Over the past decade or so, especially with the production of the series Okinawan Karate Masters and the pronouncements of ShinjinBukan founder Onaga-Sensei there has arisen a belief in a progenitor of modern karate called ‘ti’ (手). Indeed it was such a belief that one of Onaga’s predecessors, Chiban-Sensei began a search for this mythical practice in the 1930s only to give up due to a lack of evidence. The thrust of this article argues that the notion of ‘ti’ as a separate, indigenous art is actually a modern construct that has been tied to a mythical past.
I have spent the best part of 20 years living and working in Japan and having met and discussed the historical roots of karate with most of the leading figures both in the West and in Japan. Additionally, as a trained historian, I have brought the methodology of historical research to the elusive history of karate and what follows is a small excerpt which I hope you will find thought-provoking. This paper is an attempt to create an academic debate around this topic and to move it from the hallowed halls of uncritical acceptance into a public forum where ideas and proofs can be developed. To this end I have provided citations and a selected bibliography.
How the Modern Concept of Ti Arose
The modern concept of ‘ti’ comes from two schools. Aside from the aforenoted Onaga one, there is also a lineage through Uehara Seikichi, which appears to originate in the traditional wrestling style known as ‘tegumi’ and resembles aikijutsu. It is clear that Sekichi’s “ti’ originated from his training in Motobu Ryu (Uehara Interview, 1997) and as such any claims from those who followed him that his system can be considered ‘ti’ are simply misleading and an affront to the teachings of Seikichi-Sensei.
‘Ti’ means ‘hand’ and is a general term used throughout East Asia to refer to all martial arts. Indeed McCarthy (Volume 10) attest to the existence of an early 1600’s letter from Ryukyu (i.e. Okinawa) of the term being used in such a manner.
The generic use of ‘ti’ would appear to refer to all types of martial arts that include grappling, striking and in some cases weapons. Some may point to the use of ti (also read as Te) in various forms such as the well known Naha-te, Shuri-te or Tomari-te, sadly these terms only began to be used in 1927 and later (McKenna, 2009; Swift, 2015).
In this post and following post I wish to explore and dispel the claim that it is a separate discipline. Indeed looking at the historical time frame when the term ‘ti’ gained popularity it seems rooted in either an Okinawan desire to reclaim karate from Japan or a marketing tool seeking to cash in on those seeking to learn a mystical, secret deadly fighting. This is the stuff of legend and ‘hollywood’ not the stuff of historical fact.
In this post I give a very general introduction to 'principal centere' theories off leadership. I also cross reference it with some historical evidence drawn from personal experience during the Ontario, Canada education 'reform' of the late 1990s and is often forgotten today as Ontario is heralded for its great education system. This is part one of a two part blog. In the second I shall explore another Principal centered model, loosely coalescing around the term 'transformative'. Please enjoy and feedback always welcome.
There are no actual educational schools of thought that define themselves as principal-centred and leadership team-centred, these are terms we shall use to embrace a wide spectrum of theories that share commonalities. Principal-centred theories are those that perceive the principal as the central agent leading a school towards increased effectiveness.
There is a wide spectrum of principle-centred theory however, the defining thread is, as noted, the principal is envisioned and empowered as the central figure in educational leadership. Among the first models of educational leadership within this spectrum to emerge was that of transformational leadership. Grounded in the business model of leadership this model casts the principal in the role of exploring the possibilities of new developments (Cheng 2002. Hoyle and Wallace 2005), transacting with other players, and applying various behavioural and strategic plans in an effort to bring a personal vision of school effectiveness to fruition (Cheng, 2002, p. 54 – 57). In essence, this model acts upon the premise that the principal exerts influence to bring about effective change. Within Cheng’s premise, the principal operates at different layers, each of which contains a contingency plan to deal with emerging and unforeseen issues: there is a central overriding plan. For example, during the imposition of educational reforms, many principals of Ontario state schools in the 1990’s were left floundering. The introduction of a complete new K-12 curriculum, including benchmarks and standards, the introduction of provincial-wide exams, increased contact-time for teachers and students, increased work-load and a decrease in funding, were but a few of the many areas principal were charged with implementing. Had Cheng’s model of transformational leadership been employed, principals could have developed and implemented contingency plans using the various agencies available. First and foremost principals could have developed a participative management system where the various components of the reforms were divided among groups who would implement the reforms under the guidance of the principal (Cheng, 2002 p. 54). Next, principals could “exercise their leadership through their effective, behavioural and cognitive performance” (Cheng, 2002, p.54) whereby they used their personal charisma, legal power and interpersonal relationships to encourage and persuade others to effectively implement the reforms. Finally, the principals would introduce and explain these changes to stakeholders, outline a plan of action, and look for suggestions to improve the implementation (Cheng, 2002, p. 55). In essence the principal would develop a strategic plan to deal with the challenge and through exercising their various layers influence enact an effective plan (Cheng, 2002, p.56).
One of the great challenges to unpacking karate as an academic pursuit is the lack of primary sources and the mythologizing of many of its more recent principle leaders. This article https://seinenkai.com/articles/mckenna/mckenna-kata.html by Mario McKenna helps clear up the myth and confusion generated by the Shorei and Shorin 'lineages' - enjoy!!!
For those not familiar with the research of Patrick McCarthy into Karate and Kobudo you may find the following links helpful - highly recommend all:
Patrick McCarthy Facebook
Also for excellent books by Joe Swift and Mario McKenna - check out their pages at : http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/joeswift and http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bechurinatgmaildotcom respectively!
James M. Hatch
International Educator who happens to be passionate about Chito Ryu Karate. Born in Ireland, educated in Canada, matured in Japan