THE ART AND THE WAY OVERVIEW
By Robert Hunt
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Articles By Robert Hunt
At the beginning of the 15th century a young Okinawan boy is initiated into the martial arts of China by a strange visitor. The boy records what he is taught as best he can in order to both remember the knowledge and pass it on. The book he creates is continued by successive generations and grows into a secret family heritage, passed down through four hundred years of Okinawan and Japanese history, and a witness to the development of the art and then the way of karate from ancient times to modern.
A young American boy, David Cody, has the unique opportunity to spend his early childhood and youth within the quiet halls of a Japanese karate dojo, raised in the traditions and language of the Japanese martial arts. He returns to the United States for college, but in a twist of events finds that his martial ability may not be all he thought it was. David returns to Japan in a quest for the truth of his training and runs into a destiny he never expected.
David searches the lives of karate masters from ancient China, through Okinawa and Japan and even to the United States for some clue to the roots and reality of karate and traces the history of that martial art through all of its incarnations, first as a fighting art, then a philosophical discipline and finally a Western tournament sport and Hollywood media event. But there is a sinister side to what David finds and David comes upon a mystery that will change his life.
The Art and the Way” begins with the story of Peiching, an Okinawan who spends the first half of his life in China studying Chinese Chuan Fa, the martial art made famous by ancient priests, then returns to his homeland only to find it occupied by the Satsuma, brutal Japanese conquerors.
Useishi, Peiching’s accidental disciple, returns to China in a quest to find his teacher’s teacher and continue his training at the root source of the knowledge.
In 19th century Okinawa the karate master Shuhari Kensho and his wife, Masayo, equaled only by her husband in her knowledge of the martial arts, stand in the middle of another changing Okinawa, a country torn between two opposing forces, on the one hand trying to hang onto its own ancient culture and on the other giving over completely to the Japanese who have controlled the country for almost 300 years. Shuhari sees this change clearly in the development of his own karate. Once a secret fighting discipline, it now seems to have become more of a philosophy of life than a martial art.