Liu Chang I
Crane Gung Fu
Translation by Takako Funaya, M.A.
Those of us
who had grown weary over the years of the theatrical and generally pathetic
demonstrations of alleged Gung Fu, were delighted to discover recently a very
talented Chinese instructor teaching the original form of Feeding Crane Gung
When Liu Chang
I of Tainan, Taiwan, made his first teaching tour of the U.S. Iast year with
the noted Kobudo and Goju Ryu instructor Kimo Wall, seminar attendees were
amazed by his speed and power, and his ability to hit his opponents with almost
any part of his body, very hard!
produce a video with Tsunami Productions during the taping studio technicians
picked up on their equipment a sort of rumbling, drumming sound that occurred
when Mr. Liu performed techniques. "Oh! that's my gong li (ki)," explained
Mr. Liu to the astonished sound engineer who was wondering what was wrong
with the radio microphone he had attached to the instructor. The mic was removed,
taping continued, and an extraordinary video was recorded that will stun collectors
of Tsunami videos when it is released.
I was interviewed by Dragon Times just before returning to his homeland recently.
His views are interesting, as a person he is quite delightful, and his fighting
method is both elegant and practical. Moreover, his martial arts pedigree
through his father and grandfather is impeccable, and it is therefore difficult
to imagine a better qualified ambassador or Chinese Gung Fu in general and
feeding crane style in particular. --more
With Eihachi Ota
of Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu
is one of the true pioneers of Okianwan karate in the United States. Like
most of his countryman he is quiet, self-effacing, and modest, and as a result,
is known only to long-term students of traditional karate. This interview
was conducted in the Dragon Times office.
Where do you come from originally?
I was born on Yaeyama Island, one of the most southerly islands in the Okinawan
chain. On a clear day we could look to the south and see Taiwan.
What sort of upbringing did you have?
My father was a farmer who supplemented his income by working as a carpenter.
Our community, of which my father was the headman, was very small. Never more
than100 people. Our island was so tiny that it was almost impossible to find
a place on it from which you could not see the ocean.
What made you move?
My father insisted that his six children have an education so when I was about
13 we moved to Naha City on Okinawa. Shortly after that I came in contact
by Harry Cook
of training in a karate dojo in Japan which is not often met in the West is-the
practice of reciting the kun or code of ethics at the end of a training session.
G W. Nicol in his book "Moving Zen: Karate as a Way to Gentleness" refers
to this practice and its place in Japanese karate-do:
was always chanted with strength, never mumbled in insincerity. Just as movements
would become automatic and reflexes conditioned, the simple truths of the
oath would also penetrate the mind of the participant"
The form of
the dojo kun can vary from style to style or dojo to dojo but in general the
sentiments and basic ideas involved agree in most respects. My own experience
centers on the kun used in Higaonna Sensei's Goju-ryu and Kanazawa Sensei
's Shotokan dojos in Tokyo, where the five precepts were identical but not
presented in the same order; this is also the dojo kun used by the Japan Karate
Treasure of Okinawan Karate
In 1621 Mao
Yuan I published a work on military tactics. Composed of 240 volumes, the
Wu Pei Chih deals with all aspects of Chinese military tactics, and includes
a section on empty hand methods. As I studied the history of the martial arts
I was intrigued to learn that Chojun Miyagi had given the name "Goju Ryu"
(Hard/Soft Style) to his art from a line contained in the Bubishi (Wu Pei
Chih in Chinese). Determined to find out more, I looked at copies of Mao Yuan
I's work in the libraries of Durham University and Cambridge University, but
I could not find the section used by Miyagi. Finally after two years of looking,
the truth finally dawned on me-there must be a different work with the same
name! And of course, there is. The Okinawan Bubishi may have used the name
of the Chinese original for purposes of prestige, but the contents are quite
different. I believe the Okinawan Bubishi is a product of an Okinawan martial
artist (or artists) and reflects a synthesis of knowledge and techniques derived
from South China (mainly Fukien) and Okinawa.
aspects of the work are based on the methods known as Fukien White Crane.
The first chapter of Bubishi is entitled "The Origins of White Crane Boxing,"
and tells us that the White Crane style was founded by a woman, Feng Chi Niang,
who modified a system taught to her by her father, Feng Shih Yu of Fukien.
the roles of Chojun Miyagi, Kenwa Mabuni and Gichin Funakoshi in the development
of modern karate are a matter of public knowledge, the work of one of the
most important karate pioneers, Yasuhiro Konishi, remains little known and
even less appreciated. All who knew him personally speak of his modesty and
sincerity. Perhaps it was these characterstics that kept him, by choice, in
the background and away from the limelight while he worked energetically to
promote the alien art of karate in a Japan seized with nationalistic fervour
and that viewed anything not indigenous to the nation, including martial arts,
as distinctly inferior. We are indebted to the U.S. branch of the Japan Ryobukai
and Sensei Kiyoshi Yamazaki for the following. -Editor.
Ryu was founded by Yasuhiro Konishi, who was born in 1893 in Takamatsu, Kagawa,
Japan. Konishi Sensei began his training in martial arts at age 6 in Muso
Ryu Jujitsu. When he entered the equivalent of a western high school, he began
training in Takeuchi Ryu jujitsu. This particular jujitsu style is known for
its strong kicks and punches, very similar to karate.
At age 13,
while practicing jujitsu, Konishi Sensei began studying kendo as well. In
1915, he commenced studies at Keio University in Tokyo. While average tenure
at university is four years, Konishi Sensei remained at Keio University for
eight years because of his love for kendo and jujitsu. He was Keio University's
kendo team captain, and continued coaching the university's kendo club after
his graduation. --more
conducted by Toshihiro Oshiro
Translated by Haruko Chambers
Times: Sensei, why did you first go to a karate dojo to train?
My grandfather Aragaki Ryuko taught Chojun Miyagi karate when he was a child
of around ten years old.
Times: Is that so!?
Yes! Chojun Sensei was so good that my grandfather took him to train with
Times: How old was he at that time?
10 to 12 years old. The Miyagi family were grandfather's neighbors so Chojun
sensei would be with him a lot practising karate. My grandfather taught him
how to punch, basic stuff life that. Grandfather was about thirteen years
older than Chojun sensei.
He told me
that one day Chojun sensei asked him to hold his geta because he was going
to pick a fight with someone in the street. He told my grandfather "hide and
watch me. If I lose run away." Grandfather realized that he needed a hard
master to control him so he took him to practice with Kanryo Higaonna sensei.
Then our family
went to Taiwan and lost contact with Chojun Sensei After the war we returned
to Okinawa and re-established contact. His dojo was in Tsuboya and grandfather
took me to Chojun sensei and I became a student at the Garden Dojo. This is
how I started karate training. --more
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