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#265573 - 06/22/06 08:42 AM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: medulanet]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

As many things there are many possible answers.

Is grappling a prerequisite for Okinawan Karate? The answer is most definately NO, in the sense Okinawan karate students don't study grappling first.

On the other hand Sumo on Okinawa is a sport, and as Nagamine wrote, most of the young boys played it to some extent. Okinawan Sumo is grappling, but not in the sense there's ground work. It is a competition, starting with both individuals holding each others belt, and then maneuvering to have the other strike the ground first, including being thrown to counte throw one. I recently found a number of matches to watch. It does not appear to include ground technique, rather grappling to down an opponent.

BTW there are several reasons to not have ground grappling in Okinawan Sumo.One it's a sport and simply downing someone ends the contest. Two, they conduct it on a very large, very thick circle of sand. That provides relative protection from the throws, but only non-sane people want to get down in the sand and dig...... Okinawa is an island after all, and beaches abound.

So young men who studied karate on Okinawa may have played Sumo, but not as a prequesite for karate training.

Now karate technique is definately containing Sumo style counter grappling techniques (assuming the attacker begins by trying to grab you), and I have to do some study, but I think the techniques shown by Motobu Chokoi in his books are definatly grabbing counters, that came from several kata studies like Naifanchi.

At the same time grappling techniques are found throughout the Okinawan karate kata, as its only reasonable to assume at some level of engatement locks, throws, counter techniques, are used, especially as they're in the kata.

But most Okinawan karate specialised in the striking techniques and there is a good reason. The other skills take quite a bit of time to develop, and making sure the student had a destructive striking ability was as crucial as their being able to project someone to the ground.

It's fairly obvious on Okinawa, Sumo didn't attack Karate or a regular basis, or the structure of teaching would have shifted to develop the students ability to counter same faster.

Of course I'm still learning,
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#265574 - 06/22/06 04:00 PM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: Victor Smith]
medulanet Offline
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Registered: 09/03/03
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Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Actually I believe the purpose of okinawan sumo was to pin the opponent's shoulders to the ground, not just to down them, and a pin can be secured through submission techniques. The purpose is the pin is one of control and once control is obtained there is no need to go further. For me at least this lead right into karate's groundfighting methodologies. Once I control you I can do whatever I want. But then again, what do I know about Okinawan sumo? Actually this post is not so much about the rigid structure of kata containing groundfighting, but TRUE understanding of grappling enhancing a karateka's understanding of karate and karate IS kata. I don't know tegumi, but I know no form of effective grappling that does not include ground fighting. In the grappling I know of, and at least in Matsubayashi Ryu(maybe not the other forms of okinawan karate) once I grab you, you are going to hit the ground and I will finish you as you go down and once you get there for good measure. I also think there is a misconception as to sport groundfighting and street groundfighting. Even in BJJ you are taught to finish an opponent with headbuts, elbows, hammerfists, stomps, knee drops, and sometimes punches rather than armbars and triangle chokes. Which sounds like the Okinawan karate I know, maybe not the karate others know. Sport grappling is good to develop wrestling skill which can be invaluable in a fight, but a fight is not a wrestling match. Therefore there is not techniques in karate, but possibly what Nagamine refers to as "karate wrestling" as preparation for developing fighting skill. Again, okinwan karate IS a cultural phenomenon of okinawa. I assume that its sumo traditions evolved along side it and have changed in modern times as well. I doubt a video of todays okinwan sumo is a little different from that of which Nagamine refers.

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#265575 - 06/22/06 04:06 PM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: medulanet]
Victor Smith Offline
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Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Mendulant,

When I get home tonight I'll check on the Okinawan site that has the sumo competition. As I remember it, the second their shoulders touched the fight was over. Perhaps there are several layers to there art, a competition type and a more layered grappling art, but as I remember Nagamine, he focused on the sportive aspect.

So reseach called for.

I know from the competition there was no indiciation that anything was involved after the opponent was downed. But I do recall there was limited ground work when the person was thrown to get their shoulders to touch.

Actually it looked rather fun.

All I am suggesting is the Okinawan formal grappling tradition may not be the same as other traditions. That would not surprise me at all.

But it is interesting to observe.
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#265576 - 06/22/06 05:32 PM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: Victor Smith]
shoshinkan Offline
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Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
Great posts people, very interesting and useful to me.

Something that helps me alot is to not think in isolation to much when defining things. As I understand it tegumi (sporting version okinawan sumo) is a primative method of grappling, the aspects that are of use to the karate art are standup grappling and limited floor work, which makes sense from a self defence perspective, all the strikes/locks/chokes are in the kata which are based on chinese kenpo methods. (and some have value on the floor by default).

Could you send the link on the okinawan sumo to me Victor, would appriciate that greatly, as you know I have spent alot of time trying to figure out tegumi and train my research in the dojo (supported by Seniors and my Sensei),

Some of the key things I have found is it gives us the capacity for free flow exchange (with as much resistance as one wants), it opens oppertunitys for strikes/locks and also shows us the importance of keeping balance and taking balance against street style assault. I think of it as the linking movements in a real situation, when one stumbles etc etc.

I firmly beleive the tegumi methods are a significant part of the older art that in most cases were not passed on, for various reasons.
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#265577 - 06/22/06 09:05 PM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: shoshinkan]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Okinawan Sumo - agter watching the matches and reading Nagamine's description they are the same.

Nagamine "Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters" page 140

'A bout is over only when the contestant falls on his back inside the ring. Additionally, a wrestler today must not twist the opponent's joints, grasp the collar, pull out his legs, push him down, or even use the hands to prevent the application of an opponent's technique during a bout.'

In fact during the entire bout, the hands are securly locked on the sides of the opponents obi.

The streaming video on sumo can be found about 2/3 the way down this page http://www.okinawabbtv.com/news/okinawa_news.htm#

And the site preceeds its clips now with a commercial, so you wait a bit before it starts.

Nagamine references how sumo players also cross trained in judo, and you'll hear judo mentioned on the video.

But Okinawan Sumo is what it is, based on their traditions.

No ground work, just grab someone and down them.

The strongest surmise, in contempory karate's infancy of the 1850's, the only competition was the Okinawn Sumo tradition. Judo wasn't invented in those years.

Lots to think about and even more to look at clearly. I really believe what you see is what was/is.

BTW the site I'm giving is a treasure trove of all aspects of Okinawa's life. You have to work to find what's there, little is in English (and what is is spelled quite differently). But you can see instead of surmise.

back to Okinawan grappling, with Judo likely in the schools (controlled by japan) eventually different aspects of grappling would be introduced, but I doubt if they had much influence in karate's development by that time. Just a parallel track to some extent.
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#265578 - 06/22/06 09:52 PM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: Victor Smith]
MattJ Offline
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Registered: 11/25/04
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Loc: York PA. USA
Fascinating stuff, Victor. Very interesting to see the relationship (or lack thereof ) with the Okinawan grappling traditions.
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#265579 - 06/22/06 11:02 PM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: Victor Smith]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Interesting, you are correct Victor, no submissions or pinns in Okinwan Sumo. Now, what of this "karate wrestling"?

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#265580 - 06/23/06 05:01 AM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: MattJ]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

Not training in Okinawa, and only seeing snippets of their tradtions, at this time this is where I see grappling on the Island.

1. Okinawan Sumo probably is the oldest common tradition. Sort of their softball when people get together, you know town against town. The contemporary version (and it looks like according to Nagamine's accounts that it's been that way for a long time) is just that how to grapple when locked to an opponent and get them down.

In my mind it seems to reinforce that their arts weren't really directed towards building the ultimate street self defense. And whatever was the distant past is irrevelant, that time left long ago.

So you go back to the 1800's, this was the Okinawan public martial tradition, kids grew up with it.

2. Karate developed slowly, and for a very, very, very few. There was some public demonstration but till the introduction of some karate into the schools, it developed for it's own purposes, not for wide usage, or even directly for the street.

The only glimpse what karate could be used for comes from analyzing how karate technique fits into attacks, and there are definately locks, projections and takedowns in the kata.

But from it's public debut in the 1900's, and from instructors opening the doors to more people, the focus of 1900's instruction was on impace (striking and kicking), and the other potentials the public record (which we cannot totally believe because we weren't there) suggests only long term students really studied those other potentials. At least whatever was done prior to the modern era was\is not publically diseminated.

3. The 3rd grappling tradition Ryukyu Oke Hiden Bujutsu ws the more secret. Joe Swift has translated Matsuo kanenori Sakon's book 'The secret royal martial arts of ryukyu' into English but it is only availble through Germany. This Ti art contains a very wide range of techniques and weapons, and does contain grappling, but it is more akin to aikido, with small tehnique locks and projections. Until this art, that of Uehara Seikichi, was opened up to the public, it was very close. In fact the book also describes karate grappling as being done at a longer range than judo's and describes how much of karate grappling was set aside in modern times.

But I'm quite sure my assumptions may be flawed, for I'm in New Hampshire, not Okinawa. Still one tries to make sense of this.

In fact in the states, until Oyata opened up his personal interpretation of karate's useage, there was little public disussion that karate contained grappling, and those who worked on those traditions were not announcing it.

Of course in the end, what matters is how our own art is shaped, not what the past was.
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victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#265581 - 06/23/06 05:09 AM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: Victor Smith]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Oooops, I forgot one other source of information detailing Karate's grappling tradition.. The books written in the 1930's in Japan, clearly show grappling techniques as part of the process.

The most important is Mutsu's 1933 'Ryukyu Kempo' with 1/2 the book showing applications of karate technique. He had been an early student of Funakoshi, but a trip to Okinawa in 1930 left him with a great desire to share what he had acquired.

BTW, Joe Swift is working on a translation, but the book is very large and it will take quite a while till he completes it.

So information is available, but it takes work to find it.

BTW Mutsu after the book was published, traveled to Hawaii to share, and eventually disappeared from public view in Japan. His book, published 2 years before Funakoshi's Master Text in 35, contained a wider range of kata eventually adopted by the JKA. His text also had extensive charts, but not meridians, rather 'modern' medical type charts of the body's structures, and of course the obligatory section on where to strike.
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victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#265582 - 06/24/06 03:18 PM Re: Is grappling a prerequisite for okinwan karate? [Re: Victor Smith]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
Thankyou for the link Victor, first time I have seen okinawan sumo (albeit in video eh!), I hope to see some 'live' next year!

What was interesting was that each competitior literally hooked their hands on the belt (perhaps to do with the hara being our centre?), obviously making that the focus of the off balancing (although im sure alot off other things go on as well), and as you say once someone is 'flipped' onto their back its all over.

I also found it interesting how if you lifted someone they just hang there to be tossed over!

Excellent clip, really highlights to me the sport of okinawan sumo and gives me another reference point for my tegumi research. I think if we allow ourselves a little imagination and a big dollop of sensibleness then we might begin to see what perhaps tegumi of old was all about.

I like to think of the obvious developments of karate jutsu - karatedo and jujutsu - judo, kenjutsu - kendo etc etc, if I apply the same logic to the okinawan sumo I feel im getting somewhere, of course I could be getting nowwhere - but that isnt important is it!
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Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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