The Historical Origins of Goju Ryu and Uechi-Ryu Karate Styles

The hunt for Lu-Lu Ko, Chinese teacher of GoJu Ryu’s founder Master Higaonna Kanryo.

Translated by Shaun Hogan from:

日本空手道与福建南拳的历史渊源

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_69b37d930100jzv7.html

(2010-08-03 10:08:56)

Author:  休闲 XueXian

[Translator’s forward notes: The hunt for Goju Ryu Master Higaonna Kanryo’s Chinese teacher. Many texts show that the original Chinese master of GoJu Ryu’s founder Higaonna was named Ru-Ru Ko (ルールーコ)Since this is not a Chinese name, the founder’s name becomes difficult to trace. In 1987, the Fujian Wushu Association and the Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate Do Association met to research the originator’s name. They concluded that Higaonna Kanryo’s master was named: Xie Zongxian  his birth name – Xie RuRu       “RuRu” was sort of a nickname. – RuRu Ko is an honorific title where “Ko” is the Fujian pronunciation of “Ge”, Big Brother.  In other words, “RuRu Ko” works out to “RuRu Big brother.”]

Translation of the Mr. XueXian’s Chinese Blog Post:

Karate-do uses both hands and feet, combining offense and defense, attacking the opponent with various techniques such as kicking, hitting, and striking, using fists, palms, fingers, elbows, knees, and legs to make various attacks. Karate-do is a martial art that embodies the intensity of fighting, and does not use any equipment to engage in self-defense while minimizing harm to the opponent. It has been popularized all over the world. Where does Japanese karate-do originate? This is a topic jointly studied by the All Japan Karate Federation and the Fujian Wushu Association.

1. Fujian was the birthplace of Japanese karate.

According to historical records, in the Ming Dynasty, the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) were still a relatively poor and backward island country. The backwardness of Ryukyu (Okinawa) was due to the ineffective, closed sailing trade business that blocked exchanges between the Ryukyu Kingdom and neighboring countries, resulting in a negative economic situation. In the historically verifiable five years of Hongwu (1372), Zhu Yuanzhang sent personnel to Ryukyu.  And the King of Ryukyu, Zhongshan Haodu sent his brother Tai to pay tribute to the Chinese capital, thus starting friendly exchanges between RyuKyu and China. After sending 36 families from Fujian to Ryukyu, Okinawa’s economic outlook was greatly improved. The “Thirty-six Fujian families”  were people who were skilled at boat building, sailing, and trade.  They facilitated tribute payments to and from China, built commercial industries and agriculture, and set up payment and trade systems back and forth with Chinese ports. (ref: Minghuiyao Vol. 77). 

They were all residents of Shenzhou Hekou (the river mouth) in Fujian (now in the South Park area). The Ming Dynasty rulers made these people good at sailing. Transferred to Okinawa to serve the people of Ryukyu, on the one hand, to improve their sailing skills and trading forays, the 36 Families reversed RyuKyu’s economic backwardness.  On the other hand, the 36 Families  “changed the culture and customs behind the era, to make the culture and religions of both sources flourish together. (“Zhongshan Shipu” Vol. 3, 44, “Ryukyu Historical Materials Series” “). Since then, the 36 Families who moved from the Shenzhou HeKou have not only become the main role of Ryukyu’s foreign relations activities, they also brought advanced science and culture to Ryukyu, as well as Chinese traditional martial arts.

In the fifteenth year of Emperor Xianzong of the Ming Dynasty (1480), some Ryukyu people went to Fujian for a special assignment to learn martial arts. After five or six years, they returned to Ryukyu (now Okinawa) and combined Fujian Nanquan (Southern Fist) with the Ryukyu masters. The combination of ethnic fighting techniques formed a unique boxing technique called “hand” (transliteration of Te). This was the germination of karate due to the exchanges between China and Ryukyu and cultural exchanges and commercial trade. 

Fujian had a variety of fighting styles, especially those from the loyal survivors of the late Ming Dynasty who fled to Okinawa, and strengthened Hua “Te” fighting skills, laying the embryonic form of “ToDe” translated as “Tang Hand”, the meaning of Chinese fighting, to show that they would not forget their roots. 

Beginning in 1927, the Ryukyu Education Department organized the “Okinawa Karate Symposium” in Naha to study and develop the issue of “Te”. At the meeting, it was decided to change the “TouDe” (Chinese Hand) to “Karate” (Empty Hand). At that time, due to the environmental relations of the trading ports, the martial arts practice in Shuri, Naha, and Boshou was very popular, and talented people came out in large numbers to study and teach. Among the genres of Ryukyu karate, the most famous are “Shuri-Te” and “Naha-te.” They were created by Itsosu Anko and Higaonna Kanryo respectively. The technical characteristics of these two schools were different and each had its own strengths, but both belonged to the traditional Nanquan Southern Fist faction in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.

2. Karate and the style of Fujian Nanquan

Okinawa’s GoJu style karate belongs to the “Naha Te”, created by the Miyagi Chosun, the young disciple of Higaonna Kanryo. The training methods, movement structure, movement names, style characteristics and technical principles of “Naha Hand” and Fujian Yongchun White Crane Fist.  The katas and routines are roughly the same. Analyzing from the training method and movement structure: the rigid-flexible flow routine training requires the “three wars strategy” as the basis, and then gradually developed to the advanced routine. 

In addition to standing up and running, Fujian Yongchun White Crane style” is to practice the “three wars strategy”. One of the expressions of the “three wars strategy” were the “three positives”.  The first positive emphasizes “head upright, body upright, and horse upright”.  The second positive is the “three changes”. Requiring “hand change, body change, step change”. These two statements are indispensable in the training of white crane boxing. 

“Three fundamentals” is the training basis of White Crane. As long as you master the “Three-Fundamentals” well, you can talk about the “Three Changes”. Only when you have a good grasp of the “Three Changes” can you change freely in the application and win with your hands. Analyzed from the name of the kata, the Japanese karate’s Superimpai (108″ hands) kata  is the same as the wording of Fujian White Crane’s 108 hands kata. 

A few years ago, when the Japanese karate delegation visited Fuzhou, they also brought “White Crane Kata Sheet”. They said: “My ancestors were trained according to this kata sheet and passed down from generation to generation.” “White Crane Boxing Book” was the manuscript passed down from Fujian, and it is the same as the book of boxing kept by Fujian’s elderly martial artists. . 

Analyzed from the style characteristics and technical principles: The rigid-flexible flow routine style requires a strong launch, a steady footwork, and the breathing and luck of the “Three Wars Strategy”. Trained into strong, rigid and flexible muscles and bones. The Fuzhou White Crane fist strike is a “stroke of muscles and bones in a string of energy”, the two are the same, and they are just like the GoJu Ryu “single (double) fingering gun fingering” attack method is jab, and the most vicious is eye jab. It is the same as the “Golden Gunner” technique of White Crane Boxing; the technique of “Wind Eye Boxing” punches and drills specifically to hit the opponent’s acupoints, the eyebrows and the throat are centered, and the single chicken boxing in Minghe Boxing ( He Fengyan) has the same technique; the palm technique of the “hand knife” specializes in cutting the opponent’s neck, back, and intercostal space.

  1. The creator of karate, GoJu Ryu was in Fujian

On May 23, 1987, the Japanese Okinawa GoJu Ryu Karate ancestor-seeking group came to Fuzhou City, Fujian Province to find roots and visit their ancestors, looking for the generous Chinese master of Higaonna Kanryo. Under the responsibility of Comrade Lin Weigong, the editorial board of local chronicles, they cooperated with the Fujian provincial military. 

During the investigation period, an extensive investigation was carried out on all the more famous masters in Fuzhou, and finally Xie Ruru, the first generation master of the Fujian “Minghe Clicking Crane Boxing”, was identified as the generous master of Higaonna Kanryo. Chief researcher Lin Weigong said in the summary: Higaonna’s teacher’s real name should be Ruru, surname Xie, clan character Zongxiang, born on July 31, 1852 (June 15, Qing Dynasty Xianfeng second year) in Daibian Village, Zhanxiang Township, Changle County.

 At the age of 13, Xie Zongxiang (RuRu) moved to Fuzhou with his father Xie Zunzhi because of a fire at his home at the age of 13, and he also studied with his father’s friend Pan Yu to practice boxing. At the age of 23, Xie RuRu was exquisite in martial arts and became famous. . Ruru inherited Pan Yuba’s crane fist, combined with her own characteristics to consider a set of rigid and soft techniques, and created a fist that emphasizes the “three wars”. With the sound of clucking like a crane, it was named “Minghe Fist”.  Xie RuRu became ” The master of Minghe Fist. 

On September 16, 1989, relevant experts once again gave a further argument on whether Xie Ruru (ZongXiang) was indeed the Chinese martial arts master of Higaonna Kanryo, the originator of Japanese Okinawan GoJu Ryu., learned in Fuzhou.  

 And on June 9, 1990, in the southwest corner of the Fuzhou New Sports Center, a solemn black marble “revealing monument” stood A memorial to the great amount of Chinese master Xie Zongxiang (Xie RuRu). This is a clear proof of the influence of the traditional Chinese and Japanese martial arts circles.

(Translators’ note: the name LuLu Ko ルールーコ often attributed to Higaonna’s Chinese master is an honorific title: LuLu is his name. Ko means “big brother” an honorific title.)

4. The origin of Uechi Ryu Karate in Fuzhou

The style of another Japanese genre Uechi Ryu Karate-do is similar to the tiger-shaped boxing style passed by Master. Zhou Zihe of Fuzhou. Its hand shape, technique, step shape, footwork, lvocalization, and forceful methods all maintain tiger-shaped boxing characteristics. 

On March 29, 1981, an Okinawa martial arts delegation headed by Takahikari Yuki visited Fuzhou and asked for help in finding the origin of Uechi-Ryu Karate-do with origins from the Chinese master Mr. Zhou Zihe. 

The Fujian Provincial Wushu Association commissioned Mr. Wei Qiqi to organize an investigation. The results found that: Mr. Zhou Zihe was born in 1874 in Zhiri Village, Nanyu, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province. He was a master of martial arts since he was a child. , Good at iron sand palm, specializing in hard work. Later, he traveled to and from Fuzhou City and often set up a pavilion to teach apprentices at the Gulou Marshal Temple. In 1897, the Japanese student Uechi Kanbun came to Fuzhou to learn martial arts with Mr. Zhou Zihe, and returned to Japan 13 years later.

 In order to promote the popularization of Japanese martial arts, combined with the characteristics of Okinawa, Master Uechi  created the Uechi Ryu Karate-do style. 

In 1985, relevant experts from Fujian Province sent the book “Tiger Shape Boxing” passed down by Mr. Zhou Zihe to the Uechi-Ryu Karate-do Headquarters. They happily said: “In the past, the Uechi Ryu karate-do headquarters participated in all-Japan competitions under the banner of Zhou Zihe, but they didn’t see their true colors. They were dubious. Now the first page of the book is a portrait of our ancestors. It’s really amazing.” “Crouching Tiger Heroes” recorded by Fujian Audiovisual Publishing House in 1990 is the testimony of preaching a generation of tiger-shaped boxing master Zhou Zihe to teach Okinawan martial artists..

Summary

In recent years, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province has had frequent exchanges with Okinawa martial arts circles in Japan. So far, Fuzhou City has also built the “Naha Friendship History Exhibition Hall, Ryukyu Hall” and so on. In June 1995, in order to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the “Revealing Monument”, a Japanese Martial Arts delegation of more than 50 people came to hold a martial arts conference with the martial arts community in Fujian Province. The mutual exchanges between the two countries are of great benefit to martial arts becoming an Olympic event as soon as possible!

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The Hunt for DaiShihan Toyama Kanken’s Taiwan Martial Arts Teachers

Lin Hsien-Tang of Taichung, 台中の林献堂

Karate historians and researchers have been searching for the Taiwan martial arts teachers mentioned by Toyama Kanken (遠山寛賢) the founder of Shudokan Karate, in his book Introduction to Karate-do, It’s Inner Techniques and Secret Arts, by Toyama Kanken Dai Shihan, Translated to English by Tobey Stansbury, Shihan.

In the book, Dai Shihan Toyama writes that he lived in Taiwan from 1924 to 1931 and researched Nan-Quan-Beitui (南拳北腿, Southern fist, Northern Leg) of the Chinese fist methods (支那拳法) with Mr. Chen Fo-chai of Taipei (台北の陳仏済) and Mr. Lin Hsien-Tang of TaiChung (台中の林献堂).

The identity of Mr. Chen Fo-chai is still being investigated. Mr. Lin Hsien-Tang is very easy to find. He was a famous Taiwan patriot and businessman throughout most of the Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan from 1895 to 1945. He was the patriarch of the famous Wufeng Lin family; the section which remained in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial rule. However, many people have doubted that Lin Hsien-Tang was an expert in Chinese fist methods. His written history has no direct references to his martial arts expertise or ability.

Researchers have worked from the assumption that Lin Hsien-Tang was not a martial arts expert; the true identity of Toyama’s teacher was hidden for protection. It may be true that one of Lin Hsien-tang’s family members or close associates was the main teacher for Toyama Kanken. However, it is also clear that Lin Hsien-tang would have been highly trained in Chinese art of war strategies, command and leadership, and trained as well in fighting methods. Lin Hsien-tang’s grandfather, uncles and father built Taiwan’s most highly decorated and capable military family, thoroughly trained in all styles of Chinese fighting methods. There is no doubt they would have passed on their family traditions and knowledge to their next generation, with particular focus on the clan patriarch of the next generation. This conclusion especially holds true in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s where the winds of current and future wars warned leader to prepare.

This blog post presents an English translation of a Chinese web post telling the history of the Lin Hsien-tang’s family, the Wufeng Lin family, the most famous military family from Taiwan.

The Wufeng Lin Family, Taiwan’s first family of armed forces in 1850 to 1900

Defeated the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom during the Taiping Rebellion
Quelled large and small civil revolts, Repelled French aggression…
The legendary family that made a fortune through military leadership

From: 台灣第一武力世家!平定太平天國、大小民變,擊退法軍侵略…靠打仗打到發大財的傳奇家族, by 姚翰光 Yao Hanguang, 2019-07-04, https://www.storm.mg/lifestyle/1436879?page=1

Translated to English by Shaun Hogan, 2021.

Taiwan’s Han Chinese immigrants came primarily from the Fujian and Guangzhou areas of Southeast China. Southeast China formed the rebellious frontier of the Qing Dynasty, who were based in Beijing.   During the Qing Dynasty, only exceptional few people could pass the Imperial Confucius Examination, the path to power. On the other hand, rich businesspeople were able to pay for the Imperial Confucius certificate.  The rich business families become the major local power in Taiwan.  Taiwan’s early five major families mastered various business channels. These five families consisted of the Keelung Yan family, Banqiao Lin family, Wufeng Lin Family, Lugang Gu Family, and the Kaohsiung Chen Family; identified by their location in Taiwan followed by family name.   

The Wufeng Lin family did not start out as rich businessmen.  Instead, they acquired a large amount of land by being accomplished military leaders and became the hegemon of Central Taiwan. They were granted the market monopoly of camphor, which allowed them to make a fortune from the 1850’s extending through the Japan colonial ruling period, 1895 to 1945. 

How did the Wufeng Lin family start by military accomplishments? This story starts with family patriarch Lin Wencha of the Lin family, at that time a modest family. Historical reports say that Lin Wencha studied military books when he was young, and practiced different unarmed martial arts, marksmanship, and swords. When his father Lin Dingbang was killed at the age of 22, in year 1850, young Lin Wencha vowed to avenge his father.

According to the “Lin Family Tree”, Lin Wencha ran a sneak attack on his enemy Lin Masheng and took him to his father’s grave to kill him. Another document reports that Lin Wencha didn’t kill the opponent, but he did search for Lin Masheng everywhere. In this account, Lin Wencha was involved in another arson case. During this period, Lin Masheng sued Lin Wencha through Changhua County Court (then Changhua County was approximately today’s Taichung City, Changhua County, and Nantou County), but the county government’s attitude was indifferent, and Lin Wencha was not sentenced.

During these times, the Qing Court and Armies had great difficulty coping with the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (a Christian cult in China) during the Taiping Rebellion of the 1850’s and 1860’s.  The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom’s territory extended from their headquarters in Nanjing down through southeast China’s provinces of Fujian and Guangdong.  Other rebellions broke out as well, including the “small knife gang” (XiaoDao Hui) in Xiamen city. The small knife gang was defeated out of Xiamen and fled to Taiwan to continue their chaos. 

During this time, the Qing government recruited Lin Wencha to lead armies to restore order.  Lin Wencha led hundreds of Xiangyong soldiers to defeat the small knife gang. Lin Wencha was cited for meritorious service. 

While expanding his strength, Lin Wencha also increased the land and real estate of the Lin family, and he recruited more courageous solders to expand the military. As his fame grew, many government officials and military leaders often asked him to come out to pacify large and small rebellions and crime gangs around Southeast China, or to donate money to government agencies.  Lin Wencha became a dependable resource for the Qing government and armies and also for Taiwan local agencies.

Lin Wencha spared no effort during the time to pacify the Small Knife Gang chaos. He was promoted to the rank of officer in the regular Qing Dynasty army, the rank of the Green Camp. He was issued official uniforms and awarded the title of “Guyong Baturu,” or “heroic warrior”, a title awarded by the Qing court to those people with exemplary military exploits.

Recruited to fight against the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom during the Taiping Rebellion

The Taiping Rebellion, led by the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was so turbulent that the Qing Dynasty had a shortage of troops.  The Qing Army recruited Lin Wencha and his troops to cross to the mainland to help with the war. Lin Wencha was recognized for his ability to quell chaos and was recommended by governors from all over China to go to Fujian and Zhejiang to attack the Taiping Army. In the 4 short years of 1859-1863, Lin Wencha earned a reputation of being able to defeat much larger forces with his smaller army.   His military rank rose rapidly as a result. The Qing Emperor rewarded Lin Wencha with the title of “Unasci Baturu” – a title for those who were exceptionally meritorious in battle.

Putting down the Dai Chaochun Rebellion and obtaining exclusive rights to camphor

While Lin Wencha was fighting the Taiping Rebellion in Fujian and Zhejiang, the Dai Chaochun Rebellion erupted in Taiwan, in 1862.  The Dai Chaochun Rebellion became more and more fierce and spread to the Wufeng Lin family. 

How did a local fight caused by government suppression have something to do with the Wufeng Lin family?  In fact, two anti-Wufeng Lin forces joined Dai Chaochun’s side: one was the Masheng Lin family who were the local enemies Lin Wencha.  The Masheng Lin family who also lived in the “Houcuo” region of Wufeng (the Taichung area), as opposed to the Wufeng Lin family in the “Qiancuo” region of Wufeng).  The other opponent was the Caotun Hong family, which always competed with the Wufeng Lin family for water rights. These two families proved to be formidable opponents against the Wufeng Lin family.  Without Lin Wencha and his troops, the Wufeng Lin family was stalled and helpless.

Taiwan suffered from several problems.  In addition to the Taiping Rebellion, the local Taiwan Dai Chaochun rebellion caused the price of white rice from Fujian to soar. This caused vicious local inflation throughout central Taiwan. The Taiwan government asked Lin Wencha to return to Taiwan to help quell the rebellion.  In the end, Lin Wencha and his younger brother Lin Wenming smashed these anti-Lin forces in two ways.

After the suppression of the Dai Chaochun incident, the major landlord families in central Taiwan were fragmented.  Most of the remaining family properties were confiscated by the authorities. Some were transferred to the Wufeng Lin family for compensation. The Wufeng Lin family also obtained the exclusive right to acquire camphor from Fujian Province (including Taiwan) because of their merits in pacifying the chaos. Together with the transfer of gifts from the government, and clever plundering after the war, the Lin family’s power instantly increased.

However, the Wufung’s family rise in power caused an imbalance in the power of different families in this area.  They also made the local government officials have suspicions about the Lin family. The death of Lin Wencha in 1864 and the murder of Lin Wenming in 1870 left the Lin family at a loss.  Their family’s opponents used the court system and more than 10 years of continuing lawsuits to try to eliminate the Wufeng Lin family’s power. 

The Wufeng Lin family was reduced to a low-key force, less involved in military or politics.  They turned their attention to actively participation in local building construction, establishing good relations with other local forces and the people, and gradually regained their relationships and power.

1884, Lin Chaodong assisted in the French War and led the Lin family back to glory

The Wufeng Lin family’s power returned to life during the 1884 French War, through the fighting prowess of Lin Chaodong, the son of Lin Wencha. In 1884 France attacked Taiwan with the goal to capture Keelung city and occupy Taiwan. This would provide France a safe harbor from which to blockade China’s southeast coast, increase bargaining chips, and obtain coal mines and supply warships.  This was an extended section of the Opium Wars. France launched the “West Tsai Anti-Battle” and attacked Keelung, Danshui, Penghu and other places in Taiwan.

At that time, the Qing Dynasty’s army in Taiwan was inferior. Provincial governor Liu Mingchuan recruited Lin Chaodong and his soldiers to go to Keelung to join the battle. Lin ChaoDong successfully defended the local line of defense and brought the fighting to a stalemate where neither side could move.  The two armies continued to confront each other until the French army withdrew the following year. 

Lin Chaodong’s outstanding achievements and performance in this battle won Governor Liu Mingchuan’s favor. Lin Chaodong and his soldiers  were incorporated into the Qing army and gradually expanded into the “East Army.”

Opening Taiwan’s aboriginal mountain lands. Quelling the Jiudan incident. Once again obtaining exclusive rights to the camphor trade.

General Lin Chaodong was ordered to action again by Governor Liu Mingchuan after Taiwan was established as its own province.   General Lin Chaodong was respected for the way he fought the superior French forces to a stalemate.   Lin Chaodong continued to assist Liu Mingchuan’s reclamation of the Fufan mountain region of Taiwan and to suppress the aboriginal resistance.  

At the same time, General Lin Chaodong was rewarded by the imperial court and named “Baturu.” Lin Chaodong  took over the management of Taiwan’s camphor trade, Taiwan’s most important export product at the time.  The East Army under his leadership shouldered the security and national defense responsibilities of central Taiwan.

Governor Liu Mingchuan decided to survey the entire Taiwanese land and check the previously hidden and unreported reclaimed fields. However, local officials resisted these efforts. They improperly investigated Changhua County and caused dissatisfaction among the people. These anti-Liu groups gradually gathered into a militia force led by Shi Jiudan.  They infiltrated Changhua County and instigated riots.  The whole county fell into chaos. The East Army, who oversaw public security in Central Taiwan was naturally the first group of government forces to deal with it. 

After the incident was pacified, General Lin Chaodong suggested that Governor Liu should take a lenient approach and only hold the leader accountable and disband the masses. Lin Chaodong’s method of handling the incident without wanton lethal force earned praise from the local population. Later, the local officials even gave him a plaque of “Recreation of Virtue”.  Governor Liu Mingchuan sent a positive report to the Qing Court in Beijing, recommending General Lin Chaodong to be awarded for his merits in calming the chaos and handling the chaos appropriately without lethal violence. 

Therefore, General Lin Chaodong was awarded the “Yellow Horse Jacket” Official Clothing of the Qing Dynasty. Only the Emperor’s close guards and warriors, or those with the Emperor’s special authorization can wear a yellow jacket.  (Translator Note: Outside the Emperor’s personal guards, probably less than 20 people in all of China were allowed to wear a yellow jacket. It was an extremely rare personal honor).  General Lin Chaodong was the only Taoist person in the Qing Dynasty who received a yellow mantle.  His accolades are self-evident.

The Wufeng Lin family made a fortune through military leadership

The Wufeng Lin family was originally started by Lin Wencha from a lower family. After the Small Knife Gang rebellion, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom rebellion, and the Dai Chaochun incident, the Xiangyong soldiers led by him were promoted all the way to the regular army of the Qing Dynasty. They also received various titles and received various rewards. The acquisition of exclusive rights to the camphor trade made Wufeng Lin’s family invincible in Central Taiwan at that time.

Although the family power was diminished for a while, his son Lin Chaodong was also a formidable leader and brought the clan back to their glory days. He also won many official titles like his father, and he also commanded his own army.  Lin Chaodong restored the clan’s exclusive rights to camphor trade, which enabled the Lin family to reclaim the mountains of Central Taiwan, plant camphor trees extensively, stimulate export sales, and quickly accumulate family wealth. In the late 1880’s the Wufeng Lin Family was once again become the most influential family in central Taiwan.

Japan Colonial Rule and Lin Hsien-tang

All of Taiwan society was upended in 1895 when the Japanese army took control of Taiwan and establish colonial rule.  Lin Chaodong prepared for battle by sending his wife and children to Xiamen for safety.  Governor Tang Jingsong used his own troops to resist the Japanese army but failed. Lin Chaodong felt that the situation in Taiwan was hopeless, so he left Taiwan and moved to Xiamen to settle his immediate family and lead his military force from there.

After the Japanese takeover, the Wufeng Lin family could no longer rely on military efforts to make money.  Instead, they relied on business and commerce to maintain economic strength. At the same time, they engaged in social sports and art activities to establish the style of the Lin family’s arts. (Translator note: in classical and today’s modern Chinese tradition, “arts” include a wide range of endeavors; painting, poetry, tea ceremony, singing, and martial arts.) The family leader was Lin Hsien-tang, who was the patriarch for the family remaining in Taiwan. 

In summary, the Wufeng Lin family raised its position from lower families to a major powerful family through their patriarchs General Lin Wencha and General Lin Chaodong.  They started the family rise through military accomplishments during the Qing Dynasty, which was based in Beijing.  The family’s safety and wealth continued through the Japanese Colonial Period based on camphor commerce, lobbying, and cultural soft power strategies of Lin Hsien-tang.

Today in the 2020’s, the Wufeng Lin family has lost its former condition and has become a piece of history. However, the family’s contributions to Taiwan can still be found.  For example, Jiayinli, Wufeng District, is named Lin Jiayin, the father of the two lines of Xiacuo and Dingcuo.  Lin Hsien-tang also led the family in founding three schools: Taichung No. 1 High School, the private Taichung Commercial College (today’s Xinmin High School), and the private Laiyuan Senior High School (today’s Mingtai High School).   Taichung Park was also donated by Lin Hsien-tang and family. The local faction in Taichung, Lin Henian, the founder of the Red School, also came from the Wufeng Lin family. It can be said that the various achievements of the Wufeng Lin family can still be seen in Taichung today.

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Karate History: DaiShihan Toyama Kanken’s 7 Year Stay in Taiwan, The Dichotomy of Assimilation and Leadership during Japanese Colonial Rule

The innovative karate master Toyama Kanken 遠山寛賢 (Okinawan name Oyadomari Kanken) the founder and leader of Shudokan Karate lived in Taiwan from 1921 to 1934, ages 37 to 44, to work as a school teacher and to research Chinese martial arts, 南拳北腿(Southern Fist Northern Leg) and 支那拳法 (Chinese Kenpo).  Ref: “Introduction to Karate-Do, It’s Inner Techniques and Secret Arts”, by Toyama Kanken, Dai Shihan, Translated by Tobey Stansbury, Shihan.

Toyama Kanken

The elusive search for Toyama DaiShihan’s (DaiShihan = “Grand Master”) Taiwanese teachers illuminates the struggles of Taiwan and Okinawa during the 50 years of Japanese colonial period.   The hardy people of Taiwan – and in earlier times those of Okinawa – worked continually to resist their Japanese rulers, to maintain their own cultural identity, and to seek autonomy.  Regardless of the resistance, Taiwan’s leaders understood their responsibility to improve the daily lives of their people. For the people of Taiwan and Okinawa this often required becoming more Japanese than the Japanese. 

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Japan saw no reason that they should not become a colonial empire similar to England, Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany. Japan’s government studied extensively the history of operating colonies, encouraging good behavior and trying to control negative behavior. The negatives of Japan’s occasional brutal methods were balanced by the positives of education and economic growth.  For every negative story where Han and aboriginal Taiwanese people were brutally killed, there are positive stories of Japan improving Taiwan through modern education, medicine, transportation, and commerce.  

Most Taiwanese martial art masters resolved never to teach their fighting methods to the Japanese occupiers.  Their rule was firm unrelenting resistance and disobedience. Other Taiwanese leaders understood that cooperation and assimilation was necessary to lead their people to better lives and future autonomy. Toyama’s challenge was to locate those masters who might agree to teach him.

Okinawans found themselves in a similar situation to the Taiwanese. They were (and still are) proud to be Okinawan and not Japanese. And yet, many Japanese considered Okinawans a lower class of people. Discrimination and prejudice were rampant.  Japan provided many benefits to Okinawans and the inhabitants of other Ryukyu Islands. The Japanese government expected Okinawans to become Japanese but without the full rights of main Japanese people.  From a European viewpoint, Okinawans were like the Irish or Scots – fiercely proud, capable, and yet ruled by and discriminated against by the English. 

Despite the prejudices and limitations of colonial Japan, prominent Okinawan leaders worked hard to lead their people to a better future.  Becoming more Japanese than the Japanese was a major way to accomplish this.  Following convention, Okinawan karate master Oyadomari Kanken adopted a Japanese name, Toyama Kanken.  Toyama means “far away mountain”, a propitious name which has become famous around the world.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, economic depression caused a mass migration of workers leaving Okinawa to find work.  Toyama Kanken lived and worked in Taiwan as a schoolteacher.  Okinawan teachers were recruited to Taiwan with promises of higher pay.  They were granted a “colonial allowance” in addition to their regular salaries in Taiwan.  The colonial allowance amounted to approx. 60% of their regular salaries. They were also offered a monthly housing allowance.  Most Okinawans who migrated to Taiwan worked as professionals: schoolteachers, police officers, office workers, medical professionals, and shop owners.  

The Okinawans in Taiwan were a tight knit group with local associations that helped each other and promoted Okinawan culture.  Nevertheless, most were quick to claim to be Japanese.  In general, the Taiwanese colonial social structure was Japanese at the highest level, then Okinawans, Han Taiwanese, and at lowest level the aboriginal Taiwanese.  

Toyama had the fortune to become acquainted with some of the top leaders of Taiwan society.  These friendships were likely facilitated by solid introductions from his famous karate master, Itosu Anko.  Toyama reported that he studied martial arts with the famous Taiwan patriot Lin Hsien-tang (林献堂) of Taichung and Chen Fochai (陳仏済) of Taipei.  Chen Fochai’s identity is still being explored.  Lin Hsien-tang’s life and history are well known.  

Lin Hsien-tang was a very wealthy businessman and political leader for Taiwan.  Lin was 7 years older than Toyama.  Lin Hsien-tang traveled frequently to Japan, with his initial trip in 1907.  During his second Japan trip, in 1911, Lin Hsien-Tang met with the influential Chinese politician Liang Qichao, who counseled Lin that the Chinese government was in no position to help Taiwan gain independence from Japan. Cooperation with Japan was the best path to ensure the safety and growth of the Taiwan people.  Lin Hsien-tang followed Liang’s advice.  He devoted his efforts to working in cooperation with the Japanese rulers, all the while advocating Taiwan autonomy at every opportunity.  Lin Hsien-tang traveled frequently to Japan and courted relationships with the highest levels of Tokyo’s elite government officials.  

Lin Hsien-tang was famous for promoting Taiwan culture and independence by speaking only his native Hakkan Chinese language. He refused to wear Japanese clothes or take a Japanese name.  This was his method to express a continual form of resistance towards Japanese colonial authority.  He maintained these forms of resistance even though most Taiwanese families ended up embracing Japanese language, education methods, dress, and customs.  

It seems quite improbable for the wealthy Lin Hsien-tang to kindle a friendship with an Okinawan schoolteacher.  However, Lin would have undoubtedly recognized that karate master Toyama was much more than an average schoolteacher.  Lin Hsien-tang himself was not a famous teacher or martial artist.  Though he came from a long line of famous generals and warriors, his responsibilities as a businessman and political leader left no time for other activities.

However, Lin Hsien-tang was a powerful gatekeeper. He had the ability to open gates for Toyama Kanken, gates to the secret societies of Taiwanese martial artists, of bodyguards, and of couriers. 

Toyama Kanken’s report of Chinese fighting styles gives us an insight to his ambitious goals.  Nan Quan Bei Tui 南拳北腿(Southern Fist Northern Leg)refers to all the fighting styles of China, southern and northern.  ShiNa Kenpo (支那拳法) (Chinese Kenpo) is the same reference: all fighting styles of China southern and northern.

Prior to the Japanese colonial rule, southern fighting styles were predominant in Taiwan.  Most of the martial arts interaction between Taiwan and Mainland China came through the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangdong.  The southern styles included the various schools of White Crane, Yongchan, Wingchun, HunGar, Preying Mantis, Southern Shaolin, and others.  Southern fighting styles are characterized by compact stances, short range strong punches and blocks, and low-level kicks.  

Northern styles, Bei Tui, were rare in Taiwan before 1949.  The Northern styles include Chang Quan, Cha Quan, Northern Shaolin, Chen and Yang style TaiQi Quan, HsingYi Quan, Bagua Quan, and others.   These styles are characterized by long high and low stances, mobility, longer punches and blocks, higher and longer kicks. 

Toyama Kanken wrote that he studied both Southern and Northern styles.  He faced the formidable challenge of locating experts in these many styles and convincing them to teach him. He needed a Big Brother to open those gates for him.  Lin Hsien-tang was one of the few influential gate keepers into Taiwan’s secret societies. The question is:  Did he?  The answer is elusive.

Lin Hsien-tang would have employed a highly trained crew of bodyguards.  They would have been anonymous by nature, able to blend into gatherings and meetings without being noticed.  As for fighting style, they were likely masters of “everything that works”, including firearms and every other type of weapon.

As an international merchant and political leader, Lin Hsien-tang would have employed a trusted group of couriers.  These couriers were the FedEx’s and DHLs of China’s Ming and Qing dynasties.  These couriers were close-knit clans whose job was to transport valuable items and secret notes safely and quietly from one place to the next.  The Muslim family from Shandong who founded Cha Quan was one of these couriers. They were true MMA fighters whose methods included punching, kicking, wrestling, grappling, and all types of weapons, including firearms, knives and swords, ropes and chains, sticks and chairs.  

Both societies, bodyguards and couriers, could have opened the doors to study the wide range of southern and northern styles of Chinese martial arts. Toyama’s Okinawan heritage – not Japanese – would have been a huge advantage to being accepted.

If Toyama Kanken had been introduced and accepted by these groups, it is likely they would have wanted to establish a long-term friendship with him.  Bodyguards and couriers need “trusted local people” in many locations and different cities where they operate.  They need to plan the locations of safe houses, which government officials to avoid and which ones to bribe and how much, the best routes for safety and speed, where to go in emergencies, and so forth.  

All of this is speculation, of course. More research is underway to find answers. Laying out the political situations, culture, and everyday life is one way to focus searches in likely directions. What is known is that Toyama Kanken was a leader in the Okinawan community in Taiwan, successfully navigating the Japanese colonial rule while teaching and adding the research of Chinese martial arts.

Toyama Kanken, circa 1934

 During his time in Taiwan, Toyama Kanken overcame daunting challenges and contradictions that confront all who are thrust into leadership.  As a teacher, he taught his Taiwan students to reach their best opportunities by assimilating into Japanese culture – to become more Japanese than the Japanese. As an Okinawan leader, he assisted his fellow countrymen, ensured their success and safety, and promoted Okinawa’s unique culture.  As a karate leader, he worked with the rapidly expanding network of Taiwan-Japan bushido schools to promote his future success in Japan.  Additionally, he developed good friendships within the Taiwan martial arts community who continually worked for Japan’s departure from Taiwan.

The great Okinawan leader Toyama Kanken successfully navigated the dichotomy of assimilation and leadership in Okinawa, Taiwan, and Japan during the Japanese colonial period.  

Want to learn more? I highly recommend buying the book“Introduction to Karate-Do, It’s Inner Techniques and Secret Arts”, by Toyama Kanken, Dai Shihan, Translated by Tobey Stansbury, Shihan. Available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel, and other book stores.

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Martial Arts – Where soft = strong, and so much more

Judo 柔道 (the soft way), Jujitsu 柔術 (the soft fighting method), IMG_1226 TaiQi Chuan 太极拳the soft slow Chinese martial art.  It seems difficult to believe judo and jujitsu are “soft” methods, especially when I’ve been pounded to the ground and my joints locked in painful holds.  When watching TaiQi Quan in slow motion, it seems hard to believe many Chinese masters consider TaiQi Quan to be the ultimate best of Chinese fighting styles.   What gives?  How are these contradictions possible?  It’s because we need to understand that “soft” equals strong and “soft” equals so much more than that.Actually, the “soft” and “gentle” mean much more than we can say in simple English.

IMG_6869 In the words of the author Dave Lowry, soft is “flexibility, suppleness, pliancy… It is the ability to bend against pressure in an advantageous way, to bow rather than break, so one may then snap back again.”

Think of “soft” as the strength of a bamboo tree that can bend at incredible angles to shed a heavy load of snow, and then snap back quickly when the snow is dropped.

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Think of “soft” as the strength and

flexibility of a willow tree that bends and withstands the heaviest wind storms, then snaps back to shape after the harder trees like oak broke and fell down.  The willow tree may appear soft and flexible, but it still has very deep roots.

Think of “soft” as the archer’s bow that bends back before being released to shoot the arrow fast, straight and true.P1050228

Ju, soft, is strength.  It is a supple, flexible strength that rebounds back after the worst test of will or perseverence.

I have learned through experience about the strength of these “soft” martial artists.  Yes, they showed me many times that “soft” = flexibility, strength, indomitable spirit to withstand the strongest storms and still rebound.  I hope some day, after much more hard work, I can start to approach the same type of soft strength.

And of course, like everything in Asian philosophy, the small lessons we learn from martial arts should carry forward to enrich the other aspects of our lives.  Soft, gentle, pliable, and yet very strong: a good recipe for success in today’s crazy world.

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China 2010 - Nelson DVD 386

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Melaka Malaysia, the ancient city rebuilt with color

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“Whoever controls Melaka has a hand on Venice’s throat.” Melaka Malaysia, an ancient trading city that was so crucial to Venice and Italian traders in the 1600’s and 1700’s.   During those days, Melaka was the center of trading between Europe, India, China, Japan, and Siam.  It must have been an amazing port with a brilliant mixture of people and races from all over the world.

Pirates of the Caribbean??  Those guys might have been amateurs compared to the bloodthirsty audacious pirates who reportedly sailed around the Malaysian and Indonesian Straits in those days.

Melaka, and Malaysia as a whole, is a huge melting pot of a combination of cultures.  This makes for a magical mixture of fantastic food, interesting architecture, a polyglot of languages, and interesting people.

Melaka was controlled by Europeans for a long time.  First by the Portuguese, then by Holland for 150 years, followed by England for 150 years, then by Japanese during WW2, and then transferred back to British control.  Finally in 1956 Malaysia became fully independent.  Naturally they celebrate their independence.

Now Melaka is trying to recover some of its lost glory. It is turning into a thriving tourist city on the Malaysian coast.  The people have a tremendous love for color, as shown in these pictures.  I really enjoyed visiting Melaka.


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Thailand Fishermen – Living at the Edge of Light

Thai Fishermen, work by night, sleep by day.

The other morning I was out to the beach at 5 AM, watching the fishermen work during the early twilight just before, during and after sunrise.   The light transitioned from twilight darkness, to brilliant orange sunrise, and then to cloudy shadows on the sea.  The  fishermen start working at 2 AM and finish to sell the catch around 7 AM each morning.  It’s a nice life that revolves around different levels of light.

Sunrise on KhaoThao Beach, Thailand

Sunrise on KhaoThao Beach, Thailand

Fishing KhaoDhao Beach area, Thailand

Fishing KhaoDhao Beach area, Thailand

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Hogan and Master Pu Kungfu – China Global Times Newspaper visits the Roaming Ronin

Recently my Kungfu Teacher Master Pu and I were featured in the China Global Times Newspaper.  I was flattered and happy to be included with Master Pu.  He’s 78 years old, graceful as a dancer, and still spry and energetic.  He has taught more than 6000 foreign students in the last 10 years.

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/749020.shtml

 

Here’s the article:

Martial laws

Global Times | 2012-12-9 18:35:04
By Du Qiongfang
 

Zou (go), mabu (deep knee bend), zou, mabu!” Pu Rujie shouts out instructions to a loyal group of students who turn up unfailingly to his wushu (martial arts) class in Zhongshan Park in Changning district every morning.

The 76-year-old former athlete and coach has been practicing kung fu since 1954 and in that time has taught thousands of students at schools, sports centers and in public parks.

But it was only in 2002 that he received his first batch of non-Chinese wushu students, a group from Japan. Since then, he reckons he has helped train more than 6,000 overseas devotees ranging in age from 7 to 60, and from countries as far afield as the US, France, and Mexico.

Pu teaches wushu to Shaun Hogan. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT
Pu teaches wushu to Shaun Hogan. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT 

Early to rise

And despite the prematurely cold temperatures in Shanghai this December, Pu is still out every morning in just a T-shirt preparing and giving classes. He rises at 4 am and starts teaching at 5 am.

“Just look at Pu laoshi (teacher Pu) and everyone else here; age is just a number for these people,” said Shaun Hogan. “Some of them are nearly 80 years old, and yet they are still very strong and can even do the splits; they are an inspiration to me.” Hogan, 52, is an engineer and has been studying wushu alongside Pu since he came to Shanghai six years ago. Before that, he had been practicing karate in his native US for more than 20 years.

Pu takes advantage of an open space behind a small stream in Zhongshan Park to hold his classes, and this has been his students’ regular training ground for many years.

“I gave a private class to a Mexican student at 5 o’clock this morning and I was in the park by 7 am,” Pu told the Global Times. “Hogan was already here getting ready for the class.”

Pu appreciates the efforts many of his foreign students put into the lessons. “I like the fact they go to bed early and don’t spend all night surfing the Internet or chatting online. And they also don’t presume that they know everything already, and that there is very little I can teach them.”

Untypical Westerner

Hogan, however, points out that he doesn’t consider himself a typical Westerner in Shanghai.

Wo bu hui qu pao jiuba! (I don’t go to bars!),” he said. “On Saturday morning at 7:30 Pu laoshi rings me up and says ‘Hogan, ni zai nali?’ (where are you?). Lai ba, qi dian ban le’ (come on, it’s 7:30).”

Pu explained his philosophy of this martial art to the Global Times.

“Fu Biao, the headmaster of the Shaolin Wushu School in Beijing said that kung fu is the ‘crystallization of sweat and time.’ And in summer my students often have to change their clothes three times because they are sweating so much! And if it’s raining, they are equally determined. ‘Xiayu, mei xiayu, chabuduo‘ (rain or no rain, let’s carry on) they will say to me.”

Pu hopes that his experience can give foreign students a greater insight into Chinese culture, and that his local students can also learn more about the West at the same time. “I don’t want them just to learn wushu, but also to understand the context in which it exists. I think it’s important for us to learn from each other,” he told the Global Times.

Hogan concurs with Pu’s aims. “I have a better understanding of Chinese people through practicing wushu,” he said. “A lot of Chinese traditions and a lot of Chinese business methods are based on the fighting styles of wushu. I can read Sun Zi Bing Fa (the Art of War), San Shi Liu Ji (36 Stratagems) and these texts help me, not only in wushu, but also in business and in my personal life. This type of traditional philosophy has shaped Chinese thinking for thousands of years. And it really shapes how people work now.”

Body language

Pu and his non-Chinese speaking students communicate using body language. He demonstrates a pose and shouts the same command word repeatedly to reinforce the message.

“He’s very patient,” added Hogan. “I think when he was younger he was much more strict. Because Chinese wushu is strict about running long distances and working extremely hard. He still says ‘one more time, one more time’, but he only wants you to work hard as hard as you want to work.”

Pu’s students practice wushu with a variety of weaponry including swords, shovels, and spears. And a number have won prizes in competitions.

“At the 10th International Wushu Exposition in Shanghai last year, I took three of my overseas students to compete and we won eight medals. At the 11th expo this year, I brought five such students and we took 12 medals in all: four gold, five silver and three bronze. We were very happy.”

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The best investment: Travel, Adventure, and Memories

The end of the another year is coming and I am going through my digital pictures and memories of the last few years.  I realize once again that I’m blessed with many great friends, relatives and casual acquaintances who have made my life much richer.  I realize once again that the best investment is in travel, adventure, and memories.

The Chinese have a saying, 一字千金, One word is worth a thousand pieces of gold.  In English we say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Therefore I’ll let my pictures do the talking of some of the great memories from past years:

 

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The Pursuit of Excellence, Glimpses of Perfection – Why I do Martial Arts

I received the usual questions recently by a reporter from the “Global Times” newspaper in Shanghai:  Why do I like practicing Kungfu, Wushu (martial arts), and Karate every day?  And why do it for so many years?

I couldn’t think of a good answer.  The answer is much deeper than words can say.  How to describe a healthy addiction – maybe it’s beyond logic.  Finally I came to an answer:

The Pursuit of Excellence with occasional glimpses of Perfection.

I’ve been practicing martial arts almost daily for more than 25 years.  Karate, Kungfu, Jiujitsu and other forms of martial arts.  I admit it, I’m addicted.  When I wake up in the morning, my main goal is to prepare to go to the park and practice some more.  Internally, I sense my addiction is to follow the Oriental philosophy of Dao 道 a better way of life, a pursuit of perfection that we can approach but not reach.  But when I say “Dao” to most other people, it makes no sense.  Puzzling over this, I rearranged my thoughts to a little better explanation:

Pursuit of Excellence, Glimpses of Perfection

Like other high performance people, the pursuit of excellence becomes addictive.  Musicians, dancers, artists, craftsmen, athletes, golfers, and martial artists: we all get addicted to mastering the fine details of our art.  Finger must be pointed exactly right even at high speed.  Toes pointed. Wrist rotation and weight transfer.  Balance and hip rotation to get proper power. We must control a myriad of movements simultaneously, without thought. Mastering all these fine details takes a lifetime.

I know many TaiQi players who have done the same few routines (called Taolu or Kata) thousands of times, every day for decades.  I do the same, but at faster speed.  Most long term martial artists would not quit their art no matter how much money was offered.  They know that the pursuit of excellence improves their lives much better than any amount of money.

Golfers are the same type of perfection addicts.  They will play the same course day in, day out and never get bored.   Why?  Because their pursuit of excellence, of superb effortless shots is never simple but extremely addictive.  Other excellent athletes: runners, snow skiers, tennis players pursue excellence with the same addiction.

One famous Aikido sensei said that the key to aikido was to flow down a mountain over rocks and logs like water in a stream.  A Zen Koan, a puzzle that defies logic.  How does this make sense?  It makes sense only after we have done thousands of repetitions of a punch, a sword thrust, a kata, a golf swing, or a brush stroke.  When we learn how to act without conscious thought, then we can begin to understand the wisdom of the Aikido sensei.

Occasionally we do a move, a golf swing, play a few music notes that approach perfection. It feels fantastic.  We have a craving to replicate that brilliant moment.  These brief glimpses of perfection – that wonderful feeling –  this is why I continue to do martial arts for so many years.

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2012 Wyoming Arapaho Fire near Laramie Peak, rebuilding

Yea, though I walk through the valleys and mountains of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. 

June/July 2012, Laramie Peak Wyoming.  The Arapaho fire destroyed more than 100,000 acres of beautiful forests.  It destroyed many buildings and summer camps.   However, the fires spared many buildings and outhouses by simply a matter of a few meters or yards.  The fire incinerated formerly verdant habitat for many wild creatures such as deer, bears, elk, cougars, eagles, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, wild turkeys, skunks, and so forth.

The fire cauterized the ground and rocks. Everything was vaporized.

Amazing devastation.  The fire destroyed Camp Grace, leveled it to the ground. It took out many cabins.  Fortunately it missed our family’s summer “homes” consisting of a camper trailer and an antique sheep wagon.  It missed our structures by less than a few meters.

Hiking and exploring through the soot.

Family reunion to celebrate escape. 

In August our family had a reunion in the hills, flying and driving from all over the world to gather: Mom and Step-dad Brock from New Mexico, Sister Angela and her clan of 5 energetic children from the north country of Alaska, Sister Colleen from Michigan, and me from Bangkok and Shanghai.  It was a happy gathering despite the desolation and wonders surrounding us.

No electricity? No hot water? Black soot-coated feet? No problem.

Black socks, black feet – this is my overwhelming memory of the happy days here.  The ground was covered with layers of black soot, charcoal, and cauterized dirt.  It filtered through our shoes, socks, and caked itself into solid black coating of our feet.  My socks are still black, no matter how often I wash them with bleach.

But it was all worth it and we had a great time.

A lack of sufficient entropy – buildings spared by the fire. 

Colleen’s sheepwagon survived.

Our “summer homes” are really a collection of 2 trailers with a lot of extras added to them. This area has served as our summer hideaway for more than 30 years. Mountain Solitaire is the best way to describe it. On a busy week, we might see 15 other people. We love the solitude and peace that is shared by few other hermits like us.

Mom and Brock’s big trailer and Colleen’s sheep wagon survived by some miracle, a twist of the wind, or…to my engineer’s mind…a localized lack of sufficient entropy.

Our camper trailer survived.

Either way, we are happy the main structures survived. Many of the other buildings and structures in the area were devoured by the intense heat.

New plants, bushes, and trees are already sprouting up.

In Nature, change is the only constant. New life is reborn quickly from the ashes.

We spent the days focusing on the positives we found and experienced. New grass, trees, and bushes were already growing. Deer, elk, and bears found small havens of greenery which the fire had leapfrogged. And of course, we enjoyed seeing much of our far-flung family together in one place…first time for many years. From here, pictures can tell the rest of the story.

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