Hey everyone! The end of our most recent giveaway has arrived. Today I'll be reaching out to the three randomly selected winners for the IkigaiWay and NaturalKarate T Shirts.
I'd like to extend a special thanks to everyone who was able to participate. Should any of the winners not respond I will redraw and select a new winner. If you were unable to participate in this giveaway, don't worry – I hope to offer many more in the future.
About the Winners
Two individuals will be drawn randomly from the pool of link submissions. One subscriber to the new Natural Karate project will also be drawn. These individuals will be contacted privately in order to protect their personal information.
Special Thanks to Fibers
This event was made possible by Fibers Custom T Shirts. They have been kind enough to work with me and provide the prize materials.
My experience with the Fibers process was very enjoyable. Their site demonstrates a focus on fun and quirky shirt ideas, and the business aspect of their company helps support small enterprises such as this one.
When designing the shirts, I felt completely at ease with the process. The technology in place to import personal images (jpeg, png, etc) was very intuitive, as was resizing and placement. They even had a ton of stock images and color options to help enhance the on-shirt creatives. Had I wanted to, I could have designed shirts right from their stock material.
Placing and arranging the visuals was done by drag and drop, allowing for quick maneuvering. This was useful in that I could get a sense for which placement I liked and which I didn't, and make adjustments accordingly. In addition, I was able to save each project for later review and easy access.
Quality End Result
Fibers was gracious enough to provide me with a sample shirt. I'm very pleased with the end result. As you can see, the fit and quality of the print is excellent (click to enlarge):
Should you need custom printing I would definitely suggest giving Fibers T Shirts some consideration. This positive review has been an honest opinion of my experience and was not required as part of the giveaway.
Read More / Comment
Okinawa is beautiful and it's people well-mannered, but even they are not protected from the realities of violence.
Throughout it's history Okinawa has been the stage for many conflicts and power plays, the two most notable being the Satsuma Invasion of 1609 and the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. During those times a great amount of combat went on, but what about the rest of Okinawa's history? What was it like day-to-day on the island?
For about as long as our records can tell, Okinawa has utilized a rudimentary class system. In it's early days the Ryukyu island chain (Okinawa being the largest of the islands) was split amongst a variety of chieftains. These small lords feuded in a constant tug of war for land and resources. Each ruler had a fighting class to battle for them and a working class to do the heavy lifting.
Eventually Okinawa conjealed into three main sects (known as the Sanzan period). A powerful ruler named Hashi (1422-1439) from middle Chuzan united all three territories after an extended military campaign. Years later, in the second Sho dynasty, Sho Shin (1477–1526) organized the local rulers in a unique way, pulling the leaders into a concentrated area in Shuri. He was also responsible for the first edict on the island banning the wearing and ownership of traditional weapons such as swords, firearms, spears, etc.
Weapons ban or not, the Okinawans had to deal with plenty of conflict in their normal lives. Territorial feudings persisted, rogue bandits known as wako scoured nearby islands (including Okinawa), and standard rabble-rousing was a stark reality.
What could be done?
Enter The Police
Sho Shin favored a Confucian method of societal order, and as such established very distinguished classes amongst his people. Along with the local lords (anji) who were now under his watchful eye in Shuri, Sho Shin designated multiple levels of Pechin. Pechin could range from the lofty Oyakata who were officials from important families, to the rather pedestrian Chikudun who came from non-noble and even common families.
Among the lower ranks sat the Shikusaji Pechin who were responsible for day-to-day law and order. These men of action were based out of an administrative building known as hirajo and operated within the Okumiza Bureau in Shuri itself1. Branching out from this main department were lesser kogumiza organizations operating via hirajo found in each of the outlying provinces.
Rank Amongst the Police
Inside the Shikusaji Pechin class were even more delineations. The most important inspectors or police chiefs were referred to as Ufuchiku, while lesser inspectors held the title Wakichiku. Beneath the inspectors sat the "beat cops" who held the titles of Ufusaji (senior cop) and Wakisaji (junior cop)2.
As you can see, the rank and file were well established and even resembled the organizational structure of modern law enforcement.
Luckily for lower class Okinawans, the order of society under Sho Shin was a mix of familial inheretence as well as meritocracy, meaning that individuals had some room to improve their station in life.These external motivations helped keep people deligent and operating at their maximum effort.
The Tools at Hand
The first tool of the Shikusaji Pechin was authority. Sho Shin's class development wasn't just on paper – each class could be distinguished by the flair and color of their garb. For example, Pechin could wear yellow or red hachimaki3 (headgear) depending on their rank.
Of course, eye catching dress wasn't enough on it's own; Shikusaji Pechin realized they needed a wide variety of public deterrents. Their duties ranged from corralling local drunks to engaging deadly wako, which required a diverse arsenal.
The two main weapons the Shikusaji Pechin adopted, especially after the weapons ban, were the sai and bo. The sai offered an exceptional ability to trap, ensnare, and deflect weapons. Sai were frequently unsharpened which meant they could break and bludgeon without killing.
Bo on the other hand offered a distinct length advantage along with clubbing capability. This allowed Shikusaji to control and dissuade perpetrators without resorting to lethal force. When combined, the distance and prodding of the bos along with the pinning and striking of the sai made for an effective system.
The sai itself was constructed out of high quality metal, something rather rare on Okinawa (remember the island was never rich with natural ore). Therefore seeing a sturdy pair of sai on the hip of a policeman was akin to seeing a well polished badge.
Naturally, the Shikusaji Pechin also took interest in weapons that would always be available – fists and feet. As such, they became active players in the importation and integration of empty hand technique.
Direct Impact on Karate and Kobudo
The impact of Shikusaji Pechin on karate and kobudo is not theoretical; there are multiple examples of it's influence. One of the most important men in this realm was the police chief of Shuri itself. This powerful man went by multiple names (as was common at the time), including Kinjo Sanda, Kinjo Daichiku, Ufuchiku Kanegushiku, Masanra Kanagusuku, and Usumei Kani. Whatever he was called, he was to be feared and respected.
One of his more well known names, Ufuchiku Kanegushiku, offers insight into his rank. Ufuchiku was the title reserved for high inspectors, and being the high inspector in Shuri was a big deal. Ufuchiku Kanegushiku's duties varied from crowd control to specific guard duty to the king himself.
Kanegushiku was said to be a rather private man but in his later years chose to pass on some of his learning, even developing his own sai kata4.
Since Kanegushiku's time law enforcement on Okinawa has had a constant impact on the direction and mindset of karate and kobudo.
1. McCarthy, Patrick. Bubishi. North Clarendon: Tuttle, 2008. pg. 83.
2. Swift, Joe. “The Roots of Ryukyu Kobujutsu.” Meibukan 10 July 2008: 2-4.
4. Alexander, George. Okinawa: Island of Karate. Lake Worth: Yamazato, 1991. pg. 49.
Read More / Comment
Very exciting announcements today.
First of all, the last T-Shirt Giveaway seemed to go over well. Happily another quality company has offered to sponsor a giveaway – Fibers.com. Fibers is a T-Shirt specific site that allows for easy and fun shirt design. So today I get to present not one but TWO giveaways, the second being attached to my newest project.
Go on…Win Some Shiiiiirts.
CONTEST #1: Link It Up
The rules of the first contest are very easy – link to ikigaiway from another part of the web. You can link to http://www.ikigaiway.com or any particular post you happened to like. The catch is, social media like Facebook and Twitter doesn't count. Your link has to appear on a blog, personal website, school site, etc (multiple entries for different links is allowed).
Here is a sample code snippet to help you along if you need it:
<a href="http://www.ikigaiway.com">IkigaiWay – Martial Arts Blog</a>
Once your link is live, click the following button to officially enter the contest:
Two email addresses will be drawn at random to choose a prize from the following shirt styles:
Click to Enlarge:
CONTEST #2: Discover Natural Karate
It's been quite some time since I've undertaken a book project, but I think you'll find this one very intriguing and useful to your studies. In fact, I'm opening up the project while it's still under development so people can provide input and gain insight into the book writing process. Check it out!
To be entered for this contest, simply go to naturalkaratebook.com and subscribe to the email list on that website (located right below the video in the sidebar), or use the orange RSS button at the very top of the page.
One email address from that subscription list will be selected at random to win this brand new design:
That's it! Simple and straightforward. Thanks again to Fibers Custom T-Shirts and to you for your participation! This contest will run for approximately two weeks.
Read More / Comment