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#355112 - 01/05/08 03:34 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
Rascal Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/29/07
Posts: 21
Loc: USA
Yes, the whole atmosphere of the Udun Di Dojo on Okinawa is extraordinarily laid back (compared to Karate Dojo's). Some of my younger Students (Nidan) where really turned off by their first visit to the dojo because they thought the manners were so lax- they were evaluating it by the standards in our karate Dojo. They mistook the relaxed behavior for lack of respect.

I'm not entirely sure "why" the Dojo is this way but I think it is very conducive to keeping the mind and body loose and relaxed during (and after) the practice. There is a bowl of hard candy in the dojo- it's to help you relax your face, jaw and mind during practice (when you aren't being tossed!) As you point out, water drinking is encouraged which is entirely different from my experience in Odo Sensei's karate Dojo.

A person watching our Udun Di class remarked at how quiet the class was since there is very little use of kiai. The relaxation combined with the awareness really does make the practice have an interesting effect on my overall demeanor.

The lack of kyu ranks is a major advantage. Without the emphasis on kata (we have not been taght any kata, although Toma Seiki Sensei referred to Udun Di dance as "Mai kata") it is far easier for me to have a group with mixed capabilities in the same room- all working at a level that works for each individual. In karate the structure seems very beneficial, it Udun Di the lack of structure is an advantage.
For these and so many other reasons it seems that this art could literally be "just what the doctor ordered" for many people!

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#355113 - 01/05/08 08:35 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Rascal]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
It's interesting to hear your experiences at the other Seidokan dojo, as I wondered if maybe that atmosphere was just in our dojos (but we don't get candy!). From what I've heard, Uehara sensei encouraged this seeming "laxness". But also more traditional Okinawan styles probably tend to be less regimented than the Japanized ones.

It's interesting also that you had students who were put off by the difference in manners. I've been told that formalities that create obedience are discouraged because they are seen to reduce the ability to act on contingencies, although we do have a basic societal level of formality (such as using proper greetings and saying please and thank you). So much of the "showing respect" in mainstream karate is just that--a show, often minus real respect, especially towards people who are lower in rank or weaker.

We're really encouraged to decide for ourselves what to do--what intensity to train at, where to stand during kata, what to do during sparring, etc. The basic precepts are simply to protect oneself and help or not get in the way of (or hurt) others. It really does make it easy for people of all ability levels to train together. I have often been in groups of mixed novices and advanced students ranging in age from age 13 to 70 with no problem--everyone gets what they can out of it for themselves.

I could see where this kind of system could break down in much larger groups or when there is someone who is overly aggressive. I've heard that our sensei had to kick people out because of this in the past. Other than that, strictness is seen as a hinderance unless it comes from the inside, where is seen as a great virtue.

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#355114 - 01/15/08 10:57 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
Rascal Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/29/07
Posts: 21
Loc: USA
Do either of you know anything about Shiroma Sensei who teaches on Okinawa? I beleive that the two Udun Di schools in South America are run by his students.

Also, a question for chofukainoa- Has there been any discussion regarding the the "Sei" in Seidokan? I realise that it has been proposed that this is a reference to the former royal family, but I wonder why the specific kanji (meaning "divine or holy") used in Udun Di was chosen since there are other choices for producing the sound "sei". Toma Seiki, by the way, used a different kanji for his Seidokan- the more commonly used "true, correct". I asked Takamiyagi Sensei about this difference and he stated that Toma Seiki and Uehara Sensei had a falling out. I don't know if Toma Seiki changed his choice of kanji or never used the other character in the first place. His first name also uses the same kanji as his dojo (True or correct).

Thanks,
Dennis

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#355115 - 01/15/08 07:21 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Rascal]
Gesar Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/07
Posts: 77
Loc: England, UK
Hello Dennis,
Shiroma Sensei, so I understand has a representative in Argentina called Augustin Rossendi. Just curious who is the other representative in South America and where are they based, I have a contact in that part of the world who might be able to get some more info. I know that Shiroma Seihan broke away from Uehara and started his own group that was originally known as Jo-ryu Mai Te Gassen Karatekai, he originally trained in Uechi Ryu and Goju and did some Shorin Ryu as well, his style is now known as Moudi Motobu Ryu Gassen Tuite Rengokai,he claims the rank of 10th Dan in Udun Di. I have heard that he runs a drama school in Okinawa. Here is a link to a group in the Netherlands that is associated with them, that may tell you a bit more: http://www.seishindojo.be/new-page-3.htm

I dont know whether you are aware but others who have broken away, apart from Seitoku Higa (Bugeikan), that I have mentioned before, these are: Matsuo Kanenori Sakon, who started training with Seikichi Uehara in the mid 60's and teaches his own version of the Uehara's system in Kobe, Japan he calls it Ryukyu Oke hiden bujutsu Sakon Ryu which also incorporates Nitten Ichi Ryu (Musashi's style) and Shito Ryu karate. Then there is Seiichi Taba of the Renbukan and of course the Two Toma's, that you are aware of.

I know you asked Chofukainoa the question about the Sei in Seidokan, but yes there has been some discussion about the Sei part. A few years ago Stephen Chan of Shian Toma's Seidokan when on Okinawa had noted that both Seiki Toma and Shian Toma after studying with Seikichi Uehara changed their respective dojo names to Seidokan. Dr Chan's words were “The key here, from my own research, is that all three men, Seiki Toma, Shian Toma, and Seikichi Uehara, are Okinawan nationalists and the term ‘Seidokan’, apart from its normal translation, is also a barely coded reference to the House of the Way of Sho (written also as Sei) dynasty.” I guess this is what you meant about reference to the Okinawan royal family, sorry if I repeated something you already knew. Hopefully Chofukainoa may be able to expand on this.

Regards

Chris Norman


Edited by Gesar (01/15/08 07:30 PM)

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#355116 - 01/16/08 06:42 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Gesar]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
No, I don't have a definitive answer for that. Admittedly, the "sei" in Uehara sensei's dojo name is a pretty charged character to use. I have not seen that character used for the Sho Dynasty (Gesar, do you have a reference--I mean an example of the use refered to by Stephan Chan?), although it is possible. In that case, it may refer to symbolic or religious functions of the king, as they apparently wielded authority over the priestesses. Or the fact that simply the kings had passed on, to be revered as ancestors. Or, containing a number of meanings in Chinese, Okinawan, and Japanese, Uehara sensei found it evocative.

I guess I can try to ask about it if I get a chance, but again, it is not a question I can just pop out with. Especially since it is not the name of my dojo, which is pretty banal!

I doubt Uehara sensei was "nationalistic" beyond believing in the continued existence of an Okinawan nation, which is pretty widely held among Okinawans in my experience. His ethics do not seem to be ethnically or racially bigoted, and there does not seem to be a fascination with purity characterized by other uses of the term "nationalist".

He may have viewed the Okinawan past rosily, akin to the Irish nationalists. But he obviously was accepting enough to teach mainland Japanese, who can be discriminated against by (as well as discriminatory towards) Okinawans.

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#355117 - 01/16/08 10:13 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
I did find "sho" reading for the "sei" character. Also, my japanese dictionary defines "sei" as "having wisdom and morality for which to be revered". It not necessarily limited to the Christian idea of divinity. "Sagacious" would be another interpretation.

That said, Shuri Castle IS said to stand on the site of a sacred grove of trees, and the Sho kings did likely invoke a Chinese style of divine right of rule.

But the use of the character by Uehara's dojo is probably not meant to be narrowly either religious or nationalistic. I think the wise/morally upstanding meaning is just as important as the the link to the royalty.

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#355118 - 01/16/08 11:20 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
Rascal Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/29/07
Posts: 21
Loc: USA
Thank you both for the information and thoughts. Toma Seiki Sensei was also an accomplished calligrapher. I have a very nice display piece from him with the same "Sei" that you refer to above (having wisdom and morality for which to be revered) combined with "ken" meaning "fist".

Also, the the back of the sign that Toma Sensei had on his dojo was very interesting. The front side, visible to the public, was for karate instruction. The back was for Udun Di Mae kata and Go Shin Jutsu. Also, In large characters reads "Go Sho Do". The "Go" means "restore". The "Sho" character is the same used by the Sho dynasty. And "Do", of course,is commonly used. Between the characters for Sho and Do he sqeezed in the character "ki"(maybe he added it later). I can send a photo if either of you want to see it.

Dennis Branchaud

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#355119 - 01/16/08 02:36 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Rascal]
Gesar Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/07
Posts: 77
Loc: England, UK
Chofukainoa,
The use referred to by Stephen Chan was in relation to the Dojo name, the quote given is as it was, not really expanded upon. I dont think that he meant it in the extreme form of Nationalism that you mention though,its more likely what you proposed the link to Royalty. As you correctly state there are various degrees of meaning attached to the term nationalism. Seikichi Uehara was after all teaching a number of Japanese as far back as the mid 1960's. I am guessing here but I think its more to do with Okinawa as a nation in its own right with its Royal Family and its ancient martial arts traditions separate from those of Japan or China. The promotion of Okinawan dance has also got nationalistic aspects, basically it promotes Okinawa as having its own national identity, despite the fact that there has been both Chinese and Japanese influences on the Kumi Dori tradition. There is a similiar phenomenon regarding nationalism in this sense in relation to South Korea and Shamanistic dance.

The quote by Stephen Chan that I gave appeared in an article by Roy J Hobbs in a magazine called Traditional Karate back in 1993, the article was about Seiki Toma's Seidokan and was entitled the other Seidokan. I have a scan of the article and could e-mail you it as an attachment if you wish to see it. Alternatively next time I am at SOAS I could try and speak to Dr.Chan and try and find out more. He is now Dean of the faculty where I did my postgraduate studies and runs a branch of Shian Toma's Seidokan there as well.

Dennis,
Yes it would be interesting to see the photo that you mention, I have never managed to upload anything on this site though, but my e-mail address is in my profile.

Regards

Chris Norman

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#355120 - 01/16/08 08:38 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Gesar]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
Chris,

Actually, I found the article "The Other Seidokan" on the internet...I had read it before, but forgot! The comment after Stephen Chan's quote is:
"Dr. Chan obtained this rather insightful information while accompanying Shian Toma on a tour of the restored Shuri Castle in Okinawa"
So I do wonder how much he spoke with Uehara sensei or people in his organization.

My comment on the use of "nationalist" and "coded reference" was just meant to clarify the terms for someone who might be reading these posts and interpret those terms how they might be used in relation to say, Germany or even Japan.

Okinawa after the war did experience a cultural reawakening in dance, music, and language as well as the martial arts. The masters active at that period were definitely a part of it. I would liken this revival to those in other colonized countries who sought to reestablish a cultural connection to the past, as you mention in regards to Korea, and also Ireland.

There is of course a quiet Okinawan independence movement as well, but I don't have any information about Uehara sensei's political persuasions. Did he wish for an actual political restoration of the Ryukyu monarchy or just a perpetuation of its cultural components?

I think this is a good discussion to have, because I wouldn't want to be part of an organization that was chauvinistic or quasi-fascist. I don't think Uehara sensei's message (or the concept of his dojo name) was a narrow one exhorting his followers to reject modernity and bring back a cleansing "holy" authoritarianism. His impluse instead seems to have been to universalize and make relevant a perhaps romanticized kind of Ryukyuan chivalry.

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#355121 - 01/17/08 02:42 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
Good people,

whilst I recognise some relevance could I ask we move on from discussions around politics, religion etc etc,

This is a great thread and we don't need to go there to keep it that way which could risk the martial arts discussion.

Many thanks.
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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