EM: - in your opinion, was at one time the folk tradition of tegumi ever integrated with karate training prior to the 1990's? I mean in the technical sense.
PM: Not that I am aware of.
EM: my view is that tegumi was very informal, not drill oriented, just a free-for-all non-instructed rough play...which certainly makes a good base prior to actually training with an instructor since it serves to toughen kids up in general preparation for later training, if they decided to later study an Art.
PM: There is little evidence to support [or deny] your observation, but I am not in disagreement with you. There is a line of thought that it [Tegumi] was introduced by Tametomo -- if this is so, then it would make it Chinese in origin [introduced to Japan by way of the Kentoshi] and the standard Heian-period based battlefield fighting without weapons.
EM: Which is why it seems a kind of contradiction to see people having formal drills and calling it 'Tegumi'...anywhere for 'push-hands' like exercises to fairly complex technique-driven ground grappling looking exactly like BJJ.
PM: It would seem that you're confusing the historical art/discipline with my innovative collection of drills introduced under the same name.
EM: It seems modern "Tegumi" serves as way Karateka can justify in a historical sense that Karate 'always had groundfighting'. When in fact, since actual tegumi faded away a 100 year ago, it might be more accurate to say that people are simply crosstraining their Karate with the current groundfighting Arts available today.
PM: Okay...I see two separate issues here: #1. I don't believe that "karate" ever had "ground fighting" per se, as the art of karate [as we know it today] was only established on the mainland of Japan in December of 1933. That new/modern practice was based largely upon kata as popularized in Okinawa during the time of Itosu [and Higaonna] when it was used a vehicle through which to funnel physical fitness and social conforminty to condition future conscripts in support of Japan's war machine. Prior to that is an untold story where locally developed and Chinese-based fighting arts were embraced by various elements of Uchinan culture. #2. That folks are cross-training today in a wide range of fighting arts speaks volumes for what's lacking in the modern interpretation of karate...at least to me it does.
EM: I think thats great - crosstraining in general is a wonderful and wise thing (and I'd even argue that crosstraining is the old way). but by forcing historical connections it could warp the intent of the Art.
PM: Ed, I doubt that such deductions could warp it any more than what the JKA and others have already done in the past seventy five years. There is little question that "cross-training" was "the old way."
EM: for example, what if groundfighting was NOT a wise strategy on a mass melee battlefield for obvious reasons. let's also suppose that some classical kata were designed with at least some priciples intact which were distilled from experience in actual combat in a chaotic battlefield. which, later were likely toned down a bit and modifyied for a more civil setting.
PM: No need to argue this point as I am in agreement with you. Such a strategy would be foolish Ed. However, that said, wouldn't you rather posses the skill and never need it then be find your ass on the ground one day and not know what to do?
EM: now if we force groundfighting into the interpretation of kata, the principles may be lost since we've changed the intent. same deal with what happened to kata applications during karate's point-sparring popularity. remember that? people using kata to show long-range sparring principles. which led to some pretty rediculous interpretations of kata.
PM: Sounds as if you're as old as I am!!! OMG...you remember those days, too :-)
EM: if there is no evidence of kata ever being used for groundfighting, nor is there any texts on H2H combat strategy saying that groundfighting was ever a good choice on a battlefield in the few old Chinese martial training manuals I've read. and, perhaps the most damning of all, is the common sense fact that if you aren't doing kata on all fours, then there really isn't a way to demonstrate groundfighting principles/body mechanics and dynamic with a stand-up solo kata. some overlap of general grappling and locks perhaps, but not enough to use as a training tool in groundfighting. if training in a groundfighting Art is a prerequisite to 'seeing' the groundfighting in kata, then it probably isn't really there.
PM: Hmm, I am wondering how you got to "kata-equals-ground-fighting" when I thought we were talking about Tegumi/grappling? It is not my position that kata is about ground fighting. If you want to discuss the fact that kata is a collection of mnemonic templates geometrically choreographed into specific routines and that by virtue of the fact that one could, in theory, apply the same concepts to grappling and produce "a grappling kata" [as strange as that might sound] I'd be prepared to give it a go...otherwise, I think you might be another one of the folks who don't really understand what it is I/we're doing.
EM: It's my position that Karate isn't meant to be an overall fighting system covering all basis while at the same time making people better citizens. for that, outside influences are assumed to be better suited.
What if Karate is more a system of 'initial response'? start adding all of the other Arts and incorporating this and that to force it into a 'well-rounded' system of overall duel-fighting, and the core of intent gets lost. The kata gets lost in it's increasingly elaborate interpretations (which frankly, when demonstrated don't resemble the principles to kata at all - naihanchi used for a juji-gatame or omoplata armbar? which came first, learning how to do it from previous training or learning it from doing naihanchi?).
PM: Once again --- you're preaching to the converted. I am not only in agreement with you I have long preached the same issues...nobody was listening then; I hope someone listens to you.
EM: so while you suggest to 'think outside the box', my point is, go too far away from that box and you can no longer even see the box.
PM: Point taken and, again, I am in agreement with you. I can't help but wonedr, however, if you actually know what it is I/we do, or are you relying too much upon the detractor's criticisms without knowing for sure?
EM: anyway, thats my whole 'agenda' with the Tegumi issue.
PM: Well, thank you for stating your case, and I am very pleased you took the time to make the inquiry.
EM: not criticising or judging anything Patrick, just provoking thought, asking and sharing views....which is pretty much the best people can do on a forum and when not training with each other in-person. pen-n-sword and all that.
PM: Ed, I am and have always been someone who thrives on critical thinking...IMO, it's the only acceptable tool we all have through which to help eliminate the terrible ambiguity that shouds the history and evolution of what brings us together. Moreover, that you are able to conduct yourself in a respectful manner, even when we obviously share different points of view, is IMO, enough to continue on. If you'd like to continue the dialogue until you're able to better understand the nature of what I do, or just, in general, I am happy to do so.
EM: p.s. if you ever find yourself bored in Western Massachusetts (it's been known to happen to folks passing thru), look for a worn unpainted barn
PM: Oh, I just returned to Australia from a 6-week teaching assignment in Canada and the USA--much of which was in the NY, DC, MD, area, in fact, we had folks travel up from Boston to participate in my seminars. Perhaps next time :-)
PS: I am off to New Zealand early in the morning for a 10-days seminar tour, followed by a week in Melbourne before heading back off to Europe again until early Dec...I'll try to be on-line and check in as much as I can...don't give up on me :-)