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#355142 - 01/28/08 08:07 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: shoshinkan]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
Okay, I will try. Give me a few days.

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#355143 - 01/28/08 09:53 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: shoshinkan]
Rascal Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/29/07
Posts: 21
Loc: USA
Nice work digging up these articles!

Interesting point, "The only way to the pinnacle of bu is to walk with mushin. When I mentioned in a previous post that I get a similar mental state as when walking kinhin, this must be what he is refering to. I have never been instructed about this particular frame of mind (in Udun di) It simply manifests itself when I practice what I have been taught.
I have practiced Soto Zen for many years and Udun di always seemed to fit like a glove (I was also attracted to the less violent defense skills). Incidently, Taira Sensei of the Seidokan is also a committed Zen practitioner.

Even today, as in the past, the major temples on Okinawa are Shingon Buddhist and there are a couple of Rinzai Zen places (no Soto Zen). There are some Soka Gakkai Dojo and a couple of other modern religions but the temples adjacent to the seven major shrines are Shingon.

We should be safe discussing these topics because whenever I have been asked (on Okinawa) about my religious affiliation my answer is "Buddhist" and they always laugh and tell me that it's not a religion!

Talk to you soon,
Dennis Branchaud

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#355144 - 01/28/08 04:34 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Rascal]
Gesar Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/07
Posts: 77
Loc: England, UK
Chofukaino,
Those articles are indeed very interesting and are very good academic sources, Gregory Smits article is of particular interest and something I shall look at in more detail this week. I do not think that Seikichi Uehara gained any particular religious influences from Seitoku Higa, who had went off on his own path and which may have contributed to the separation of seikichi Uehara from Seitoku Higa, I believe that the reference to Kiko and this power to knock people over that Uehara referred to as being a bit of a myth when Richard Florence interviewed him in the 1990's was in reference to this.

Anyway I do not know whether anybody has looked at William Lebra's Okinawan Religion: Belief, Ritual and Social Structure, which was an ethnographic work originally published in 1966 by the University of Hawaii Press. It sheds some intersting light on a few factors that may be of some interest.

In Lebra's work there is a chapter on state religion which has a very interesting section (pages 110 to 121) on the Chifjing Ganashi Mee or the Chief Priestess, which I shall briefly summarise here:

The Chifjing Ganashi Mee was selected from among the daighters of the reigning Sho family, she was thus usually older daughter or sister of the ruler and was not permitted to marry and had to remain continent whilst in office. Much, much later widows were pernitted to take on this role. There is some indication that at one point the King ruled on behalf of the Chief Priestess, however this changed in the reign of Sho Shin (1477-1526).

Up until the reign of Sho Shin in 1477-1526 the shrine of the Chifjing Ganashi Mee , called Sunuhiyan Utaki, was to be found in the gates of Shuri castle, that was until a previous ruler was forced to abdicate because of her involvement in state affairs (Smits article mentions something about this), after which the shrine was removed to the opposite side of Shuri (The site of Shuri junior high school). Here is the interesting part, within the Chief Priestess's shrine there were three Kami:

1. Kunkung Ganashii Mee: Kami of the first Chifijing
2. Ufu jimi Nu Mee: kami who controlled weather and plant life, believed to have been a real person once, possibly the first rulers or one of the Chifjing
3. Bideeting: Kami who produced future generations.

Bideeting is of particular interest as this Kami is borrowed from the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon of deities and is in Japan the same as Benten or Benzaiten, one of the seven Kami of good fortune. Intersting these Kami of good fortune from Japan do not form part of Okinawan belief and furthermore Bideeeting does not form part of the Okinawan rural belief systems. However at one time there was in Shuri a Buddhist temple devoted to Bideeting.

The Chifjing Ganashi Mee (Chief Priestess) who was only involved in officiating at national rites and to pray for the health of the ruler and prosperity of the country had four assistants, one whom performed day to day ritual, she was known as Ufu Gui (great Solicitor) who said daily prayers to the three Kami mentioned above and assisted in national ceremonies, and Wachi jichi who was in charge of the ceremonial paraphenalia and Utchu nu hanshi who was responsible for managing the household and cleaning the shrine. These women were selected from older women of Okinawan Gentry class, another assistant assistant was hanshi nu taari who was responsible for preparing ceremonial offerings, food and drink came from Kudaka Island. all of these women were forbidden from eating meat and there were also a number of pollution taboo's associated with these women such as not entering the shrine whilst in menses or sick for fear of offending the Kami. They were not allowed to enter the houses of the sick or those giving birth. Such pollution taboo's are very likely to be originally of a South Asian origin. The Chifjing Ganashi Mee and her assistants were at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of the Okinawan religious structure, this takes me to my next point:

Praying and Di as Dance:
In article written in the Okinawan Times by Takao Miyagi and based on material by Tatsue Nagazato an Okinawan Dance Instructor, there is a section headed Te/ti/di of Praying becomes Bu, part of which reads: 'it was women who danced as gods[Kami] in Okinawa. Especially those who danced as leaders of dancers to serve gods [Kami]....this kind of movement is different from that in mainland Japan' The article goes on and then states that 'we are left with the question of the relationship between "Mai-no-Te and "Ogami Te", Inori-Te which have the primary purpose of praying to the Kami'. As you are I am sure aware that these are references to Udun Di hand positions i.e. Ogami Ti/di refers to praying hand.

There has been some suggestion that many of the hand positions found in Motobu Udun Di may be found in the rituals of some of the Okinawan Priestess's rituals, photographic evidence of rituals performed by the Nuru Priestess would also seem to bear this out.

I get the impression that the Sei character that Dennis mentioned before infers something like the restoration of the Divine Rights of the Ryukyu Kings. This would seem to make some sort of sense, given that the rights of the Kings was through the Chifjing Ganashi Mee and that some of the Udun Di hand positions mentioned were from the ceremonial rites these priestess's performed.

Regards

Chris Norman


Edited by Gesar (01/28/08 04:59 PM)

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#355145 - 01/29/08 10:36 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Gesar]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
Dennis,
I think it's probable that Uehara is using Zen terms with different meanings. One of the articles by Smits talks about how the Confucian scholars appropriated concepts from Zen, giving them a ethico-social gloss. It's telling that Uehara isn't talking about achieving enlightenment or satori, but an enlightened, compassionate fighting art.

Chris,
Has anyone ever thought the opposite? That instead of "prayer becomes bu" it was "bu becomes prayer"? I'm just trying to imagine the guys of the court sitting around watching the priestesses dance and saying "Hey, that looks like I might be able to kick some butt doing that...I'll try that out next time."

Smits mentions how the high priestess's role was to mediate between the kami and the king, and priestesses were often meant to protect men from malevolent forces. So if the king had body guards, might not the female dancers in the court have acted as "spirit guards" and mimicked and ritualized fighting techniques they had seen? He also talks about how the role of both the priestesses and Buddhism was diminished from the eighteenth century, and I wonder how important they remained at the end of the nineteenth?

I said before that I don't think causation is possible or necessary to establish, but imagining other hypotheses might better reflect the complexity of the issue.

I've recently been being taught a dance, so I might have more insight later.

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#355146 - 01/29/08 05:50 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
Gesar Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/07
Posts: 77
Loc: England, UK
Chofukainoa,
You make an interesting point about the reverse of what I previously stated and such a speculation does make sense on the basis you suggest. Although personally I have not as yet come across anything that does suggest that the rituals came from combat in the Ryukyu context. A brief detour through some of the available scholarship does provide some plausibility to this hypothesis and will illustrate the complexity of the issue. I agree that it is as you say not necessary to establish causation and its possibility is difficult to establish.

Various scholars have classified the Okinawan Priestess' as being of Shamanistic origin and the Cambridge Scholar Carmen Blacker (1992) for example has indicated a relationship between the practises to be found in Korea, Hokkaido and the Ryukyu Islands suggesting an original Northern stream of practises diffussed from Altaic or Tungus Shamanism with the Ryukyu stream being mixed with a southern sources possibly from Polynesia or Melanesia.

The French Scholar Roberte Hamayon (1995) looked at the ritual behaviour of various Shamans of the Northern line. Note here that the term Shaman comes from Tungus language and means to shake or move the limbs, thus the term is descriptive of shamanic performance. According to Hamayon (1995) Shamanic performance (dance) often represented battles with a perceived spirit world, particularly in what were regarded in specific cultural contexts with maleovelent spirits. This is something which as you state Smit states in his articles (hence why I wish to give them a close reading). It is therefore plausible, as you say, that the early rituals of these priestess's had the origin in combative behaviour....But there is a problem with this specifically in relation to Okinawa and that is 'ritual behaviour [of Okinawan] Religious specialists is characterised by restraint and decorum, at least in more recent days (Lebra 1966).

However that does not mean that the original performances of early Ryukyu Priestess's and/or her proposed early male counterpart the Shii (term originates from Shinrerikyu), who has long disappeared, did not represent combative behaviour during the time of the three Kingdoms when the Anji fought amongst each other. It is on this basis very likely that the Kami of some of these Anji may have represented maleovelent forces and played a part in early ritual performance. Unfortunately we cannot go back in time and see these, so we can never really confirm that this was ever the case. It does however provide an interesting and possible (though speculative) perspective on the Anji No Mekata (Dance Hand of the Lords) that has been stated by various sources as originally being the pinnacle of Motobu Udun Di.

Regards

Chris Norman


Edited by Gesar (01/29/08 05:52 PM)

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#355147 - 01/30/08 09:08 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: Gesar]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
Chris,
I'm aware of the literature on shamanism, which is why I question an interpretation whereby the ritual actions of the priestesses somehow became utilized by the guard. If we look at examples of weapons used in shamanic ritual, the shaman doesn't create the weapon first--it is an implement of war that is appropriated for use in a ritualized setting.
A fighting art is not likely to retain something that doesn't actually work just because the priestesses are doing it. I know this is all speculative, but I'd say the "prayer becomes bu" idea is just as speculative.

Jim,
Here's the first of the 5 essences of udundi, from my (Japanese) edition of Bu no mai
I don't have the English version, but people who do can check and critique my translation. Some terms I am leaving untranslated because I don't want to put too much of my interpretation into what are basically untranslatable concepts:

" Bu is not just found in a hard fist. Train to down an opponent with a hard fist in one blow as the foundation, and a soft fist will come from insight into the true meanings of kokoro and waza . This is where the true waza of the secret fighting arts of the Ryukyu kings can be found."

This pretty much describes the way training is done, where beginners start from "hard" forms and progress to softer ones. By "soft fist", Uehara doesn't mean fist in the narrow sense, but probably the open hand used both for thrusting and grabbing to apply waza or just soft/relaxed-ness in general.

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#355148 - 01/31/08 03:26 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
'Here's the first of the 5 essences of udundi, from my (Japanese) edition of Bu no mai
I don't have the English version, but people who do can check and critique my translation. Some terms I am leaving untranslated because I don't want to put too much of my interpretation into what are basically untranslatable concepts:

" Bu is not just found in a hard fist. Train to down an opponent with a hard fist in one blow as the foundation, and a soft fist will come from insight into the true meanings of kokoro and waza . This is where the true waza of the secret fighting arts of the Ryukyu kings can be found."

This pretty much describes the way training is done, where beginners start from "hard" forms and progress to softer ones. By "soft fist", Uehara doesn't mean fist in the narrow sense, but probably the open hand used both for thrusting and grabbing to apply waza or just soft/relaxed-ness in general. '

appriciate that, look forward to any others you can translate.
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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#355149 - 01/31/08 10:12 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: shoshinkan]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
Here's the second one:

"Relying only on waza , it is easy to injure an opponent. Instead of taking up arms, confronting an opponent and causing injury, physically subduing the opponent and causing him to surrender is the secret waza .
This is particularly important when dealing with multiple opponents.
Acquiring a grudge through causing injury cannot be called true bu ."

This was one of the things that was stressed to me in my first lesson, and my shihan repeats and repeats. That is not to say that being able to "down an opponent in one blow" is not important when it is necessary, just that if one has the option (and the skill) to subdue someone without injury (largely through tuide techniques), that is the preferred option.
In another part of the book, I believe Uehara sensei quotes Motobu Choyu as saying that "killing someone means you have to prepare two graves." That is, the person you killed and your own. This would have been an important point in the clan-based culture of Okinawa, but family and friends still do take revenge today.


Edited by chofukainoa (01/31/08 10:14 AM)

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#355150 - 02/07/08 02:39 AM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
chofukainoa Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
Kind of late, but here's the third one. There was a very ambiguous sentence that was giving me headaches.

"The secret bu of the Ryukyuan royal house does not just rely on 'the fist'.
Anything at hand can be used as a weapon.
The secret of getting an opponent to yield is in 'the sword'.
The pinnacle of bu is in mai ."

I've used 'the fist' and 'the sword' because Uehara seems to be making a play on the fact both are read "ken", but he is talking about bare-handed techniques vs. armed ones.

The points about weapons being "anything at hand", getting an opponent to yield, and the use of mai are what he demonstrates in the clip of armed practice that can be seen on youtube.

Mai is the technique used to get within striking range of the opponent. What I have been taught is that the blow of the weapon is delivered by turning the whole body and putting body weight into the weapon instead of arm-swinging or wrist-flicking. As a result, the lines of attack are straight thrusting or from the side or on the diagonal rather than overhead "chopping".

Differences from other kobudo in specific weapon usage are interesting, but too involved to get into here.

One of the main points, though, is that mai and weapons are used to access an opponent's vital points, but the opponent is supposed to make the ultimate decision about whether the blow is fatal by either continuing to fight and move into the weapon or backing off.

Thus we spend quite a bit of time practicing ukemi against weapons.

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#355151 - 02/07/08 01:38 PM Re: Udundi Kata Anyone? [Re: chofukainoa]
Rascal Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/29/07
Posts: 21
Loc: USA
Thanks for the translation! Mai is so essential to Udundi but it is another of those things that someone watching an udundi performance can easily miss altogether or at least, underappreciate! This, again, is one of the noteworthy things in the Bugeikan video's- the different use of footwork, stances and bodymovement all suggest something different from Udundi.
Speaking of the Bugeikan video's, I noticed that several of the practitioners were wearing blue or black obi's notted on the side rather than the typical "karate" type of belt. Taira Sensei of the Seidokan wears a similar sash. The only colors, however, are white or black. Does your dojo in Tokyo use these sashes or other colors?

Dennis

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