Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Development of Martial Arts in Okinawa

Uchinānchu have always been known as a peaceful people and have always considered their arts and music as more honorable than combat skills, This is not to say however that they will not defend their honour if need be. The evidenced is apparent in the revelation that, in feudal Japan, it was almost mandatory to show martial awareness by keeping a daishō (matched pair of large and small swords) in the tokonoma (living room alcove). Ryukyu people on the other hand always seemed to have a sanshin (3 stringed lute) in their tokonoma.

During the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Members of the Okinawan upper classes were sent to China regularly to study various political and practical disciplines. The incorporation of empty-handed Chinese wu shu into Okinawan martial arts occurred partly because of these exchanges. Traditional karate kata bear a strong resemblance to the forms found in Fujian martial arts such as Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan (Hard Soft Fist; pronounced "Gōjūken" in Japanese). Further influence came from Southeast Asia, particularly Sumatra, Java, and Melaka. Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku may have also originated in and around Southeast Asia.

During the occupation by Japan in the mid-15th and 16th centuries, the Uchinanchu were completely disarmed of all bladed weapons by the Japanese who feared the Ryukyu people may revolt if given the means. The Ryukyu people however being the center of trade in asia at the time developed fighting techinques with the help of their Chinese trading partners. The techniques were a means of self-defense that sometimes used farm tools as weapons against armed opponents. They were a means of protection without raising suspicions of the Japanese and were developed due to the imposed weapons restriction. The styles were developed from indigenous fighting methods called te (手, literally meaning "hand") and some gong fu and other native techniques from China like kenpō. Karate is a striking art which incorporates punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands (karate chops). Grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are also taught in some styles. Karate techniques vary slightly from town to town, and are normally named for the town where they originated, examples being Naha-te (currently known as Goju-Ryu), Tomari-te and Shuri-te.

In 1932 an era of escalating Japanese militarism prior to World War II, the name Karate was changed from 唐手 ("Chinese hand") to 空手 ("empty hand") which basically meant a spelling change as both of the spellings are pronounced karate. The Japanese did this to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form into a Japanese style without giving credit to its Chinese origins. After World War II, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among many of the servicemen stationed there. As a result Okinawan Karate Dojo's are found throughout the United States and other countries of the world.

Here are a few Videos of some Karate Friends of mine doing what they do best.

Goshin no Mai - Karate Kata Hidden in the Dance

Crawfordsville Karate Demonstration
Washington DC Karate Demonstration


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