Master Chen on Suparenpei
Steve Cunningham provides the following insights, as a result from a conversation with Fuchow Master Chen:
More on my discussion with the Fuchow master on Okinawan karate and kata. This is from my second meeting.
A quick note here. It seemed that Master Chen was perfectly willing to answer most of my questions, but I had to ask the questions.
During my second meeting, I thought to ask if he knew *why* an Okinawan kata would be named "Suparinpei"? Sure, lots of reasons. Is there an historical reference possible? Yes. In the 1600s there was a group of warrior-heroes that traveled the country-side righting wrongs, taking from rich feudal lords and giving to the poor. There were said to be 108 of these men, called the 108 hands.
[My note: Chen gave the year in terms of dynasty, etc., and I have done my best to translate to western time. The group he describes sounds like a Chinese version of Robin Hood and his men.]
They were ultimately defeated and scattered. It may have been that one of these men made it to Ryukyu and taught the form. So the form might be named in reference to this member of the 108 who taught the form. Another explanation might be that some Chinese named the form in honor of these men. Or, both might be true. One or more of these men may have taught the form to Ryukyu people.
This does not diminish the importance of the number 108. The importance of the number 108 is probably *why* there were thought to be exactly 108 of these men who had risen above their passions. It is not hard for a Chinese to believe that 108 men would gather and take oath to fight injustice and seek enlightenment and escape from the 108 mortal passions through the practice of a martial art having as its centerpiece a form of 108 movements. What better name to call themselves than "the 108 hands" -- Suparenpei!