What’s In A Name
The term “Damaibushi” is Okinawan in origin, and, as with so many things from the Okinawan/Japanese language(s), there is really no literal translation that fits neatly. I will try to do my best to convey how it was explained to me. The closest translation is “Quiet Warrior”, or more appropriately, “Quiet Knight”, since the term “warrior” in this context denotes more than just someone who fights, but one who also lives by a strong moral and ethical code, especially when it comes to using martial skills against another human being.
A warrior, or “bushi” is someone who lives by the code of “Bushido”, The Way of the Warrior. Many extensive books and articles are available on Bushido and anyone reading this is encouraged to seek them out if he/she is interested. A very simplified and short version is that it deals w/honor, integrity, compassion, strength, “hard and soft”, how to treat people, honesty, sacrifice, adaptability in all situations, calmness under pressure, and doing what is right even when (or especially when) doing so may be the hardest thing. Bushido is a Japanese term, but the Okinawans had their own Bushi for centuries, also.
The people who introduced and elaborated to me on the term and what it means were Okinawan martial artists, Bushi, themselves who come from numerous generations of Bushi or Okinawan Samurai. They were/are the late Kuda Yuichi No Tanmei, and his son, Kuda Tomosada. In fact, the Kuda Family has a family history book that goes back at least 13 generations. It is clearly documented here that the Kudas were of the Bushi, or Samurai, class and served as palace guards for the Okinawan Royal Family. It was also related to me by several elderly Okinawans that “On Okinawa, Mr. Kuda – Mr. Bo same”. What they were imparting was that for generations, the Kuda Family has been known for their skill and prowess with the Bo (6’ Wooden Staff). Kuda Yuichi No Tanmei stated it fairly simply in broken English, saying it is “someone not too much talk, just do”, “somebody no bullshit”. Kuda Tomosada elaborated on this a bit more saying that it is somebody who if they know 10 things, may only show 2 of those things (to outsiders) and keep the rest to himself. They both stated that it is the opposite of “Kuchibushi”, which is basically a “Talking Warrior”, or someone who talks too much, does too little, is boastful and egotistical, or a showoff.
In 1997, after having spent some time w/Kuda Yuichi No Tanmei doing seminars, I had to leave him for a few days for work obligations before rejoining him later. As I was driving off, he told a very close friend and associate of mine (and senior student of his) that “I think Fred is Damaibushi”. Because of the extraordinarily profound effect Kuda No Tanmei had on me, and the high regard I held him in, when I heard that he had said this it meant a great deal to me. Ten years later, when I needed to form an LLC under which I did my Martial Arts teaching, the Company needed a name. I chose Damaibushi Martial Arts as the name. When I told Kuda Tomosada about the name and about how his Father had said he thought I was a Damaibushi, he said that after he had gotten to know me, coupled w/what his Father had told him about me, he thought that the name described me perfectly and that it was a good name for the Company.
The Logo for Damaibushi Martial Arts LLC is modeled after an early idea for the flag for Okinawa, w/some significant modifications and additions. Since what I teach is either directly from, or heavily influenced by, Okinawan Karate, I felt this to be very appropriate. Since I am also a proud American, I thought that the red, white, and blue color scheme was something I wanted to use.
Okinawa is an island, so of course is surrounded by water. That can be seen within this logo. Anybody who knows me well, knows that if I could, I would live either on Okinawa, or some other warm, tropical island. Blue is also considered the color of peace by some, and I believe that whenever possible, peace should be the dominant or prevailing attitude. I do, however, also feel that unless you are strong, you can not have true peace, so believe in peace through strength.
The design w/in the small, red circle is known as the three tears, and comes from an old Okinawan legend. As w/most legends, there are many versions, and how much truth there is to any of them is certainly open for debate. The version that had the most effect on me is that there was an Okinawan who had allegedly committed some infraction or slight against the Japanese overlords of Okinawa. (Okinawa, once an independent kingdom, had been subjugated by the Japanese). This Okinawan man was sentenced to be thrown into a pot of boiling oil and was being held on each side by a Japanese Samurai. Instead of pleading or begging for his life, when his time came, the Okinawan grabbed both of the Japanese Samurai and jumped into the pot of boiling oil, pulling both Samurai Guards w/him. The insignia w/in the red circle represents the three of them swirling around in the pot of oil. I found this to be a most interesting story, and would hope that when my time comes, no matter what the circumstances, I can go out w/such honor and courage.
The Kanji (the calligraphic writing) w/in the blue circle says “Outside soft, inside hard”. According to Kuda Tomosada, this means that one is outwardly kind, forgiving, and understanding towards others and accepting of their efforts, when it comes to themselves, inside they are driven, demanding, always strriving for perfection/improvement, and do not accept mediocrity. They are never satisfied w/themselves and their own efforts, but are always driven to be better, to do better. Kuda Tomosada said that he felt this described me perfectly, and that my including this in the logo was a very good idea.
“Outside soft, inside hard” can also mean that on the outside, something (or someone) can appear harmless or not strong, but below the innocent – appearing surface, is strength. A person can be this way, techniques can appear this way. It is also a way of not showing what is really beneath the surface, but having people believe a person or technique is something less than what he/she/it really is. It can cause others to believe you are not a threat, so they will either pass you by, or if they choose to attack, they will be careless because they do perceive any strength or danger. It also goes along with a common mistake that many people make, that is to view quietness, politeness, manners, and respect as signs of weakness, when actually beneath all that is very much strength, commitment, and resolve.
It is not the intent of Damaibushi Martial Arts LLC to mix the Traditional Martial Art of Matsumura Kenpo with the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to create a new, hybrid art or sport. Each discipline is fine on it’s own, has it’s own unique strengths and limitations, and serious practitioners of each will gain great benefits. Although it is firmly believed the ideas, concepts, and strengths from each can help improve the other, each is taught as a separate entity. Matsumura Kenpo is not designed to be MMA, and MMA is not designed to be Matsumura Kenpo or any TMA. They each share some goals and objectives, but also have some goals and objectives that are not shared.
With that in mind, Matsumura Kenpo is and will always be taught for what it is – a Traditional Okinawa Karate and Koubudo style. It is a very intricate and complete Martial Art that takes decades to truly master, if it can be mastered at all. A properly trained Matsumura Kenpo Practitioner will be in good physical condition, have good, strong technical skills, the ability to defend him/herself in any situation, a strong working knowledge of not only how to do the katas in the system, but also how to interpret and learn from these katas. This includes empty – handed and weapons kata and technique. A high quality character that includes honesty, integrity, humility, kindness, helpfulness, and more considered of high importance and will also be developed (see The Matsumura Kenpo Dojo Kun at www.matsumurakenpo.org). A true practitioner of Matsumura Kenpo should be strong, well – trained, be able to “do”, not just “say”, and prepared for anything, but also gentle and kind, only using his/her strength at appropriate times.
MMA practitioners will be “fighting fit”, well -versed on their feet and on the ground, and adhere to good conduct and sportsmanship. They will work on conditioning, technical skills, drill techniques and strategies, be proficient in offense and defense, and also be able to go “live” when sparring and/or rolling. Any members who want to fight in an MMA match will be put through a professional style training camp whether they are amateurs or pros, and will not represent Damaibushi Martial Arts unless they put in the necessary work to be properly prepared. This means they will be in shape, make the designated weight, and have put in the requisite preparatory work in the gym to properly represent him/herself, their gym/teammates, their families, and their instructors. With the limited availability of time in the gym, anyone wanting to fight will be given “homework” for days when we do not have access to the gym. Although winning is always preferable to losing, the goal is to do the work, fight to the best of their abilities, and accept whatever the outcome is with dignity and class. It isn’t the outcome that defines the person, but what the person DOES with the outcome and how he/she learns, grows, and improves from it.