It’s a well-known fact that more than 100
years ago karate was referred to as "te."
I understand te to be a means of self-defense, an unbeatable
martial art, and also a martial art that can transform
into dance. However, I continue to question why karate
was referred to as te (hand), why not bujitsu or kempo?
In this report I am seeking the roots of te, thinking
about the hand techniques used in Henshuho, and trying
to understand why the word te (hand) was used to refer
to this fighting art.
Our hands, with their five fingers, perform a variety
of tasks for us as we go about our daily lives. They
play musical instruments, such as the piano and guitar,
which bring comfort to our hearts, and hold the pens
and brushes which produce calligraphy, paintings and
other forms of fine art. Their supple movements bring
beauty to the world of dance. Holding a knife, our
hand chops the ingredients used in making a delicious
meal. Using various materials and processes, our hands
are responsible for producing a plethora of goods.
Tilling the land, they help us grow produce, and at
a PC keyboard, aid us in communicating with the world.
The list goes on and on …
Keeping these things in mind, I took a good look at
my own hands and wiggled my fingers. Naturally, each
of them moved unfettered, as if it were a living thing
in its own right. (An interesting note: when counting
with their fingers Japanese start with the hand open
and then fold in the fingers beginning with the thumb.
Westerns start with a fist, which they open sequentially,
beginning with the pinkie)
It was when I wiggled my fingers that I realized something
important, namely the freedom of movement. Our 10
fingers can move freely and independently, and yet
can also work cooperatively together in performing
various tasks. This ability is why our hands play a
very fundamental role in support of our daily existence.
Additionally, however, within our hands there exist
life energy corridors, “qi routes,”which
connect our entire body from fingers to toes. (In
oriental medicine there are six bowels: small intestine,
gallbladder, stomach, large intestine, bladder, san
metabolic organ in Chinese medicine—and six internal
organs: heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, pericardium.)