It has been suggested that there is a link between Okinawa's Indigenious fighting methods and Okinawan Women's Dances known as Onna Dori. The use of the term Bu No Mai would appear to indicate this. The term Bu meaning to Dance and Mai to rotate. There is a clear correlation between traditions of martial arts and the dances which are indigenious to regions in which those martial arts may be found. In Okinawa it is likely that Chinese martial arts and dances influenced the interpretation and performance of Okinawan martial arts and dance. The photograph to the left shows one such Chinese dance that is related to the Chinese martial arts.
Okinawan Dance: Kumi Odori Manzai Tekiuchi
Tasato Chochoku (1733-73) wrote Manzai Tekiuchi as entertainment for Chinese Emissaries visiting Ryuku for investure of King Sho Boku in 1756.
Story of Drama:
Takadera has killed Ojana's father following a quarrel over a horse (Ojana's horse) Jana nu shi (Ojana's son) decides to slay Takadera but will need the help of his younger brother Keiun who has become a monk. Disguised as travelling musicians they visit Takedara's beach party where he is being entertained by music and dancing and slay him.
Kumi O Dori Manzai Tekiuchi relates to Ojana (A Family name and place of Uehara's Seidokan Dojo) some of the Odori are done outside of the Drama and are then called Takadera Manzai. These are some of the main items in the Nisai Odori (Young Mens) dance category.
I suspect strongly that the three dramas or other items in this category (Nissai Odori) represent tales of Naha, Shuri and Tomari. For example another one in the Nisai Odori category is Menuhama (Named after a beach in Naha) and is performed to Menuhama Bushi, Sakahara Bushi and Yunabaru Bushi.
The other items by this author written for the occasion were
Gishon Monogatari (Tales of Loyal Retainers)
Ogusuku Kuzure (Fall of Ogusuku castle)
There are various other tales of revenge taken from the history of families and villages prior to Satsuma invasion which have been choreographed into operatic dance dramas (Kumi Odori) under various dance commissioners appointed under Satsuma yoke. For example the dance commissioner Tamagusuku Chokun (1684-1738) wrote Nido Tekiuchi and Shushin Kanieri for visiting Satsuma officials in 1719. It would appear likely that the Ti is in the actual fight scenes of these dramas.
Rojin Odori (Dances of Elderly/Longevity)
This dance was originally called Gozenfu/Kajidefu (Before the Lords).
Ufuya may have something to do with Rojin Odori (Dances of Elderly) which was performed to welcome foreign dignitaries and at start of any auspicious occasions by people of all ages. This dance is performed to the melody of Kajidifu Bushi and is only extant item in this category.
Classical category 7 womens dances (These are of specific interest).
One of the classical womens dances is: Kasekake Odori (thread spindle Dance) performed to Shichishaku Bushi. This appears to be interpreted in Motobu Ryu as martial movements with thread spindle.
So what do we have:
Anjikata No Mai no Te (Dance Hand of Fedual Lords).
Kajidefu (Before the Lords) Now Rojin Odori (Old Peoples Dances).
Takadera Manzai main item in Nissai Dori (Young Mens Dances).
Onna Dori (7 Classical Womens Dances) includes Kasekake Dori.
Ti and Dance sources
In his book on Okinawan Karate the author Mark Bishop describes a dance done by Motobu Choyu, and suggests that this dance was the Anjikata No Mai no Te (Dance Hand of Lords), which Uehara allegedly neglected to learn from Choyu Motobu (Bishop 1989).
Seitoku Higa of the Bugeikan Dojo told his son Kiyohiko a story about an Okinawan Dancing old man which can be found at: http://seinenkai.com/articles/sanzinsoo/dancing.html
It should be noted that research correlating a relationship between the Okinawan dance category Onna Dori (womens dances) and the ancient Okinawan Martial Arts was begun and is being continued by Takeo Miyagi.
For more on Okinawan Dance go to the Okinawan Digital Archives at wonder Okinawa http://www.wonder-okinawa.jp/015/english/
The Motobu Ryu Bu Jutsu Odori lineage (Bu No Mai) is said to have begun with King Sho Shitsu (d. 1688) a puppet King who ruled under the Satsuma's following their invasion of Okinawa.
The Ti lineage was continued by King Sho Shitsu's sixth son Prince Sho Koshin who taught Ti to King Sho Tei (d.1709).
The successors of Prince Sho Koshin that taught King Sho Eki (d 1712) is stated as unknown.
A Motobu Choku was the fourth generation teacher of this Ti lineage and taught King Sho Kei (who died in 1751) who was appointed Ufuya in 1750 but retired due to illness the same year. It was Motobu Choku's eldest son Chokyu Motobu taught King Sho Boku. By which time the teachings of the Motobu family's secret art was only being passed down to the eldest son. Choku was instructor to King Sho Kei who died a year later in 1751.
It should be noted that there is a break in the lineage of Court Te instructor for King Sho On (d.1882) who is stated as unknown as is Court Te instructor before Motobu Chokyo.
If the claims about Motobu Chokyu teaching King Sho Boku and the relationship of this Ti to dance is true then it would seem likely that there would be some link to Kumi Odori.
The 8 Techniques (Principles) of Motobu Udun Ryu Te (From Bishop 1996);
1. Kihon Te (Basic hand: hand formations for striking)
2. Karami Te (Tangled hands): This involves trapping and grappling.
3. Ogami Te (Prayer hand): This is a Kokyu technique that involves projecting Ki.
4. Nuki Te (Drawing hand): This relates to drawing a Katana
The following techniques were latter added and may have been based of Nuki Te
5. Modu Te (Original hand) in Japanese it is pronounced Muto
6. Tori Te (Taking hand)
7. Tori Te Gaeshi (Hand grappling return)
8. Uragaeshi Te (Hand grappling reversal)
However prior to these 8 principles being learned is Kassen Te or Battle Hand, of which Muto Sanchin is a part. Sanchin means three battles and is the name of a Kata in which the focus is on conditioning the body, there are many different versions of the Sanchin Kata of which Muto Sanchin is one, a soft version, in which the focus is on loosening up the body in preparation for the grappling aspects of the art (Bishop 1999). Sanchin is an exercise that involves breathing and stretching and contracting muscles, it has its basis in the Fukien Crane styles.
Seikichi Uehara has influenced much of the grappling seen in many Karate styles through his relationships with major figures in the world of Okinawan Karate this has included Seiki Toma, Shian Toma, Taika Seiyu Oyata, Matsuo Kanenori Sakon,Taba Seiichi (Renbukan), Shiroma Seihan (Jo Ryu Mae Te Gassen Karate Kai), Chosei Motobu and others. It is therefore only fitting that tribute is paid to his influences and as such a short Obituary is included below:
Brief Obituary of Seikichi Uehara (1904-2004)
Seikichi Uehara was born on 3rd March 1904 in Oruku, Naha, Okinawa. He was the 5th Son of a family of 5 brothers and 2 sisters, he began training with Choyu Motobu when aged 12 years of age and began to formally teach the Motobu Family martial arts system in 1947 naming it Motobu Ryu Udun Ti in 1961 in memory of his teacher. Seikichi Uehara had become 12th generation Head Master of Motobu Ryu Udun Ti Ko Bu Jutsu,a family martial arts system of the Okinawan Royal Court. Motobu Ryu became part of the All Okinawan Karate and Kobudo Federation. Motobu Ryu Udun Ti is also known for having demonstrated the link between classical Okinawan Martial Arts and Womens Dances (Onna Dori). Seikichi Uehara was Advisor to the Okinawan Prefecture Karatedo Federation , Board Member Japan Kobudo Association, and was awarded the Imperial 6th Order of Merit (1984) by the Emperor of Japan. Seikichi Uehara died on the 3rd April 2004 at 07.15 Hrs aged 100 years, he had stressed in interviews before his death that the techniques that he taught were not his but the legacy of his Master Choyu Motobu.
May the legacy of Seikichi Uehara Sensei continue through all of those who have studied under him and their students and all those who have been inspired by this Great Master.