Friday, October 2, 2015

Bubishi Puzzle, from 2001



from the Orsuka Tadihiko Ryukyu Bugishi page 14


Perhaps an interesting study can be found looking at one of the 48 Self Defense Techniques from the Bubishi.  The above scan is from a Mabuni Text on the Bubishi for Figure 9. 


In Tom Lewis Sensei’s Isshinryu Kihon practice, Lower Body Chart,  we practice Side kicks on the ground which somewhat resemble the drawings of this Bubishi figure.  One specific variation uses the lower leg to trap the heel and the upper leg to push into the knee area, very close to the above diagram.


To begin let me refer to three different Commentaries on the Bubishi, and in no particular order.



First, Pat McCarthy’s “Bubishi, The Bible of Karate” (Tuttle Publishing).

The Bubishi diagram he shows, neither person has hair (implying a monk perhaps?), The one on the ground is indicated as the Winning technique. The one standing and striking out is indicated as the Losing technique.   Where the shown illustration seems to indicate a double palm strike, in McCarthy’s ‘Bubishi’ the person has grasping (clawed as a Tiger’s) hands.


Page 171.        Winning Technique – Scissors on ground, pretending to fall over.”

                        Losing Technique – Using cymbals


If an attacker tries to grab you with both hands (right), drop to the ground, capture his leg (left) and take him down.”


Second, George Alexander and Ken Penland’sBubishi – Martial Art Spirit” (Yamazato Publishing).

Their Bubishi diagrams are almost identical to those published by Mabuni Kenwa in 1934 in Japan. They are re-drawn and cleaned up (and while strong diagrams they are slightly lesser in detail than the Mabuni direct copies). The biggest difference is the A&P ‘Bubishi’ attack shows a rising left hand (fingers slightly curled) and a different descending right hand (palm forward) with the index finger pointing straight down. I have no problem accepting this is a double palm strike.


Page 122.        Attacker  - Like falling down forward on your hands, this man will win.”

                        Defender – Like swinging a hoe down to ding in the ground, this man will lose.”


“Attacker comes in with both hands overhead and down to cause the opponent to fall down, this man will lose.   Defender drops down forward on his palms and using a scissoring technique on the attacker’s leading leg causing him to fall down, this man will win.”


Third,  R. Habersetzer’s “Encyclopedie des Arts Martiaux, Bubishi, a la Source des Karate-do” (Amphora)


Habersetzer’s drawing is less distinct yet reminiscent of the one I’m showing.  His book isn’t a translation of the Bubishi (directly ) but more a commentary on it. [The following translation by Victor Smith]


Figure 9 : Page 70


If an assailant tries to grab you with two hands, you let go and go to the ground while capturing his foot to make him fall.”


With one page of the Bubishi drawing and his translation of the text, the following page shows drawings (and photographs) showing his interpretation as to what the text means.  The top of the page shows a very precise drawing of the leg trap we’ve been discussion.  It is followed by the following text :

Photo 41: If this technique is applied by the side, uke can go up to attack the two legs of  Tori to bring (him)  to fall from his legs scissor: Kani-basami in Judo (‘pinch of the crayfish [crab]’).”

The following photograph demonstrates a flying scizzors takedown, legs around the waist.

Habersetzer then offers the following commentary on this technique.

”The illustrated drawing suggests the counterattack.”


This form is very near that of  [Bubishi figure] 3, but Uke’s body is more turned, hands in support on the front. It is then that one of drawing 8, already represented as possible evolution of the figure 3. Ohtsuka Sensei thinks that it is possible here to be introducing a new variant technique: a lock to the ankle accompanied by a push of the heel under the knee Tori (24), who then is obliged to drop to the rear to escape from the painful grip [of the lock].”


But even more interesting is an actual Chinese interpretation of the Figure 9.


Last year (2000) while doing a clinic on the import of the Bubishi, in Pittsburgh at Ernie Rothrock’s Kung Fu Studio, he clearly went through the entire section of the Bubishi showing all of the techniques as beginners (not to imply that they’re not effective) Eagle Claw techniques. The implication of course is there are dozens of other Chinese systems where you could make the same demonstration.


Anyhow, when he dropped to the floor and applied the lock to the opponent’s leg he didn’t press and push them down, instead once locked, he began to roll over and over, the lock dropping them (away from his body), and as he rolled, he was also rolling them along with him, until he would choose to release them and use a finish off kick.


To my mind that (and many other demonstrations) showed the potential of this drawing may have little to do with one layer of possibilities (those discussed above).

From Kenkji Tokitsu "Historie du Karate-Do"




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