Tag Archives: Karate

Misogi 禊: The Purification of Okinawa Kenpo

Since antiquity, the ritual of Misogi 禊 has been performed in Japan, the Ryukyu islands and all parts of Asia. In ancient times it was the Yamabushi 山伏, the ‘mountain hermits,’ that would perform such tasks as extended periods with no sleep, breath training and of course the infamous “standing or sitting under the waterfall in winter time.”  Ceremonies such as these,  represent the heart and soul of ancient East Asia that still finds it’s way into everyday circumstance.  Take for example the salutation of ‘How are you?” – in Japanese one would say ‘O genki desu ka?’ お元気ですか?  Note the word Ki in this common phrase. Ki  is the word for life force, life breath, vital air or energy in the Japanese language.  This is an example that underlies  how integral the world view of life force, energy and the soul are central in Japanese vocabulary.

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Yes, that’s cold water. Notice the ice and snow next to him. Brrrr!

In the traditional ‘old ways’ of Okinawa Kenpo practice, I personally knew of many Okinawan karate sensei that would participate in such ceremonies.  I was lucky enough to study under the late Seikichi Odo.  He introduced me to several Yuta (Traditional Okinawan Shaman) which performed various ceremonies including variances of Misogi and their applications within Okinawan Karate.

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Bushido: The Way of the Warrior

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Bushido

Bushido  roughly translates as “the way of the warrior.”

Bushido 武士道 originates from the code of conduct from the samurai.  It emphasized frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery and honor. It is a maxim found in all martial arts. My sensei, the late Seikichi Odo was from an Okinawan dynasty of samurai.  This was a rarity within Okinawa as well as within the martial arts community.  The first use of the word  武士 (Bushi) was found in one of Japan’s oldest books, the 古事記 (the Kojiki-“The Record of Ancient Matters”) written in approximately 712 A.D.  What is most important is that the use of 武士 (Bushi) at that time also related to the concept of the ‘educated warrior-poet.’  Some people say that the days of Bushido 武士道 are extinct.

I don’t believe that. Neither should you. 

dojopractice

Bushido, the moral code of the samurai, took decades of organic growth.  Our dojo, Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon, keeps 武士道 (Bushido), alive in every dojo practice.

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The Once and Future King, Part 2: Crossroads of Okinawa Kenpo

At this juncture it is important to provide some clarification on the Okinawa Kenpo lineage and style decisions that were made about the events after Shigeru Nakamura passed away.  I will phrase them in the forms of questions in order to provide the most concise and clear information to date.

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The Once and Future King: Okinawa Kenpo, A History (Part 1)

The late great Shigeru Nakamura tells us  “there is no RyuHa (meaning there is no such thing as a style) in Karate.”  In one noted meeting to a group of younger karateka, Nakamura continues:  “Karate originates from the same universal ‘body’ of knowledge.  Karate consists of many singular unique expressions of the same body of information.”

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Shigeru Nakamura, (1894-1969).

Shigeru Nakamura firmly believed there was no “one style” of karate.  He thought the divisions of karate styles would only bring the downfall and demise of a great combat tested martial art.

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The House that Nakamura Built

World War II changed the fate and history of Asian martial arts forever, particularly those in Japan and the Ryukyu islands.  In the advent of the Battle of Okinawa,  few Okinawan masters survived the aftermath, (e.g. Kyan Chotoku died of starvation in 1945.)

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Kyan Chotoku, (1870-1945)

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World Walker Way

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Seikichi Odo, (1926-2002).

 

This is  my martial arts blog. It is dedicated to martial arts in particular the art of the Ryukyu islands and its influences. The most influential karate sensei of my life was the late Seikichi Odo. His name roughly translated to “World Walker” and by that standard, he spread Okinawa Kenpo around the world. My goal is to blog my way through this thing called karate and continue his spirit of the World Walker Way.