OMOTE AND URA

by William Durbin, Soke of Kiyojute Ryu

        In traditional martial arts there is the concept of Omote and Ura, the front and the back, the regular and the reverse, the orthodox and the unorthodox.  Yet this is not limited to one concept or even one area of development, rather each aspect, the Omote and the Ura, have their own Omote and Ura.  This is reflected in the above chart, where what is considered normal techniques or abnormal techniques can also be broken down into what would be considered standard techniques and unusual techniques.  This is considered one of the most important principles of traditional martial arts which has been lost to sport martial arts since there are rules which govern combat and which would therefore prohibit the skills which would normally be Ura.

 

KEMPO BUGEI

        Kempo Bugei are all the martial arts that derived from the original root of Kempo.  The original Kempo is normally thought of as Chugoku Kempo, meaning the Chinese Chuan Fa arts that began with the arts of Shaolin and evolved throughout China to create such systems as Hung Chuan, Pai Ho Chuan, Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Kua Chang, Hsing I Chuan, and others.

        When the Chinese martial arts went to Japan, they were commonly known as Chugoku Kempo and viewed as a whole.  In Japan the art was commonly called either Ji Kempo, temple Kempo, or sometimes under certain conditions, Ju Kempo or Aiki Kempo, meaning gentle or harmony, respectively.  According to most Japanese historical resources, Chugoku Kempo formed the root of Jujutsu, Ninjutsu, and Kobujutsu.

        On Okinawa there was a greater understanding of the arts and styles of China.  Some of the Chinese styles to influence Okinawan Kempo, referring to Karatejutsu, Toidejutsu, and Bukijutsu, (expressed in the Japanese terminology) are Shorinji Kempo, Shoreiji Kempo (also known as Nan Shorinji Kempo), Hakutsuru Kempo, Taikyoku Kempo, Hakke Kempo, and Kei I Kempo, among others.

        When we say Kempo Bugei, we say to the world ‘fist law, martial arts’, but because most people don’t really understand true martial arts, this is little understood.  Most people get the idea of a typical punching art and little more, which unfortunately is what many styles in the United States are.

        Thus the Omote, the face of Kempo Bugei to the world and United States, is a striking art, but the totality of the art deals with other facets of Omote and Ura, for those who know traditional martial arts.

 

OMOTE: KARATE

        Most people think of Karate as the primary aspect of Kempo.  In particular the Okinawan form of Kempo is viewed primarily as Karate, but from the Kempo Bugei perspective Karate is just the Omote, the Ura could be through of as Jujutsu.

        Karate itself is viewed in both Omote and Ura.  Most people think of weapons as a normal, straightforward part of Karate, but little is known of the grappling Okinawan art, which is commonly called Toide (also known as, Tuite, Gyakute, or Torite).  Even those who know a little of Okinawan grappling don’t know the full extent of the Ura knowledge, there is still a lot of hidden knowledge.

        In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei, the Omoto and Ura are fully understood of the Karate art.

 

URA: JUJUTSU

        While Jujutsu can be seen as the Ura of Kempo Bugei, there are also Omote and Ura of Jujutsu as well.  For those who know real Jujutsu, not the sport Jujutsu of rolling around on a mat for endless minutes, but the real Jujutsu of combat, there is the Omote of the principle of Aiki, which teaches a person how to harmonize with the movements of an attacker.

        Some people think of Jujutsu as the art of the principle of Ju, but most traditional forms of Jujutsu express their art in some manner comparable to Aiki, also known in some circles as Kito or Inyo, but all expressive of the same overall principle.

        While many people of modern martial arts will not understand this, the Ura of Jujutsu is Ninjutsu.  Look at Jujutsu as confronting a person and knowing that you are going hand-to-hand with them, thus the Ura of that idea is to deal with a confrontation through stealth, sneakiness, and patience.

        Omote is fighting directly, while Ura is doing what in unexpected.  Thus the Ura is actually the most important part since real self defense and as a matter of fact, real combat (such as in a war), is almost always a matter of indirect confrontation.  While in the past there were periods of history where direct conflict was favored, since the Revolutionary War of the United States, conflicts such as Viet Nam, and the current fighting in Afghanistan, guerilla warfare has been the most important form of fighting.

        There are many other aspects of Omote and Ura that can only be taught in a Dojo.  In the tradition of the ancient martial arts there were considered to be eighteen specific martial arts, which is Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Juhakkei, the eighteen forms of Kempo.

        In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei, nine of the arts are Omote and nine are Ura, plus there are subsets of many of the arts.  In the United States there are few complete martial systems in the traditional context.  If anyone wants to learn more than just a sport system or a one-dimensional martial art, then Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei is the perfect choice for complete traditional training.



All images and text on this site are the exclusive property of the Christian Martial Arts Association.
All rights reserved © 2010