Wow, next month already! Alright, so here we go:
Tatamae 1: Karate and kobudo were invented by peasant farmers and fishermen in Okinawa.
Honne: What few records that survived the WWII Battle of Okinawa prove that this is indeed a myth. They were in fact keimouchi, members of the Okinawan royal gentry. Early practitioners of todi-jitsu such as Todi Sakugawa, Bushi Matsumura, and Anko Asato actually served as castle security and body guards to the Ryukyu royal family and bore the title of peichin (knight). So where did this romantic idea come from? From the time Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open trade with outside nations in 1851 through the years immediately following WWII, Okinawans have lived in relatively meager conditions. Furthermore, the Japanese who formally abolished the Ryukyu Kingdom and annexed Okinawa in 1879, spoke of it to American and European servicemen as a peasant nation. Consequently, the notion that there had ever been any aristocracy in Okinawa was generally unknown or unacknowledged. Westerners who learned karate mostly from Japanese sensei came to the understanding that this esoteric art was the product of a poor, working-class island people.
Tatamae 2: Karate came from China.
Honne: The kata that make up the Naha-ti and Tomari-ti sets are mostly of Chinese origin but did not, with some notable exceptions, find their way to Okinawa until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Once imported, these Chinese chuan-fa (kempo) forms were underwent extensive modifications to conform to Okinawan physical culture norms and expectations. The Shuri-ti set is unique in that it appears to have been developed exclusively by Okinawans and to have been practiced there in an organized fashion for the longest time. There was much cultural exchange between Okinawa and China dating back to prehistoric times, and early Okinawan culture was influenced by Chinese and other Southeastern Asian societies. Most famously, China sent 36 families from the Fujian province to live in Okinawa in 1392. Presumably there were martial artists among them. It was also common for aristocratic families of the Ryukyu Kingdom to send their young men to China to receive a formal education. Many returned with martial arts knowledge. There are legends as well as documented accounts of Chinese martial arts masters visiting the island and leaving their mark on karate, e.g. Wanshu, Kushanku, Ryu Ryu Ko, and Chinto. Seeing where the Chinese influence on karate begins and ends is impossible, but it's clear that the end product is uniquely Okinawan.