Monday, February 10, 2014

Bubishi A Close Look Redoux Part 6

To date, BUBUSHI - The Forty-Eight Self-Defense Diagrams(PM)

As I conclude on my quest to see how the Bubushi may have been used by the Okinawan seniors in the development of Karate I would like to take up Chapter 29 - The Forty-Eight Essential Fighting Techniques of Kempo (A&P).

This chapter consists of 48 drawings showing an offensive technique and a suggested successful defense and counter-attack. The illustrations given by Alexander show both attacker and defender with hair, interestingly the illustrations given by McCarthy don't show hair (bald monk syndrome?) unless it is called for in the counter-attack.

As Alexander and Penland describe an illustration (such as illustration No. 2) , "There is an explanation given for each illustration but the poetic language used such as "Defender waits like a black tiger hiding in a cave" requires some thought and analysis in order to derive an accurate meaning." McCarthy on the other hand gives a more specific description.
[Note: the poetic language referencing the illustrations also relates back to Chapter 4 - Four Quan (forms) of Monk Fist Boxing (PM). That chapter just lists the poetic names of the Quan techniques. Some of them are cross referenced to Chapter 29.]

Specifically Chapter 29 - illustration No. 2

Alexander & Penland

Attacker comes in like a white monkey trying to steal the candy (groin grasp) He will fall into defenders trap.
Defender waits like a black tiger hiding in a cave. He will win.

Alexander additionally explains in the Chapter's opening, "This particular example refers to the use of the double fist punch from the Gojushiho kata (54 steps of the Black Tiger).

McCarthy's text for the illustration is:

Losing Technique : White Monkey stealing fruit
Winning Technique: Black Tiger rushing out from the cage

2. If an attacker attempts to lunge out to strike you (left), jam the attack cutting off the assault in its midst (right).

However, performing my own analysis of the 48 diagrams, I recognize at least 33 of them as being techniques found in Shorin Ryu, Goju Ryu, Ueichi Ryu, Hakutsuru and Kobudo kata. Including parallels to ground kicking techniques taught in the Keri Wazza by my own instructor in Isshinryu.

For the senior instructor to have this text showing possible applications of kata technique, I do not doubt this had some impact on those instructors. On the other hand, we are still left with a which came first, the Chicken or the Egg. Was this Chapter of the Bubushi put together from techniques in already existing Okinawan kata? Were the Chinese (?) techniques in this Chapter influential in the development of the Okinawan Kata? Does this Chapter prove that Okinawan forms came directly from Chinese Forms? Or does this Chapter prove that the limitations of Human Movement are found in all systems?

All important questions. But in my very humble opinion, this chapter does not prove any of them. [And I'm always willing to modify my opinions when true proof is provided.]

To me it seems likely, that the text was put together first. That there was no direct connection to these techniques and specific forms (which we know of). In my analysis, techniques which could have come from the same Okinawan kata (such as PM's 1, 22 and 39 relating to kata Seiuchin) are not next to each other, but found scattered, without apparent connection, in the Chapter.

Likewise, I can make a case in my mind that perhaps 1/2 of the technique which are shown are found in Goju/Ueichi kata (imports in the 1890's or so). If this text influenced the development of Okinawan Shorinryu kata, why did they ignore so much of it and only use some of the techniques?

There may be a theme, but my cursory analysis does not suggest a rational why they were presented as they are. They may well have just been individual drills, the original author wanted to retain. Our minds can draw inferences to kata where the original intent may not have made the same connections.

As I see it, only the very instructors seemed to have a copy of the Bubushi in the distant past. It also seems that only trusted senior students were permitted to make a copy. That would have kept this restricted information
The role of the student would not have been to ask questions about any of this, simply to train, as the antidotal evidence of Okinawan training seems to bear this out.

Even when Funakoshi Sensei placed text from the Bubushi in his writings, he did so in the original Chinese and did not translate them into Japanese. Sort of technique of no-technique. Here it is, but I'm not telling you what it means.
At this point in time, I don't have a clear picture how the Okinawan instructor possessing the Bubushi would have used this Chapter. He might have kept the techniques for private use, or for a select few.

He may have just taught the techniques, as they are depicted. They are useful in their own right.

The actual text does not appear to fully explain how to use the techniques. The mental effort to find the meaning and make it part of one's practice of course is worth the work itself.

This has been an interesting sort of analysis to make. Although there is a great deal in the Bubushi I haven't explored, I'm drawing a close to this cycle. All that remains, is to try and prepare a concluding text for all of these posts.

I always await any of your comments and insight. Joe Swift has been very helpful so far in his own research of Japanese martial literature on the Bubushi, and I trust we'll have more of his work to follow

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