Footnotes of Episode 1


Title in Japanese: if you look carefully on Shureimon, the Gate of Courtesy at the entrance of Shuri Castle, the Chinese characters are written the traditional way, meaning from right to left. As a tip of the hat to this famous monument and its deep historical meaning, we have deliberately chosen this form of writing for our title.


Episode 1: History


An independent kingdom: Until 1609 and the invasion from Satsuma samurai, Ryukyu was and independent Kingdom. Before and after this date, it was never invaded by China, but became a kind of vassal to the Chinese Emperor to be allowed to trade freely with Southeast Asian countries. Following the 1609 invasion, Ryukyu would continue its trading activities but Satsuma would control in the shadow most of what was happening in the kingdom. In 1872, through what is remembered as “Ryukyu Shobun” or the Ryukyu Disposal, Ryukyu became Okinawa and in 1879, it officially became a prefecture of Japan through the event “Haihan Chiken”, the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures.


Uchinadee: Uchina means Okinawa in Uchina-guchi, the Okinawan language. Naturally, before karate was Chinese hand (Tang’s hand) or the empty hand, it was Uchina-dee (also written Uchina-di/Uchina-te/Uchina-ti), the hand of Okinawa. We tried to stay closed to the local pronunciation in using this spelling.


Nanto Zatsuwa: Originally from Satsuma, Nago Sagenta spent some time in the Amami Islands (then part of the Ryukyu Islands) around 1850-1855. He recorded his experience in the book Nanto Zatsuwa. It’s in this book that was found 2 drawings titled “Kenpo-jutsu Totsukuro”.


Bushi Matsumura: Born in Yamakawa Village in Shuri, Matsumura Sokon (1809 - 1899) excelled in martial arts and is remembered as Bushi Matsumura. He served as the guard of 3 Ryukyuan kings. Among his many disciples are masters Itosu Anko, Ishimine Shinchi, Chinen Mahsanra, Yabu Kentsu, Funakoshi Gichin, Hanashiro Chomo and Kyan Chotoku. In 1873, Bushi Matsumura wrote the scroll “Bushi toshite no kokoroe” (Precepts of a bushi) and passed it on to his disciple Kuwae Ryosei. In these writings, he disserts on budo (martial arts) and its meaning and purpose.


Introduction to mainland: Next the three masters mentioned in the documentary, many other Okinawans introduced karate to Mainland Japan. Among them was Mabuni Kenwa (1889-1952), founder of Shito-ryu.


Kancho: While sensei means the one who lives/ was born (sei) before (sen), kancho means the head (cho) of the hall (kan).