December 5, 2023

Ateha (Atifa in the local sound) is an Okinawan dialect that means the power of a thrust or punch. It is written as toha in kanji. According to the Soke (Tomomasa Motobu), his father, Choki Motobu, used to say, “No matter how good the kata is, it’s useless unless you can do it.”

As for whether the kanji for Toha is correct, according to Soke, the meaning of Ateha is “to break through,” so I don’t think Toha is correct. This is because in Shuri, the word “to hit” was elegantly pronounced “Atiyun” (hit). In response, people in Naha said, “Kurusun” (to kill). It’s a rather arrogant way of saying it, but since Naha is a downtown area, similar to Asakusa in Edo, people probably preferred to use it in a more dignified way. On the other hand, since Shuri is the home of the king, elegant expressions were preferred.

Therefore, toha was probably originally a word used by the people of Shuri. I don’t know if the people of Naha called it Kurusunhwa. Come to think of it, Naha-te Goju-ryu has a form called Kururunfa.

Nowadays, there are various misunderstandings about toha. Many people interpret toha as the power of a true fist thrust, especially the power of a reverse thrust from a puller. However, in the traditional karate that Motobu Chōki learned and practiced, there were a variety of other types of thrusts, such as urauchi (urafist), courser (one fist), saruga (elbow strike), teto, and tsukute, in addition to the formal karate. , Seiken-tsuki was not only done from the puller’s hand, but there was also a zente-tsuki (knot-tsuki) from the front hands of the husband and wife.

The true value of Choki Motobu’s toha lies not in the straight fist punch he delivers from the puller, but in the short punch he delivers from a position that is just barely on the target. An episode that shows this is written in Mizuhiko Nakata’s “Motobu Choki Sensei’s Words” (1978), and I will introduce it below.

“Nakata, you’ve come to the right place. If you break it just one inch away from your fist, you’ll be considered. If it breaks, I’ll treat you to as much awamori as you can stomach.” One day, I went to Hongo Esashi-cho to visit a teacher. When I visited him, he showed me a tag hanging from the eaves of the porch of his parlor (also used as a dojo). If you look closely, you will see a rectangular pine board that is 2 shaku (approximately 60 cm) wide, 3 shaku (approximately 90 cm) long, and over 2 sun (approximately 6 cm) thick in the center, about 2 cm below the top edge. A hole was drilled in the hole, and a strong string was threaded through the hole and hung from the oak tree in the eave. I thought it would be very difficult, but as I was told, I stood on the verandah, placed my right fist with my left fist close at hand, and positioned it about an inch from the pine board, and struck it with all my might, but instead of cracking, it just cracked. The board bounced back with a bang, and all I got was a painful fist.

I forget, but I think it was a student who was present, and he also tried it, but no matter how many times he tried it, the board made a noise and bounced back, just like I did.

“Now, take a good look and do what you do.” So Motobu Sensei stood in front of the board and held his right fist at a very close distance, less than an inch from the board, but the next moment he said, “Phew!” with a hint of spirit. As it sank, the board suddenly cracked along a vertical line from the string hole, and fell into two pieces on the ground under the eaves.

(Note) Throughout his life, Mr. Motobu had no interest in breaking leftover boards or tiles. Apparently, it was thought of as a show to attract customers, such as a demonstration, but the first time I saw Sensei’s itawari was far from a show, it was the very essence of Motobu-ryu Kempo. Splitting a pine plank suspended loosely in half like this requires real physical strength, and probably no one would be able to imitate it. At that time, I was able to witness the power of Motobu Sensei’s extremely short punches by combining both hands and using the springs in his legs and hips, and I realized that a genius martial artist had created the various elements that make up that “attack” in actual combat. I knew it was terrifying.

The above episode probably occurred after Motobu Chōki was in his 60s. Even at that age, he had such powerful thrusts. By the way, according to the head family, Motobu Chōki was also against the idea of ​​splitting tiles, as the Nakata clan said. They say, “Tiles are for the roof.ThatchdebtIt’s a spider, not something to split.” Since he was from the past, he probably didn’t want to treat things poorly in order to show off his power.

What nourishes toha is makiwaratuki. Choki Motobu’s makiwaratsuki is also different from the modern makiwaratsuki that you often see on YouTube. Many of the techniques of karate have been lost or their characteristics have significantly changed in modern times.

“Toha” (Ameblo, December 10, 2017).