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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.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Okinawan Karate Hidden in Dance

Did you know that Okinawan Classical Dance incorporates Karate movements into the dances? Well incorporated into the Classical Young Mens dances were often hidden Karate movements. Behind the movements lurk turbulent amorous passions; and young mens dances' called Nisai Odori, especially express a vigorous masculine quality to them by incorporating gestures from Okinawan Karate.

During the royal age of the Ryukyu kingdom dances were performed exclusively by male members of the nobility, following the first florescence of aristocratic culture during the sixteenth century. The Ryukyuan arts developed a more introspective side in the wake of the Satsuma invasion of 1609 and the subsequent domination of the Ryukyu islands by Satsuma. Satsuma would not allow the Ryukyu people to be armed so they hid their Karate movements into the dance.
The period of domination by Satsuma saw the Ryukyu Kingdom obligated to dispatch frequent ambassadorial parties to the Satsuma capital of Kagoshima and the Japanese capital of Edo on official and ceremonial business. These parties would contain envoys that would perform cultural dance to enhance the relationship with the Japanese. These envoys were also body guards trained in hand to hand martial arts with the movements they used hidden in the dance.

Today, I am presenting a film of the Traditional dance Hamachidori for you to see the actual presentation of this wonderful dance. The second film I have placed here will show a comparison of the hand movements contained within the dance and the Karate movements associated with the movement.


Hamachidori's theme is the desolation of travel and the image which runs through it is that of a bird known as the beach plover. The dancers wear costumes decorated with kasuri patterns on dark blue backgrounds and held firm without an obi in the Ryukyuan ushinchi style, whereby the kimono neckband is tucked into the belt of the undergarment. Long purple headbands trail from the dancers chignons. A feature of Hamachidori is its incorporation of flowing hand movements as used in the dances of Okinawan priestesses during religious ceremonies.

1 comment:

  1. Wax on, Wax off wasn't really so stupid after all!

    ReplyDelete