History of Motobu Udun Ti Secret Martial Art of the Ryukyu Kingdom Royal Family
The 12th Soke of Ryukyu Oke Hiden Motobu Udun Ti
About eighty years have passed since I began learning bujutsu from my teacher, Choy Motobu Sensei. I attribute my continuing good health, at my present age of ninety-three, in part to the fact that I have adhered to Sensei's teachings and never neglected my daily bujutsu training. Today, I would like to talk about some things I was taught by Sensei some eighty years ago and the history of Motobu Udun Ti. I hope my talk will help you get to know a little more about the Ryukyuan art of Motobu Udun Ti.
The History of Motobu Udun Ti
Motobu Udun Ti was founded by Sho Koshin Motobu Oji Chohei, sixth son of King Sho Shitu, tenth king of the Ryukyu Dynasty's second Sho family reign. It has been handed down through the generations in the Motobu family, which is the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The "Udun" portion of the name Udun Ti means "having the status of royal family. Therefore Motobu Udun means "the royal family Motobu." The "Ti" portion of the name means "hand" and by extension "bujutsu", or "martial arts." This is the same as in the word "karate," which, since the early Showa period, has been written in japanese using charaters that mean "empty" and "hand", was originally written with a different character for "kara" meaning "Chinese", to express the fact that karate was a bujutsu originating in China. Accordingly, Udun Ti means "the bujutsu of the royal family."
As a secret bujutsu of the Ryukyu royal family, Motobu Udun Ti was handed down through the generations of the Motobu family, transmitted in secret from father to eldest son. It is said that the eldest son would begin his training at the age of six and complete the curriculum by the time he reached his coming of age ceremony. The techniques were kept secret and even his brothers were not permitted to observe the training. For that reason, the very existence of the art, not to mention its technical curriculum, has been little known to the world.
In the days when Okinawa was still the Ryukyu kingdom, Motobu Udun Ti was taught in secret only to the successor to the royal Motobu family estate. However, through the complex historical circumstances following the Meiji Restoration, it came to be that I, unrelated by blood to the Motobu family, was taught the art by its eleventh headmaster, Choyu Motobu.
The Spirtitual Teachings of Choyu Motobu Sensei
Choyu Sensei always said that the "techniques of the Ryukyu King," in other words, Motobu Udun Ti, are a manifestation of the divine. I sparred with Choyu Sensei many times during my traing, but I could never manage to touch him, even when he was seventy years old. He certainly did seem to possess divine skill. In fact, he was so skillful that I think even attacked by many opponents, he would have been able to fend them off without inflicting injury. Yet, despite his skill, he always carefully avoided falling into situations where using bujutsu would become unavoidable. You must practice your whole life to penetrate to the deepest realms of bujutsu, but it is most desirable that you also spend your whole life without ever having to use bujutsu that you have learned. Choyu Sensei was certainly a remarkable person who managed to achieve this.
The virtuous martial artist handles opponents rushing to attack without injuring them, sending them instead on the path to reform. Toward that end, it is necessary to master technique to a degree that far surpasses the skills of your opponents. Accordlingly, as a martial artist you must train yourself strictly and continuously, never neglecting daily practice. Also, during training, it is important that you treat your training partner's body as if it was your own and avoid injuring others through displays of your own strenghth. Practitions of Motobu Udun Ti must not fail to maintain these teachings throughout their training.
I think that I am still able to practice and remain in good health at my present age of ninety-three thanks to the teachings of Choyu Sensei. I will endeavor to continue following his teachings so that I may remain as active as I am now for as long as possible. I hope you will find some of the things I have spoken of here today of some small use in your own training.