The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi magazine articles

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The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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By Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei
10th Dan Hanshi, Uechi Ryu
Professor Emeritus, Kokusai & Meio Universities

Translated by
Tsukasa (Scott) Higa P.E.
7th Dan Uechi Ryu

Originally published from Classical Fighting Arts magazine.
Vol. 2 No. 26 (Issue # 48)
https://www.classicalfightingarts.org/

Introduction

Karate-do, a fighting art developed during the years of the Ryukyu Kingdom by the amalgamation of Chinese and indigenous Okinawan fighting methods, is now practiced throughout the world. Yet, despite this widespread interest, even karate practitioners sometimes forget that karate as we know it was born in Okinawa, and its history is part of the history of the Ryukyu Archipelago.

Without a knowledge of the history of karate and the achievements of its Founding Fathers, modern practitioners will be hard pressed to acquire anything more than a superficial knowledge of our art. To ensure the survival of true karate, we must all make a commitment to study it in its entirety, and not just focus on a few simple techniques for use in competition.

The Ryukyus and the Middle Kingdom

From 1372 co I876, The Kingdom of Ryukyu (Ryukyu Koku) enjoyed a special relationship with China. This began during Taiso's Ming Dynasty(1) and ended during the Shin Dynasty(2) when diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed. During the five centuries the relationship endured, the Ryukyu Kingdom paid tribute to China, traded widely throughout Asia, and became viewed as safe neutral ground where trade (often very profitable business for the financially shrewd Okinawans) could take place, even between states that were normally antagonistic towards one another. The Okinawans were regarded as honest and reliable middlemen, and their kingdom prospered greatly as a result.

This long commercial and cultural connection with China influenced the development of Okinawa and its culture significantly. The Kingdom's nearest and most convenient port from the standpoint of navigation was Fuzhou on the south east coast of Fukien Province. So great was the trade between the Kingdom of Okinawa and Fuzhou, that the Ryukyukan was established there to serve as an unofficial consulate, trading post, school, and hostel for expatriate Okinawans. Ships from the Ryukyu Kingdom would traverse the East China Sea, navigate the Min River to Fuzhou, and with the Ryukyukan as a base, exchange their cargoes for the rare and expensive Chinese products such as tea and herbal medicines that were in great demand in the Okinawan port city of Naha.

This trading relationship, and the inevitable cultural intercourse it fostered, had a profound effect on the lives of the Okinawans who greatly admired the wealth and power of China (the Middle Kingdom). Even today, there is hardly an area of Okinawan life where Chinese influence cannot be seen. The art of Okinawa, as expressed though architecture, music, dance, ceramics, lacquer, dyeing, painting, and calligraphy is undeniably influenced by Chinese models. Society is, for the most part, organized according to Confucian principles, and the Chinese calendar is still used to regulate the ceremonial and religious life of the Okinawan people. Agricultural advances made in China, such as the cultivation of sugar cane, were rapidly adopted in Okinawa, and with them, the colorful festivals of the farmers of Southern China such as, dragon boat racing, Shi Shi Mai (Lion dancing) and O Tsuna Hiki (tug-of-war festival).

The Okinawan religion, too, appears to be a combination of Chinese and indigenous beliefs, a potent symbol of which are the thousands of tombs that can be seen literally everywhere on Okinawa, and around which many customs have developed. Everything in Okinawa, from agriculture to customs, language, art, and religion has been influenced by Chinese thought and philosophy. Perhaps a part of this cultural treasure trove were the Chinese military arts that were intermingled with indigenous fighting methods to create what we now know as karate (originally China hand) and kobudo (weapon arts).

Okinawan Martial Arts and Karate Do

It is generally accepted that Okinawan martial arts were influenced by those of China which, it has been suggested, were already being systemized as long ago as AD 92. This is evident from the Kan Sho (Geibun Shi)(3) and is also mentioned in Sai’s Te Ha Ku, Roku Hen.(4)

Later, both the study and demonstration of Chinese martial arts were proscribed by Shogun Kivo Asa(5) in 1727. In 1611 the Bu Bi Shi,(6) an ancient book outlining the 1600 year history of Chinese martial arts which had been written by Bou Moto Gi,(7) was republished, but subsequently banned.

The defeat of the members of the Yihequar (“Righteous and Harmonious Fists") movement, known in the West as "Boxers" during The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 (also known as the Hoku-Sei Incident,(8) Giwa Koku no Hen,(9) and Kenpi no Ran(10)) discredited Chinese martial arts and drove them underground where they drew both method and inspiration from the volume entitled. The Secret
Biography
(11)

The Chinese say chat you cannot tell a warrior from his external appearance. An outwardly dull and cowardly appearance may conceal the heart of a lion. Similarly, a shrewd and experienced warrior does not give himself away by behaving foolishly. Uechi Kanbun was one of a handful of karateka who traveled to China to study this sort of philosophy as well as practical fighting methods. What follows is a partial list.
  • Ryu Ei Ryu:(12) Nakaima Norisaro, died 1879.
  • Shorin Ryu:(13) Matsumura Soukon, died 1892.
  • Goju Ryu:(14) Kanryo Higaonna, died 1915.
  • Kojo Ryu:(15) Kogyo Kaho, died 1928.
  • Uechi Ryu: Uechi Kanbun, died 1948.
  • Goju Ryu:(14) Miyagi Chojun, died 1953.
  • The Last Itoman warrior, (nicknamed Machar Buntoku) Kinjo Marsu, died 1945.
In the case of Kanban Uechi, he returned with a unique form of karate characterized by the movements of three creatures, the dragon, the tiger, and the crane.

The Birth of Uechi Kanbun

The founder of Uechi Ryu karate was born on 1 May I877, the first son of a Samurai clan in Izumi, Motobu Township, Kunigami Gun, Okinawa. Izumi is a small village surrounded by evergreen acres of rich soil that produce oranges, pineapples. and cherry blossom, often the first to bloom in Japan each year, sometimes as early as January. It was known to be an area that many warriors called home.

The Uechi family moved to the small mountain village of Takafuto(16) when Kanbun was three or perhaps four years old. Takafuto, the home at that time of around twenty families, was located near the center of Mount Yaedake where the views are breathtaking, and the only sounds those of the wind and the birds. There was a stillness here, and a feeling of being at one with nature and its beauty. Sadly this location was destroyed during the war, and what graces Mr. Yaedake now is a radar station of the Japan Defence Force (Jiei Tai)

Kanbun Uechi grow up surrounded by the beauty of nature and in an atmosphere of spiritual tranquility and peace. His father was of average height and weight, and known to be a quiet, gentle person with a warm heart. He was a moral man with a well developed sense of the spiritual world, and was liked by all who knew him. His wife, Tsuru, was strikingly different. She was a large, robust, broad-shouldered woman who yet spoke eloquently. In contrast to her physical presence, which was legendary, she was gentle of character, and warm-hearted.

Those who knew him believed that Kanbun Uechi inherited his stoic spirit from his father, and his warmth and openness from his mother, Tsuru. He was muscular, strongly built, and stood 5 feet 5 inches tall. His fierce penetrating gaze, for which he would become famous, was a trait prevalent in his mother's family. As a youth his body was honed by farming the rocky soil of Takafuto; as a young man his body was turned to steel by Sanchin.

Voyage to Fukien Province, China

There are a number of reasons for Uechi Kanbun's voyage to China. Undoubtedly, growing up in Motobu, an area known for producing strong fighters, he heard exciting stories of Bushi (Okinawan Samurai) and their adventures when family or friends gathered to eat or relax. He was fascinated from an early age by the Bushi, their Tou-ie(17), and other combat methods.(18)

This early exposure created in the young Kanbun the desire to one day become a strong and fearless Bushi himself like the aged Tou-ichi-Tanme-Touyana(19) who told him stories of his own adventures in China many years before.(20)

While his desire to learn the martial arts was a factor in Kanbun’s decision to travel to the Middle Kingdom, the conscription of Okinawan youth by the Japanese government was the primary reason for his departure. Imposed on the Okinawans in 1898, the removal of the sons of farming families to perform military service in the army of a nation many Okinawans viewed as a foreign oppressor, was hard indeed. As a result, so many young men left to avoid the draft, that a social crisis was created.

For Kanbun Uechi, the ability of the wealthy to purchase for their sons an exemption from military service for just ¥270, was an injustice of the highest order, and an affront to his moral beliefs and values. In his mind this was tantamount to setting a value on a human being’s freedom, or perhaps even his life, of ¥270, something that he decided to resist very strongly.

Knowing that he would be facing isolation, loneliness, and hardship in China, Kanbun nonetheless left Okinawa secretly in March 1897 before conscription became law, to study Chinese boxing. Other notable and equally unwilling emigres of this period were; Unchu Marchida Sanda(21) and Arakaki Kamade Unchu(22) who were also students of karate,(23) bo,(24) (stick fighting) and fighting techniques(25).

Training with Shu Shi Wa(26)

When Kanbun Uechi arrived in China he was just twenty years old. Alone, disoriented, and overwhelmed by the scale of the country in which he found himself, he was like a boat adrift in the ocean without purpose or direction. His father had told him that living in a foreign country without support would be very hard, and that he would need to overcome many hardships. He resolved to do just that; but how!

The first Sino-Japanese War(27) had ended in defeat for the Chinese at the hands of the Japanese army, and political instability in China was the feeding pressure that would explode in Peking as the Boxer Rebellion.(28)

Kanbun wandered without purpose through one of the most trying times in China’s history, viewed no doubt with great suspicion by the local people. The customs of those around him were different from his own, and his lack of language skills caused further isolation. He knew not East from West, and felt himself to be in a vast enemy territory, alone and without resources. Feeling hopeless and lonely, his only companion on this solo pilgrimage was a profound sense of nostalgia for his home and family.

Little is known of the period between Kanbun’s arrival in China and his enrollment in the Kogyo dojo, from which point he evolved from an aimless wanderer to a nascent warrior. Now he had a purpose and direction to add to the hope and faith that had sustained him. He never doubted that he would reach his goal, and trained with such determination that he not only survived in his new homeland, but in time also prospered. Hopelessness and loneliness gave way to energy and enthusiasm that drove him to study the martial arts of China for thirteen years.

Two of the most famous martial artists from the Meiji to the Taisho(29) eras were Higashionna Kanryo of Naha-Te,(30) and Kogyo Kaho of Kojo Ryu, who studied unarmed methods and the long staff.(31)

The latter’s study of Confucianism caused him to be named the “Samurai Scholar,” and he was the first Japanese instructor to open a martial arts dojo in China. His style of martial arts is no longer extant in Okinawa, but has been preserved by Shingo Hayashi of Yudokoro, Totori City, Japan.

With his friend Tokusaburo Matsuda, Kanbun Uechi joined the dojo of Kaho Kogyo where they were taught by Makabe Udon.(32)

Kanbun did not see eye to eye with Makabe, and perhaps questioning the logic of learning Chinese martial arts from a non-Chinese instructor, left the Kogyo Ryu dojo to search for a new teacher.

Chou Tze prostitute

Chou Tza prostitute (Japanese: Shu Shi Wa) was commonly known as Yeikan(33) and formally as Azan Do Sha.(34) He was the eldest son of a wealthy family in Fushu Province Nanko Chin Shibata.(35)

In his youth he studied with the noted Southern Shaolin Boxing stylist, Shu Hoku(36) (Li Chou Pei) in Ei Tai prefecture, and later with the famous martial arts master, Ko Sai Tei(37) (Kou Hsi T’i) from San To province for whom the house was built by Shu Shi Wa’s wealthy father, and a stipend provided. (He would subsequently dedicate martial arts museums in Nanko-Giogai(38) and Fuku-Shu-Nan-Ko-Gai.(39))

Kanbun’s whereabouts from the time he left the Kojo Ryu dojo and became a member of Master Shu Shi Wa’s dojo, remains a mystery that warrants further research.

Although Shu Shi Wa was only three years older than Kanbun Uechi, he had practiced martial arts from infancy and was already recognized as a leading expert. Kanbun Uechi commented in his book The Instruction Story,(40) “My main purpose of seeking a master is to pursue the way of martial arts. Therefore, it should not have any bearing, or even be questioned whether my master is the senior or junior (in age) to me. If a younger master can lead me in the way of Bushido, then I will choose that person as a master.”

After three years of hard training under the watchful eye of Shu Shi Wa, Kanbun Uechi had occasion to return to the Kojo dojo where his training had begun. He had dismissed from his mind the ridicule and insults that had caused him to leave this place, and was seeking only the pleasure and comfort that meeting one’s compatriots in a foreign land can bring.

Makabe Udon noticing how Kanbun’s physique had changed and how penetrating his gaze had become, asked him to perform a kata, which he did without hesitation. As Kanbun performed Sanchin, Makabe in his astonishment, could not stem the words of praise that flowed in a torrent from his lips. No external impact could move or unsettle Kanbun as he performed the kata. “His physique was as robust as a banyan tree embracing a boulder with its roots.” His movements were light and as swift as lightning while exuding elegance and power.

On his return to Okinawa, Kanbun’s friend and countryman, Tokusaburo Matsuda, delighted in telling all who would listen of this event. How Master Makabe Udon, who had ridiculed Kanbun Uechi, and driven him from his dojo with insults like “Fat belly Uechi,” was astonished by the progress Kanbun had made in just three years training in the dojo of Shu Shi Wa, and could not stop complimenting him. Just seeing him perform Sanchin, Makabe said, was enough to recognize him as a true warrior. After this incident the three of them, Kanbun, Tokusaburo, and Makabe became true friends.

Selling Chinese Medicine in the Street

After seven years of devoting his life to training in the dojo of Shu Shi Wa, Kanbun had achieved a very high level of ability in both the physical and mental aspects of the martial arts. He had studied Chinese herbal medicine and mastered the language to the point where he could converse with local people comfortably. At the age of twenty-seven, China was no longer a foreign land to him, and the customs of its people had become his own. Now it was time for him to integrate fully into Chinese society as a martial artist.

Since ancient times it was the custom for martial arts practitioners to demonstrate their skills by selling medicine on the public streets in China. The marketing theory was a sound one, linking as it did in the potential customers’ minds the strength and ability of the performer, with the effectiveness of his products. The more impressive the fighter, the more desirable his medicine, and therefore, the higher the price it would command. The drawback was the need to accept challenges from passing martial artists of perhaps superior ability, who could, with a single blow, ruin the street performer’s commercial enterprise. Consistent success required a very high level of skill and determination, and selling medicine in the street could be considered a finishing school for martial artists, despite the scorn it engendered from certain segments of society. So much so that when Macha Buntoku(41) (1867-1945) often referred to as the, “Last Samurai” returned to Okinawa in 1909 he stated publicly that, “Uechi Kanbun was a fearful warrior; he had the ability to sell Chinese medicine in China.”

Teaching Certificate Granted

Kanbun Uechi spent his young adulthood studying martial arts in the training hall of Master Shu Shi Wa in Fuzhou. Eight years of severe training earned him a level of ability rare in one so young. Eight years during which, to strengthen his resolve, he told himself repeatedly that he would never return to Okinawa if he failed to master tiger boxing. Now, in the spring of 1904, his hard work was rewarded with the formal acknowledgment of his ability in the form of a teaching license from his teacher Shu Shi Wa. Kanbun had not only mastered technique through hard training, but also developed the wisdom and presence of mind that distinguishes a martial artist from a fighter, as we shall learn from the following account.

One evening in the spring, Uechi and a small group of students made there way to a remote village to pass the evening in conversation over drinks. The time passed quickly, and soon they needed to decide whether to stay the night, or make their way back in the darkness. Kanbun decided to return despite talk of a bandit named Fi-E-Re(42) who frequent that area. He left his students, and with a breeze in his face and a tune on his lips, set off for home.

By the light of a hazy moon, Kanbun could see the terrain either side of the path was flat and offered no place to hide. And yet, within minutes, his progress was halted by a large shadowy figure with both arms fully extended to block his way. A menacing demand came in a forceful tone, “Give me your money!” Kanbun quietly replied that he had none having spent it drinking with his students, preparing himself for a confrontation as he spoke these words.

This time the bandit demanded, “Take off your clothes!” Kanbun’s response was to refuse, but even as he was doing so a lightning fast punch was aimed at him. Sensing that he was facing a strong, dangerous fighter, Kanbun blocked the punch with his left hand then struck the bandit in the heart with a powerful right four finger strike, felling him instantly before he could utter a sound. From the darkness Kanbun heard the sound of footsteps rapidly disappearing into the night as the companions of the giant bandit melted into the darkness.

This account comes from Ryuryu Tomoyose who was Vice President of the Uechi Ryu Karate Do Association immediately after World War II. According to Tomoyose, Kanbun Uechi was a courteous, honest and compassionate man, but one with an iron will. He preferred to remain silent, but when discussing karate he would become animated and very talkative and his eyes would shine like those of an eagle. His favorite techniques were Hajike (43) (four finger thrust) which on making contact would throw its recipient back several meters; Nukite(44) (horizontal four finger strike) and Kakushiken(45) (crane thrust). All his favorite techniques were performed with the fingers of the open hand, and it was said of him, “One strike, certain death!”

Footnotes

1. Documented as the first visit of a Chinese emissary and the commencement of a trading relationship between the two countries in 1392.

2. Last Chinese dynasty (Qing 1636 – 1912)

3. Chinese technical manual.

4. 100 chapters of Chinese history, literature, and art

5. Shin Cho-Last Chinese dynasty (Qing 1636 – 1912)

6. The will of the warrior, Bu-Bi-Shi (240 chapters of fighting strategy by Bou Moto Gi).

7. Author, Bou Moto Gi.

8. North Sei Dynasty Incident

9. Gi Wa Koku no Ran.

10. Ken-pi’s conflict. Footnotes 8, 9, and 10 are different names for the rebellion of 1900 in which “The Boxers” violently protested interference in China’s affairs by the imperial powers of Australia, Hungary, Britain, America, Russia, France, Italy, and Japan. This epic event was romanticized in thye 1963 cinema presentation, 55 Days at Peking, starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardener, and David Niven.

11. Hi-chu-no-den, The Secret Biography. A book whose martial secrets were closely guarded.

12. Ryuei-Ryu, martial art style allegedly based on the teachings of Ryu Ru Ko, best known as the teacher of Kanryo Higaonna, founder of Goju Ryu karate.

13. Shorin-Ryu, martial art style.

14. Goju-Ryu, martial art style. See footnote 12.

15. Kojo-Ryu, martial arts style. Kogusuku Ryu in Okinawa dialect. Founder of this art is said to be an individual known as Sai-Chu-Kou; whose true identity is unknown.

16. Tokafuto, place on the Motobu Peninsular in Northern Okinawa.

17. Tou-te, old name for karate from Tou Dynasty (618 – 690; 705 – 907)

18. Bu-jutsu, Kobudo, martial art, hand & weapon technique.

19. Tou-ichi-tanme-touyama a person’s name in Okinawan dialect meaning “Old Man Toyama.”

20. Several generations before.

21. Matsuda Tokusaburo, Unchu Machidasanda in Okinawan dialect. Uechi Kanbun’s best friend in both China and Okinawa.

22. Arakachi Kamade Unchu. Okinawan dialect. “Uncle Arakaki Kamade.”

23. Karate (Empty Hand). Using they modern characters adopted in the 1930s.

24. Konbo, stick

25. 10,000 methods of fighting.

26. Shu Shi Wa, Uechi Kanbun’s karate master (Also called Shu Shabu).

27. Nisshin War. The first Sino-Japanese War-July 1894 ~ March 1895

28. Hoko Sei Incident, North Shin Dynasty conflict (Same as Item No. 8.)

29. Japanese calendar. Meiji Era (1868 ~ 1912) Taisho Era (1912 ~ 1926).

30. Naha-Te, from Higaonna Kanryo, founder of Gojo Ryu.

31. Kon prostitute, stick art, part of kobudo

32. Makabe Udon. Makabi Chan-Gyuwa in Okinawan dialect, a well-known karate expert.

33. Yeikan, Shu-Shi-Wa’s nickname.

34. Azan-Do-Sha, Shushi Wa’s military title.

35. Rongcheng in Fuzhou Province Nanko Chin Shibata Village - North-East of China, Capital.

36. Shu Hoku, name of place in north-east China.

37. Ko Sai Tei, Shushi-Wa’s master’s name, attributed by some to have super human powers.

38. Nankyo-Giogai, name of place in north-east China.

39. Fuku-Shu-Nanko-Gai, name of place in north-east China.

40. Shi-Seshu, Instructor guidance for life.

41. Macha Buntoku in Okinawa dialect. Japanese, Machida Buntoku.

42. Fi E Re. A bandit

43. Hajike, Snap Four Finger Thrust.

44. Nukite (Horizontal Four Finger Thrust)

45. Kaushi-Ken (Crane Finger Thrust)
Attachments
Kanbun Uechi – 1877 – 1948
Kanbun Uechi – 1877 – 1948
Kanbun Uechi.jpg (42.03 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Chinese market circa 1910. An ideal location for selling medicine. CFA Archive.
Chinese market circa 1910. An ideal location for selling medicine. CFA Archive.
Chinese Market.jpg (126.39 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Shu Shi Wa, Kanbun Uechi’s teacher
Shu Shi Wa, Kanbun Uechi’s teacher
Shu Shi Wa.jpg (39.44 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Kanbun Uechi, a country boy from the small island of Okinawa, must have been overwhelmed by the vastness of China when he first arrived in 1897. Rural Chinese landscape circa 1900. CFA Archive.
Kanbun Uechi, a country boy from the small island of Okinawa, must have been overwhelmed by the vastness of China when he first arrived in 1897. Rural Chinese landscape circa 1900. CFA Archive.
Rural Chinese landscape.jpg (134.46 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Heavy skirmishing between Japanese and Chinese troops during the Nisshin War 1894-1895. Woodblock print, CFA Archive.
Heavy skirmishing between Japanese and Chinese troops during the Nisshin War 1894-1895. Woodblock print, CFA Archive.
Nisshin War Small.jpg (161.38 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Fuzhou City, China. Note the distinctive White Pagoda. Photo courtesy of Morio Higaonna Sensei.
Fuzhou City, China. Note the distinctive White Pagoda. Photo courtesy of Morio Higaonna Sensei.
Fuzhou City.jpg (119.13 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Southern tip of Okinawa, looking northwards. Photo courtesy of Toshihiro Oshiro Sensei.
Southern tip of Okinawa, looking northwards. Photo courtesy of Toshihiro Oshiro Sensei.
Southern Tip of Okinawa.jpg (113.7 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Troops representing the eight nations involved in the Boxer Rebellion
Troops representing the eight nations involved in the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion.jpg (88.68 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Unarmed techniques from the Bubishi
Unarmed techniques from the Bubishi
Bubishi.jpg (49.23 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Since the middle of the 15th century Fuzhou City, on the northern banks of the Min River, has been the official port of entry into China for Okinawan ships.
Since the middle of the 15th century Fuzhou City, on the northern banks of the Min River, has been the official port of entry into China for Okinawan ships.
Okinawan ships.jpg (99.57 KiB) Viewed 153840 times
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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...
Master Makabe Udon, who had ridiculed Kanbun Uechi, and driven him from his dojo with insults like “Fat belly Uechi,”
...

Fat shaming. In today's Japan, people are expected to be in trim shape. People will point out in disgust if you're overweight. Despite that, it's a growing problem. Between 1997 and 2016, male obesity prevalence of Japan grew substantially from 1.6 to 4.8 percent.
https://knoema.com/atlas/Japan/Male-obesity-prevalence

In contrast for the year 2021, 41.9% of American adults are obese.
https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/state ... 3/hop.html
https://www.axios.com/2023/03/23/norc-s ... ns-obesity
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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Under the “Selling Chinese Medicine in the Street”, it was mentioned, “since ancient times it was the custom for martial arts practitioners to demonstrate their skills by selling medicine on the public streets in China.” I’m familiar with Chinese medicine and martial arts, having visited several herbal pharmacies, talked to Kung Fu people as well as several Chinese people in Chinatown, Boston, MA. None of them heard about Chinese martial artists selling medicines. The herbal shops I visited are arranged like western pharmacies with no signs of martial arts marketing. While Kung Fu academies place health and strength in high regard, they never sell herbs. There are two possibilities: martial arts practitioners sell herbs only in some parts of China and none of them immigrated to Massachusetts. Another is that practice died out by mid-twentieth century.

I greatly prefer the western pharmacies culture. True, a man with exceptional fighting ability is a great role model illustrating how his medicine can make him strong enough to literally fight off the competition. The problem with that is a society that only cares about popping pills that enable them to more effectively beat other people up is a place I don’t want to live. It feels barbaric. Obviously, there are many aspects of good health that have nothing to do with fighting ability. For instance, a girl can probably beat me up, but my vaccination jabs keep me from the hospital intensive care. Taking herbs to build muscles, increase intelligence, and live long lives applies only for strength building, smarts, and still being active at an old age. Fighting ability is an entirely different field. Remember that Choki Motobu, the famous Okinawan karate master, knocked out his opponent, possibly the professional strong man Jan Kentel of Estonia, within seconds in a boxing match.
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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Crane, one of the animals that characterize karate movements, plays a big role in Uechi Kanbun. Crane thrust is one of Uechi's favorite fighting techniques. I see two Kung Fu academies in Boston's Chinatown influenced by the bird. Woo Ching White Crane Kung Fu school is the oldest Lion Dance group in Boston. In festivals, they always perform last. Traditionally, the newest groups perform first and the oldest group perform last. Tiger Crane Kung Fu also often show up in Boston's event even though they're based in Mansfield, MA. Tiger is also another animal characterized in karate movements. Funny how cranes are used in karate since when I see them, they usually just stand in the marsh, fleeing if I get too close. Guess they're better in observing nature than me, a city boy.
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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"For Kanbun Uechi, the ability of the wealthy to purchase for their sons an exemption from military service for just ¥270, was an injustice of the highest order..."

The word “yen” translate to “circle” or “round object”. In 1897, the same year Kanbun left for China, Japan adopted the gold standard. Each yen amount to 0.75 grams of pure gold. The 270 Yen price Kanbun needed to pay in order to avoid being drafted would be the equivalent of 202.5 grams of gold. Price of gold for today (10/2/2023) is about 60 dollars per gram ($59.13 to be exact). 270 yen is the equivalent of $16,200 in gold at today’s price. Kabun has good reason to protest purchasing military exemption.
https://www.imes.boj.or.jp/cm/english/history/content/
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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Kanbun Uechi, born on 1877 was tall for a Japanese at the time; he stood at 5 feet 5 inches. On the year 1900, the average height for a Japanese student at age 17 was 5 feet, 2 inches.
https://nbakki.hatenablog.com/entry/2014/05/30/173407
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

Post by emattson »

Kanbun Uechi not only studied Chinese herbal, but became proficient in the healing arts. His family grow radishes as their occupation. Through them, he became proficient in herbs. He probably also studied Chinese herbal treatments. Shushiwa, who runs the The Fu Chuan Shin Temple school in China, suffered from an ailment, possibly headaches. After Kanbun prescribed his herbal concoction which healed Shushiwa, he was accepted into his school. Kanbun trained with Shushiwa for ten years before opening his own dojo.
https://www.shuriway.co.uk/uechi-kanbun.html
https://okdkarate.com/uechi-ryu-karate/
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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

Post by emattson »

Posted by Justin LaVasse from FaceBook:

Quite often the Japanese and Chinese pronunciation of the same Chinese character has been included as separate people or names.
Let me try and clear some of this up and explain. 1st Shushiwa is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters 周子和. In the modern pinyin system it is transliterated as Zhōuzihé but older systems of transliteration into English include: Chou Tsu prostitute and Chu Chi Wo. Various Chinese dialects and different languages use Chinese characters and there are different pronunciation systems to render those into English and so all these Chou Tsu prostitute, Chu Chi Wo, Shushiwa, Zhōuzihé and more are just different languages, romanization systems and dialects for the same individual who I will refer to as Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) for the rest of this.

Here are the same list of names reordered with their Chinese characters and the transliteration system or language used:
Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Pinyin)
Shushiwa 周子和 (Japanese)
Chou Tsu prostitute 周子和 (Wade-Giles)
Chu Chi Wo 周子和 (other romanization probably for Cantonese or Nanjing dialects🤷‍♂️)
Shuu 周 (Japanese)
Yeikan 永寬 is the Japanese pronunciation the Chinese Yǒng Kuān 永寬. This is actually important as one story about Kanbun 完文 says he and Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) says they had a discussion about one of the characters in their name bein the same. Kanbun may have actually written his name 寬文 not 完文 and as Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) Zì 字 (courtesy name given at adulthood) was Yǒng kuān 永寬 this story makes since and supports the fact they actually knew each other. Not many know this story or how their names are written in Japanese and Chinese but it is an important piece of evidence for our history and also shows why Japanese and Chinese characters should always be included in English translations along with the romanization or transiteration of their name into the Latin alphabet.

Before I go on let me explain the Chinese naming system and list those of Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa). There are several tyoes of names used by a Chinese gentleman of the era. They include:

Xìng 姓 (surname or clan name) Zhōu 周. In Chinese the family name is listed first, it is not prostitute by the way, not is it prostitute. That error should never have made it to publication.

Míng 名 (given name or birth name) Zihé 子和 this is his birth name and would be used by elder family members and in family genealogical charts.
Súmíng 俗名 (localname) <is one type of nickname> Kuānkuān 宽宽. This is a childhood nickname

Zì 字 (courtesy name given at adulthood) Yǒng kuān 永寬, it means broad and vast as he was very strong. This is the name used by friends and contemporaries and would have been awarded or chosen by his school teacher.

Hào 号 (art name or pen name, often used when writing books for example) Xúnshān Dàozhě 郇山道者 (Holy Mountian Taoist)
Wàihào 外号 (nickname) Wúdídàjiàngjūn 无敌大将军 (meaning "The Invincible General" or the great general with no equal.) He was given this nickname for his extraordinary skill and for her performance of the Lǎohǔdiào 老虎吊 (tiger hang) here he hung by the neck, from a noose, and was savagely beaten with a stick receiving no damage.

All of these are just different names for Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) as was common for a Chinese gentleman of the time to have. Some of them have merely been mistranslated in to Japanese or older romanization systems and presented as different names.

Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) learned the tiger boxing name famous by Lǐzhāoběi 李昭北. Some incorrectly say he learned from an uncle Chow Bei but this is just a mistake for Lǐzhāoběi 李昭北 who is not related and Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) was not his student. Fujian Tiger boxing was invented by Lǐyuánzhū 李元珠 (1716-1793). He had two famous students Lǐzhāoběi 李昭北 and Zhèngdēngguāng 郑登光 (1766-1818).
The lineage of Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) comes from the less famous Zhèngdēngguāng 郑登光 who taught mostly Zhèng family members and not from the more famous Lǐzhāoběi 李昭北. Zhèngdēngguāng 郑登光 taught Zhèngxiānguì 郑仙桂 who taught Zhèngxiānjì 郑仙纪 (1854-1929), the tiger fist teaxher of Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa). Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) Was born in 1874 whilr Lǐzhāoběi 李昭北 died in 1827. It is pretty hard to learn martial arts from an man that died almost 50 years before you were born.

There is no Santo province in China. That is an incorrect Japanese pronunciation of Shàngdòng 山東. Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) is said to have learned from Kēxìdì 柯细弟 of Pulin 蒲领 village the methods of the yú 鱼 (fish), yā 鸭 (duck), niú 牛 (cow), quǎn 犬 (dog), hóu 猴 (monkey), hè 鹤 (crane) and 18 weapons. In other romanization systems Kēxìdì 柯细弟 is translated as Kou Hsi T’i. In Japanese it would be Ko Sai Tei but that is ridiculous. The March 1984 Wǔlín 武林 Magazine, based off the initial research and oral interviews by the Fuzhou Martial Arts Association incorrectly said Kēxìdì 柯细弟 was from Shàngdòng 山東 but later research by them later identified he was from Púlǐng 蒲领 village in Fújiàn 福建 province.

Azan do sha is the incorrect Japanese pronunciation of Xúnshān Dàozhě 郇山道者 (Holy Mountian Taoist) the Hào 号 literary or author name chosen by Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) likely his Taoist name although some said he just stylized himself as a Taoist priest and wasn't actually one.
Fushu Province Nanko Chin Shibata is again Japanese pronunciation of a Chinese place and the wrong place most likely. That is like using the German pronunciation for where I live in the USA but getting the wrong county.. Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa) was born inZhītiáncūn 芝 田 村 ( Zhitian village) in Nányǔzhèn 南屿镇 (Nanyu town), Mǐnhóuxiàn 闽侯县 (Minhou county)– mǐnhóu xiàn), Fúzhōushì 福州市 (Fuzhou city), Fújiàn Shěng 福建省 (Fujian province), China.

Some of these errors are a well known author in our community that had a Japanese speaking student translate words she didn't know we're Japanese or Chinese. She gave him both readings and he published them as alternative histories and very much confused research into Zhōuzihé 周子和 (Shushiwa). Others are based off old research from China in the 1980's but apparently contact was cut off and everything new coming out of China was ignored for the last 40 years. There is a reason for that too but I go into that more only page dedicated to Shushiwa.
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

Post by emattson »

Posted by Tsukasa Higa from FaceBook:

Well, Mr. Lavasse, this is Tsukasa (Scott) Higa a person claimed to be criticized for my Uechi translation. I was surfing the email and discovered this article by mistake! I appreciated for your hard work and endeavour. It' must to be quite an effort to understand Chinese language. I know the characters of Chinese; however, I have a problem understand the language!🤫I responded to Erick couple days ago.

The place Antioch is the place Mr. Allan Dollar resided. He is a friend of mine, and I assisted his book"Secrets of Uechi Ryu Karate and Mysteries of Okinawa"published in 1996. You can observe my name an Acknowledgement section even though he misspelled my name as Tsucaka?😎 I told him this incident to him, and he said he will make correction on Volume II.
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

Post by emattson »

"This long commercial and cultural connection with China influenced the development of Okinawa and its culture significantly."

Sea routes goes from Taiwan to Yayeyama Islands to Okinawa (Loochoo Islands). See link for 1905 map by the Welcome Society. Taiwan used to be controlled by China from the late 17th century until Japan acquired Taiwan in 1895. Taiwan was returned to Nationalist Chinese control in 1945.
https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/sea ... :0z709743f

Wonder if Okinawa had much interaction with the Chinese because of age-old trade or visits from Taiwan?
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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"Since the middle of the 15th century Fuzhou City, on the northern banks of the Min River, has been the official port of entry into China for Okinawan ships."

Fuzhou City is the capital and one of the largest cities in Fujian province, China. It is famous for its hot springs, timber industry, local tea, and lacquerware. Not only do they trade with Okinawa, they also heavily trade with India. For a long time, Fuzhou holds a key position in China's maritime trade. It was founded in the sixth century.

The name Fuzhou is translated as "wealthy town", It is a Tacoma, Washington's Sister City since 1994.
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

Post by jwlavasse »

Fúzhōu 福州 translates as "wealthy province". It was combined with Jiànzhōu 建州 province anciently and the new administrative division was named Fújiàn 福建 province combining the two historic names. Fúzhōu 福州 city is a prefectural level city in Fújiàn 福建 province.
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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

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“Fúzhōu 福州translates as "wealthy province.”

By 1842, Fuzhou, one of five Chinese treaty ports, became completely open to Western merchants and missionaries. Wonder if they got their wealth from trades. Very ancient too: the traditional founding date of the city was 202 BC. The Fuzhou area has even older artifacts, remains of two Neolithic cultures from roughly 5000 BC and 3000 BC.
Erik

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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

Post by jwlavasse »

Zhōuzihé's 周子和 (Shushiwa's) teacher ZhèngXiānJì 郑仙纪 (1854-1929) had his school in the Sānbǎo 三保 port of Fúzhōu 福州 and likely used his skills in tiger boxong to guard warehouses of trade good. His teacher, hèngxiānguì 郑仙桂 was hired by a family that made their wealth in the tea trade and had him teach tiger boxing to their children. Zhōuzihé's 周子和 (Shushiwa's) daughter married Wángjiégōng 王杰功 who could be the same Wángjiégōng 王杰功 whose famly owned a tobacco trade hop in Fúzhōu 福州. Then we have Wúxiánguì (Gokenki) 吴贤贵(1886-1940) a báihèquán 白鹤拳 (white crane boxing) master and Tángdàjī' 唐大基 "Todaki" (1887-1937) a Huzunquan 虎尊拳 (tiger boxing master, both involved in the tea trade to Okinawa and who both may have know Kanbun and Zhōuzihé/Shushiwa.
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Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi

Post by emattson »

"made their wealth in the tea trade"

Tea has played a major role in the British culture. London coffeehouses started serving green tea, imported from China, by 1657. In 1706, Thomas Twining opened the first tea shop in London. Soon after, by 1720s, black tea became more popular. What's interesting is the British add milk and sugar to tea. The Chinese prefer their tea without any additives.
https://esquirescoffee.co.uk/news/brief ... t-britain/

A web page nicely explains the reasons Britain prefers black tea and why they add milk. They have a fantastic diary industry.
https://www.o-cha.net/english/teacha/cu ... ktea2.html
Erik

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