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Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
Why did the choose to use "Empty" when they changed it from "China?"
What I wanted to know is when they decided to change the name "karate or China hand to karate or Empty hand" why did they choose the term "empty?"
One source says, "... the name was changed from 唐手 ("Chinese hand") to 空手 ("empty hand") – both of which are pronounced karate – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style." Yet this does not really explain why "empty" would express a Japanese form of martial art vs. say "koryu."
I have to ask myself why empty? I can guess that it may be due to the change from weapons to just your body so the loss of weapons from the hands of combatants would mean they now have to apply techniques with "empty hands." It may mean they wanted to refer to weapons, i.e. then the weapons ban - both Okinawan and Japanese dictates, being removed from the hands of civil/military persons so the hands become "empty."
Although this makes sense how to we prove it. I suspect there may be some elusive reference to why they chose empty to replace China. We all know, or think we know, that the change was also prompted by not wanting to reference China, an enemy of Japan, in this new form of fighting system introduced to Japan. But still why empty?
Is there some other reason other than my hypothesis (guess)? This also asks the question, why "hand" or "te in Japanese or Tii (pronounced "tea") in Okinawan dialect?"
Yes, this is most likely an old question, why hand when you use all parts of the body to fight, i.e. hands, elbows, feet, knees, etc.? It could be simply that it was the easiest term or set of terms to use much like the Chinese calling their form of fighting arts as "boxing." Especially when viewed from American perceptions of boxing being a fist-to-cuffs witnessed today in the boxing of America.
It could also come from the idea that the primary weapon in "hand-to-hand" encounters is the hand - open or closed fist. There may be no mystery at all since it was also easy to keep the pronunciation of kara where that character in Chinese meant China and in Japanese meant empty. I can see that for expedience sake and to stay as close to the pronunciation of "kara te" which makes the transition easy, i.e. just change the character a bit, for both Okinawan and Japanese.
I suspect that if you tried to find a single word or character that would best describe the new system, at that time late 1800's to early 1900's, you would see that it would be very difficult, try it!
Do you call it "body vs. empty" since it involves all the body? Do you refer to it has limbs? You don't want to convolute it by saying it is hand-n-foot system. Even if the Japanese pronunciation sounded good would it be easy and isn't the ease of transition an important and vital aspect to have the Japanese accept the Okinawan system of fighting with out weapons?
Oh, one last thought ... coulda been simply a economic thing too. Think bout it.
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