View Full Version : Sakugawa Bo Kata's ?

24th September 2003, 05:02
Hello , I was wondering if anyone knows of anywhere I can find some footage of the Sakugawa Series from the Ryukyu Kobudo of Taira Shinken lineage ? Thanks in advance .

David Somers

Nathan Scott
24th September 2003, 07:13

My instructor, Obata Toshishiro Sensei, used to study a bit with Inoue Motokatsu Sensei, who was a student of Taira Shinken.

I compiled a little info about Inoue here:


Obata Sensei continues to teach the some of the bo forms under our Aiki-Buken group. Among them is Sakugawa no Sho, which is the only solo bo kata I remember now. I don't think we have this on video anywhere, but the version of Sakugawa no Sho we do is basically the same as that found in the book "Bo, Sai, Tonfa and Nunchaku - Ancient Martial Arts of the Ryukyu Islands" (Volume 1), by Gansho (Motokatsu) Inoue. Obata Sensei says that in the places cat stances are used, we can generally substitute a forward stance instead if we prefer. Don't know if this is SOP with Ryukyu groups, but that is our only liberty.

You are probably aware that there is a video of Taira Shinken that was produced a few years ago. I've got it, but don't recall what was shown on the video.


Nathan Scott
24th September 2003, 18:37
Hmmm, I was always curious about that. All the bojutsu of Obata Sensei is sharp and powerful, but very fluid, and this aspect typically is the one thing I notice as being different from most Ryukyu budo-ka. Most Ryukyu bojutsu and weapons I see emphasize very sharp movements, that tend to not be as fluid in transition as our approach.

We do move a little differently than how I see Taira Shinken move on video. But on the other hand, our movement feels very strong and natural.

The funny thing is that Obata Sensei was always very strict about not "changing" the kata. If we made mistakes, he would get upset and say "these are very old kata, so don't change anything"! He was open to adapting methods from other artforms as he saw fit, but felt very strongly about the Ryukyu kata and kumite being performed correctly. I suspect this attitude came from Inoue Sensei, which is interesting if Inoue's approach is different than Shinken's.

I've not really seen other versions of Sakugawa no Sho, so I'll look forward to seeing your MPEG.


25th September 2003, 04:19
Ken ,

When you say their different , do you mean in body mechanics , the embusen , or both ?


26th September 2003, 04:49
Ken ,

You're w/ The Tesshinkan right ? I used to train w/ one of their Shibucho , but their mechanics are a lil different from what I'm used to .


Nathan Scott
26th September 2003, 08:35
The bojutsu we do under Obata Sensei has TONS of hip. That is in fact almost the whole reason he chose to retain the bo curriculum (he used to teach a bit of tonfa, nunchaku, etc.), because the heavy hip twisting power was useful taisabaki for the other stuff we do.

I guess we'll have to see the movements at some point to have a better idea what we are all talking about.


26th September 2003, 15:11
Your link is to fellow e-budomite, fellow Canadian, fellow Vicorian, the one, the only

Robert Washington!

26th September 2003, 18:44
I originally learned some Kobudo from Buddies in Isshin Ryu , & move very similar to the way they do things in regards to my Kobudo .


27th September 2003, 14:49
Has anyone seen the Sakugawa Videos put out by Frank Hargrove ? If so , do you know if they are from the Taira Shinken lineage ? Also , does anyone know how close the Matayoshi Sakugawa is ? Obviously , the kihon is different , but I would like to find out about how close the pattern itself is .


Harry Cook
27th September 2003, 18:20
In my experience the Inoue approach makes use of strong and fluid hip motions. My understanding and knowledge of the Inoue approach comes primarily from Julian Mead who trained in Japan for a number of years as a member of Inoue sensei's dojo, but I have also trained with the current head master (Inoue's son) and a number of the seniors from the honbu dojo; they all stressed the use of the hip coupled with rapid footwork and fast controlled movements.
Harry Cook

27th September 2003, 18:30
I'm so jealous,

Sensei Richard Kim taught me Sakagawa no Sai but not any Sakagawa bo kata.

Until this topic, I didn't know about his bo work. :(

28th September 2003, 07:46
Thanks for the recognition - Arigatou Gozaimasu!
Yes Sensei Truscott, that is my site. I am happy to say that Shushi no Kon Sho has improved quite a bit since then. I have some access to a digital video camera, so I will try to get Sakugawa no Kon Sho up there - I am in some review right now. I will be re-building the site soon. Kikukawa sensei has decided to start up a renmei for Ryukyu Kobudo. I will be adding more video soon. I will come back and post a link then.
I'm so happy. I started up instructors course in Kobudo today after a little respite and maintenance. Back to work on Kanegawa no Tinbe, and Hama Higa no Sai review.

28th September 2003, 07:49
Ken where are you at and where do you train? email me if you like...

Nathan Scott
28th September 2003, 21:47
In my experience the Inoue approach makes use of strong and fluid hip motions.

... but I have also trained with the current head master (Inoue's son) and a number of the seniors from the honbu dojo; they all stressed the use of the hip coupled with rapid footwork and fast controlled movements.

Yep, that sounds spot on for us as well. Good to know. Some have accused us of performing the bojutsu with aikido influenced taisabaki, but while there are some things in common between the two arts, there are a number of things that aren't, and I've always taken some exception to this.

I've found the RKK bojutsu a lot of fun to practice, and quite beneficial for improving taisabaki. As I said, it feels very natural and powerful, IMHO.

BTW, Inoue's book also lists the following bo forms in the back:

Shuji (Sho)
Shuji (Dai)
Shuji (Koshiki)
Sakugawa (Sho)
Sakugawa (Chu)
Sakugawa (Dai)
Soeishi (Sho)
Soeishi (Dai)
Shirotaru (Sho)
Shirotaru (Dai)


As most of you may know, the Sho, Chu and Dai designations (according to Obata Sensei) indicate different lineages/variations of the same kata. Koshiki means "old version".


29th September 2003, 20:23
Sakugawa Chu?

Nathan Scott
29th September 2003, 21:22
Yeah, the "chu" designation is a bit odd looking, huh?

As you may know, "Dai, Chu, Sho" is a standard relationship in Japanese, meaning simply (and literally) "large, medium (middle), small".

In this case, I believe the dai/chu/sho is simply used in the same way as we would say in English something like "Kata A, Kata B, Kata C". I don't believe any intrinsic value was intended to be placed on the various versions, outside of perhaps "koshiki", which is probably considered to be the original version.

Obata Sensei appears to know about 4 of the bo kata, and both of the kumite (juppon and jugo). Shuji no Sho and Sakugawa no Sho he teaches to the general membership, but there is a kata that only he knows, and another one that he only taught to his eldest son.

I'm surprised that more is not known about the Inoue line, since he seemed to have a pretty big following in Japan.

BTW, perhaps I should mention that the kanji for each of the above kata I listed are actually written as:

Sakugawa no Kata (Sho)
Sakugawa no Kata (Chu)
etc, etc.

{Ah, I better just list them again}

1. Shuji no Kata (Sho)
2. Shuji no Kata (Dai)
3. Shuji no Kata (Koshiki)
4. Sakugawa no Kata (Sho)
5. Sakugawa no Kata (Chu)
6. Sakugawa no Kata (Dai)
7. Soeishi no Kata (Sho)
8. Soeishi no Kata (Dai)
9. Sueyoshi no Kata
10. Urasoe no Kata
11. Sesoko no Kata
12. Kongo no Kata
13. Shirotaru no Kata (Sho)
14. Shirotaru no Kata (Dai)
15. Chatanyara no Kata
16. Yonekawa no Kata
17. Tsukenbo
18. Shoun no Bo
19. Chinenshichanaka no Kata
20. Tsukensunakake no Kata
21. Sanjakubo
22. Kyushakubo

I figured that the full names were already known among ya'll, but just in case, this is the formal nomenclature that is used in Inoue's book. A couple of interesting things is, the kanji for "sanjakubo" refers to the use of a three foot (shaku) staff, and the "kyushakubo" refers to the use of a 9 foot (shaku) staff. Interesting.


30th September 2003, 08:45
A couple of interesting things is, the kanji for "sanjakubo" refers to the use of a three foot (shaku) staff, and the "kyushakubo" refers to the use of a 9 foot (shaku) staff. Interesting.

You can find the corresponding Kata for Sanshaku (I know he wrote it different, but that's the way the Kanji read, I think) and Kyushaku-bo in the Ryukyu Kobudo Chukan or Gekan (don't remember right now which one) from 1974, written by Inoue Motokatsu. But they are hard to find. I think Shureido in Tokyo only has the Jokan Volume.

Seems that those three volumes were somewhat a continuation of Taira's Ryukyu Kobudo Taikan - the latter was only the first part of a series planned (but never finished) by Taira.

Among many others, also Higa Yuchoku was a contributor to the Ryukyu Kobudo J-Ch-Gekan volumes. Higa is said to have been asked by Taira to help him incorporate hip-action or "gamanku" in Ryukyu Kobudo.

I have heard the expert word that without hip-action one may be able to do 100 Kata, but they would never be correct or good.


Andreas Quast

Harry Cook
30th September 2003, 10:14
I have the three volumes and have heard the same story re Taira and hip action being introduced by Higa. However this raises a couple of interesting questions
1. Was there little or no use of the hips pre-Taira in Okinawan weapons?
2. Were these pre-Taira forms not really effective? (ie. "I have heard the expert word that without hip-action one may be able to do 100 Kata, but they would never be correct or good.")
Harry Cook

30th September 2003, 10:57
I haven't seen a video of Taira himself until now... however, what I understood was that Taira wasn't able to incorporate hip-action just as he wanted to, simply because of an injury he got when working at a sulfur mine in his younger days. This is said to have been the cause he wasn't able to perform hip-action as he wanted. As it is said, that Taira wanted to have hip-action (re?)incorporated, I would suggest that it wasn't his idea and that it actually has been there before.

For example, if there wasn't hip-action originally in Sakugawa no Kun, there wouldn't have been hip-action in Sakugawa no Kusanku also; and I wouldn't think so :)

Also, it would be really a hard conditiong to prevent oneself from using the hip anyway, at least after some years of training.

There is also one more interesting difference between practitioners: Some movements

- like the Jdan Kamae - Gedan Kamae - Gedan Nuki-tsuki combination in Shshi no Kun -

are done by some in a lean-back-zenkutsu-dachi, while others do it in a Kokutsu-like stance (or Shiko-dachi allowing hip-movement).

It is a far fetched idea, but maybe that was also simply due to Taira's leg or ankle injury (???).

30th September 2003, 16:41
We use the hips in our system, which is of Taira lineage...

30th September 2003, 19:24
He demanded it from his students...

5th October 2003, 03:40
So lemme get back to my original question . Does anyone know where I can find footage of The Sakugawa Series Bo Kata's as taught in the Taira Shinken lineage ? Also , has anyone seen the Sakugawa videos put out by Frank Hargrove , if so do they follow the same embusen , as the Taira Shinken lineage ?


5th October 2003, 09:33
Hello David,

Inoue Motokatsu has something:

- Ten no Maki 1: B, Sai, Tonfa and Nunchaku. Ancient Martial Arts of the Ryky Islands. Seitosha, Tokyo 1987 (Japanese/English).

Note: In it is Sakugawa no Kun Sh. This book is a compilation of earlier works done around 1976, when all parts like B, Sai and so on were individual editions.

I wasn't able to find the compilation "Ten no Maki 1" for sale on the net.

You can only find some of that individual editions at antiqarian websites. You may try http://www.sfb.at/, use the "Switch to English" button on the upper right, write Inoue Motokatsu as "Keyword" and start search. There are soem of the Bo editions, some are expensive, but at least one is around 30 Dollar. I do not have that individual edition, but there is a high possibility that Sakaguawa no Kun Sh is in it also.

- In "Ryukyu Kobudo Jkan" (First of three Volumes) by Inoue Motokatsu (1974) are found Sakugawa no Kun Sh and Dai (only Japanese). In "Ryukyu Kobudo Gekan" (Third and last of three Volumes) is found Sakugawa no Kun Ch (only Japanese). At Shureido (http://www.nebulas.com/shureido/)
the have only the Jkan edition. The Chkan and Gekan editions are very hard to find, I think. Maybe others are able to help.

Although of Taira lineage, there are maybe some differences to other Taira lineages (like Sakagami Ryusho), for example in some stances or details of the techniques.

Good luck :cool:

5th October 2003, 13:25
Thanks for the reply , but I'm looking for video footage , do you know of any ?


5th October 2003, 14:14
I think on the "1997 Karate Kobudo World Tournament" Video should be Sakugawa no Kun Dai. I haven't seen it... I have no Video :eek: