Okinawan Karate history

Sensei Canna offers insight into the real world of self defense!

Moderator: Van Canna

Okinawan Karate history

Postby Van Canna » Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:38 pm

I am about to receive from the Toyama sensei group, The complete GOJ [Government of Japan] video found in bits and pieces on the Okinawa Karate website (Okinawa Prefecture site),featuring all the old masters, and covering the history of karate development on Okinawa.

Should be interesting to discuss.

Something of interest here
Kanbun Sensei did teach women. He taught his daughters how to defend
themselves in a very short time, but there was one woman in particular who
attended for years -- who was a terror to the men
there (to Kanbun Sensei's delight!). Since all the female students faded
into the obscurity expected of women in a male-oriented society, they are
not much spoken of, if at all. Best to just say Kanbun Sensei did not teach
women at all, than face the embarrassment of telling that the women were
sometimes stronger than the men.

Toyama Sensei's own daughter was trained in much the same fashion by her
father, and I have to admit I don't know many men stronger or tougher than
she is! Next time out, I'll introduce her, you'll be "wide-eyed and
surprised"! Sensei easily breaks baseball bats over her arms and legs, etc.
and I have yet to meet a man who can stand up to her kicks.

Breyette sensei
Last edited by Van Canna on Thu Jan 15, 2004 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am

Postby SAN-DAI-RYU » Thu Jan 15, 2004 10:21 pm



User avatar
Posts: 541
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2000 6:01 am

Postby Van Canna » Thu Jan 15, 2004 11:54 pm

Hi Carlos,

It makes me happy also. Your female students are simply awesome as are all your students.

Un abrazo
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am

Postby Dana Sheets » Thu Jan 15, 2004 11:58 pm

It is good news. I'm happy that the skills and hard work of women is being celebrated more often. It's wonderful that this knowledge was captured before it was lost. Are any of Kanbun's daughters still alive?

Did you show compassion today?
User avatar
Dana Sheets
Posts: 2714
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2002 6:01 am

Postby Van Canna » Fri Jan 16, 2004 6:02 am


Gordi is hoping to get his hands on a copy of the Uechi Family Registry containing the birth and death dates of the Family members up to now, but it's still pending. However, he knows Kanbun had maybe 3 daughters.

Not sure if they're still alive. If they are, they'd be in their 80's by now.

It's unfortunate that none of the great Wakayama Uechi Women opened dojo. It just wasn't done in polite society back then.
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am

Very true

Postby gmattson » Fri Jan 16, 2004 10:05 am

I highly recommend ready Robert Hunt's "The Art and the Way". He's researched quite a lot of interesting history pertaining to Okinawa that relates to the martial arts. One item I remembered is that Okinawa's treatment of women was much more progressive than Japan's.

However, in the 50s there were no women practicing at Uechi sensei's dojo and Tomoyose believed that women, during their child bearing years, should not practice the same type of karate as men. (I suspect this was a popular belief among the men during this phase of the martial arts.)
"Do or do not. there is no try!"
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 6030
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 1998 6:01 am
Location: Mount Dora, Florida

Postby Chip Quimby » Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:33 pm

I’m currently reading Harry Cook’s, A Precise History of Shotokan Karate, which by the way is an incredibly well written book outlining the early history of both Okinawan and Japanese karate.

Ironically, I recently finished a chapter which briefly discusses the training of women in the martial arts. Cook notes that during the 1930’s a number of prominent teachers were actively working with women in their dojos.

There are pictures of the legendary Okinawan master Choki Motobu sensei, teaching self-defense techniques to women wearing gis and kimonos.

He also points out that Funakoshi’s own daughter actively trained in karate as did a number of others.

Best Regards,
Chip Quimby
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 1999 6:01 am
Location: West Peabody, MA

Chip..thanks for the information

Postby Van Canna » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:04 am

Here is something very interesting:

A Chinese friend of Breyette sensei, who is a Wu Za Quan and Southern Mantis teacher:
I just received and watched your videos.
Very impressive.....

I think that Okinawan karate has more fluidity and
flexibility as the opposite way what I thought before, about karate.

Speaking of your style, I believe its definitely originated Southern Style
Kungfu. However, I could not find the exact name of style that shares the
concept, form, or techniques.

But, These could be some styles which Uechi-Ryu might be made from;
WuZuQuan: 40%
PeiHoQuan (White crane): 40%
Chow Gar (secret version of praying mantis): 10%
Other Southern fist: 10%
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am

AT the nearing end of WWII, Japanese women were

Postby Halford » Sun Jan 18, 2004 2:35 am

being trained to fight and defend the homeland from the coming American Invasion(which never happened, thanks to the A bombs) and fight to the death. A good video to watch is; KNOW YOUR ENEMY which was produced during the Second World War for training troops and gives some good shots of karate, kendo,etc. being done by Japanese prior to the war. You can see some women in that as well. Women Warriors can be found in nearly all cultures. :D
Posts: 340
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2002 6:01 am

Knives as the true equalizer

Postby Tim H » Sun Jan 18, 2004 3:34 am

In the combative knife group I train with(AMOK) its generally accepted that a woman with knife training has advantage over: the street thug, more than one attacker, the behemoth,the untrained armed attacker, any martial artist. The knife respects no martial art, brute strength is negated.
Tim H
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 11:49 pm
Location: Hopkinton, Ma.

Tim you are correct

Postby Van Canna » Sun Jan 18, 2004 4:34 am

Even assuming the knife is seen, the victim will usually go to primordial fear. Recall I saw a knife killing back in Italy as a teen ager. What I saw [physical and mental] is hard to even describe. Thus the reason why I chuckle at the "martial arts claims of defensive techniques" against an uplifted knife. As you say...Oh please. :wink:




Look out! Knives are everywhere and they are the preferred weapon
of many street criminals.

Too few people realize how deadly knives are. Even a child becomes dangerous with a knife in hand.

The entertainment industry has done us a great disservice by making everyone believe that a knife-wielding assailant can be neutralized easily with one swift kick, shoulder throw, or punch. It is not like that in the real world! In fact, the odds are strongly stacked against your survival if you are unarmed and attacked by an assailant with a knife.

8O Armed with a knife, a small person can easily dispatch a vicious 200-pound killer, provided that the knife wielder has the proper mental and physical training and a razor-sharp blade.
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am

An area fraught with peril!

Postby Halford » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:38 pm

The fear of knives is being taught rather well in today's society but it should be respect for knives that is being taught. By prohibiting the carrying of school boy jackknives and so forth,we are escalating this fear. Since this is a 'political' factor, along with guns, it seems difficult to discuss this without arousing everyone's ire these days. As I have said, I held a revolver in my hands at age three and pulled the trigger when my grandmother would cock the thing so I could, as I was recovering from scarlet fever and this amused me.Have to dash now but will come back later and give more on this topic.
Posts: 340
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2002 6:01 am

Postby Van Canna » Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:59 pm

Here are the two most-often told "superstitions"...

1. Kanbun was superstitious of cameras and photography; this is why there are so few photos of him.


Kanbun was not superstitious in the least. He had respect for the religious practices of the day but he was too practical to let anything get out of hand.

He was not suspicious of cameras.

There were many photos of him. Just that he was not rich, and to have a photo taken was expensive! He couldn't afford to hire a photographer and camera often for himself.

Back then, almost no one personally owned such a thing as a camera, you had to hire a pro to take photos. His students who were better off could have more photos

Almost every student in Wakayama had at least one or two photos taken with Kanbun Uechi in the photographer's studio down the road from the dojo, or out front of the dojo.

A few such photos are in the old Kyohon. But we don't have many today; Kanbun simply often couldn't afford to pay for them, that's all. :D
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am

Postby Van Canna » Mon Jan 19, 2004 12:03 am

Only a few students remained in touch with the Uechi Family after the war.

I would think if we could get in touch with the grandchildren of all the Wakayama students today, we might find they threw away their old, faded, unexplained photos long ago, or if they know what they are, might share them.

Not everyone in Japan knows who Kanbun was, especially on the Mainland where UechiRyu is almost unknown now.
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am

Death of Kanbun

Postby Van Canna » Mon Jan 19, 2004 12:17 am

2. A fortuneteller in China told him he wouldn't die until he reached 79.
He rose on his deathbed in a strong Sanchin position and screamed at Death.


The "fortune-teller" story was made up. Kanei Sensei never told it.

About the death scene so often told with such deep emotion, sometimes
evoking tears from rapt listeners... it never happened either.

Sensei died of a form of Bright's Disease for which there was no cure back

He had medical attention, but nothing worked, not even pain killers
(which were scarce on Okinawa so soon after the war). In the end, he was
told by a doctor he could either spend his last weeks in a hospital, or die
at home, it wouldn't make much difference.

There was no treatment, all that
could be done to make him comfortable in a hospital could be done as well at
home. So, he chose to die at his home on Ie Jima, surrounded by his
lifelong friends and fellow students in the Shinjo Family.

As he approached
death in the last two or three weeks of his life, he became unable to move
at all.

He could barely open his eyes or move his fingers, let alone stand
up on his bed and shout. He could barely drink water, and finally could not
open his mouth.

His abdomen became swollen and black, his extremities and
especially his beautiful and strong hands became swollen like sausages and
immobile. Acids and toxins built up in his body with liver and kidney
failure. Each breath was agony.

It was a long and painful, slow death. :cry:
User avatar
Van Canna
Posts: 54470
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am


Return to Van Canna's Self Defense Realities

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 4 guests