View Full Version : Seisan (again)

18th May 2001, 23:54
This is one of my favorites, I was wondering if someone would be willing, for the purpose of comparative analysis; to post technique for technique their version of Seisan, the one I practice seems to have a bunch of extra stuff at the beginning, other than that though, its pretty close to the version in that Patrick Mccarthy book(don't remember the name), what version is that? So if anyone knows of another version of seisan layed out somewhere on the net, please let me know.

-Zach Zinn

Jussi Häkkinen
7th June 2001, 11:41
I try to make a "walkthrough" of our kata. Some things are almost impossible to write up, so this is "about like that" -explanation.

Note: In the style that I train it is usual to use shikodachi - zenkutsudachi -turn to add power into striking. It is a way that has been told to be used by Kyan Chotoku and Zenryo Shimabukuro.

All straight punches are struck with 45-degree fist.

English is not my native language so I wish that you don't have too much problems understanding what I have written.

All mistakes are mine and mine only.

In following: ZD = zenkutsudachi, SD = shikodachi.

1: yoi.

(Part 1: Going north)
2: Stepping forward to left SD, left chudanuke. Turn to left ZD, right gyakutsuki, right chudanuke.
3: Stepping forward to right SD, keeping right hand on chudanuke position. Turn to right ZD, left gyakutsuki, left chudanuke.
4: Stepping forward to left SD, keeping left hand on chudanuke position. Turn to left ZD, right gyakutsuki.
5: Left chuanduchiotoshi, pulling right hand down. Left hizageri forwards.
6: Sliding forwards to left SD, left chudanuke, right jodanuke.
7: Turning counterclockwise (right foot moves) 180° to a left ZD, striking both hands down (double shutouchi to down).

(Part 2: Going south)
8: Stepping forward to right SD. Left shutogedanbarai (to left knee), right haito-chudanuke. Turning to right ZD, right hand turns palm downwards (grabs).
9: Stepping forward to left SD. Right shutogedanbarai (to left knee), left haito-chudanuke. Turning to left ZD, left hand turns palm downwards (grabs).
10: Stepping forward to right SD. Left shutogedanbarai (to left knee), right haito-chudanuke. Turning to right ZD, right hand turns palm downwards (grabs).

11: Stepping to east, left SD and chudanuke. Right gyakutsuki (ZD), left oitsuki (ZD), right maegeri that returns to left SD, right gyakutsuki (ZD).
12: Stepping to west, right SD and chudanuke. Left gyakutsuki (ZD), right oitsuki (ZD), left maegeri that returns to right SD, left gyakutsuki (ZD).
13: Stepping to south, left SD and chudanuke. Right gyakutsuki (ZD), left oitsuki (ZD), right maegeri that returns to left SD, right gyakutsuki (ZD). Left chudanuke (SD).

14: Stepping left foot to right foot line, turning to north. Bringing right hand via arc to the chambered left hand, pulling right foot to nekoashidachi.
15: Sliding right foot forwards into a right SD, right uraken to nose level. KIAI!
16: Sliding back to right nekoashidachi, right chudanuke.
17: Right heel down, stepping left foot over right knee to kosadachi (crossed feet, left foot forwards, right hip forwards). Keeping right hand in chudanuke-position.
18: Right mae-geri to right SD, right gedanbarai(SD), left gyakutsuki(ZD), right chudanuke(SD).

19: Stepping right foot to left foot line, turning to south. Bringing left hand via arc to the chambered right hand, pulling left foot to nekoashidachi.
20: Sliding left foot forwards into a left SD, left uraken to nose level. KIAI!
21: Sliding back to left nekoashidachi, left chudanuke.
22: Left heel down, stepping right foot over left knee to kosadachi (crossed feet, right foot forwards, left hip forwards). Keeping left hand in chudanuke position.
23: Left mae-geri to left SD, left gedanbarai (SD), right gyakutsuki(ZD), left chudanuke(SD).

24: Turning to north to right SD, horizontal uraken (uraken-uke) to chest level (aligned with a right outline).
25: Right gedanbarai(SD), left gyakutsuki (ZD), right chudanuke (SD).
26: Stepping right foot backwards into a left nekoashidachi. Slow left kake-uke (grab).
27: Stomping left heel down, right maegeri that returns to left SD. Right gyakutsuki (ZD).
28: high, arcing crossblock sliding slightly backwards, hands arch to chambered position (palms upwards, hands open). Left heel up (SD).
29: Stomping left heel down dropping left hand down and right hand to waist level (like holding the foot of attacker) (SD).
30: Striking right hand down, hands crossed (right over left), fists closed, palms down (ZD) (like breaking the ankle of the foot).

31: Yame.

9th June 2001, 05:40
Wow, thank you, thats pretty much just like ours....or rather to say the differences are very minor.

Jussi Häkkinen
2nd September 2001, 06:14
And ah, the version in Patrick McCarthy's book is supposedly Arakaki Seisan, which is a his own interpretation of Aragaki Seisho's Seisan-kata. The root for that is supposedly in Naha-seisan.

The one explained above is a Shuri version.

Ken Allgeier
5th September 2001, 07:58

By Zach ;

its pretty close to the version in that Patrick Mccarthy
book(don't remember the name)

- ----------------------------------------

The name of the book is " Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate " by Pat McCarthy, Ohara Pub.

OK ,Here I am getting myself in TROUBLE AGAIN. I do have a problem with this book, and it is in the contexts of the representation of the kata in concert with the use of both the Kokutsu dachi ( back stance as used in Shotokan ) and the Neko ashi dachi ( cat stance )in the same kata.Looking at the variant kata's the reader will clearly see that both the " back stance" and the " Cat stance " are used in the same kata.I find this vary strange, because in my observation of a given kata,it will use only the " Back stance " or the " Cat stance " and not mix in both type of stances( their is the Shotokan kata Hangetsu (org Seisan) which uses both stances).It seems that Okinawan classical kata's use only a " Cat stance" in both Shuri-Te, Tomari-Te & Naha-Te.The versions of Shito Ryu kata's that I have seen all use the Neko ashi dachi ( cat stance)or a reverse Zenkutsu dachi as used in the kata ' Jion'.In McCarthy's book starting on pg 170, the kata "Matsumura Rohai " is shown inwhich both the " Back stance " and the " Cat stance " are used.I have both the Matsubayashi-Shorin Ryu and Hohan Soken( Matsumura Orthodox Shorin Ryu ) versions on video tape and only the " Cat stance/Neko ashi dachi" stance is used. In Shoshin Nagamine book " Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters" he bring up the subject, that the kata's on the mainland should go back to useing the " Neko ashi dachi " ,and not the Kokutsu dachi.Any thoughts on this?

ken allgeier

Jussi Häkkinen
5th September 2001, 09:58
There is an okinawan back stance, which is pretty close to cat stance, only higher. I've learned this in context of Chozo Nakaima's Pinan-kata. Cat stance is used in same kata. However, it is nothing like Shotokan back stance and should not be mixed with it.

In McCarthy's book (at least when talking about so called "Aragaki Seisan) a lot can be put on author's backround and personal interpretation. When asking about where he had learned the Aragaki Seisan, I got the answer: "It's my own interpretation of Aragaki Seisho's Seisan-kata". So it is - actually - not an Okinawan kata at all. Same thing with bunkai - if I make the kata, of course I can make the bunkai work.

I assume that the personal interpretation can show in the other kata of that book as well.

Cannot be sure here, but just thinking.

Ken, it is fun to be in trouble when there's someone with you.

5th September 2001, 12:19
Okay Jussi....I can accept that the version shown is Mr. McCarthy's own interpretation, but it does not look to me very similar at all to the Goju version(s) I have seen performed, and minus a few different hand postures it really does not seem that much different from your description of the Shorin seisan you practice, though I suppose it is difficult to say without visual aides. About the only part that looks really similar to me is the three open handed blocks, or whatever you choose to interpret them as. In fact, it does not look very Naha-te at all, to me. Though certainly, being new to Goju, I am no expert at all. Anyone else who's done both versions and can make a comparision?

-Zach Zinn

Joe Logue
6th September 2001, 02:50
Hello All,
I would have to agree along the same lines as Ken and Jussi. If I purchase a book that has the word "Classical" in its title, then I would expect to find original/traditional material, not a new or revised spin on it from the author. In this kata book, whether it be seisan no kata or another, the reader is natually going to assume that he's doing the accurate stances as originally made by the classical masters. If Mr.McCarthy changed them with his own personal interpretation, then it would be just common sense and basic courtesy to inform the reader what changes that he made and why they were made. Perhaps a disclamer should be printed on the front of the book-- i.e.-- "Classical Okinawan Katas as Changed and Revised and Modernised by the Author with non-uniform stances"??
BTW-- Jussi-- As you mentioned-- your English is very understandable, I also speak foreign languages and know how difficult it is to learn all of the idioms, phrases,etc... of the other language. Your English is very well spoken,(written).

Best Regards To All,
Joe Logue

Joe Swift
6th September 2001, 03:04
Dear all,

While Mr. McCarthy does not need me to defend him, I would like to clarify something with regards to this book, as Mr. McCarthy was kind enough to explain to me several years ago.

The kata in this book (published in 1987) were the versions (or interpretations) that Mr. McCarthy learned from Mr. Richard Kim, who told him they were the "classical" versions.

Mr. McCarthy went on to say that he realizes now that these kata were not all they were made out to be, but when he wrote the book, those were the versions his teacher told him were the classical kata.

Besides, the book does have all those neat historic photos, most of which appeared in English language book for the first time, as well as the first English translation of Itosu's 1908 "10 lessons" and probably the first mention in English of the contents of the Ryukyuan Bubishi.

Anyway, just to share something I heard from the man himself...

Joe :nin: Swift

Joe Swift
6th September 2001, 09:24
Hi Zach-san,

I found this on http://gojuryu.net/

Take care,
Joe Swift
Seisan Kata Description
by neil.tyra@his.com

I generally don't try and describe kata in writing because it is so hard to visualize; but, since you asked and no one responded let me attempt to describe how seisan is performed in traditional Japanese Gojuryu as promolgated by the Kanzen Gojuryu Karatedo organization of which I am a 4th degree black belt. Keep in mind that such a description as this can not possibly describe the contrast between hard and soft, fast and slow, nor can it describe the coordination of the breathing with the kata performance. In my opinion, all of those things are that which gives gojuryu its uniqueness. But, that having been said...her goes....

1. Off the break, right foot steps forward to sanchin no kamae
(sanchin dachi stance) double chudan arms position.
2. Load left hand slowly to chamber, fast face punch with immediate return to
chudan arm position in blocking motion.
3. Step with left foot to sanchin dachi, repeat #2 with right hand.
4. Step with right foot to sanchin dachi, repeat #2 with left hand.
5. Double deflection block (right, left) with sweep of right arm to open chudan
position reinforced by left hand under tricep. (really difficult to explain the
fluidity and grace of this move!)
6. Pivot on left foot, 90 degrees to the left, simultaneously perform a
low foot sweep (haku geri) with the right foot while executing an open
double chudan arms position (left on top of right at the start, right on
the outside during the presentation).
7. Turn back to the original direction by picking up the right foot and
pivoting on the left. Simultaneously load both hands into open hand
chamber. Hitch step forward into a right side sanchin dachi and execute a
double nukite strike to the groin walls with thumb side of hand angled in
45 degrees.
8. Repeat #6 and #7 (second sequence)
9. Repeat #6 and #7 (third sequence)
10. Reach up, label grab, pull in and simo pivot lower body left to strike
groin with right hip in original direction.
11. With body facing left, line of attack in original direction, clean off
gedan uke block simo w/ rignt kensetsu geri (knee kick)
12. Rechamber kick, pivot on left foot to 180 degree opposite original
direction (face backwards) placing right foot in secondary position of left
side forward sanchn dachi simo perform left high open chudan kake uke block,
right hand to closed fist chamber.
13. Step forward with right foot, perform right high open chudan kake uke
block, left hand to closed fist chamber.
14. Step forward with left foot, perform left high open chudan kake uke block
(don't turn over hand into grab position this time), right hand to closed fist
15. Left inside out block/strike (simulating arm break of lapel grab)
16. Pivot 90 degree to right, right foot steps into zenkutsu dachi (forward
stance), right eagle claw strike to throat.
17. Twist eagle claw strike 90 degree left, then right in place, two small
clockwise circles, double seiken suki punch to solar plexus.
18. Pivot 90 degree to left to gyaku zenkutsu dachi (reverse forward stance),
maintain line of attack from #17, righ tetsui uchi (hammer fist strike) to
19. Right leg yoko geri (side kick) to same line of attack.
20. Rechamber right leg, pivot 90 degree on left foot to left so line of attach
shifts 180 degrees from #16-19, placing right foot in secondary position of
left side forward sanchn dachi while simo left high chudan kake uk w/out çráb.
21. Cross over step with right foot simo left hooking hair grab.
22. Step with left foot to sanchin dachi simo right jodan seiken suki (high
punch) with KIAI!
23. Double chudan seiken suki (middle punch) to solar plexus.
24. Right foot swings around behind left to face 45 degree backwards in partial
kneeling stance (hmmm...if in the beginning of the kata you faced 12 o'clock
this stance faces 7 o'clock) right gedan uke.
25. Staighten up, right mae geri (froît kick) to shiko dachi (horse stance),
left hand claw/screen, right upper cut, reposition right mau uraken uchi
(frontal backhand strike), reach up downward empi uchi (elbow strike), right
gedan tetsui uchi (hammerfist strike), reverse left hand cross body punch,
right kensetsu geri (knee kick), place back into shiko dachi stance.
26. Left foot back mawate (turn) 180 degrees into left side forward zenkutsu
dachi (forward stance) so as to face the original dirction of the kata.
27. Double lapel grab, pull hands into closed fist chamber with simo right mae
geri kekomi (thrust front kick) to chin.
28. On retraction, right foot takes big step backwards and slide into right
side back neko ashi dachi (cat stance), right seiken suki with left hand
grabing tricep of right arm to reinforce punch. KIAI!
29. Spin out mawashi uke ( double circular block) in place.
30. Closing.

6th September 2001, 10:17
On Kung Fu Online someone asked about the differences between Isshin's Seisan and others. Here was my reply: Here's Matsumura Seito Shorin Ryu's version:
1) Salutations.
2) Step back into L. Pinan Dachi immediate L.outside block-R. reverse punch (Solar Plexus)-R. outside block (performed in combo, as 1 tech)
3) Crescent sweeping step forward w/ the right foot into R. Pinan dachi into immediate L. reverse punch (S.P.)- L. outside block combo---(NOTE: In Matsumura Orthodox stepping is done in a "Crescent Moon" pattern rather than the more popular linear stepping. This practice is also prevalent in Shorinkan.)
4) Step forward into L. Pinan Stance-R. Reverse punch
5) Slide back into L. Forward Stance (not too deep) and simultaneous Low Double Fist block-strike (hitting groin/low kick with first 2 knuckles), into L. (front leg) low whip kick
6)Still in L. forward stance, drop weight while simultaneously performing double outside block (both arms), palms facing you. This tech may also be interpreted as a lapel or double arm grab. Sinking your weight upsets opponent's balance and locks in Ti technique.
7) Quickly step rear (right) foot in front and outside left foot (counter-clockwise spin), immed. Execute X-block at head level, and then low double knife hand block/strike/control to your sides (all done in passai stance).
8) Step forward with your right into R. 45 degree stance and do right reverse ridge-hand to head/neck and L. hand pull/rear block ( thumb to the side of outer thigh w/ palm facing behind you), then straighten back foot (into Pinan dachi) as you perform snake fist strike to neck/eyes (slight twisting adds torque to tech.). Repeat this combo 2 more times ending with R. forward stance (Pinan Dachi)
9) Step 45 deg. out to L. Pinan stance-double punch-R. low whip kick
10) Step 45 deg out to R. Pinan-double punch-L. low whip kick
11) Step 45 deg. to the middle into L. Pinan-double punch- R. whip kick , to left downward block-strike
12) Spin clockwise into R. foot forward "L" stance (body-change) while simultaneosly performing circular R. strike/block/grab, Right fist protecting Solar Plexus and L. chambered (ti tech not strike).
13) Step forward w/ R. into R. L-Stance and simult. R. overhand backfist.
14) Step back into R. Pinan execute R. outside block (L. chambered)
15) L. ft. steps forward into hidden leg, to R. rear low whip kick
16) Step into R. forward stance-R. down block
17) L. reverse punch (S.P.) into R. outside block-whip kick combo
18) Spin counter clokwise facing opp. direction into L. outside circular block/strike/grab into L. L-stance (again, tai-sabaki)
19) Step forward into L. L-stance, do L. overhead backhand, then step back into L. Pinan w/ L. outside block
20) R. foot moves forward into Hidden foot (crooked) stance L. low whip kick
21) Step to R. Pinan stance w/ right low block then L. reverse punch
22) Execute R. outside block/strike-lead leg whip kick and step clockwise into spinning hidden R. outside backfist (L. on top almost straight protecting upper body, R. hidden under L. just outside centerline). You should be in R. forward stance
23) Step back into L. Pinan Dachi and perform double low knife hand Seisan kicking (foot/leg) trap
24) Throw both hands into double outward half-moon leg "throw". Double knife hand Ti chamber (palms up). Execute Seisan "trap" again (double low shutos, palms down
25) Pull leg to R. knife hand grab/pull (chambering straight back)
26) With left in open hand position (shuto), strike/cross chambered R. hand over open left in closed fist position simult. closing left fist to form low x-block/strike/grab (use good hip torque) (Kiai)
27 Step L. back to right, finishing kata with Matsumura salutation.
Whewww! I hope this helps. I think I got it right, but I may have made a mistake here or there. I'm pretty sure (99.9999%), though. In Matsumura Seito the head/body is either level or sinking to provide mass to the tech.. Rising is discouraged usually as gravity works the opposite way. Our stances are NEVER deep. I think that that's one of the major differences between this style and other Japanese/Okinawan styles (even the other Shorin Ryuha). Peep this sequence and tell me if I conveyed the Kata techs in an intelligible way. Matsumura Orthodox also likes toe-kicks (especially at BB level), and uses a 3/4 twist punch. Anatomically/biomech. much more stable than even the traditional horiz. Karate punch. It's just as fast as the vertical punch but stronger. By the way we have a really intricate belt system. It consists of white belt and black belt, so don't be fooled by a Matsumura Shorin white belt! Have a great week and happy training!!! Correction...
Step 7's X or Eagle wing block/grab is performed in a forward (Pinan Dachi) not Pai Sai stance...

posted 07-08-01 06:

7th September 2001, 16:03
Hi Shorinichi,

You state: "Matsumura Orthodox ... uses a 3/4 twist punch. Anatomically/biomech. much more stable than even the traditional horiz. Karate punch. It's just as fast as the vertical punch but stronger."

From an information point solely, I question why you feel tine 3/4 twist punchs is stronger than the vertical punch.

Are you landing the 3/4 punch with both lead knuckles? The vertical punch is landing at an angle with the ridge of knuckles as the striking area.

While I use all three versions of the punch horiz, 3/4, vertical, in appropriate striking areas, I don't necessarily find one stronger or weaker than the other.

I find striking an area such as the solar plexus with the verticle punch at the appropriate angle of insertion so you're striking with the edge of the knuckles (not straight in) is most appropriate with your body mechanics, has no inherent weakness for counter due to the wrist being turned, and striking with the ridge of knuckles feels like an ippon ken (single knuckle) strike, with less risk of improper formation in time of stress.

Of course that is my impression from my studies. There are areas of the body I find the 3/4 punch target appropriate.

I'm interested in the manner in which your study finds the 3/4 punch stronger. This is a factual question, as I'm not trying to burn you for your answer, but my experience does not tend to re-inforce the same opinion you share.

With friendship,

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

8th September 2001, 03:58
Victor: The organization I belong to puts out a periodical journal called "Maishin Shorinji". I, along with my brother who is an Orthopedic Surgeon, co-wrote an article for the Journal on this same subject. When it's published in October, I'll try and get you a copy of it. My brother who is also a Yudansha in Matsumura Seito, gives detailed moderm medical anatomical and biomechanical principles, reinforcing many traditional training methods and techs, such as punching and other hand strikes.

My experience as a Paramedic in the Air Force, and working in a Level I Trauma Center for about 3 years, has helped in my understanding "the why" behind a technique, rather than assuming or guessing. Currently I'm a Medical Student, and this knowledge will help me even further. Just know that anatomically, when you under or overtwist your fist there is significant deficit in your striking efficiency. Vertical strikes (no twisting of the wrist) are very fast but lack adequate support, and the position of the foreknuckles while striking doesn't maximize their penetration power. A horizontal punch, inarticulates the ulna from the carpal (wrist) bones, and this leads to biomechanical instability. The position of the fore and middle knuckle in this punch is ideal to effect certain structures, but if you look at the anatomy of the ribcage more than one rib or intercostal space can be effected by the 3/4 strike than the full-twisting punch.

That's kind of a superficial explanantion of a complex scientific question. I think that there was an article by a Physician in BB mag a few months back addressing the same query and the Doc came to the same conclusion. You would have to really understand advanced A&P to fully grasp this concept, but with a little academic and empirical research you'll probaly reach the same conclusions. Thanks for your questions and I'll give more detail later if you want it. Have a great weekend...

Ken Allgeier
8th September 2001, 04:02
From Joe Swift;


The kata in this book (published in 1987) were the versions (or
interpretations) that Mr. McCarthy learned from Mr. Richard Kim,
who told him they were the "classical" versions.



This brings up a question.Why did Richard Kim change the interpretations of the Shuri-Te & Tomari-Te classical kata?For example in the the kata " Chinto ", it starts out on a straight line embusen useing a back stance ( which looks like the Shotokan version:Gankaku)then it goes into side to side or diagonai embusen,for the flying/jumping kicks and double X-blocks as taught by Kyan.Then the kata goes back to a straight line embusen.Is this a classical interpreation or a modern one ?

Thank You,

ken allgeier

8th September 2001, 10:37

I certainly would be interested in seeing your article when it is complete. I have a participating surgeon in my classes (whose background was Goju with horizontal punches) and I know he would be interested too.

Being a devil's advocate for a moment, I have seen different individuals do powerful breaks with all of these strikes. In that proper execution packs a wallop, is there a measure how much more power the 3/4 punch can deliver as opposed to the other variations? And isn't power in part due to the speed of delivery and retraction of the hand after the strike?

Honestly, after more than a quarter century of practice, I doubt I would change my ways as they are efficient old friends now, but I do find the topic interesting to discuss.


9th September 2001, 02:32
You are correct in that velocity is a major variable of the power equation. Snapping or whipping your kicks and strikes, leads to greater velocity. This coupled with the proper distribution of your body mass leads to an efficient and effective striking technique.

The vertical punch is a very good strike. With the right torque, it can be very powerful. I think the difference between this strike and the 3/4 twisting punch, is quite negligible. Many people cite the style of Shorinji-Ryu (Chotoku Kyan's Shorin interpretation) as proof that ancient Okinawan Koryu used the Chinese Vertical punch. I agree totally, but was this a vertical punch or a Ti influenced 3/4 twisting punch which superficially is similar in appearance, but internally gives some extra structural support? I dunno, just theorizing, but I may be totally wrong!

I forget who it was that originally implemented the twisting punch (KusanKu?). I don't know if there is any documented evidence that it was a full-twist or 3/4 twist. I figure if the originator was trained in the Chinese MAs then he probably learned the traditional vertical punch, and later through experimentation and dealings with various fighters and styles, adopted a torque action to help distribute the force to the fore and middle-knuckles. Again, just speculation, and the history probably says otherwise.

I can say that one adapts the strike to fit the situation. I'm not saying anyone has to change, just that the science leads me to believe that the 3/4 twisting punch is a very strong, fast and safe way to strike with the closed fist. This I know for sure. Great discussion, and I'll get you that article when it's printed up. Later and happy training....
Bryan Seer

9th September 2001, 02:57

Some interesting facets of striking placement.

My instructor observed that a vertical punch to 11 o'clock (a 3/4 punch if you will) with the right hand, striking into the lower side of the abdomen, will cause the opponent to cant forward from the strike, placing their head closer for followup technique.

Striking the same side of the body with the vertical punch to 1 o'clock (a 3/8 punch?) causes the force of the strike to travel through the body and be felt by the opposite kidney (in the rear).

Apparently in this case, the direction of the fist transmits the energy of the strike into the body in different ways.

Just an interesting fact for discussion.


Rob Alvelais
9th September 2001, 03:05
Originally posted by Shorinichi

I forget who it was that originally implemented the twisting punch (KusanKu?). I don't know if there is any documented evidence that it was a full-twist or 3/4 twist. I figure if the originator was trained in the Chinese MAs then he probably learned the traditional vertical punch, and later through experimentation and dealings with various fighters and styles, adopted a torque action to help distribute the force to the fore and middle-knuckles. Again, just speculation, and the history probably says otherwise.

Bryan Seer

I've heard this story about the Okinawans implementing the twisting punch, deviating from the Chinese methodology, but I have a difficult time reconciling that with my own observations . For instance, Hsing I Chuan (a very chinese system) utilizes not only the vertical (tate ken) but the full twist (seiken) and the inverted fist (ura zuki). Here in the SF Bay area, we're able to see lots of different styles of Chinese ma and many, many of them (No Shaolin, Choi li fut, and many others) I have seen use the "full twist" punch.

So, why does this story persist?

Rob Alvelais

Joe Swift
10th September 2001, 00:09
Hi Ken,

Ken Algeier wrote:
<b>This brings up a question.Why did Richard Kim change the interpretations of the Shuri-Te & Tomari-Te classical kata?</b>

Good question, and one I couldn't honestly answer.

Then again, an even better question might be who <b><i>hasn't</b></i> changed the "original (whatever that may be) kata, <b>even</b> in Okinawa?

Anyway, back to training... :D

Joe Swift

12th September 2001, 22:27
Rob: I studied Filipino/Chinese Kuntao for 4 years when I was a teen in the PI. My Sifu/Sigung told us many times that the cork-screw punch was a "high-level technique". I never asked for clarification, but he did mention that he learned multiple closed fist strikes while taking Hsing-I and Bagua. I always figured that the twisting-punch was a Chinese tech, that evolved into an Okinawan staple after the confluence of Sino-Okinawan fighting traditions. Some historical accounts say otherwise, and claim that this punch was developed on the Ryukyus. I really dunno.

Turning your punches over adds something to fist strikes. Then again I've seen folks KO'd from a quick vertical jab to the face/head.
Bryan L. Seer

Doug Daulton
13th September 2001, 03:01
Originally posted by Joe Swift ... Then again, an even better question might be who <b><i>hasn't</b></i> changed the "original (whatever that may be) kata, <b>even</b> in Okinawa?Joe-san,

As always, you make an excellent point. I believe there exists a very real and fundamental risk associated with trying to define the "real" or "original" meaning of kata. Absent the discovery of a long-lost "Dead Seas Scrolls"-like version of the Bubishi or similar document, the original intention of the author of any kata is now lost to the ages. Moreover, even if such a document were discovered, there would no doubt be endless debate about its veracity, let alone the translation/interpretation of it's contents.

In addition, as Joe points out, all kata is one person's understanding (and therefore his/her interpretation) of what was given them by their teacher(s). While it is true that some interpretations stay much, much closer to the source, no kata taught today is a precise replica of the kata of the same name taught 20, let alone 200, years ago. I realize this may seem like heresy, but it needn't been seen that way.

First, kata is a vehicle for the transmission of fundamental principles. As long as the student grasps and can effectively demonstrate an understanding of these principles, a teacher can feel comfortable "signing off" on the kata. While ideal, one person's kata need not, and in many instances cannot, be the same as his/her teachers (due to body type, age and other factors). What is crucial is that one understand and can relate the core principles. Without this, one's effectiveness, both as a practitioner and as a teacher, will fade with age.

Second, multiple interpretations of the same kata (or sequence within a kata) can be valid. This is clear within and across ryuha (styles). If an interpretation is effective, it is valid. One of the most enlightening training sessions I've ever had was 2 hours spent with a sandan from Chito-ryu and a sandan from Kobayashi Shorin-ryu. We spent that time solely on Passai (Bassai Dai). Each of us demonstrated our ryuha's version of the kata and the widely taught bunkai (applications) of the same. It was amazing to see both the similarities and the differences.

Third, kata should be seen as a "living document". That is it should evolve and be refined with each passing generation. If this does not occur, the kata and, by extension, the art die.

Having said that, there are a few points which I feel should clearly be observed with regard to kata interpretations.

First, with regard to published accounts of a kata, I agree with Ken to a point. There is a reason that editorials are named such in newspapers ... they represent opinions of the author which may or may not be supported by facts. With this in mind, an author has a responsibility to note whether the kata illustrated is a fair representation of one's own school (perhaps as approved by the current headmaster) or their own interpretation. This is not only polite, it is responsible journalism and/or historical writing. Failure to do this is at the very least, impolite and irresponsible and, at the worst, an unforgivable form of hubris.

Lest I start a inadvertent flame war, I want to be clear that I am not making specific comment regarding Pat McCarthy or <i>Classical Okinawan Karate</i>. First, I trust Joe's account of his conversation with Pat. Second, if memory serves, that book was one of Pat's earlier works ... this is a fact which should be taken into account. When starting out, we all make decisions we may later see differently under the light of experience. Anyone who has published a written or other public work knows precisely what I mean. In short, while he and I do not always see eye to eye, I think we should all cut Pat some slack.

Second, I want to be very clear that actively exploring varying kata interpretations should be left until after nidan or possibly even sandan. Development is difficult enough, and you will receive varying interpretations whether you seek them or not. However, students would be best served by following the instruction of their primary teacher <b>only</b> until at least those ranks. Not only is the polite, respectful thing for a student to do, it also allows the student to focus on developing a strong base. Without this base, exploring various kata interpretations is so much meaningless fluff because one has no clear frame of reference upon which to draw.

OK ... stepping down off of my soapbox. :)


Doug Daulton

PS: My heartfelt condolences go out to any reader whose life has been directly touched by the tragic events yesterday. Know that a nation mourns with you.

23rd September 2001, 01:29
If you go back to my first post detailing our Matsumura Orthodox Seisan please note that I failed to add lead leg outside blocks/strkes to steps 9,10 and 11. Sorry, just noticed it...

24th September 2001, 23:13
Chinese systems contain every type of punch imaginable including full twist, vertical, uppercuts, overhand right and left, and so forth.

I don't want to go into the various ways of punching, some have already done this. Whipping the punch or snapping it, does indeed add velocity and damage.

Original interpretations of kata.:-) We don't know too many of those, for certain, as the people who invented most of them didn't write books, with the exception of a few modern teachers like Nagamine Shoshin.

In Matsubayashi ryu schools, bunkai kata are taught usually, for each form, interestingly the bunkai kata for Fukyu gata ichi invented by Nagamine Shoshin, has as bunkai for the stepping punches, using the punch to block the opponent's attacks as you punch them, simultaneously.I suppose we could conclude these are original bunkai for that kata.

The others, we can say,. have some common applications that have been passed down through different lineages, but are often the same.

Then there are the Bubishi applications without accompanying kata, that can either be bolted on or seen as existing in the kata.

As for seisan, original apps would be hard to come by, as we don't
know who invented the kata in China, what style that still does it, if any, originated it.Some Chinese manuals exist showing kata applications, but we don't have everything.

What we do have is a number of theories, some incompatible with one another, that give ways of breaking down( bunkai suru)and analyzing the movements of a kata or katas, and deriving therefrom combat applications for various situations.'

These theories are more or less complete, and more or less accurate, and some are based on things actually passed down from Okinawan teachers, and Chinese ones, and Japanese ones, and some are made up, and some are combinations of both, and some, the result of years and decades of individual and group research.

Some, speaking of heresy, are better, and work better, for more people, than do others.Depending on various factors.

Factors including skill levels, style of movement, and physical attributes.According to one theory, when a technique works for about anyone, against nearly anyone whom you could expect anything at all to work, then its a good one.

Looking at the problem from a standpoint of styllistic and personal neutrality, scientifically, would be an interesting approach.What works, why, for whom, on whom?

The original meanings of kata techniques may be guessed at from observing the oldest possible combat manuals of East and West,but not certainly known absent a manual writen by the form's creator's , some of which, as in the cases of Shaolin Long Fist(created 1929 by Tsing Wu Institute) and the Yang Style Forms( created by Yang Ch'eng-Fu, who authored photographic and text manuals with applications) and by studying ancients scrolls and books of jiujitsu and chin na and so on, and Oriantela wrestling.I would suggest these would be prertty close if not exact.

But again, we do not know for sure. We don't know who created karate as we know it, if it isn't in fact just Okinawan chan fa,, which I believe it to be, so we don't know the original purpose of karate, no matter what anyone says.

I personally believe it just isn't as cut and dried as all that, I think different people used it for different purposes, even as they do today.

That too, is an opinion.

25th September 2001, 23:59
Mr. Rousselot,
Thank you for the compliment and thank you for also putting the point of view of your teacher concerning kata breakdowns and how to measure them, on here, so everyone can see it.

I think you are correct that most people who are smaller and weaker than one, do not usually attack one in any defensible manner.It is so easy to do a technique on a smaller, weaker or lesser skilled person, feel good about one's own ability, and have no concept of how to do it on a huge, fast, strong and determined assailant.

Such points as these that are made here, are not always taken into account by people, many of whom may be skilled martial artists themselves.One man that I knew, was a self defense instructor and a judoka, he went to the nearby Penitentiary and learned by trying his stuff on the Prison Guards.

He said, in this manner, he discovered what really worked and what didn't, and the guards did too.

I guess a lot of what is described as 'secrets' of martial arts is the application of what some call wisdom and others, common sense.

Anyway, as a result of what the individual told me, I always envision a bald, muscular, lightning fast, three hundred pound ex-con or football player as an attacker, to begin with, when analyzing possible meanings of kata maneuvers or looking to combine two or more movements from one or mnore karta to make an effective protection technique.

Also,as mentioned before, it is truly necessary to protect oneself during all phases of any such technique or encounter calling for the use of any such techniques.Otherwise,we win only at a cost, one we mostly wouldn't wish to pay.These thoughts, which to some seem obvious, as you well know, translate into some very definite methods in actual use.

Again, just some opinions,
And be well,

John Genjumin Vengel

Patrick McCarthy
26th September 2001, 11:59

Just found this thread, quite by accident. Be happy to respond if anyone wants me to :- ) Based on what I’ve read so far, there’s a couple of points I can comment on.

The name of the 1980’s era Ohara publication, “Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate,” (actually written in 1985) was the publisher’s idea. What is *Classical Kata* anyway? The kata presented in that book reflect the way they were taught to me by Richard Kim. I suspect (and I am guessing, based on what I now know about Mr. Kim’s background) that those versions were influenced by his understanding of Okinawan karate (according to him, he learned from Yabu Kentsu, Kinjo Hiroshi and others etc.) his desire to pass on a personal lineage and his close connection to Mr. Nishiyama (Shotokan).

Incidentally, the version illustrated in the said book is the Tomari version of Seisan taught to Mr. Kim by Okinawan karate master, Mr. Kinjo Hiroshi, a highly respected expert of the old ways and a leading historian. According to Mr. Kinjo it is most probably the same version Mr. Funakoshi learned from Iha Kotatsu, from which comes Hangetsu, used in Shotokan. I was just in Japan in July and spent a few days training with Mr. Kinjo during which time, in fact, we went through this kata. It’s still pretty much exactly the same as it appears in my first book. I guess that makes it *classical* enough for me. I will take Mr. Kinjo’s word over everyone else’s any day, unless of course someone has evidence to the contrary.

Mr. Häkkinen, where’d you ever get the idea it was “Aragaki Seisan”? Incidentally, RU the same Häkkinen from Mr. Jalamo's dojo in Turku, Finland?

If there are anymore questions or critique, I am happy to address them.


"There, in the middle of the journey of life I found myself astray in a dark woods where the straight road had been lost." Dante

Jussi Häkkinen
26th September 2001, 13:55
Mr McCarthy: Yes, same young person here as in Mr. Jalamo's seminar. However, I don't train karate at his dojo.

I supposed that the question was about Aragaki Seisan, since it's commonly connected to you. Seems like I made a mistake here (apologizes to all whom I did accidentally mislead).
Actual quote: "And ah, the version in Patrick McCarthy's book is supposedly Arakaki Seisan, which is a his own interpretation of Aragaki Seisho's Seisan-kata. The root for that is supposedly in Naha-seisan"...the question originally was about "Patrick McCarthy's book" without further specification, so that caused the mistake. I didn't think "Classical kata of Okinawan Karate" but instead of that thought it to be some other publication.

Hmm. Now we have 4 versions of Seisan here (Shuri, Tomari, Naha and Mr. McCarthy's Aragaki Seisan). The original question and request of Zach Zinn is covered pretty well, I think.