Samurai Warrior

Japanese and Okinawan martial arts refer to the variety of martial arts native to the historic countries of Japan and Okinawa, which is a part of the Ryukyu Islands, which are a part of modern Japan. At least three Japanese terms are used interchangeably with the English phrase "Japanese martial arts".

The usage of term "budō" to mean martial arts is a modern one, and historically the term meant a way of life encompassing physical, spiritual, and moral dimensions with a focus of self-improvement, fulfillment, or personal growth. The terms bujutsu and bugei have more discrete definitions, at least historically speaking. Bujutsu refers specifically to the practical application of martial tactics and techniques in actual combat. Bugei refers to the adaptation or refinement of those tactics and techniques to facilitate systematic instruction and dissemination within a formal learning environment.

History Edit

Mongolian tribesmen introduced the Chinese to violent skull-bashing wrestling in 770 B.C., and consequently, they indirectly introduced the Okinawans and Japanese to it, too. In China, the wrestling was called shang pu, and in Korea, it was called tae sang bak. Tae sang bak is also a synonym for the Korean wrestling form known as ssireum, which is pronounced as sumo

From there, Japanese martial arts history changed again in 23 B.C., when wrestler Tomakesu-Hayato was ordered to fight Nomi-no-Sukene. Nomi-no-Sukene kicked Tomakesu-Hayato to death by combining his violent wrestling with chikara kurabe. Thus, jujutsu was born.

Chinese martial artists also introduced chuan fa (kempo) to Japan in A.D. 607. When a style of chuan fa that was mixed with jujutsu was taught to Jigoro Kano (1860-1938), he removed the kicks and punches to create judo, which led to Morihei Uyeshiba’s creation of aikido in 1943.

The interaction and influence between the three countries is evident in many other Japanese martial arts, such as kendo. Likewise, when Okinawan martial artist Sakugawa created karate-no-sakugawa in 1722, the character “kara” originally referred to China. However, after Gichin Funakoshi introduced karate into Japan in 1921, kara’s meaning changed to “empty.”

Different Culture - Okinawans Edit

In 1477, during the Second Sho Dynasty, swords and other weapons were banned from Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands by Emperor Shoshin. All weapons on the island were collected and garrisoned in his royal castle in Shuri on Okinawa. It was as a direct result of Shoshin's edict that Okinawans turned to the development of karate (open hand) fighting. In 1600 the Japanese invaded and occupied Okinawa. As a conquering army they used the continued prohibition of weapons as a method of controlling the population. This was combined with an attitude by the Japanese, that still permeates the island today, that Okinawans were second class citizens and treated not as good as main Japanese. (Even today most any Okinawan will quickly inform you - "I am not Japanese, I am Okinawan!") Therefore only Japanese samurai's were permitted to own and carry weapons. Improvising, the Okinawans used simple weapons they could conceal from the samurai, such as staffs and farming equipment, creating the art of Kobudo. Many Okinawan arts would later be brought to the main Japanese islands.

List of Okinawan Martial Arts Edit

List of Main Japanese Islands' Martial Arts Edit