is a household word. The average person hears
the word "karate" and thinks, "Oh
KA-RHOTTY, that's fighting with kicks and chops."
To the karate-ka, on the other hand, karate is
an art of self-defense which evolved in Okinawa
based on indigenous Okinawan self-defense methods
blended with Chinese Kung-Fu. Modern styles of
karate were said to have started in the late 1700's
and early 1800's. Prior to the advent of karate,
there was another art practiced in Okinawa. This
was called Ti, pronounced TEE, Ti was mostly practices
by the anji, (merchants, landowners, clergy and
royalty), who lived primarily in the cities of
Naha, Shuri and Tomari. From these places, Ti
eventually evolved into Naha-te, Shuri-te and
Tomari-te, meaning "the empty hand of Naha,
Shuri and Tomari." These three major styles
founded all Okinawan Karate styles practice today.
modern styles of karate, there was Ti. Perhaps
the most important lesson taught in studying Ti
is not the labels or comparisons between different
styles and arts-- rather it is the understanding
that Ti is a way of thinking, by practicing kata
as it is taught to you, and finding out what the
kata means to you in your life.
All Okinawan karate is based on combinations of
punches, blocks, kicks and throws, formed into
dances called kata. Katas are the training lessons
a student uses to learn self defense. It is only
in the last 200 years that kata were taught in
groups of kata to formal classes of students.
Before this, one style of karate, or "Ti",
consisted of one kata. This was usually passed
on from one family member to another. In essence,
a kata is a "coat of arms," in Okinawan
cultural history. All kata reflect the locality
it originated from. For example, wider stances
were used on more flat terrain, smaller stances
were used in places of limited space. Each step
in a kata is a representation of a technique explained
through "bunkai" (Boon-Kye), which literally
Kobudo is the use of weapons in performing kata.
Like empty-handed kata, kobudo katas are also
dances that tell a story and teach a lesson in
self-defense. The "weapons" themselves
are a mixture of Chinese martial weapons; the
sai, timbe, & yari, as well as farming tools
of Okinawa; the eku, bo, kama, tunfa, & nunchaku.
I believe that kobudo kata were predominantly
developed by women in Okinawa. All history points
to the fact that women were the ones who stayed
home, did the housework and tended the fields.
They would have been the ones that would have
seen it most necessary to improvise with these
farming tools to develop and use techniques to
defend themselves against unwanted visitors.
The most important part of karate is the kata
San Chin. The reason that it is so important is
that without San Chin there is no Karate. In China
San Chin is pronounced Chi Kung, our version Means
“Iron Shirt” Chi Kung. The words and
spellings are different; however the internal
martial art of Iron Shirt Chi Kung or San Chin
is the same. They differ in their outward appearances
however the results are the same. San Chin literally
means "3 Chi" "San" is the
number 3, and "chin" is how you say
chi (or ki) in Hogan the traditional Okinawan
language. It can also be translated as three battles.