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#235121 - 02/28/06 05:07 PM Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Many people contest that only until recently did people actually "discover" throwing and grappling applications from karate kata and someone soley versed in classical karate will not have the ability to grapple or throw with a skilled grappler and will be ill prepared for a true combat situation. Funakoshi was not the best karate man from Okinawa nor was he the worst. Funakoshi represented an adequate karate man created by years of training in a classical manner. When Funakoshi came to Japan he developed a relationship with Kano, was promoted to Fifth Dan, and his karate was endorsed by the Kodokan. At that time Judo was a combat sport of which randori was an important training method in which you had to use your skills. It seems unlikely that Kano would have endorsed an individual who had no ability to use his skills and it also seems that his skills would have been evaluated by Kano in randori which for the Kodokan would have been a grappling contest. As an evaluation of Funakoshi's karate he certainly would be charged with proving his karate skills and the utility of the kata which was karate's main training method. I have heard that Funakoshi was promoted to Fifth Dan because he was able to throw and pin Kodokan Fifth Dans in randori, but he did not know Judo, only his Karate. Any thoughts on this? Not to mention Funakoshi's grappling techniques in his Karate Jutsu.

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#235122 - 02/28/06 08:41 PM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: medulanet]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
interesting topic. just as a side note, could you put the book/article/source reference(s) down where you read/heard this? I'd be interested in reading more about it. thanks.

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#235123 - 02/28/06 09:18 PM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: Ed_Morris]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
There is a guy named John Vengel who used to post on E-Budo who's understanding of Shorin Ryu is very similar to that of my instructor. He posted it a few years ago and referenced that the Kodokan has records of this somewhere. Being that he is apparently an experienced judo-ka among other things I feel there may be some truth to what he says. Actually one reason I posted this was to see if anyone else has heard any similar sources and could confirm it for me.

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#235124 - 03/04/06 11:52 AM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: medulanet]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Funakoshi Sensei was promoted to 5th Dan in order to open a martial arts organization in Japan and have the student's certificates accepted by other schools, etc. so they could compete. He was sandan when he was leaving Okinawa to go to Japan, and it was a "late thought" that he be promoted in order that his organization in Japan be "legitimate" in the eyes of those other organizations who were promoting judo and jujitsu tournaments, for jujitsu was the primary art open for competitions at that time.

You have to remember that martial arts schools at that time were brutal, and having a "mere sandan" profess a new art and science of fighting would do nothing except draw ire from the existing schools. A 5th Dan, however, is considered to have "mastery" of his art, and viewed completely differently by the teachers of martial arts schools... and in Japan, 5th Dan was required to open a "legitimate" martial arts organization.

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#235125 - 03/04/06 08:45 PM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: wristtwister]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
I'd suggest before anyone goes further mistating history they check out Harry Cook's book on Shotokan.

Actually it was the controling Japanese Martial Arts association which awarded Funakoshi his 5th dan. There was no rank being awarded on Okinawa, it didn't exist there till the Japanese tried incorporating karate into their generic martial arts structure in the 30's. I'm pretty sure prior to the 1930's rank was a non-issue on Okinawa, and seems to actually have stuck there in the mid 50's onward.

Funakoshi wasn't particuarly pleased at his rank certification, as one of his students was sitting on the board awarding the rank and was ranked higher than he was.

All of the Okinawan's Miyagi, Funakoshi, Mabuni, etc. were concerned about rank in Japan to both promote what they were teaching (it was the great depression after all and they were trying to sell karate in Japan to secure money and or their family futures back on Okinwawa), as well as gain acceptance by the greater Japanese MA culture (which really could not happen, did arts with hundreds of years of history care about Okinawa after all?

It was all relative. The Okinawans carved out their place in Japan in the end, and their arts assumed a non-historical structure that fit that culture.

Rank immediately became a flop. In no time new systems sprang forth and everyone became masters of their own systems. Yep it began in Japan and immediately fell apart there. Rank only means a little bit in a specific organization and outside of a specific group, means absolutely nothing after all.

But Japan showed the rest of the world you could get away with rank inflation after all, and the rest of the world never paid attention (actually it wasn't explained to them how it didnt' work even in Japan).

Funakoshi's impact wasn't because of his rank. He took karate into the University system, and systematized the training, along with his students, to create one Japanese organization of karate that still remains (in many different factions of course). Which is much more than many others did.

Then again, if you want to put Funakoshi on that plain, you better do more research, for Mabuni Kenwa, his junior, should be at least 1/2 step higher than Funakoshi. For he taught Funakoshi's students material Funakoshi didn't have, also created a strong organization(s), and prserved much more Okinawan karate than Funakoshi attempted.

But still on another hand, on Okinawa, they really didn't pay too much attention to what was going on in Japan, because from their point of view, the only true karate was what they were doing.

I wonder how much they regret getting involved with the entire Rank scam after WWII?
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#235126 - 03/05/06 02:39 AM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: Victor Smith]
Toudiyama Offline
Member

Registered: 04/14/03
Posts: 229
Loc: Zaandam, Netherlands
Quote:

Funakoshi's impact wasn't because of his rank. He took karate into the University system, and systematized the training, along with his students, to create one Japanese organization of karate that still remains (in many different factions of course). Which is much more than many others did.




Sorry Vitor, but wasn't that Itosu who did that?

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#235127 - 03/05/06 10:55 PM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: Toudiyama]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
not exactly. Itosu was the first to introduce Karate to public grade schools on Okinawa as part of a kind of 'gym-class'. He did this around the turn of the 20th century. The generation after Itosu were the first to introduce Okinawan karate to the Universities (in Japan).

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#235128 - 03/06/06 07:47 PM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: Victor Smith]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Quote:

[Actually it was the controling Japanese Martial Arts association which awarded Funakoshi his 5th dan. There was no rank being awarded on Okinawa, it didn't exist there till the Japanese tried incorporating karate into their generic martial arts structure in the 30's. I'm pretty sure prior to the 1930's rank was a non-issue on Okinawa, and seems to actually have stuck there in the mid 50's onward.]

Sorry about the mix-up if I stated that incorrectly, but I remembered clearly that his rank was awarded because it was not considered a legitimate organization if the head of the association wasn't ranked 5th dan or higher. The Japanese are very inwardly focused, and if you don't "play by their rules, you don't play" on the mainland.

What you say, however, makes sense, because after demonstrating karate to the existing heads of the budo associations, if they thought he was legitimate, they could award a "batsugun" or "immediate promotion" for his skill if they wanted to either legitimize his organization or acknowledge his proficiency. I think he was uncomfortable with his position most of his life, however, because he refused to allow his students to call his style anything directly connecting him to it. If I remember correctly, it was after his death that his school became known as "Shoto- Kan" after his pen name, denoting "Shoto's house".

Quote:

In no time new systems sprang forth and everyone became masters of their own systems.




I remember how that was blown out of proportion during the 1960's when we had Tae Kwon Do "masters" arrived on a daily basis that were 2nd or 3rd degree black belts when they got on the plane in Seoul, and were 8th and 9th degree when they landed in the U.S. The guy who ended up at our school was Billy Hong, who was 4th Dan on both ends of his trip. He was also All Asian Tournament Champion in 1966 and '67, and had the skills to bluff if he had wanted. Unfortunately, he was on flight 007 that was shot down and was killed way before his time. His family still lives close by, though, and he is still well remembered by a lot of people in the area.

I kind of think that all rank is honorary, and all skills reside within the individual. Like Al Capone said "you get more with a kind word and a gun, than with just a kind word". I've never seen anybody throw their certificate at their opponent in a fight.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#235129 - 03/06/06 09:14 PM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: wristtwister]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote:

I've never seen anybody throw their certificate at their opponent in a fight.




LMAO. Wristtwister wins the "Quote of the day" with that one!
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#235130 - 03/06/06 10:20 PM Re: Funakoshi's Fifth Dan from Kano [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Ed,

When Itosu took karate to the public school system (which really was for Okinawa's elite youth, the lower classes didn't go to school then), it was into the secondary school system, not the elementary school system (that came later by others). The reason was for pre-military training. The Okinawan's knew their kids were going to be drafted into the Japanese military and they wanted them to be stronger, and of course learn how to drill, to make them better soldiers (and get a better life in the military).

I believe as the decades passed, various instructors tried to do the same, but they used differing methods (not just Itosu's).
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