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By Jikishin Kobudo, Nov 6 2014 04:55PM

Some histories of Okinawa and some modern Sensei portray the people of Ryukyu as a peace loving nation who never demonstrated any acts of aggression. However, this is in contrary to contemporary accounts from neighbouring countries during the middle ages. Japan and China both document violent acts of internecine aggression between the islands and expansionist movements from the kingdom of Ryukyu to the North and South. Okinawa has its own histories and legends of great warriors and fighters from the islands and it is important the experience of Okinawa during WW2 and after does not reinterpret a nation of warriors and fighters as historical victims and pacifists.

This image taken from a historical wood block print shows a knight of Ryukyu fighting furiously amidst the surrounding Shimazu Samurai attackers. Of note to researchers is that the unique weapons on display are far more akin to the Chinese arms than the Japanese with a Guan Dao in full flurry. This mounted halberd use is something that demonstrates incredible horsemanship and leg strength in order to control a horse, hands free and with only a rudimentary saddle.

The prohibition of weapons in Okinawa is a historical fact, but perhaps we should ask ourselves why would that be necessary in a nation of pacifists? Tentatively we might wonder if the truth may well be as the King Sho Shin claimed, that the only way to stop the Ryukyuans fighting each other was to take away their weapons. However, even then, in contravention of the King's wishes, the Kobudo traditions of turning any tool or implement into a weapon, and the Karate tradition of making the empty hand lethal, meant the warrior traditions of this great fighting nation never died.

By Jikishin Kobudo, Oct 12 2013 11:00AM

Weapon injuries discovered on the skull of an adult male from late 17th century Japan indicates the presence of blows created by both sharp and blunt weaponry.

In total this man sustained seven strikes, which due to the lack of healing, we can assume are likely to have caused his death. The sharp injuries are likely caused by swords whilst the blunt injuries are uncertain. Injuries 5 and 6 are circular impacts. Injury 7 is a quadrangular hole, similar to the base of an old Sai?


A: Posterior view of the cranium

B: Left lateral view of the cranium

C: Superior view of the cranium

D: Inferior view of the right parietal bone

E: Right lateral view of the cranium

Injuries (White arrows show location of traumas)

1-4: Sharp force traumas affecting the ectocranial and endocranial surfaces

5-7: Blunt force traumas with radiating fractures from the perforation.

(Ref: Nagaola, T. (2012) Cranial traumatic injuries caused by weapons in Tokugawa, Japan. Int J. Osteoarchaeol., 22: 138-144 doi: 10.1002/oa.1187)

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