Motobu-ryu

 

Motobu Choyu sensei Uehara Seikichi sensei

 

In the years of Meiji when the han system was abolished (1), Motobu Choyu (1857~1927), 11th heir of the Motobu family known as “Motobu Udun”, studied from childhood under his father Motobu Choshin the martial arts transmitted secretly from father to son in the Motobu family. In order to broaden his martial arts knowledge, Motobu Choyu also studied with famous masters of Shurite and Tomarite learning many kata and other arts. In the years of Taisho (2), he established the “Okinawa Karate Kenkyu (Research) Club” in “Nanminmo” (3) and taught his knowledge to local masters of karate. The club was also known as “Club-gwaa” or small club.

At that time, Uehara Seikichi was allowed to come and go from the Club-gwaa as he had been studying under Master Choyu from a young age. Foreseeing the possibilities of the young Seikichi, Master Choyu passed on to him the secret knowledge received from his father Choshin, the Shurite kata he had learned and his unique devised kata. In 1926, he handed down the title of “12th head of Motobu Udundi (4)” to Uehara Seikichi.

The technical principles of Motobu-ryu are based on karate, kobudo and Udundi. In karate and kobudo, there are more than ten kata. In Udundi, Ken-jutsu (sword), So-jutsu (also call yari for spear), Naginata-jutsu, Tuiti and Meekata are transmitted.

The zenith of Udundi’s technique is found in Meekata. Meekata is a supreme martial art that relates to the three “te (hand)” of Ryukyu classical dances (5). It was elaborated during the Ryukyuan kingdom era and was performed with great elegance as “Bushi no tashinami” (6).

In 1961, Master Uehara (1904-2004) renamed the Motobu family’s martial arts “Motobu-ryu”. In 1970, he named “Motobu Udundi” the secrets martial arts transmitted within the Motobu family. He also created an organization named “Motobu Udundi Kobujutsu Kyokai (7)”.

In June 2003, on the occasion of his ninety-nine years anniversary, Uehara Seikichi passed on to Motobu Chosei (8) the title of “14th head of Motobu Udundi”. The main headquarters of the “Motobu Udundi Kobujutsu Kyokai” thus moved to Osaka where it is still located today.

 

Okinawa Motobu Udundi Karate Kobudo Kyokai

 

Notes:

(1)    During the Meiji era (the reigning years of Emperor Meiji, 1868 to 1912), in the year 1871, the feudal domain (Han) system was abolished and replaced by a prefecture system. In Japanese, it is known as Haihan-Chiken.

(2)    Taisho era: the years of Emperor Taisho, 1912 to 1926

(3)    Nanminmo: Nanmin is the local pronunciation for Naminoue, where stands today the Naminoue Shrine. Mo means field, like in Manzamo ("pasture of ten-thousand sitting,") located in Onna Village.

(4)    Motobu Udundi: In Japanese, di is written “te” but pronounced dee, like “Suidi” known today as Shurite.

(5)    The 3 hands of dances are describe as ugamidi (praying hands), koneridi (twisting hands) and oshidi (pushing hands)

(6)    Bushi no tashinami: Bushi in Okinawa doesn’t mean samurai like in mainland Japan, but gentleman. Tashinami means to have knowledge to a certain degree in the world of arts or could be translated as refinement.

(7)    Kyokai means association

(8)    Descendant of the Motobu family, Motobu Chosei sensei is the nephew of Motobu Choyu sensei.