Hawaii Karate Seinenkai.

The following article originally appeared in the Journal of the Shoto Research Society International, and is reprinted by permission of the author. Copyright © Joe Swift. All rights reserved. See his website Traditional Karate Kobudo.

See parts 1, 2, 3 or 4 of the article

Wisdom from the Past: Tidbits on Kata
Applications from Pre-War Karate Books.
Part Four: Mutsu Mizuho's "Karate Kenpo" (1933)

By Joe Swift

Out of all the pre-WWII books chronicling the fighting traditions of Okinawa, perhaps one of the most comprehensive is the massive tome entitled Karate Kenpo by a man named Mutsu Mizuho. Covering history, philosophy, basics, kata, applications and much more, this book offers much more than any karate book before it, or since.

Not much is known about Mutsu Mizuho. It is known that his real name was Takada Mizuho, but he changed his family name to Mutsu sometime between 1930 and 1933. We know this to be true, because in 1930, when he co-authored the book Kenpo Gaisetsu with Miki Nisaburo, he was still using the name Takada, but when Karate Kenpo was published in 1933, he was using the name Mutsu.

Mutsu, a graduate of Keio University and an employee of Tokyo Imperial University, traveled to Okinawa in 1930, with Miki Nisaburo, a student, for the sole purpose of researching and studying the Okinawan fighting traditions. While there they visited such eminent teachers as Kojo Kaho, Oshiro Chojo, Kyan Chotoku, Yabiku Moden, Miyagi Chojun, and Yabu Kentsu (Gima, et al, 1986; Takada, et al, 1930). While most of the teachers greeted them openly, they were physically removed from the home of Kojo (Gima, et al, 1986). While in Okinawa, Miki had performed Naifuanchi and Passai for Yabiku, who told him that his kata were not karate, but merely a lifeless dance (Gima, et al, 1986; Takada, et al, 1930). The result of this trip to Okinawa was the 1930 book entitled Kenpo Gaisetsu (Outline of Quanfa). This book was important not only because of the information it contained by the contemporary masters in karate's motherland, but it was also the first publication to contain the Passai Sho, Gojushiho, and Kusanku Sho kata. Also included was a section on Okinawan bojutsu.

According to Bruce Haines' Karate's History and Traditions, Mutsu traveled to Hawaii in 1933 with Okinawan karate teacher Higaonna Kamesuke to promote karate (Haines, 1995). In this book, however, Mutsu is mistakenly referred to as an Okinawan, and his name is misspelled as Zuiho.

Mutsu was a student of Funakoshi Gichin and possibly Motobu Choki & Otsuka Hironori (founder of Wadoryu Karatedo). He is said to have served as the teacher for the Tokyo University Karate Research Society from April 1933 to December 1936, when he was forced to resign due to "using the name of the Tokyo University Karate Research Society without permission, in announcing his candidacy for the Lower House" (Kinjo, 1999).

Karate researchers Charles Goodin of Hawaii and Ohgami Shingo of Sweden are currently putting in much research in this figure, so the day may come when we know much more about Mutsu. But for now, all we really have left are his literary contributions to karatedo.

The Book
Originally published in 1933 under the auspices of the Tokyo Imperial University Karate Research Society, this tome is broken up into three major sections: Introduction, General Theory, and Technical Details. Let us now take a look at the contents of each section.

Included in the Introduction are: What is Karate Kenpo; Developmental History of Shaolin Quanfa; Spread of Shaolin Quanfa; The Relationship Between Shaolin Quanfa and Jujutsu; Shaolin Quanfa and Karate Kenpo; Zen and Karate Kenpo; The Value of Karate Kenpo; The Meaning of Practice; The Meaning of "Karate Kenpo ni Sente Nashi" and more. Although there are many historical inaccuracies, this section nonetheless gives the reader an interesting view of the nationalistic culture of an era bygone in Japan's history.

The General Theory section (Chapter One) is divided into: The Styles of Karate Kenpo; Kata Names; Hand and Foot Weapons to be Conditioned in Karate Kenpo; Conditioning Tools and Methods; Charts of the Vital Points of the Human Body; Explanation of the Vital Points; Methods of Attacking the Vital Points; Methods of Punching, Kicking, Striking, and Blocking; Organization and Explanation of Karate Kenpo.

The section on kyushojutsu is perhaps one of the most intriguing for modern practitioners of karate. It is probably one of the most comprehensive of its kind in pre-war books. Detailed charts of location, as well as anatomical diagrams detailing the skeletal system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the respiratory system, and the urinary system are given. Following the charts, details are also given as to the most effective hand and foot weapons to be utilized in attacking the vital areas. This is something lacking even in the kyushojutsu section of Funakoshi's 1935 Karatedo Kyohan.

The Technical Details section (Chapter Two) is broken up into: Meaning of the Various Postures from a Combative Viewpoint; Kata; Kumite; Competitive Matches.

The kata presented in this tome include Pinan 1-5, Naifuanchi 1-3, Passai Dai, Kusanku Dai, Jitte, Seishan, Wanshu, Jion, Chinto, Passai Sho, Kusanku Sho, Niseishi, Chinte, and Useishi (a.k.a. Gojushiho). He also mentions Pechurin, but does not include graphic or written descriptions of the form.

The section on Kumite does not deal with techniques determined by the competitive phenomenon, but rather applications from the kata, to be used in self defense situations. Starting off with descriptions of rules for practice, reactive defense, and preemptive striking, the principles of blocking are then covered, describing various uses for inside blocks, outside blocks, down blocks, and rising blocks against various hand and foot strikes. The other applications presented within are broken down into the following categories: defenses against various types of bear hugs; defenses against various types of wrist grabs; defenses against various types of lapel grabs; defenses against two-hand attacks; defenses from a seated position; and defenses against edged weapons.

The next section of this book deals with "Tokyo Imperial University-Style Competitive Matches." Not only are rules of the game described, but rules and strategies of engagement are also detailed. This might actually be the first time competitive karate matches had been described in writing. Finally, an appendix is also included on typical revival techniques for someone who has been knocked unconscious.

Let us now take a look at some passages from the book.

Kata Names
Although there are several different types of kata, the most popularly practiced ones are listed below.

Out of these, Passai and Kusanku are widely known throughout Ryukyu. Sanchin, Useishi, Seishan, Seiyunchin, Pechurin, etc. are also practiced in China. Naifuanchi, Passai, Kusanku, Rohai, Wanshu, Chinto, etc. are no longer to be found in China, and are only practiced in Ryukyu today.

Before the abolishment of the feudal system, Rohai and Wanshu were only practiced in and around the Tomari area, but have since come to also be practiced in Shuri and Naha as well.

The Pinan 1-5 kata were created by the modern master Itosu, who made them as basic kata to teach his students. It is said that even in Ryukyu, there are only one or two people who truly understand the kata Pechurin. Other kata that are not as widely practiced include Jiin, Wando, Jumu, Sochin, Sanseiru, Wankan, Kokan, Unshu and Sanchin, etc.

Technique One

Figure 1a
When the opponent has grabbed our lapel with one hand and prepares to attack with the other hand
Figure 1b
Stepping back one pace with the foot and turning the body to the right, extend the opponent's arm and strike his elbow with the arm to break it.
Figure 1c
Alternatively, grab the opponent's hand at the wrist with one hand while stepping back to extend his arm, and strike the elbow to break it.
Figure 1d
Or, step back as in 1c to extend the opponent's arm and strike his elbow in an up and down fashion to break it.
Figure 1e
Alternatively, stretch the opponent's arm and strike down on it with the elbow.
Figure 1f
Or grab and stretch the opponent's arm and strike up with the other fist to break it.
Figure 1g
Alternatively, step back and straighten the opponent's arm, grabbing the wrist and striking his elbow with your elbow to break it.

Technique Two

Figure 2a
Block and grab opponent's descending right fist with both palms. Press both thumbs into the back of the opponent's hand and grab the palm side of his hand with the other fingers. At the same time, kick up into his groin with the left foot.
Figure 2b
Quickly take a large step behind the right foot with the left foot, and pull on his hand to take him down.
Figure 2c
As soon as the opponent falls, twist his right wrist with the left hand and kick into his right rib cage with the right foot.

The next installment shall take a look at Nakasone Genwa's 1938 Karatedo Taikan.
Stay tuned! J

Gima, S. and Fujiwara, R. (1986) Taidan: Kindai Karatedo no Rekishi wo Kataru (Conversations on the History of Modern Karatedo). Tokyo: Baseball Magazine.
Haines, B. (1997) Karate's History and Traditions (Second Edition). Tokyo: Tuttle.
Kinjo, H. (1999). "Thoughts on the Republication of Karate Kenpo." Okinawa: Yoju Shorin.
Mutsu, M. (1933) Karate Kenpo. Reprinted 1999. Okinawa: Yoju Shorin.
Takada, M. and Miki, N. (1930) Kenpo Gaisetsu. Tokyo: Tokyo Imperial University Karate Research Society

Note: Joe Swift is presently translating the whole of the text Karate Kenpo to English for future publication.

Hawaii Karate Seinenkai.