Chibana: Founder of Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi.
• Genwa Nakasone: Author of the Encyclopedia of Karatedo.
• Hanashiro Chomo: Itosu’s senior student.
• Kyan Chotoku: The pre-eminent Tomari Te Expert of the pre-modern era of Karate.
• Kyoda Juhatsu: Founder of Toon-Ryu.
• Mabuni Kenwa: Founder of Shi’to-Ryu, and considered the most accomplished karateka of his generation.
• Miyagi Chojun: Goju-Ryu founder and Higashionna’s senior student
• Oshiro Chojo: The pre-eminent expert of Yamane-Ryu Kobujutsu for the time.
• Yabiku Moden: Introduced Ryukyu Kobujutsu to Japan and taught Kobudo notable Taira Shiken.
• Yabu Kentsu: Noted for modernising Karate practice using military style drills.

As part of the Kenkyukai, Go Kenki taught many things, and some we know about and can connect to teachings found in modern karate, and other things we can only speculate about. I will limit myself to what we do know. We know he is the source of the following kata, as preserved in Shi’to-Ryu as the Hakkaku-Ken Kata.:
• Haffa: The simplest of the Hakkaku-Ken and some believe may have been an invention of Go Kenki, or perhaps Mabuni Kenwa, to introduce the basic ideas of White Crance Boxing.
• Hakkaku: Kata of this name exist in Shi’to-Ryu, Matayoshi-Ryu, and Koshin-Ryu, but the Shi’to-Ryu and Matayoshi-Ryu versions are be based on Go Kenki’s original version. It also seems to have some connection to the Ryuei-Ryu kata known as Peiho.
• Hakucho: A sister kata to Hakkaku which is shorter and less dynamic in performance.
• Hakutsuru: Literally meaning “White Crane” this name has been used for various kata believed to originate from Bah He Quan, however, Go Kenki’s version is preserved in Shi’to-Ryu.
• Happoren/Paipuren: A kata which is similar to Sanchin but is longer, more sophisticated, and contains more techniques. It is called Ba Bu Lien in Fujian White Crane.
• Nipaipo/Neipai: Bears a resemblance to the Taolu “Er Shi Ba” which is still practiced in Fujian White Crane. Go Kenki either taught an alternate shorter version unique to his branch of Whooping Crane, or greatly abridged the form when he taught it to the members of the Kenkyukai, or Mabuni Kenwa simplified the version he preserved by reducing it to its distinguishing characteristics.

It has also been hypothesised that Go Kenki influenced Kakei-Kumite as it became practiced in Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu, as White Crane Boxing practices a lot of bridging, pulling, and pushing hand drills. This, however, is pure speculation in contrast to the Kata we can directly credit him with through written records.

Furthermore, there is evidence that White Crane Boxing has influenced karate before Go Kenki. In Bah He Quen exist various Taolu with similar names to Okinawan Kata, and there are some forms which bear a striking resemblance to each other.

San Zhan and Sanchin are a reading of the same characters: Three Battles. In terms of content, the version found in White Crane Boxing is like Shu Shi Wa no Sanchin as practiced in Uechi-Ryu in that it is an open hand form, however, it moves backwards and forwards as does Miyagi no Sanchin. How the Chinese version became what is practiced in Okinawa is easy to see.
Furthermore, three versions of Sanchin come from Ryo Ryo Ko, and one from
Shu Shi Wa, who were both teachers active in 19th Century Fujian Province.
San Shi Liu, meaning 36 hands, can be read as Sanseiru. A name for a kata found in both Goju-Ryu and Uechi-Ryu. Although, the version in Uechi-Ryu was originally called Sandairyu, the meaning is still 36. Both Okinawan versions are different to one another, however, and neither bear great resemblance to San Shi Liu as practiced in Fujian White Crane aside from some passing resemblance of certain open hand techniques.

Wu Shi Si Shou consists of the same character as Gojushiho, though, as with San Shi Liu and Senseiru little but the names resemble one another. There are some techniques which could be described as similar, but if these forms were once related it was as distant cousins many years ago now, and in the modern age they share no meaningful connection beyond the name.

The most compelling connection in my view is the Taolu Si Men (Four Gates) and the kata Seisan (13). Though the names differ in meaning, they are phonetically similar, and Si Men is performed very similarly to Seisan, except it has a few additional moves. From the examples of Sanchin, and other kata, we know the Okinawans habitually abridged and condensed forms so Seisan being an abridgement of Si Men is plausible. Now, the matter is confused a little, as we know Seisan is a very old Kata on Okinawa, and as easily as Seisan made its way to Okinawa from China, the inverse could also have happened. We know a number of Okinawan masters travelled to Fujian province over the centuries, and many would have known a version of Seisan. The supposed White Crane “Seisan” could easily be a Chinese adoption and variation of the Okinawan kata. The prior is more likely than the latter given the historic relationship between the RyuKyu people and the Chinese, but we cannot discount the possibility.

Thus, with regards to White Crane and Karate, we can say some kata were likely inherited from Bah He Quen Taolu in the distant past, and that some kata definitely were via Go Kenki in the early modern era. What strikes me as the most apparent influences from White Crane Boxing is the blend of Open and Closed hand techniques, approach to breathing, and naming conventions. If nothing else it seems likely that Ryo Ryo Ko and Shu Shi Wa both taught some sort of system related to Fujian White Crane, and thus Goju-Ryu, Ryuei-Ryu, and Uechi-Ryu are descendent schools of Bah He Quen.
Returning to the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai, there is an important factor to consider when discussing the formation of modern karate on Okinawa. During the late 19th and early 20th century, a division did emerge between what has retroactively become known as Village Karate and School/Town Karate.

School Karate is the ancestor of what might be considered Orthodox Okinawan Karate: Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi and Matsubayashi, and Goju-Ryu. In the Ryukyu Kingdom, and well into the 1800s on Okinawa, many exponents and experts of Chinese Martial Arts gathered on a regular basis in Matsuyama Park and exchanged knowledge. Therefore, we see a significant recurrence of various patterns of movement appear in the kata of distinct geographical origin and association. During the early 20th century the famed Itosu Anko introduced a version of Karate to the Okinawan School System. Hioganna Kanryo, the most prolific teacher of Tode-Jutsu in Naha, also started teaching publicly around the same time. Many of their students also came together to form organisations such as the aforemention Tode Kenkyukai and engage in significant cross-training. Members of the aforementioned groups were also among the first teachers on Okinawa to accept the conceits of Nippon Karate-Do in the 1930s before said conceits were largely enforced in the 1950s by their export to Okinawa by the JKA. Through this long process, we have the existence of Orthodox Okinawan Karate, which is the most widely practised interpretation and most easily accessed.

Karate is the culmination of many minds, many decades, and many influences. With the Chinese influences put in context, we can see the Chinese connection and its importance, however, we can also see the Chinese connection does not answer all questions or give a satisfying answer to the origins and history of karate. There is a breath, and depth, to Karate
better explained by accepting it is an original creation of the Okinawan people, who were strongly influenced by the Chinese Martial Arts, but also had their own rich traditions and embraced the many influences they encountered through the historical links to Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and China.

Regarding the matter of Mr Enkamp’s claims regarding Savate and karate. With all due respect, and I will add that I am fan of his because I believe he is a great force for spreading history and knowledge about Karate, and with all that said: I do suspect he has overstated the matter of Karate getting its kicks from Savate.

First, Funakoshi Yoshitaka was not the Shotokan representative involved with karate being taught to Imperial Japanese Soldiers: that was instead Egami Shigeru. Furthermore, we must be careful not to give credit for an evolutionary path that seemed to occur in all systems of Karate to a single man whose lived influence was brief and limited by his health problems.
Second, the kicks evolved in the context of the evolving kumite framework introduced by Ohtsuka Hironori and Yasuhiro Konishi through the innovation of Yakusoku and Jiyu Kumite in the 1920s. Both were exponents of Koryu Bujutsu including Jujutsu and Kenjutsu and introduced footwork from swordsmanship into karate practice, such as edging forward and back with the lead foot or back foot to maintain fighting stance and using cross-stepping to gain distance: foot-work fundamental to Sport Karate. This was simply reinforced by Funakoshi Yoshitaka, who was an expert in Kendo, when he became a full-time instructor for his father in the 30s.

Third, Jiyu Kumite is fertile ground for developing new techniques for winning a point bout. Being able to strike your target with more weapons is essential. If we look at the way Savate kicks are performed and compare it to the advice given about kicking in Karate-Do Kyohan, we can see fundamental difference in method. The proposed karate methods are, as has been historically said, simply taking the traditional kicks of karate and chambering them higher to hit higher targets. However, they do recommend striking to vulnerable, non-sporting targets as per Okinawan Tode-Jutsu. Occam’s Razor gives us compelling reason to argue these kicks evolved as tactics for Jiyu Kumite, which were embraced as part of the new paradigm, instead of necessarily being a focused effort to take techniques from Savate as it is the simpler explanation.

Fourth, the kicking repertoire was not complete by the time Funakoshi Yoshitaka died. Assuming Funakoshi Yoshitaka was the engineer, or the plagiariser, of Karate’s kicking techniques neglects the post-war work Nakayama Masatoshi, Obata Isao, and Nishiyama Hidetaka. Furthermore, it neglects the increased sophistication of kicking techniques occurring in other schools of Karate in the same time-period. Even if we accept the idea of influence from the Shotokan to other Dojo via Shobu Kumite competitions, it does not give satisfying answers to questions such as why High Chambered Modern Kicks appear in Wado-Ryu’s Kihon Kumite when Hironri Ohtsuka broke with Funakoshi prior to the supposed innovation by Yoshitaka. Similarly, the differences in kicking techniques between the various schools suggests a common goal, competition success, but independent development.

Personally, I do believe Japanese Karate was influenced by Japanese impressions of Boxing and Savate, and also that the Japanese inclination to specialise and compartmentalise skill sets saw Karate in Japan becoming a form of Kick-Boxing. I think the Savate and Karate sport connection is that of independent development because of similar factors and environments. I do not think there is sufficient evidence for the Savate hypothesis, and I also feel the idea Karate kicks evolved as they did because of the growing trend in karate training towards striking and Jiyu-Kumite more readily answers the problem questions.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2021 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another great post, Wado Heretic!
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2021 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic wrote:
In understanding the history of karate, it is important to place the influence of the Chinese Arts in context, while acknowledging the innovations of the people of the island of Okinawa.

As we review history with the benefit of hindsight, we are also beholden to the rules of thumb:

1. The victors write the history.
2. Scholars have often been more interested in the story rather than the facts.
3. Each culture has preserved its history through its own world view and biases.

The people of the Ryukyu Kingdom were fascinated, awed, and deeply respectful of the majesty of Chinese culture as they understood it. As were many cultures in the region which the Chinese diaspora affected over the centuries. Even in Japan, which historically rejected a tributary relationship with any Chinese Dynasty after the end of the Heian Period, exempting the disastrous “King of Japan” incident of Ashikaga Yoshimitsa, maintained a respect for Chinese culture. Indeed, many traditions in Japan historically had claims to a Chinese antecedent for the sake of having the claim. This trend, of course, came to an end during the Edo period, and regional tensions continue to keep the matter subdued.

The idea of Karate as an art descended from the Chinese Arts begins with the 18th Century Okinawan Martial Artist Sakugawa Kanga, who is better known as Tode Sakugawa in many circles. He is famous, or notorious, for being the first known example of the word Tode: Tang Hand, or Chinese Hand. It is from Tode that the word Karate comes from: being a compound phrase based on the same characters but interpreted as Empty Hand instead.
Sakugawa trained under Kwang Shang Fu, better known as Kushanku, in Quen’fa of an unrecorded system. Our only clue as to the content of this training is the Kata known as Kushanku and it has elements that can be related to Tiger, Crane, and Monk Fist. However, there is no extant Taolu (forms) to be found in any extant Chinese systems which are comparable. Otherwise, we can only presume, a hint dangerously, that Sakugawa taught a similar set of teachings to his most famous student: Matsumura Sokon. Mastsumura taught, as far as we know, naihanchi, passai, seisan, and gojūshiho from the older canon of Kata. He also taught Kushanku as created by Sakugawa, and Chinto which he created himself. Some state he taught a haku-tsuru (White Crane) kata but I frankly consider the claim dubious because of lack of compelling evidence.

Before continuing, I would state that, historians of karate have retroactively come to identify Chatan Yara - Takahara Peichin - Sakugawa Kanga – Matsumura Sokon – Itosu Anko as the mainline of Shuri-Te. This is because each of them was incredibly prominent in Shuri as Martial Artists, and during the late 19th century and early 20th century, Itosu Anko was the de facto leader of martial arts in Shuri. It was him that pioneered the introduction of Te training into schools, and who started the activity of teaching in large classes openly, rather than to individuals or small groups in relative privacy (or secrecy in many cases). From Itosu Anko comes Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi, the oldest branch of Shorin-Ryu, and considered the spiritual successor to Shuri-Te by many. He also influenced Shorin-Ryu Matsubayashi through his student Motobu Choki. Itosu Anko also taught many pioneers of Karate and founders of the first modern schools, including Funakoshi Gichin (Shotokan), Toyama Kanken (Shudokan), Mabuni kenwa (Shi’To-Ryu) and Chibana Chōshin who founded the afforemention Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi.

I mention this to put the following into its proper context: Takahara, Sakugawa and Itosu never went to China. Takahara was taught by Chatan Yara, who learnt his art in China off a Wong Chung-Yoh. Some identify this Wong as a Xingyiquen Sifu present in Fujian Province. Fujian province was the predominant location of Ryukyu missions to China, so it is plausible, but we have no confirmation available. Plus, there is little resemblance between the Shuri-Te Kata and Xingyiquen. With this said, we can argue that Takahara was taught a Chinese system, or at least a martial art influenced by Chinese Martial Arts, but he never trained in China or became an acknowledged representative of a named system. Sakugawa spent six years training under Takahara, and six years training under Kusanku, and his teachings, as best as we can identify them, show as much reliance on Okinawan traditions as they do Chinese. Itosu, as far as we know, never left Okinawa nor studied with a representative of Chinese Martial Arts, instead training under Okinawan Martial Artists in Okinawan Martial Arts. Furthermore, none of Itosu’s notable students ever went to China either (Toyama Kanken spent time in Taiwan learning Chinese Martial Arts but he is the exception), with their exposure to Chinese Martial Arts coming through Go Kenki, Uechi Kanbun, Arakaki Seishō, or Higashionna Kanryō. The latter two also having largely integrated the Chinese teachings with Okinawan Tradition and evolved and changed through their own personal innovations.

With the above said, Matsumura, one of Itosu’s teacher, spent time in China and brought back martial teachings he received there to Okinawa. Matsumura also studied the techniques of Annan, a Chinese man stranded on Okinawa, according to folklore, from which Matsumura created the Kata Chinto. However, Matsumura was also an expert in Jigen-Ryu and his teachings were influenced by it sufficiently enough for him to create the foundation of what became the Tsuken tradition of Bojutsu, and he also saw sufficient value in Jigen-Ryu to instruct his student Asato Anko in the system. Ultimately, he was influenced by Chinese Arts, but was an innovator, with an appreciation for what he considered effective Bujutsu.

Thus, in the context of what has retroactively become known as Shuri-Te it can be seen that it was strongly influenced by Chinese Martial Arts, but by the 1930s and the birth of modern karate it was already an Okinawan tradition going back 170 years. There are several breaks in the lineage where the acknowledged leader of Shuri-Te did not directly study Chinese Martial Arts: only those aspects that existed as part of the Okinawan Martial Arts. Kushanku comes from the teachings of Kwang Shang Fu, Chinto from the mysterious Annan, and there is a version of Seisan that still exists in Bái Hè Quán (White Crane Boxing). However, the other kata all seem to have Okinawan Origins (though Occam’s razor dictates we accept the possibility that the Chinese versions of the forms are simply extinct), and the techniques contained bear as much a resemblance to other potential influences such as Pencak Silat, Muay Boran, and Koryu Jujutsu as they do any known art from Fujian province: the main, demonstrable Chinese influence. Some of the older kata also potentially have a 400-700 year old history on Okinawa, even if the modern versions are very different from their medieval antecedents.

Ultimately, karate is an Okinawan tradition that is greater than the sum of its influences, and is not a mere, regional continuity of Chinese Martial Arts. Rather, it is a martial tradition grounded in the indigenous arts of the RyuKyu People but influenced by regional influences including, but not limited to, Fujian Quen’Fa from China.

With all the above said, however, we must acknowledge the debt to Chinese Martial Arts we modern students of Karate have. We can do this through historical review of the origins of modern systems.

Goju-Ryu and Ryuei-Ryu both directly descend from the teachings of Ryo Ryo Ko via Higashionna Kanryō and Norisato Nakaima respectively. Miyagi Chojun, the founder of Goju-Ryu and Higashionna’s senior student, also spent time in China where he deepened his understanding of Fujian Martial Arts and created kata such as Tensho from the knowledge he gained.

Uechi Kanbun studied what he called Pangai-Noon under Zhou Zeihe (Shu Shi Wa) in Fujian Province. As mentioned already in this topic, this became the foundation off Uechi-Ryu, which Uechi Kanei renamed the art after his father’s passing. However, It should be noted that Uechi Kanei, and his peers, significantly expanded the content of Uechi-Ryu beyond his father’s teachings and Pangai-Noon. There are many new kata present which were strongly influenced by local traditions, and the practice of formal Bunkai and Yakusoku Kumite are very much conceits of Okinawan and Japanese Karate. Thus, modern Uechi-Ryu is very much Okinawan Karate in spirit and nature.

Kingai-Ryu, as exists as part of the Matayoshi Family Arts, was taught to Matayoshi Shinko by Kingai Roshi. This Kingai is supposed to have been a senior to the same Zhou Zeihe that was Uechi Kanbun’s teacher and thus taught the same Martial Art, or at least one with the same foundation. Interestingly, it is said that Kingai called his art Kingai-Ryu not after himself but based on an understanding of the characters of Kin and Gai. Kin refers to supplely reacting to change, while Gai refers to a steel like hardness. Essentially, the meaning is to combine hard and soft as one, as is the meaning of Pangai-Noon. Matayoshi Shinko was also one of Go Kenki’s most dedicated Okinawan Students and incorporated many of the White Crane Master’s teachings into his Karate, to the point it is difficult to disseminate the Kingai-Ryu from the Bah He Quen contained in Matayoshi-Ryu. In conclusion, however, it can be said the Karate of Matayoshi-Ryu is very much Chinese in origin.

Arakaki Seisho was another direct student of Ryo Ryo Ko and taught a plethora of students including Higaonna Kanryō, Miyagi Chōjun (Goju-Ryu) Funakoshi Gichin (Shotokan), Uechi Kanbun (Uechi-ryū), Tōyama Kanken (Shudokan) and Mabuni Kenwa (Shi’to-Ryu). However, the spiritual successor of his teachings was Chitose Tsuyoshi, founder of Chitō-ryū, and it is that modern school which probably reflects Arakaki’s teachings most closely. However, Hangetsu is probably the most widely practiced Kata which owes its existence to Arakaki, in that it appears to be a blend of Arakaki and Matsumura no Seisan, and aside from existing in Shotokan is the point of origin of Wado-Ryu’s Seishan.

Kojo-Ryu, I will mention to be fair, also has its origins in Chinese Martial Arts. Kojō Uēkata, credited as the founder of Kojo-Ryu, visited China during the 17th century where he spent a significant period of time studying. Sufficient to learn the Chinese method of creating calendars, and produce “the Almanac of Hours, Periods, and Seasons of the Great Qing” from the results of his studies. However, it is likely that Kojo Isae, who studied martial arts in China
in the 19th century is the actual founder of Kojo-Ryu as was taught from his days until 1975, and the closing of the family Dojo by Kojo Shigeru. Sadly, Kojo-Ryu is in a state of disarray and the authentic, historical system is likely lost to history. The authenticity of those claiming to teach Kojo-Ryu today is disputable and none, as far as I know, are endorsed by the Koshiro Family (Koshiro is a modern reading of Kojo, and the preferred name of the family to avoid the controversy of Kojo-Ryu). There is a style called Koshin-Ryu founded by Irimaji Seiji. Irimaji was a senior student of Kojo-Ryu while the family dojo stood, but it is impossible to say how well Koshin-Ryu reflects its parent art. Though, based on my sources it includes a set of unique kata not found in orthodox Okinawan Karate but which are similar to kata found in Matayoshi-Ryu suggesting a similar point of origin: China. Controversy aside, Kojo-Ryu was of Chinese origin, and before the family dojo closed, generations of Okinawan Karateka studied within its walls and it has left its influence.

There are some examples of kata out there developed later in history that are like Kusanku and Chinto in origin. Kyan Chotoku famously spent time in Taiwan studying the Chinese Martial Arts and codified what he learnt into the kata Ananku. One version of the kata is still practiced in Shorin-Ryu Matsubayashi and another in Shi’to-Ryu. Anaku, a kata invented by Robert Trias for his Shorei-Ryu/Shuri-Ryu, is an abridged version of Ananku as found in Shorin-Ryu Matsubayashi. Several kata unique to Shudokan, as founded by Tōyama Kanken, were created by Toyama based on his studies of Chinese Martial Arts during his time in Taiwan. These include Penpei, Penpo, and Empi Taki and Empi Iwa (Not related to Shotokan’s Empi which is a version of Wanshu)

Lastly, Go Kenki (Wu Xiangui), whose name I have mentioned several times deserves a more thorough explanation. Go Kenki was a master of Whooping Crane Boxing, a branch of White Crane, active in Okinawa from 1912 until his death in 1940. However, his importance to the history of Modern Karate begins in 1918. That year, a collection of Okinawan martial arts enthusiasts formed the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai: an exclusive research/knowledge exchange group for the study of Martial Arts. In 1915, both Itosu Anko and Higashionna Kanryo, the de facto grandmasters of Shuri and Naha, died and left the many of their students without guidance. The Kenkyukai hosted many names which should be familiar to any students of Okinawan karate and kobujutsu history. Names including:

• Choshin Chibana: Founder of Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi.
• Genwa Nakasone: Author of the Encyclopedia of Karatedo.
• Hanashiro Chomo: Itosu’s senior student.
• Kyan Chotoku: The pre-eminent Tomari Te Expert of the pre-modern era of Karate.
• Kyoda Juhatsu: Founder of Toon-Ryu.
• Mabuni Kenwa: Founder of Shi’to-Ryu, and considered the most accomplished karateka of his generation.
• Miyagi Chojun: Goju-Ryu founder and Higashionna’s senior student
• Oshiro Chojo: The pre-eminent expert of Yamane-Ryu Kobujutsu for the time.
• Yabiku Moden: Introduced Ryukyu Kobujutsu to Japan and taught Kobudo notable Taira Shiken.
• Yabu Kentsu: Noted for modernising Karate practice using military style drills.

As part of the Kenkyukai, Go Kenki taught many things, and some we know about and can connect to teachings found in modern karate, and other things we can only speculate about. I will limit myself to what we do know. We know he is the source of the following kata, as preserved in Shi’to-Ryu as the Hakkaku-Ken Kata.:
• Haffa: The simplest of the Hakkaku-Ken and some believe may have been an invention of Go Kenki, or perhaps Mabuni Kenwa, to introduce the basic ideas of White Crance Boxing.
• Hakkaku: Kata of this name exist in Shi’to-Ryu, Matayoshi-Ryu, and Koshin-Ryu, but the Shi’to-Ryu and Matayoshi-Ryu versions are be based on Go Kenki’s original version. It also seems to have some connection to the Ryuei-Ryu kata known as Peiho.
• Hakucho: A sister kata to Hakkaku which is shorter and less dynamic in performance.
• Hakutsuru: Literally meaning “White Crane” this name has been used for various kata believed to originate from Bah He Quan, however, Go Kenki’s version is preserved in Shi’to-Ryu.
• Happoren/Paipuren: A kata which is similar to Sanchin but is longer, more sophisticated, and contains more techniques. It is called Ba Bu Lien in Fujian White Crane.
• Nipaipo/Neipai: Bears a resemblance to the Taolu “Er Shi Ba” which is still practiced in Fujian White Crane. Go Kenki either taught an alternate shorter version unique to his branch of Whooping Crane, or greatly abridged the form when he taught it to the members of the Kenkyukai, or Mabuni Kenwa simplified the version he preserved by reducing it to its distinguishing characteristics.

It has also been hypothesised that Go Kenki influenced Kakei-Kumite as it became practiced in Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu, as White Crane Boxing practices a lot of bridging, pulling, and pushing hand drills. This, however, is pure speculation in contrast to the Kata we can directly credit him with through written records.

Furthermore, there is evidence that White Crane Boxing has influenced karate before Go Kenki. In Bah He Quen exist various Taolu with similar names to Okinawan Kata, and there are some forms which bear a striking resemblance to each other.

San Zhan and Sanchin are a reading of the same characters: Three Battles. In terms of content, the version found in White Crane Boxing is like Shu Shi Wa no Sanchin as practiced in Uechi-Ryu in that it is an open hand form, however, it moves backwards and forwards as does Miyagi no Sanchin. How the Chinese version became what is practiced in Okinawa is easy to see.
Furthermore, three versions of Sanchin come from Ryo Ryo Ko, and one from
Shu Shi Wa, who were both teachers active in 19th Century Fujian Province.
San Shi Liu, meaning 36 hands, can be read as Sanseiru. A name for a kata found in both Goju-Ryu and Uechi-Ryu. Although, the version in Uechi-Ryu was originally called Sandairyu, the meaning is still 36. Both Okinawan versions are different to one another, however, and neither bear great resemblance to San Shi Liu as practiced in Fujian White Crane aside from some passing resemblance of certain open hand techniques.

Wu Shi Si Shou consists of the same character as Gojushiho, though, as with San Shi Liu and Senseiru little but the names resemble one another. There are some techniques which could be described as similar, but if these forms were once related it was as distant cousins many years ago now, and in the modern age they share no meaningful connection beyond the name.

The most compelling connection in my view is the Taolu Si Men (Four Gates) and the kata Seisan (13). Though the names differ in meaning, they are phonetically similar, and Si Men is performed very similarly to Seisan, except it has a few additional moves. From the examples of Sanchin, and other kata, we know the Okinawans habitually abridged and condensed forms so Seisan being an abridgement of Si Men is plausible. Now, the matter is confused a little, as we know Seisan is a very old Kata on Okinawa, and as easily as Seisan made its way to Okinawa from China, the inverse could also have happened. We know a number of Okinawan masters travelled to Fujian province over the centuries, and many would have known a version of Seisan. The supposed White Crane “Seisan” could easily be a Chinese adoption and variation of the Okinawan kata. The prior is more likely than the latter given the historic relationship between the RyuKyu people and the Chinese, but we cannot discount the possibility.

Thus, with regards to White Crane and Karate, we can say some kata were likely inherited from Bah He Quen Taolu in the distant past, and that some kata definitely were via Go Kenki in the early modern era. What strikes me as the most apparent influences from White Crane Boxing is the blend of Open and Closed hand techniques, approach to breathing, and naming conventions. If nothing else it seems likely that Ryo Ryo Ko and Shu Shi Wa both taught some sort of system related to Fujian White Crane, and thus Goju-Ryu, Ryuei-Ryu, and Uechi-Ryu are descendent schools of Bah He Quen.
Returning to the Ryukyu Tode-jutsu Kenkyukai, there is an important factor to consider when discussing the formation of modern karate on Okinawa. During the late 19th and early 20th century, a division did emerge between what has retroactively become known as Village Karate and School/Town Karate.

School Karate is the ancestor of what might be considered Orthodox Okinawan Karate: Shorin-Ryu Kobayashi and Matsubayashi, and Goju-Ryu. In the Ryukyu Kingdom, and well into the 1800s on Okinawa, many exponents and experts of Chinese Martial Arts gathered on a regular basis in Matsuyama Park and exchanged knowledge. Therefore, we see a significant recurrence of various patterns of movement appear in the kata of distinct geographical origin and association. During the early 20th century the famed Itosu Anko introduced a version of Karate to the Okinawan School System. Hioganna Kanryo, the most prolific teacher of Tode-Jutsu in Naha, also started teaching publicly around the same time. Many of their students also came together to form organisations such as the aforemention Tode Kenkyukai and engage in significant cross-training. Members of the aforementioned groups were also among the first teachers on Okinawa to accept the conceits of Nippon Karate-Do in the 1930s before said conceits were largely enforced in the 1950s by their export to Okinawa by the JKA. Through this long process, we have the existence of Orthodox Okinawan Karate, which is the most widely practised interpretation and most easily accessed.

Karate is the culmination of many minds, many decades, and many influences. With the Chinese influences put in context, we can see the Chinese connection and its importance, however, we can also see the Chinese connection does not answer all questions or give a satisfying answer to the origins and history of karate. There is a breath, and depth, to Karate
better explained by accepting it is an original creation of the Okinawan people, who were strongly influenced by the Chinese Martial Arts, but also had their own rich traditions and embraced the many influences they encountered through the historical links to Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and China.

Regarding the matter of Mr Enkamp’s claims regarding Savate and karate. With all due respect, and I will add that I am fan of his because I believe he is a great force for spreading history and knowledge about Karate, and with all that said: I do suspect he has overstated the matter of Karate getting its kicks from Savate.

First, Funakoshi Yoshitaka was not the Shotokan representative involved with karate being taught to Imperial Japanese Soldiers: that was instead Egami Shigeru. Furthermore, we must be careful not to give credit for an evolutionary path that seemed to occur in all systems of Karate to a single man whose lived influence was brief and limited by his health problems.
Second, the kicks evolved in the context of the evolving kumite framework introduced by Ohtsuka Hironori and Yasuhiro Konishi through the innovation of Yakusoku and Jiyu Kumite in the 1920s. Both were exponents of Koryu Bujutsu including Jujutsu and Kenjutsu and introduced footwork from swordsmanship into karate practice, such as edging forward and back with the lead foot or back foot to maintain fighting stance and using cross-stepping to gain distance: foot-work fundamental to Sport Karate. This was simply reinforced by Funakoshi Yoshitaka, who was an expert in Kendo, when he became a full-time instructor for his father in the 30s.

Third, Jiyu Kumite is fertile ground for developing new techniques for winning a point bout. Being able to strike your target with more weapons is essential. If we look at the way Savate kicks are performed and compare it to the advice given about kicking in Karate-Do Kyohan, we can see fundamental difference in method. The proposed karate methods are, as has been historically said, simply taking the traditional kicks of karate and chambering them higher to hit higher targets. However, they do recommend striking to vulnerable, non-sporting targets as per Okinawan Tode-Jutsu. Occam’s Razor gives us compelling reason to argue these kicks evolved as tactics for Jiyu Kumite, which were embraced as part of the new paradigm, instead of necessarily being a focused effort to take techniques from Savate as it is the simpler explanation.

Fourth, the kicking repertoire was not complete by the time Funakoshi Yoshitaka died. Assuming Funakoshi Yoshitaka was the engineer, or the plagiariser, of Karate’s kicking techniques neglects the post-war work Nakayama Masatoshi, Obata Isao, and Nishiyama Hidetaka. Furthermore, it neglects the increased sophistication of kicking techniques occurring in other schools of Karate in the same time-period. Even if we accept the idea of influence from the Shotokan to other Dojo via Shobu Kumite competitions, it does not give satisfying answers to questions such as why High Chambered Modern Kicks appear in Wado-Ryu’s Kihon Kumite when Hironri Ohtsuka broke with Funakoshi prior to the supposed innovation by Yoshitaka. Similarly, the differences in kicking techniques between the various schools suggests a common goal, competition success, but independent development.

Personally, I do believe Japanese Karate was influenced by Japanese impressions of Boxing and Savate, and also that the Japanese inclination to specialise and compartmentalise skill sets saw Karate in Japan becoming a form of Kick-Boxing. I think the Savate and Karate sport connection is that of independent development because of similar factors and environments. I do not think there is sufficient evidence for the Savate hypothesis, and I also feel the idea Karate kicks evolved as they did because of the growing trend in karate training towards striking and Jiyu-Kumite more readily answers the problem questions.


You can make a movie from this post. I enjoyed it a great deal.


The whole Jesse claims of karate kicks coming from savate was the first time hearing it. It did through me off guard. I did make a comment that the high kicks have been influenced by Kung Fu and that Kung Fu also inspired Tang Soo Do which means the way of the Chinese hand. I got a like from him which was nice because he is a big star.

I also want everyone in karateforum to know this fact about me and its important and that is, I personally recite the history I have heard, lots of this martial arts origins is something I love to study but like most folks, I get it from the internet.

The only history I got is from my sambo master who is a third generation sambo fighter. He has been deeply involved and sambo has had multi origin before it became a singular entity.

I like to think that many singular styles have multi origin. A substyle may develop to a stand alone fighting style. Someone's secondary boxing style maybe another boxers specialty. Some fighters specialize standing sideway from start to finish and others square up and occasionally go sideways.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both, but I will apologise for the sheer length of it, because the more I typed the more I realised there was to type, and I have still only touched on some essential points.

Also, it did get rather off topic about the discussion regarding whether Yin style karate exists, outside of the matter of Bah He Quen which is considered a "soft" or "Yin" style of Quen'fa.

Most systems are the sum of their parts framed by the conceits, assumptions, preferences, and innovations of the person that rationalised and organised the system. They are then further refined, diminished, enhanced, or confused by the environment they exist within.

When it comes to fighters styles you have Out-fighters and In-fighters, in both striking and grappling.

In striking you have your strikers and fighter-punchers. Strikers who want to be able to hit with both their hands and feet, and use movement and counter striking to maintain distance. Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Connor McGreggor, Cang Le are just some of the names that fall into this category. Even then they differ: some use poking, and conservative and hard to catch movements to keep their opponents at bay to find openings, while others throw their strikes with power, and unpredictability to maintain distance through fear and with the hope of catching with a good set up.

Fighter-Punches are the sort that want to stand and exchange, and connect with the hands. Be it at arms length, or inside the pocket. The Diaz Brothers, Roy Nelson, Justin Gaethe, and Chuck Liddell are all great examples of this approach to striking. Chuck Liddell is probably the most accomplished due to his ability to maintain his range, and be dangerous, going back as well as forward. Nate Diaz is always dangerous though no matter who you are.

With grapplers you have your shooters: the guys who keep safe out of striking range, and whose defence is controlling range through moving, and then shooting in for the take down or clinch, to get top control and work from there: either ground and pound or to go for a submission attempt. Then you have your submission fighters, who want to tangle on the ground to secure a submission, and will use the opportunity that comes to them to get there.

In modern MMA, most fighters are good at all the various skills as they do sport-specific training, but you will see most still lean into their strengths with their game plans. All fighters have habits, and what they are good for, and can be classified broadly into one of the above classes.

You can take these basic premises to boxing, kick-boxing, and submission grappling but they have more nuance therein to the specific sport.

Bringing this back to systematic appproaches or martial arts styles: those who rationalise a system do so based on what they can do themselves, what they have found useful for them, and what they believe is important. Thus, all systems lean into a kind of fighting profile even if they are a Hybrid or Free-Style approach.
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