Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mabuni's writings in the 1930s

Mabuni Seipai Study 1934
Published 1934
Between themselves Funakoshi and Mabuni were engaging in a pretty neat bit of social engineering.
Look the average Japanese were not martial artists and their books were not written for them. The Japanese Martial establishments were not looking to replace their arts with Okinawan ones. But the University system would have been impressed that there were literate descriptions of these arts, even if they didn’t understand them. Making a more reasonable case to consider adding them to their programs. No doubt they did not research that these arts were not shared this way on Okinawa.
Then as Funakoshi shared a vision of Itosu’s arts, Mabuni decided to first focus on the Hiagonna Naha traditions.
A brief description of karate,
A book on Sanchin and Seiunchin then one on Seipai.
The briefest explanation of bunkai. Mario McKenna has explained to me in ‘Goshin Kempo Karate’ published in 1934 Mabuni Kenwa originally uses the term "bunkai setsumei" or "breakdown/apart and explanation".  Not a serious study of what a kata could be used for, but a simple teaser that it existed in the training.
Funakoshi incorporated some sections from the Bubishi, without translations, showing a link on older traditions. With his book Seipai Mabuni did the same with other Bubishi sections. And no expolanation what they were, but some older tradition.
Not surprising, even Japan acknowledged some Chinese roots.
Basically a show and tell that there was a serious tradition here.
So they could point to those books for the Martial Establishment to acknowledge they existed. More importantly those works helped them gain University ties.
The books while accurate, were not really intended for students. They had been taught on Okinawa, and although changes were being made for University students, the core value of direct experience still held sway.
As time passed of course later generations trying to have links with their past, incorporated these exercises as drills. That is not necessarily bad, But you should not assume that they were more that that.
As we look on such books we should consider them in this light. Not assuming they have a greater place in history. We get to see what they revealed, but are left to question what else was not said.

1 comment:

Victor Smith said...

Mario McKenna has translated the work on Seipai by Mabuni.