Dai Nippon Butokukai

Virtue before Vice
Values before Vanity
Principles before Personalities

An Analysis by Patrick McCarthy
Butokukai Kyoshi
Karatedo 7th Dan


When Japan emerged from feudalism in the mid-19th century, the Dai Nippon Butokukai was established as the nation’s first and foremost organization responsible for classical and modern martial arts. Although it has had an immeasurable impact upon the growth and direction of karatedo, the Butokukai remains practically unknown in the Western world of martial arts today.

An ultra-traditional Japanese institution, the Butokukai was responsible for more than just the collection, analysis, and promotion of classical and modern martial arts in general. This organization was, and still is, a microcosm of the austere culture from whence it came. Representing ancient tradition, the Butokukai fostered true warrior ideals in combining physical austerity with philosophical assimilation as a prerequisite for introspection. Understanding that the very source of human weakness was internal rather than external, the Butokukai emphasized an inward exploration…a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Virtue before vice, values before vanity, principles before personalities best portray the spirit of the Dai Nippon Butokukai.

During a generation that has seemingly replaced traditional values with materialism, the need for moral direction and spiritual guidance in the Martial arts is greater than ever. Thanks to the efforts of international representative Dr. Hiroyuki Hamada (Hanshi) plans to establish foreign branches of the Dai Nippon Butokukai throughout West are meeting with tremendous success. I hope that this presentation will serve to bring the reader closer to understanding not only what role the Butokukai played in the early development of modern karatedo, but also what its general aims, and ideals, represent, both then and now.

Patrick McCarthy
Butokukai Kyoshi
Shibucho Australia

Bugei & Bushido

The samurai lived with a philosophy unique in the annals of mankind. Sometimes compared to the splendor of the cherry blossom, which falls from its bough at the moment of its greatest beauty, so too did the samurai warrior of ancient Japan live each day with the constant desire for beauty and perfection while preparing to meet his destiny.

Wide-scale military power struggles in 10th century Japan ultimately gave birth to the samurai class, the foundation upon which their combative disciplines ascended. Their Spartan code of conduct, untainted by greed, became known as Bushidoi (the way of the warrior).

Tightly bound by this warrior code, many regarded the samurai to be that culture’s finest expression of “Yamato Damashi” (Japanese spirit). Bushidoi required the samurai to pledge his very life to his master. For the samurai warrior, sacrificing one’s life for one’s master was a most glorious death. This philosophy, in which the samurai warrior lived to die gloriously, penetrated the lives of the common people. It was through this philosophy that bugei was perpetuated, cultivated, and handed down to this day.

Based upon bugei (the combative ethos of the samurai warrior,) the various kinds of budo (modern martial ways) were established during Japan’s post-Edo, pre-World War II era (1868-1937). Including kendo (Japanese fencing), judo (grappling), kyudo (Zen archery), naginatado (halberd fencing), jukendo (bayonet fencing), and karatedo, budo was not only a microcosm of the disciplined society from which it came, it also served as a vehicle to perpetuate Bushidoi, and became an instrumental force in helping shape modern Japanese history.

With the abolition of the Tokugawa Bakufu (the military government that ruled Japan 1603-1868), the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) delivered Japan from feudalism into “democracy.” Hence, like the samurai warrior, the class structure, the wearing of swords, the samurai’s yearly stipend, and the chongmage (topknot hairstyle) faded into the annals of history, as did much of the other social phenomena representing feudalism’s authoritarian forces.

However, unable to abruptly escape the powerful strain of masculinity under which Japan had evolved and fearful of losing its homogeneous identity in the wake of foreign influence, much of modern Japan’s central tenets reflected its feudal-based ideologies. Perpetuating old traditions while encouraging the development of many new social pastimes and cultural recreations, bugei, with its inflexible hierarchy system, continued to be an instrumental force through which conformism continued to be funneled.

Based upon sport and recreation, the modern budo phenomena fostered a deep respect for those virtues, values, and principles revered in Bushidoi that, in addition to other things, fostered the willingness to fight to the death or even to kill oneself if necessary. Budo encouraged shugyo (austerity) and won widespread popularity in Japan during an age of escalating militarism.

Founded during the Meiji Period shortly after Japan ascended from feudalism, the Dai Nippon Butokukai (The Great Martial Virtues Association of Japan) was set up in the ancient capital of Kyoto in 1895. Built upon an ancient concept of fostering robust strength, indomitable spirit, and virtuous character, qualities encouraged by Japan’s 50th emperor, Kanmu (781-805 AD,) the Butokukai perpetuated austerity and the moral principles upon which bugei first ascended, and revered the spirit of Kanmu as its patron.

Underscoring the magnitude of “wa“,1 the government authorized the Butokukai to research, preserve, and promote Japanese bugei; hold exhibitions and tournaments; collect weapons, equipment, and historical information on all classical combative traditions; and publish martial arts related material. The Dai Nippon Butokukai became the example everyone else followed.

On September 5, 1896, Emperor Meiji selected Komatsumiya Akihito, a member of the imperial family, to be the Butokukai’s first sosai (general director). In October, the association held its first Butokusai (martial arts festival) in a makeshift tent that featured kendo and judo exhibitions. The following year, the sosai and his cabinet of distinguished supporters vigorously lobbied and secured enough financial assistance from both the government and the emperor to establish an institute that could accommodate their growing membership, the Butokuden, the Butokukai’s official training hall.

In 1899, the construction of the Butokuden was completed and opened adjacent to the historically prominent Heian Shrine, located near Kyoto’s Imperial Palace grounds. Serving as the Butokukai’s honbu (headquarters), the Butokuden soon attracted Japan’s most respected martial artists.

In 1906, Fushinomiya, another member of the imperial household, became the Butokukai’s second sosai. Fushinomiya announced the organization’s intention to establish a martial arts college. With a sizeable grant from the Meiji emperor, the Butokukai embarked upon its plan. In June, Meiji 40 (1907), the Dai Nippon Butokukai became a foundation.

With budo playing an important role in shaping the body, mind, and character of modern Japan, the Butokukai, in connection with the Education Ministry, was able to make both kendo and judo compulsory courses in all middle schools throughout the nation in 1911. Modern budo flourished in Japan’s school system, signifying the value the government placed upon budo training.

Also embraced by an aggressive campaign of militarism, modern budo was often glamorized as the way in which “common men built uncommon bravery.”2 Be that as it may, during the post-Edo, pre-WWII interval, kendo and judo, served well to produce strong, able bodies and dauntless fighting spirits for Japan’s escalating war-machine.

On September 18, 1911, the Butokukai opened its martial arts college, located next to the Butokuden. First called the Bujutsu Semmon Gakko (martial arts specialty school), the name was later changed to the Budo Semmon Gakko (Martial Ways Specialty School), and nicknamed the Busen. One of Kano Jigoro’s top disciples, Isogai Hajime, served as the first director of the Butokukai’s judo department. Eminent Hokushin Ittoryu swordsman Naito Takaharu represented the kendo department.

In some ways, the Busen was regarded as Japan’s West Point Academy. The Mecca of Japan’s fighting traditions, the Butokuden was where budo juhapin (the 18 martial ways) were vigorously cultivated and highly revered. With both a two- and four-year program and a host of brilliant instructors, the Busen disciplined its flock in kendo and judo, while teaching military strategy, history, philosophy, and associated academic studies. This resulted in the forging of Japan’s “new military mind,” the modern samurai warrior. Graduates of this elite fraternity were revered as Japan’s most skilled and highly educated experts of their day.

Under the auspices of the Butokukai, martial arts encouraged shushin, kokutai,3 and Nihonjinron (Japaneseness), cultural elements that were deeply embraced by Japan’s escalating war-machine. During Japan’s reactionary era of escalating militarism, the Butokukai established branches in every prefecture to accommodate its growing popularity.

Titles and Ranks

Overseeing the country’s entire martial arts community, the Butokukai also conceived of and issued the first distinguished titles for the modern budoka who were considered outstanding in their particular disciplines. The first Shihan (“Master Teacher”) titles were Hanshi (“Model Expert” or “Teacher by Example”, and Kyoshi, originally known as Tasshi (“Teaching Expert”). In 1934, a third title was introduced, Renshi (“Well Trained or Skilled Expert”). The Butokukai continues to issue these titles to this day. Within the Butokukai, the ranking system was, and still is, the evaluation of an individual’s progress toward the attainment of human perfection through the practice of the fighting traditions. This evaluation is not based solely upon physical prowess, but also encompasses the entire human being’s physical, moral, and spiritual development: budo’s goal of cultivating the world-within in an effort to enhance the world-without.

Some of the more recognizable experts of karatedo to receive the Butokukai titles have been: Mabuni Kenwa (Shitoryu), Miyagi Chojun (Gojuryu), Funakoshi Gichin (Shotokan), Funakoshi Giko (Shotokan), Konishi Yasuhiro (Shindo Jinenryu), Ohtsuka Hironori (Wadoryu), Yamaguchi Gogen (Gojukai), Nagamine Shoshin (Matsubayashi Shorinryu), Shinzato Jinan (Gojuryu), Higa Seiko (Gojuryu), Yagi Meitoku (Gojuryu), Ueshima Sannosuke (Kushinryu), Tomoyori Ryusei (Kenyuryu), Kinjo Hiroshi (Koryu), Richard Kim (Shorinjiryu), and Sakagami Ryusho (Itosukai Shitoryu).

Endorsed by the Butokukai, the wearing of sashes and belts was conceived of by the late founder of judo, Kano Jigoro. Kano first foresaw the need to distinguish the difference between the advanced practitioner and the different levels of beginners; thus he developed the dan/kyu system. The dan, or black belt, indicated an advanced proficiency level and those who earned it became known as yudansha (dan recipients); the kyu degrees represented the varying levels of competency below the dan, and were known as mudansha (those not yet having received a dan). Kano Sensei felt it particularly important for all students to fully realize that one’s training was in no way complete simply because one had achieved the dan degree. On the contrary, he emphasized that the attainment of the dan rank merely symbolized the real beginning of one’s journey. By reaching black belt level, one had, in fact, completed only the necessary requirements to embark upon a relentless journey without distance that would ultimately result in self-mastery.

After establishing the Kodokan dojo (Kano’s training institute), Kano Sensei distributed black sashes to all yudansha, which were worn around the standard dogi (practice uniform) of that era. Around 1907, the black sash was replaced with the kuro-obi (black belt), which became the standard still used.

In an effort to regulate the competitive elements of budo, the Butokukai established a unique refereeing system that revolutionized their practice and also served to spread Japanese martial arts. Then, in December 1941, the Butokukai formed a committee to report on the progress of the different budo groups. Konishi Yasuhiro (1893-1983, Shindo Jinenryu) and Ueshima Sannosuke (1895-1986, Kushinryu) were petitioned to report on the progress of karatedo. However, in the following year, because of World War II, the Butokukai was reorganized under the auspices of five ministries: Welfare, Education, War, Navy, and National Affairs.

Shortly after Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces in 1945, the occupation forces prohibited all organizations considered to be the roots of militarism in Japan. With Prime Minister Tojo Hideki serving as head of the Butokukai during the war years, it came as no surprise that the Dai Nippon Butokukai, the Busen, and all its affiliates, were the first institutes ordered disbanded and closed after the war.

However, in January 1946, the Education Ministry was put in charge of the budo, which were to serve only as physical education within the school system. Later that year, ex-Butokukai officials successfully made a strong effort to have the association reinstated. However, the judgment was short lived as senior allied officials once again terminated it.

With the Butokukai dormant for the next seven years during the American occupation, various groups used its old honbu, the Butokuden. From 1945 to 1950, it was Allied Forces “GHQ,” following that the Legal Affairs and Finance Ministries used it, then, the Kyoto Police Department used it for their official training hall, and finally it was the site of the Tokyo Municipal Koto (13-stringed zither) Association until it was declared a national treasure in 1970. The old dilapidated Butokuden was restored to its original splendor in 1987, although the surrounding buildings were torn down to make room for a new budo dojo.

Modern History

karatedo is the modern Japanese art of self-defense, which cultivates health and fitness, character development, pacifism, and spiritual harmony through physical discipline, philosophical assimilation, and protracted, but methodical, introspection. Once vigorously cultivated by Okinawa’s feudal aristocracy, karatedo emerged from the Chinese gongfu4 traditions5 that had been introduced to the tiny island kingdom over several generations. Today’s numerous karatedo styles have surfaced due in large part to each generation producing masters who find reason to re-interpret the universal self-defense principles and those moral precepts upon which they rest.

When compared to the fighting traditions of Japan’s ancient samurai warrior, karatedo – an eclectic hybrid – must then be to Okinawa’s combative heritage what kendo and judo are to the classical schools of grappling and swordsmanship, kenjutsu and jujutsu. Yet, in seeking to better understand the advent and obscure evolution of karatedo, we must turn our attention to those modern disciplines to have evolved from the classical combative traditions of the samurai warrior, their code of conduct Bushidoi, and influence of the Dai Nippon Butokukai──Japan’s Great Association of Martial Virtues. By doing so it will become evident what the relationship is between bugei,6 Bushidoi, the Dai Nippon Butokukai and karatedo.

If there was any curiosity on Japan’s mainland about toudijutsu prior to the Dai Nippon Butokukai, then it had to have first surfaced from the attention gained when the Imperial Army originally considered its value as an adjunct to physical training. With the draft invoked and Okinawa an official Japanese prefecture, the military vigorously campaigned for recruits there. During the 1891 enlistment medical examinations two young recruits (Yabu Kentsu [1866-1937] and Hanashiro Chomo [1869-1945]) were singled out for their exemplary physical conditioning due to toudijutsu training.

Therefore, the possibility that this little-known plebeian Okinawan fighting phenomenon might enhance Japanese military effectiveness, as kendo and judo had, generated interest in a closer study into its potential. However, the Army ultimately abandoned its interest in Toudijutsu because of impractical training methods, poor organization, and the great length of time it took to gain any proficiency. However, that was not before an independent movement surfaced in an effort to modernize its practice.

Before the turn of the 20th century, a small group of Okinawan karate enthusiasts, headed up by Itosu Ankoh7, established a campaign to introduce the discipline as a form of physical exercise into the island’s school system. In linking the past to the present, Itosu’s crusade to modernise toudijutsu resulted in fundamentally revising its practice.

Martial arts throughout the Japanese Empire from 1895-1945 fell directly under the jurisdiction of the Dai Nippon Butokukai, which in turn was accountable only to the Meiji Emperor and his administration. As the sole agency in charge of budo in Japan, the Butokukai was supported in large part by Meiji bureaucrats, the Ministry of Education (Mombusho,) and the military. As such, any and all martial arts or related activities in the country were reported to, and invariably scrutinized by, the Butokukai.

Thoroughly impressed after having observed a toudijutsu demonstration, while in Okinawa just after the turn of the century, Ogawa Shintaro8 reported his findings to the Education Ministry, which amounted to toudijutsu being recommended for schools in Okinawa Prefecture.

By the end of the Meiji Period, the practice of toudijutsu had been greatly improved and, with the emphasis placed upon the repetition of kata, it served as a valuable adjunct to taiso (calisthenics group exercise) in the schools of Okinawa, thanks largely to Ogawa’s endorsement, the efforts of Itosu Ankoh, and the new generation of teachers he had produced.

Although there is little testimony to support (or deny) allegations that it was developed in an effort to better prepare draftees for military service, toudijutsu was introduced into Okinawa’s school system under the pretense that young men with a healthy body and moral character were more productive to Japanese society.

With the prefectural Mombusho office authorizing toudijutsu in Okinawa, it immediately became a concern of the Butokukai. Reports about the value of toudijutsu since its improvement were not infrequent, and the enthusiasm of at least one young naval officer, named Yashiro Rokuro, made an enormous impression upon the Butokukai. Moreover, with Japan’s Imperial Navy docked in Okinawa’s Nakagusuku Bay on naval maneuvers for a week in 1912, both officers and sailors were invited to explore the value of karatejutsu.9

The praise karatejutsu received from the Navy Department sparked widespread curiosity, which resulted in a petition being sent to Okinawa’s Mombusho office requesting that a delegation be sent to provide a demonstration before the Butokukai in Kyoto. The Okinawa Board of Education subsequently asked one its teachers, Funakoshi Gichin (1868-1957,) a student of Itosu’s, to head up a small delegation. On 5 May 1917, Funakoshi and a small contingent of local enthusiasts provided a demonstration and explanation of toudijutsu at the Kyoto Butokuden. This was the first official demonstration of Toudijutsu on Japan’s mainland.

Notwithstanding, it was upon this new foundation laid essentially by Master Itosu that a new generation of experts surfaced. It was during that generation of new experts that Okinawans like Funakoshi Gichin, Motobu Choki (1871-1944), Uechi Kambum (1877-1948), Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953), Toyama Kanken (1888-1966), Mabuni Kenwa (1889-1952), Gima Shinkin (1896-1989,) and Chitose Tsuyoshi (1898-1984), found their way to the Japan’s mainland to introduce their interpretations of toudijutsu.

Cultural Forces

Ohtsuka Hironori (1892-1982, the founder of Wadoryu) and Konishi Yasuhiro (1893-1983, the founder of Shindo Jinenryu) were two men largely responsible for initiating the modernization movement that revolutionized Ryukyu kenpo Toudijutsu after its introduction on Japan’s mainland. Konishi, a jujutsu expert and prominent kendo teacher, studied toudijutsu before it was formerly introduced to mainland Japan. He was the only man to have studied under Funakoshi Gichin, Motobu Choki, Miyagi Chojun, and Mabuni Kenwa. It was Konishi who first said that, when compared to judo and kendo, toudijutsu was an incomplete discipline.

Konishi described modern karatedo as being forged in the exact image of kendo and judo.10 By using the combative ethos of the ancient samurai, fundamentally the various schools of kenjutsu (swordsmanship) and jujutsu (grappling), an infrastructure was forged upon which modern budo developed. From the fundamental principles of kenjutsu’s most eminent schools, kendo was established; while the principal elements of jujutsu served as the basis upon which judo unfolded. Together, they provided the guidelines in which Japanese karatedo was established: From judo came a lighter version of the standard dogi (practice uniform), the obi (belt), and the dan/kyu system: from kendo came the idea for establishing a teaching and grading standard, protective equipment, and the ippon shobu11 concept for testing one’s skills in competition.


In contrast to kendo and judo, the original toudijutsu movement lacked a formal practice uniform format. Its teaching curricula varied from person to person and there was no organized standard for accurately evaluating proficiency.

When compared to kendo and judo, Ryukyu kenpo toudijutsu remained uncultivated and without suitable organization or “oneness,” in short, it was not Japanese. Ryukyu kenpo toudijutsu was subject to the criticism of rival and xenophobic opposition during that early and unsettled time of transition when it was being introduced from Okinawa to the mainland during the 1920’s and early thirties. An old Japanese kotowaza (proverb) aptly describes how things or people that are “different” (i.e. not in balance with “wa“) ultimately conform or are methodically thwarted by Japan’s omnipotent cultural forces: “Deru kugi wah utareru,” virtually means “a protruding nail ultimately gets hammered down.”

The transition period was not short nor was it without opposition. It included a justification phase, a time when animosities were aired and the winds of dissension carried the seeds of reorganization. It was a time when foreign customs (Okinawans were openly discriminated against and anti-Chinese sentiment was rampant) were methodically faded out and more homogeneous convictions introduced.

Butokukai Influence

Representing centuries of illustrious cultural heritage, the Butokukai’s ultratraditional bugei and budo cliques were deeply concerned by the open hostilities being openly vented between rival leaders.12 This, with the unorganized teaching curricula, lack of social decorum, and absence of formal practice apparel, testing standard, and competitive element compelled the Butokukai to regard the situation as detrimental to toudijutsu’s growth and direction on the mainland and set forth to resolve it.

The Criteria

The principal concern focused not only upon ensuring that teachers of toudijutsu were fully qualified to teach, but also, that the teachers actually understood what they were teaching. For toudijutsu to be accepted in mainland Japan, the Butokukai called for the development and implementation of a unified teaching curricula, the adoption of a standard practice uniform, a consistent standard for accurately evaluating the grades of proficiency, the implementation of Kano Jigoro’s dan-kyu13 system, and the development of a safe competitive format through which participants could test their skills and spirits.

Although it was not the Butokukai that first proposed changing the name of toudijutsu,14 it was strongly in favor of using a name that was not associated with Japan’s enemy, China. However, the Butokukai was responsible for the toudijutsu movement abandoning the “jutsu” suffix and replacing it with the modern term “do,” as in judo and kendo, and played an integral role in having the ideogram “sora” (also pronounced “kara“) replace the character which connected Toudi to China. Just as 12 inches always equals 1 foot, the plan was to establish a universal set of standards, as judo and kendo had done.

The Butokukai concluded that the improvements it called for would bring about a single coalition under their auspices, as had happened with judo and kendo. There is some uncorroborated gojuryu testimony that maintains that Prince Nashimoto Moriwasa15 empowered Gojuryu founder Miyagi Chojun to set up a Karate Kyojukai (Karate Teacher Association) on behalf of the Butokukai in 1937 with Konishi and Sannosuke, to implement and oversee this transition.16 karatedo‘s continued development was overshadowed by the widespread adversity of World War II, so much so that this universal set of standards failed to ever materialize.

Many believe that when the Butokukai, and other organizations considered the roots of militarism, were dissolved in 1945 after Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces, karatedo development karatedo into a unified discipline was abandoned. However, like judo and kendo, karatedo did come to enjoy an untold popularity through the sport format born in the school system.

In spite of karatedo‘s popularity, differences of opinion, personal animosities, protectionism, and fierce rivalry clearly illustrate that it is destined to maintain its individuality. While a myriad of eclectic interpretations continue to unfold, the traditional principles upon which karatedo rest have yet to be fully understood or brought together to form a single tradition; a phenomenon which, for better or worse, continues to this day.

Still a Vibrant Force

Thought to have vanished altogether, the Dai Nippon Butokukai was privately funded and reorganized in 1953 under the direction of the nucleus of its pre-war membership. Higashifushimi, a member of the Showa emperor’s immediate family, served as patron; and Ono Kumao, a prominent Hokkiryu swordsman, became Butokukai director. Located quite close to its original site, the Dai Nippon Butokukai honbu received permission to use the Shoren Temple in Kyoto’s Higashi Yamaku, Awahta Guchi, where it remains to this day.

The ultra-traditional Dai Nippon Butokukai remains overshadowed by the myriad of privately funded competitive martial arts organizations extant today. In spite of intense rivalry, this elite fraternity continues to foster essential precepts seemingly no longer fashionable during a generation dominated by materialism.

Although no longer exclusively in charge of budo in Japan, the Dai Nippon Butokukai still maintains that it is only through understanding the common principles upon which the Martial arts rest, embracing its moral precepts, and pursuing its spiritual magnitude that one can ever truly master the self, the inner-most message of budo.

Branches of the Dai Nippon Butokukai are now being established throughout the Western world in an effort to (re-)introduce the profound teachings of the ancient Japanese warrior and his unique philosophy of living in harmony with nature and his fellow man. Martial arts master Dr. Hiroyuki Hamada (Hanshi), the international representative of the Dai Nippon Butokukai, is the principal force behind the campaign to establish foreign branches outside of Japan.

Organizations, schools, and or individual disciples of the Japanese Martial arts seeking more information about Japan’s first and foremost fraternity of classical and modern martial arts are invited to write to Dr. Hamada c/o College of Education HPER, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA 23508

The Butokukai Insignia

The Dai Nippon Butokukai symbol takes its shape from the eight point chrysanthemum, a flower first introduced to Japan in 650 AD from China. The nectar extracted from this flower was at that time made into a wine that was thought to have ensured longevity. The flower became associated with the Emperor, and ultimately became the national flower of Japan, which is still remembered every year on September 9.

The insignia has gold characters on a royal purple background. The color gold represents the idea of richness: the Butokukai believes that the generations of learning transmitted through budo are an invaluable asset to its supporters. The royal purple, the official color of the Emperor, represents the virtuous ideology that governs the behavior of its supporters. The eight points of the flower represent the conceivable gates of attack and defense, a principle that unites all combative disciplines.

The Chinese characters “butoku” represent the martial virtues of the feudal samurai: respect, compassion, gratitude, loyalty, honor, and integrity. The rays emanating from its center represent the various koryu (feudal combative disciplines) that served as the platform upon which budo was established. The bow and two arrows represent Japan’s very first line of defense during its feudal beginnings.

Sources of Reference:

Dai Nippon Butokukai Riyaku Reiki (Short History of the Dai Nippon Butokukai) published by the Butokukai, Kyoto, 1987.

Dai Nippon Butokukai Kaiho (Butokukai quarterly Newsletters,) 1987-present.

The cooperation of Konishi Takehiro (Ryobukai) Sugino Yoshio Meijin (Katori Shintoryu), Matsushita Kyocho, and the Kyoto Butokukai Honbu.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission from Patrick McCarthy

  1. Karel van Wolferen, “The Enigma of Japanese Power,” (London: MacMillan London Ltd., 1989), p. 412: “Wa” is an element of Japanese culture, perhaps better described as the readiness to sacrifice one’s personal interests for the sake of harmonious communal unity
  2. Propaganda popularized by the Butokukai.
  3. Shushin and Kokutai represent diligence, regimentalism, conformism, the commitment to mass productivity, strict adherence to seniority, emperor worship, and lifetime loyalty to its precepts.
  4. Gongfu is a generic Chinese-Mandarin term denoting the various self-defense traditions that developed from either the Buddhist Shaolin Temple (i.e., Dragon, Leopard, Tiger, Crane, Snake), or the Daoist Wudang Temples (i.e., Taijiquan, Bagua, Xingyi); it generally means “accomplished work.” There are two current, more specific Mandarin terms used, fraught with political undertones: wushu, “war arts,” is the accepted term in the People’s Republic of China, or Mainland China; Taiwan, or the Republic of China, uses the term guoshu (kuoshu), or “national arts.” A third common term, quanfa, “way of the fist,” is rendered as kenpo in Japanese. In general, wushu refers to the modernized, very acrobatic styles of gongfu, whereas gongfu, quanfa, and guoshu refer to the more traditional civil self-defense forms. Chinese-Mandarin terms are rendered in the Pinyin Romanization system used in the PRC.
  5. Primarily Fujian Monk, Crane, and Tiger Fist boxing.
  6. Meaning martial arts, also referred to as bujutsu, the koryu or classical combative disciplines of Japan’s feudal samurai warrior.
  7. Many regarded Itosu as the grandfather of modern karate. Bringing together several traditions, he made learning safer, which surfaced under the name of Ryukyu kenpo karatejutsu.
  8. Ogawa was a bureaucrat from the Kagoshima Prefectural branch (Okinawa had once been under the jurisdiction of Kagoshima – the new name for Satsuma han) of the Education Ministry.
  9. See Funakoshi Gichin, “Karatedo, My Way of Life,” (English translation) by Kodansha, 1975, p43.
  10. Found in several publications, i.e. “Informal Talks With Yasuhiro,” “Memories of Karate,” and “Karate and His Life,” etc. and corroborated by personal interviews with Konishi’s son, Takehiro, in 1992 and 1993.
  11. “Ippon Shobu” literally means “one point contest,” a concept that evolved from the “shinken shobu” of feudal Japan, a match where one fatal blow of the sword determined the outcome of a duel.
  12. Regarded as the master fighter, Motobu Choki insisted that the scholar, Funakoshi Gichin, was an imposter whose karate, although elegant, was ineffective because he had no idea of its application. However, because of his tricky behavior and eloquent explanations, Motobu felt Funakoshi was able to deceive many. This resulted in Motobu issuing a public challenge to Funakoshi. Funakoshi described Motobu as a densely illiterate person, and refused the challenge. Motobu compared Funakoshi to a samisen (stringed guitar) player; a lovely sound but hollow inside, and continued his character attack upon Funakoshi. Every time Motobu’s name was mentioned in the presence of Funakoshi, his face contorted in disgust, said Konishi Yasuhiro, who described their hatred for each other like that of a cat and dog. “Karate and His Life,” (Tokyo: Kaku Kozu, Ryobukai, 1993), pp. 13-15.
  13. In recognizing the need to distinguish the varying grades of proficiency, Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo, developed a standard called the dan/kyu system; the kyu represented the varying levels of proficiency below the dan, or black belt, level.
  14. In preparation for Kano Jigoro’s visit to Okinawa in January 1927 the prefecture recommended using a name which might characterize toutejutsu (Chinese hand) as a martial tradition more closely associated with Okinawa rather than the existing name, which accented its foreign origins. In doing so the terms Shurite, Nahate, and Tomarite (the “te” disciplines native to Shuri, Naha, and Tomari) were born.
  15. “Karate History, Traditions & People.” Farkas & Cochran (Anthony Mirakiam) p356. One problem surrounding this testimony is that Moriwasa, a member of the Imperial Household, did not become the sosai [general director] of the Butokukai until 1942.

Article written by Patrick McCarthy

A Kyoshi 7th Dan from Kyoto’s Dai Nippon Butokukai, Patrick McCarthy is the director of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society, and DNBK branch chief for Australia. He is known worldwide as a leading authority of karatedo and is responsible for a myriad of important historical contributions which include the English translations of the “Bubishi;” Bushi Matsumura’s 1882 “Seven Precepts of Bu, as well as his 1885 Zayunomei;” Itosu Ankoh’s 1908 “Ten Lesson; Taira Shinken’s 1964 “Encyclopedia of Kobudo” and Nagamine Shoshin’s “Biographies of Karate & Tegumi Masters.” He travels frequently to lecture on karate history, philosophy, kata applications, the “Bubishi”, and kobudo. Patrick McCarthy can be contacted for such seminars by writing to "The Society," PO Box 715, Aspley 4034 Australia