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Orso Rosso
25th February 2003, 01:53
I'd like to dedicate this thread to comparisons between different systems and substyles of Okinawan Karate (differences, mind you, not "my style is better than yours because..."). I have been studying Shotokan Karate for roughly 3 years, though I don't get to train as often as I would like :(

I'm particularly interested in hearing a bit about Goju-Ryu, and how it relates to Shotokan. I've heard that they are similar in many aspects, but don't have many details. Any input would be appreciated.

n2shotokai
25th February 2003, 15:51
I think the problem with this comparison is being qualified to compare. I have studied shotokan, shotokai and shito-ryu. What do I know of other styles? I have my perceptions but nothing else, therefore I am unqualified to compare.

Take goju-ryu. My perception is it is a hard style (harder than shotokan). But I have heard practioners say it is hard and soft. I have a strong opinion that it is very effective and although on the surface it looks similar to say shotokan, it is very different.

Not only can my perceptions be wrong but I can form opinions about a style based on one school I observe only to find out it is not typical of the style or worse yet, it could be a McDojo. So unless I have studied a given style for at least a few years I don't think I am qualified to compare.

Steve Beale

Orso Rosso
25th February 2003, 18:15
So let's compare notes based on what we have studied. No need for conjectures or opinions, just kinda relaxed, y'know? In Shotokan training, we lock the rear leg when we step forward for a punch, for solidity. Do they do the same in the style you study? How about punching? We twist the hip and snap it back. Do you? That's the kind of question/answer thing I'd like to have.

n2shotokai
25th February 2003, 19:00
Assuming step and punch, oi zuki (tsuki) and zenkutsu dachi.
In shotokan, where I currently study, they like the back leg slightly bent. In shotokai, my main style, we straighten the back leg for solidity from the fist all the way back to the heel. But then again, in advanced techniques the back leg can slide up just behind the front (kind of like the middle of Bassai Dai at the double hammer strike to the ribs). This is primarily used to pursue someone in rapid retreat or in a multiple opponent situation to facilitate rapid change in direction.

That hip twist thingy on a oi zuki (zenkutsu dachi) yeah, the shotokan (JKA types)people do that at various different levels. Some slightly and I have seen others with twists so exagerated I get distracted. Now the SKA (Ohshima, shotokan)folks do it completely different as their stance ends with their hips and shoulder at 45 degrees to the target as they like the added reach and they are driving with the forward hip. And then there is shotokai (the way I was taught)which ends up with hips and shoulders squared to the target. But there is no twist. From the beginning of the move to the end (one step or several) both hips are driven straight forward as hard as possible. This is done with a full zenkutsu dachi or the stance from bassai dai. Either way the intent is to overrun an opponent or ease a directional change.

Steve Beale

hobbitbob
25th February 2003, 19:39
Have switched to Seibukan Shorin Ryu since moving to Denver area, and Seibukan emphasizes the hip twist/rear leg straightening motion even more than we did in Shotokan. Many blocking techniques begin in Shiko-dachi, adngled 45 degrees to the front, then on performing gyaku-zuki the rear leg is forcefully straightened,and the rear hip rotated forward. This is reminiscent of the transitions from fudo-dachi to zenkutsu dachi in Unsu.

Gene Williams
25th February 2003, 21:03
Hi Robert,
I have practiced Shito-ryu (Motobu-ha) for 30 years and I learned gyakuzuki just the way you mentioned: 45 degree shiko dachi, straighten back leg into zen when punching, then snapping hips back to shiko...we got hit with bokken if back heel came off floor or if our hips snapped past center line on the punch. This particular hip motion and stance shift is found in our kata Wansu (empi) and Unshu (unso). Gene

n2shotokai
26th February 2003, 07:03
Originally posted by Gene Williams
Hi Robert,
I have practiced Shito-ryu (Motobu-ha) ...snip...
we got hit with bokken if back heel came off floor or if our hips snapped past center line on the punch.

Wow am I happy about all the times I got wacked with just a shinai. I mean that just stings, but wacked with a bokken is just flat mean!

Come to think of it I have not seen anyone wacked with anything for years. I think we have all gone soft! Bring on the wacking! I think I'll go and get a shinai and have my wife beat me with it. Ah yes, the good old days.

Steve Beale

Aenea
26th February 2003, 21:06
I would actually like to know more about other types of karate. Currently I am taking Isshynryu and I have to move. The commute to class will be an hour now. I don't mind doing it but if there was another style that I could study and I would be intersted in I would like to hear about it. Anyone going through the same thing? Just some thoughts.
Amanda Aasved

Orso Rosso
26th February 2003, 21:36
Mr. Jacobs-

I have heard a lot about the breathing excercises in Goju katas. Would you happen to know the benefits of the body tension and breathing routines?

Machimura
27th February 2003, 02:41
In Shorinkan Shorin Ryu, my first karate style, a fairly deep and wide Zenkutsu Dachi with straightening of the back leg was emphasized. In Matsubayashi Ryu, the stance in less dramatic, but the back leg was also "straightened". I guess the rationale behind this (what many feel is modern karate) is that it transfers your body's forward momentum into the strike. I know that most Itosu and Miyagi derived karate changed the stances for "school age" instruction and fitness.

In Matsumura Orthodox Shorin Ryu, very natural stances with bending of the knees are taught. This "Zenkutsu" (called Pinan Dachi in Seito Shorin) is a lot like the traditional bare-knuckle fighting stance used by guys like Jack Dempsey. Actually, our fighting stance is exactly like an old-school "on guard" boxing stance.

I would suspect that a lot of the Kenjutsu (Jigen Ryu specifically) aspects influenced the teaching of karate, at least those of Itosu Shuri Te origin. The same can be said for Chotoku Kyan's brand of Shuri Te. As for Goju I don't know that much about it. I can only say that since Shotokan is considered to be a Matsumura/Itosu Ha (as well as Miyagi Ha), I can give you a reasonably educated guess as to why the rear leg is not bent. European Fencing's "thrusting" stance is very similar.

A lot of Shaolin Chuan Fa practitioners (Northern especially) also post their rear legs in a similar way when performing a "forward" stance. So the Shaolin influence may have something to do with it. Fighting is just as much about power distribution as it is about, positioning, smart movement and speed. When the confrontation includes all ranges of hand-to-hand combat, the deep, wide stances of most karate do start to make less sense. Pick up a copy of Funakoshi's "Karate Jutsu", the seminal work on his brand of Tode (Okinawan "karate"). Look at the length and width of the stances. Much more natural. The modern use of exaggerated stances is very much an "exercise for strength" as opposed to a natural fighting stance.

Rising power is seen in some styles. This is usually for uppercuts and high level strikes. Sinking power (done by bending the knees or dropping one's weight), which utilizes momentum AND gravity is often employed in styles like White Crane when striking midlevel targets (ie: torso). Contrary to the nay-sayers many aspects of Fujian Crane, and other Chuan Fa styles, influenced karate too. At least originally. This is rarely taught and seeing as how the strikes in kata are often to the midsection; well you can see how muscular strength has taken over vs. efficiency, and "proper" technique. The older technique of sinking has been lost. That's a not-so-secret secret folks yap about. Funakoshi admittedly changed many aspects of karate, in order to make it a "safe" sport and pure philosophical way like Judo or Kendo.

Try stances with normal length (for forward stances- when you kneel your back leg to the floor- the knee should be approximately even with the forward foot's heel) and width (no more than 2 fists width between knee and foot). Try bag or pad work with integrated taisabaki and footwork and see which is more efficient and powerful. Shiko Dachi's done too wide are not that good for much except increasing leg strength. This type of strength can be enhanced by doing modern weight training. "Broke" squats just won't cut it anymore. Shoulder width is a good measure for a sound "horse" stance.

Remember that speed is a vital component of power. This is how tornadoes can imbed a piece of straw in a tree trunk. Small mass at high velocity. Transferring power is as much about relaxed technique, tension at the moment of impact then "soft" again (Fajing) and whipping power as it is about size and strength. Don't ever leave your punch out there. In Matsumura Seito, structural "chi/ki" is everything. Transisiton and setting up requires fast ashi-sabaki and "body change". Long, wide stances make this more difficult.

Nature abhors novelty. Moderation in all things, you know-- the only Natural Law. Good discussion!

Just my < 2 cents...
Bryan Cyr

Nyuck3X
27th February 2003, 04:12
Bryan,
Great insites! I like the break down on rising and sinking power.
Makes me look at Naihanchi a little different.

Amanda,
Where are you moving to? I've lived in the bay area all
my life and just recently moved towards the valley. If
you want some help, I can tell you what is where and who
is doing what. You can pm me if you wish.

Nice disscussion all.

n2shotokai
27th February 2003, 07:15
Originally posted by Machimura

Pick up a copy of Funakoshi's "Karate Jutsu", the seminal work on his brand of Tode (Okinawan "karate"). Look at the length and width of the stances. Much more natural. The modern use of exaggerated stances is very much an "exercise for strength" as opposed to a natural fighting stance.

Just my < 2 cents...
Bryan Cyr

I have heard many people theorize that Gichin Funakoshi suffered from arthritis and that is why in videos and still pics he is seen in short stances. I suppose we could debate that here but what sticks in my mind is Gichin Funakoshi's 20 precepts.

17. Beginners must master low stance and posture; natural body positions are for the advanced.

I have always translated this in my mind to read "only advanced students can determine when a natural posture is acceptable". Meaning a natural posture is only accptable in certain situations. IMO I feel students will find it easier to develop power from low stances. Not that it cannot be done from a natural stance, only progress will be greater with a low stance.

The other element of that precept that sticks in my mind is "master". I don't know if I will ever "master" anything in karate, so I tend to stick with the low stances for the most part.

Just my opinion.

Steve Beale

Machimura
27th February 2003, 08:50
Originally posted by n2shotokai


I have heard many people theorize that Gichin Funakoshi suffered from arthritis and that is why in videos and still pics he is seen in short stances. I suppose we could debate that here but what sticks in my mind is Gichin Funakoshi's 20 precepts.

17. Beginners must master low stance and posture; natural body positions are for the advanced.

I have always translated this in my mind to read "only advanced students can determine when a natural posture is acceptable". Meaning a natural posture is only accptable in certain situations. IMO I feel students will find it easier to develop power from low stances. Not that it cannot be done from a natural stance, only progress will be greater with a low stance.

The other element of that precept that sticks in my mind is "master". I don't know if I will ever "master" anything in karate, so I tend to stick with the low stances for the most part.

Just my opinion.

Steve Beale

A "Master" is a beginner who stuck to it. Will you master yourself?

Good opinions. That theory you speak of is more speculation than anything. The fact is he states that Shorin uses natural stances and that its purpose is for fighting. When he wrote "Karate Do Kyohan" he alludes to the fact that he had to change karate from a dangerous life protection art to a sport. You know like most Shotokan and to a lesser degree some Shotokai. Like 98% of MAs out there. Packaged for mass consumption. Nothing like a homemade meal, bro.

The fact is karate instruction became formalized when certain individuals understood that money, prestige and fame could be had. Choki Motobu never liked Gichin Funakoshi for this reason. Not only because he was a competing sensei, or felt he was a "commoner" and looking to cash-in, but also because he felt that amongst known Ryukyuan stylists Funakoshi was considered mediocre at best. SuiDe (Shuri Te) was the Shuri Castle guard's fighting style. It's arrogant but the truth.

The truth may have been that Funakoshi had to capitulate in order to sell Okinawa'a contribution to the MAs. I thank him often. Now I can irritate his "adorers", hahaha! Machimura would want me to do that, hahaha! J/K of course. We wouldn't probably have ebudo, obviously a Japanese term and not Hogen. So there is a place for everything. There are 5 star restaurants and then there's Taco Bell. Heck, some people would prefer the Taco Bell. Some of us like fine dining. Depends on how you look at it. It's all food for thought. It's all relative.

I've done "do" arts and I've done "jutsu" arts. Intent is everything. When I was 14 and first beginning Kobayashi it all made sense. My base of experience was small. I think that the deeper, wider stances did help with some conditioning. At the same time my Sensei always pointed out the difference between the dojo and the concrete. No high kicks ever (we practiced every high kick imaginable) and only natural stances. When I started in Seito Shorin I still did a lot of those Shorinkan things. No more hard bo or soft bo stances. Now proper structure and balance are being ingrained. No forcing, just good technique and basic common sense. No deep horse riding stances. Btw just how wide is a horse if you're over 5'9"? That wide?!

I'm giving my perspective, based on my own actual experience. No hypotheses (theories must have SOME proof- like words in a book from the source). Just empiricism. That's subjective to some though, too :)!

Bryan Cyr

Machimura
27th February 2003, 09:01
You got yourself all twisted and almost me, too!

Hold up N2'. If Funakoshi had arthritis in his first book "KarateJutsu", how did it resolve when he wrote "Karate Do Kyohan" some years later? I'm medically trained, and arthritis is usually a chronic condition. Maybe you know some secret lay wisdom about curing arthritis. So why the deeper, wider, harder to do unnatural stances in his LATER book? Uhhhhhhh....... Sorry bruh', uh-uh!

Bryan Cyr

Machimura
27th February 2003, 09:07
Originally posted by Nyuck3X
Bryan,
Great insites! I like the break down on rising and sinking power.
Makes me look at Naihanchi a little different.
Nice disscussion all.

Thank you so much. Are you Shidokan or Shorinkan? Regardless we are brothers.

Yes, this discussion may get even better after my last posts!

Bryan Cyr

Gene Williams
27th February 2003, 12:20
For anyone studying Okinawan karate, I would not use Funakoshi as a source. He must be given credit for spreading the art, but he changed Okinawan karate to please the Japanese to the point of distortion. Many of the older, and far more senior, Okinawan pracitioners felt that Funakoshi was sent to Japan because he was more polished and formally educated than say, Motobu Choki, or several others who would not have had his "diplomatic" skills, but who would have insisted on maintaining the purity of the art. Many Okinawan karateka at the time were not pleased with Funakoshi, and many still are not pleased. Read Nagamine's book, "Tales of the Great Masters." Now, Shotokan is a great art in itself, and Nishiyama Hidetaka is one of the greatest karate practitioners I ever saw, but it isn't Okinawan karate. Choose one style and stay with it. These comparisons are fun and interesting, and those of us who have been doing this a long time sometimes enjoy the exercise, but we also care less and less about the differences. The longer I do this, the more alike they all seem; the longer I do this the more different they seem. Every orthodox ryu can teach you what you need to know. Technique and how it is done is not nearly as important as the strong spirit they build in you. I once asked a gunnery seargent what is the best weapon to use. He replied, "The one you have!" Gene

n2shotokai
28th February 2003, 01:25
Hang on Bryan, don't get your underwear all in a bunch. Go read it again. Other people theorize he had arthritis. Not me. I have no way of knowing. My point was #17 in the precepts. Looks like he is saying "get down"!

Okay, I have "Karate-do Kyohan" out (first edition). Okay here he is page 16 wacking a makiwara, I think he has a slight bend in his knees
page 28 shuto, yeah, I think a slight bend in his knees
page 34 several, he is down a bit lower, but not way down (old pics)
is that Shigeru Egami in the other pics (kinda grainy)?
The other dude in 90+% of the pics in the book is Tsutomu Ohshima, and yeah he is down there. But those would also be Ohshima's knees. So I am perhaps in no need of healing powers :cool:

I am unclear on your earlier statement regarding Okinawan masters dislike of Funakoski. It seems to imply that Funakoshi was in to commercialism of the art. Please clarify.

Steve Beale

Gene Williams
28th February 2003, 01:43
Again, read Nagamine's book. It wasn't that Funakoshi was into commercialism, he was into pleasing the Japanese. He changed things to conform to Japanese sword theory and practice, changed stances (i.e.,you will not find the JKA kokutsu-dachi in Okinawan karate), and generaly made things more pleasing to the eye (in his opinion). He also simplified a lot of things. A lot of us feel that he gave up too much. Gene

Nyuck3X
28th February 2003, 02:21
Bryan,
I'm 3rd generation Shidokan meaning, my teacher's teacher trained
with Miyahira. Perhaps you've heard of him since you spent so
much time in the Phillippines, Latino Gonzales.
I had the opportunity of meeting and playing with Nakazato Sensei
a few years ago.

N2,
My understanding of the Funakoshi debate is that many of his
peers felt that in his zealous to make karate popular amongst the
Japanese, he watered it down too much. My only experience with
this was the one time I met Shimabukuro Zenpo. He voiced a few
opinions at the same seminar I met Nakazato.
I've also heard people speculate on the stances becoming lower
because the Japanese were taller than the Okinawans and it
kinda leveled the playing field. Again, speculation.

Machimura
28th February 2003, 23:49
Originally posted by Nyuck3X
Bryan,
I'm 3rd generation Shidokan meaning, my teacher's teacher trained
with Miyahira. Perhaps you've heard of him since you spent so
much time in the Phillippines, Latino Gonzales.
I had the opportunity of meeting and playing with Nakazato Sensei
a few years ago.

Yes I have. I have seen them train and it is rough! Hanshi Nakazato's kumite is flawless! Did you spar him? Kobayashi is very well known for its sparring. Cool. Where do you train now and with whom? You are obviously very knowledgeable. Good weekend to you and all at ebudo!

Bryan Cyr

Nyuck3X
1st March 2003, 03:40
Machimura wrote:

Hanshi Nakazato's kumite is flawless! Did you spar him?
No I didn't. I've heard that he would have given me my money's
worth and make change.


Where do you train now and with whom?
A couple of brothers who were uechi deshi <sp?> to Gonzalez Sensei
when he first moved stateside. We had a small club until Gonzalez
past away. I'm on my own now since I moved away from the brothers.


You are obviously very knowledgeable
:laugh: Aw, go on...

Really, I have learn alot from this group.
I enjoy everyone's insites.

Have a good weekend.