Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bubishi A Close Look Redoux Part 3


The Bubushi and Vital Points

Continuing on my quest to look at the Bubushi, things are starting to become more complicated.

My quest of course is to look at what the real impact of the Bubushi would have been on the Okinawan Sensei. But after looking at the Vital Point striking in Alexander's Bubushi and McCarthy's Bubushi, I have more questions than when I began this inquiry.

Others and I have remarked that the translations are quite different in both English Versions. Of course the entire issue of translation is a complex issue. Douglas Hoffstedler (if I'm recalling correctly) wrote a very long book where the author and dozens of others tried to provide an accurate translation of one French poem. The end result dozens and dozens of different paths. And its difficult to say any of them captured the essence of the original. I do not doubt understanding the Bubushi is any less tricky.

Then you have the Bubushi, written in archaic Chinese, with lots of 'key words' as a mnemonic device by the author, and the difficulty of preparing accurate renditions in English. But the thing that becomes apparent, is Alexander and McCarthy aren't even describing the same 36 vital points. There are many differences.

First look at the Source to their Bubushi texts.

The Alexander & Penland Bubushi source was Tsuneyoshi Ogura (10th Dan Goju Ryu Karate).

McCarthy used numerous sources to his information. Among them Lui Songshan Shifu provided the Shaolin Bronze Man Book, and Konishi Takehiro (of the Ryobukai) provided an original copy of the Mabuni Kenwa's Bubushi.

We cannot even be sure they are the same texts, one from a Goju tradition and one from a Shito tradition (with assuredly Goju roots).

If there are different Bubushi in Okinawa, we don't know how they may differ.

A simple comparison of the Vital point areas, between the two texts just leaves you wondering which is correct.

Likewise, there is discrepancy of the points between the different Bubushi Chapters. [This might be evidence that the material therein came from several sources.]

But the propensity of the authors to add extra material in their translations (such as the Meridian Charts in both texts, and the corresponding Meridian Points) makes it more difficult to consider what the actual text was for the Okinawan's use in the distant past.

It is not that I believe the addition of outside sources to a Bubushi translation are worthless, rather the reverse is more likely. But to consider what use the Bubushi may have been put to, it makes it more difficult to consider what was available to use.

From a historical perspective. I can see the Meridian material available only if the Okinawan's had such material available to use. It appears to me that Meridian Theory (which fits on top of the Bubushi Vital Points quite well) should not enter into the picture in understanding the past uses, unless PROOF is provided.
Before I go further, look at this outline of the text in the two Bubushi translations.

Alexander & Penland "Bubushi"
Chapter 8 Hard Fist Method of Vein Attacks (Dim Hsueh)
Chapter 9 The Twelve Hour Danger Points and the Death Touch (Dim Mak)
Chapter 17 Seven Locations Not to Hit/Immediate Death May Occur
Chapter 22 The Delayed Deaath Touch and Twelve Hour Dragon Breath Time Charts
Chapter 24 Diagram of the Bronze Statue

McCarthy "Bubushi"
Vital Point Analysis The Thirty-Six Vital Points
The Secrets of WuDang Boxing The Most Important anterior vital points (22)
The most Important posterior vital points (16)
Time period for Attacking the Vital points & Table Showing the Points
Article 8 Discussion on Seizing and Striking Veins and Tendons using the Hard Fist method
Article 9 Twelve-Hour Vital Points Revealed
Article 17 Seven Restricted Locations
Article 21 Delayed Death Touch Twelve-Hour Diagrams
Article 24 Bronze Man Statue (and points related to the Shichen (2 hour periods)

At first I thought it would be interesting to chart the differences between the two translations of the 36 Vital Points.
But when I started looking at McCarthy's translation, it became obvious he incorporated much additional text, most notably from the Shaolin Bronze Man Book. And within his text they cover different material.

Now as I reflect, out of the 700+ available Acupuncture points, there is obvious disagreement which are the 36 vital points. I'm of the opinion that all of these points (regardless of tradition) have great merit. But I then went to my own outside sources, such as Dr. Yang's original Chinese Chin-Na text, and in all of those sources they likewise used different vital points.

Perhaps as a Meridian researcher, there is merit for looking at everything, but as I want to see what independent Okinawan usage of this material might have wrought. And I don't think these texts clearly are useful for this purpose. They serve a larger indoctrination to this tradition, more fully.

In addition to this difficulty in my logical analysis, I see other issues.

If the Okinawan's accepted any of this material, how was it included into their curriculum? In a manner directly attributable to the Bubushi?

How was it used? Were there specific training practices directed where to target these points?

Of course, there's one obvious statement we can make about the Bubushi. There would be no difficulty for the true believer to practice the Sichen (Attacking the vital points by time period). The Bubushi gives the antidote for the strikes, if you get them down. 

This might make for a fun practice with White Belts. <GRIN>

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