I think the following short article published in the 1930s about Karate gives some interesting insight into the attitude towards the fledgling art on mainland Japan. The tone of the article seems to suggest that already by this time, Karate had been co-opted as a means of indoctrinating people into the prevailing military attitude of the time. I hope you enjoy it.
Young Gentlemen Training the Mind & Body through Karate Jutsu (1)
In order to prepare the entire nation for the long war, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has been refining robust measures from various quarters. Young gentlemen and everyone are pouring their efforts into health promotion. We are researching ways on how to train the spirit of Bushido that have been passed down form long ago in Japan as part of our martial arts. “Karate Jutsu” (2) of the Ryukyu region were not passed down this way but has become part of this tradition.
What is called “Karate Jutsu” began during the Keicho period when the Shimazu invaded the Ryukyu Islands and confiscated all weapons. The people then devised a means of using their hands as weapons. One theory states that Karate-jutsu was brought from China. [In Karate Jutsu] the hands can be used to make various shapes, much like the game rock, paper, and scissors. These are used to attack an opponent’s eyes, jaw, nose as well as between the eyebrows in order to knock him down with a single attack. In all there are eleven different [hand techniques] that can be found in [the kata] Pinan, Passai, Sesan, Jion, etc.
Some of the different hand techniques that can be found [in Karate Jutsu] are:
- Referred to as “Hirashi Ken” (Lit – flat finger fist [平指拳])
- Referred to as “Ippon Ken” (Lit – one point fist [一本拳])
- Referred to as “Yohon Nukite” (Lit – four finger piercing hand [四本貫手])
In order to use these techniques to be able to down an opponent requires much training, but will make you into a splendid practitioner of Karate Jutsu. Even faced with an attacker armed with a sword, you will be able to knock him down.
(1) Originally published in the Asahi Shimbun, June 12, 1938
(2) The author of the article uses the kanji “Toudi” (唐手) throughout the article but the accompanying script (furigana) indicates it is read as “Karate”.