It has been 12 years since the passing of the late Grand Master of Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo, Seikichi Odo. In the Okinawa Kenpo ‘family’, the years may weigh on us with fear, pain, joy and hope. We have come so far since Odo sensei’s passing, yet it seems like yesterday when he was telling me to do my kata, “one more time.”
I really thought my sensei spoke very little English. I felt sorry for him. Afterall, he DID keep telling me to repeat my empty hand or weapons form, OVER AND OVER, by saying “one more time.” LITTLE DID I KNOW there was something else going on…
The debate in Okinawan Karate on rank, (read: I am a [enter the Japanese title describing black belt level], or senior student (read: I trained with this master for 2 weeks in Okinawa back in the 1980s, therefore I am a senior practitioner], or I trained under the guy who opened the first dojo in America, or other various ‘criteria’ people have created in the karate world to promote their marketing efforts of their school is so well…1980s.
I loved this movie. I still do. It needs more fight scenes though.
Don’t get me wrong: The idea of having ranks in Okinawan Karate is awesome. But what do they really mean?
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.
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.
温故知新 or “On Ko Chi Shin” roughly translates as “study the old, understand the new.” It is a maxim found in all martial arts. My sensei would say “keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future.” At the time he was referring to “a true” kobudo application of a defensive maneuver involving multiple assailants with implements of minor and mass destruction. They say the old ways Okinawan Karate have been erased with time.
I don’t believe that. Neither should you.
Okinawa Kenpo “old school” style
AND NOW FOR SOME EXCITING NEWS…
Posted in karate, Karate Dojo, Okinawa Kenpo Karate, RyuKyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu, Ryukyu Kempo
Tagged 8th degree black belt, Gonzalo Flores, Gonzo Flores, Martial Arts, Okinawa, Okinawa Kenpo, okinawa kenpo karate, Okinawan Karate, On Ko Chi Shin, Seikichi Odo