Monday, February 10, 2014

Bubishi A Close Look Redoux Part 7

Bubushi - Looking for Conclusions

With all of the Bubushi research I've done in the last month or so, I've been meaning to tie it together with the conclusions I've come to as to the actual influence it had on the development of Okinawan Karate.

But when I was ready to begin, the force grabbed me, took me to a MA Supply House in Waltham, Ma, and found a copy of the video tape, Secrets of the Bubushi by George Alexander. He created it as a companion to his translation of the Bubushi.

Well to start of I watched the tape 2+ hours straight through, and then I've been going back through it piece by piece. Interesting tape, but as it turns out, not significant for my current studies. The pressure point locations are ok I guess, but he has much other information there, which I do not see directly in the original Bubushi (although some of it is in his current translation). Not that what's there is bad, but rather, it was not in the Bubushi. Which I guess sums up my issues as to what the Bubushi is or isn't.

Alexnader describes meridian theory, explains striking 2 and 3 points, etc, but never shows how this is from the Bubushi tradition. [This gets into a modern re-write of what the Bubushi actually is about, IMVHO.] Not to say this would be bad from the point of his practice and teachings, but rather dubious as to how it will be found in the Bubushi.
It looks to me like he's paving the way to tie in the work of Oyata, Dillman, Clark, Montague et. al. You can make your own assessment as to whether that's the direction you are taking your art, but I believe this should be billed as a modern interpretation as to what the Bubushi MIGHT mean.

Then Alexander glosses over the Delayed Striking/Death Touch sections, and for the 48 self defense techniques only shows a few (about 15) which are often quite different from the Bubushi pictures. He talks about doing research to find the answers yourself, and has some questionable physiological results from the strikes, which I am still investigating.
I'm sure this is all valuable for his students or individuals looking for George Alexanders interpretations on Bubushi Themes, but from my limited perspective, does not help me understand what actual impact the Bubushi may have had on the development of Okinawan karate.

Well back to my theme.

Regarding the Bubushi, we:

1. Don't know who authored it. (Was it even complied by a martial artist?)
2. Don't know when it was compiled. (Is it from recent centuries, or ancient centuries.)
3. Don't know the sources it was compiled from.
4. Don't even know who had access to it on Okinawan, except in more modern times.


1. It did exist
2. Some senior martial artists did have copies.
3. It was not used for a student's manual.
4. It influenced some of the earliest writings in this century (Funakoshi, Motobou).
5. It did not describe meridian theory.
6. It did describe vital point striking
7. It did describe sichen (2 hour) striking locations.
8. It was used to name Goju Karate and was the source of the Shimabuku Code of Karate.

If the use of the Bubushi as kept only for the most Senior level of training, the case can be made it had little influence over the body of Okinawan karate. Perhaps nice for those who had it, but inconsequential for the rest.

If it has a more direct influence on the development of kata, teaching practices, striking sequences, etc. I think research showing the direct connection must be made. I my little experience I don't see this as there, so far.

I've had only limited discussions with my surgeon, Dr. Harper on these issues. Unfortunately his work keeps him busy. But he did clearly express to me he questions the validity of the delayed death touch striking theories.

He gives the analogy of his own medical training, stating without performing 20 or 30 appendectomies under supervision one would not be qualified to do so on one's own. If these strikes can cause death and the other results who actually ever was trained to execute them. Can you believe dots on some pictures would actually teach the skills, directions, etc. to make this happen reliably? I think his observation has much merit when we try to accept the validity of the Bubushi in use.

This does not mean Dr. Harper disbelieves Chi, But rather questions that the Bubushi text would give the knowledge to make this happen, especially if one did not have the specific training which might have existed for the original author.
Just to keep things interesting, another of my students, Tom Chan, who is Chinese-American, has his own theory as to how the 'delayed death touch' works. He believes the diet of the Chinese was so poor, and there were so many health problems in the population, they may well have had weaker constitutions which could not respond to focused physical attacks. This is just a theory, but it does make for a plausible topic to consider.

With so many questions, and lack of documented proof in a connection to how the Bubushi was actually utilized in the development of Okinawan karate, I believe the only logical conclusion is that simply admitting this remains unknown. I do not believe we gain from attempting to force answers to fit theories.

If you can take the Bubushi, Original Chinese, Modern English translations, whatever, and make it relevant to your contemporary training, then you've accomplished something of merit. That alone justifies your efforts.
However, I do not believe adding additional material to the original Bubushi, contemporary theories of research into Striking Meridians and other issues mean that is what the Okinawans did without constitute proof.

And proof must be public, open to review and analysis, to be accepted in my analysis.

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