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Thread: Examining Kata

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    Default Examining Kata

    Dear Folks:

    I have been doing an on-going study on the manner in which Korean MA have developed and, because there is a better "paper-trail" through Okinawa I have been reviewing the manner in which materials were transmitted from Southern China to Japan through Okinawa.

    I mention this because I find myself coming back to the same three books over and over again and wonder if anyone has some thoughts about these. The goal is to identify the most representative kata proceeding from MATSUMURA Sokon through Itosu or Kyan.

    Now I know this is a little like comparing apples and oranges but all the same both of these gentlemen seem to have set the stage for the development of the lion's share of SHORIN practices such as SHOTOKAN and SHUDOKAN, yes?

    So far the sources that I am using are

    a.) CLASSICAL KATA OF OKINAWAN KARATE by Pat McCarthy

    b.) THE ESSENCE OF OKINAWAN KARATE-DO by NAGAMINE Shoshin

    c.) tHE ESSENCE OF BUJUTSU KARATE by USHIRO Kenji.

    Again, the challenge is to examine PRE-Shotokan and Shudokan practice.

    Thoughts?

    BTW: If anyone has a resource that they think would be particularly valuable your comments would be very much appreciated.

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

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    Exactly what was transmitted to Okinawa from Southern China?
    Ed Boyd

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    Default Goju Ryu from White Crane Kungfu of Fuchow

    I recall that Morio Higaonna's book on Goju Ryu history states that goju originates from white crane kungfu in Fuchow, Fukien province.
    (\__/)
    (='.'=)
    (")_(")

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    That is what they say.

    Why did they change it totally out of recognition?

    I may post some thoughts on this back at the homepage drawing on what was written by Miyagi Chojun and some deductive reasoning based on the few eye witness accounts that do exist.
    Last edited by CEB; 27th December 2006 at 16:42.
    Ed Boyd

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    Default Maybe kung fu changed?

    Per the book, katas are almost identical. Maybe its the kungfu that changed and not the goju ryu considering the mess that has been China in the last 150 years?
    (\__/)
    (='.'=)
    (")_(")

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    Unfortunately I am much out of my depth since it has been almost 25 years since I last trained in SHUDOKAN Karate and at that time I was not as interested in the originas as I was simply in the practice.

    What I have come to understand is that socio-political pressures of the Manchu Qing dynasty (1644-1911) caused considerable migration from northern locations to southern locations by elements sympathetic to the former Ming (1368-1644) regime. Associated with these relocations were a shift in emphasis from inter-relationships between physical technique and esoteric practices. The result, as I understand it, were (essentially) "stripped-down" southern versions of many northern traditions. What I mean by this is that the southern versions of such northern traditions as the Five Animals and the White Crane material cum "Lama Kung Fu" (sic) were denuded of exotic philosophical and alchemistic practices and simplified into purely combat training for use among pro-Ming resistance groups such as reputed to have centered on the Fujian province temples.

    Having said that, what I have found in my research is that a goodly number of folks from Okinawa traveled to Fujian on various occasions. For instance, UECHI Kanei is reported to have returned from this area to Okinawa with considerable skill in a hybrid art he termed "Pangainoon". Apparently this was an interface among White Crane, Dragon and Tiger Boxing skills (See: George Mattson). In like manner I suspect that MATSUMURA Sokon also may have traveled to Fujian as well as SAKUGAWA "Tode" and YARA Chatan. As I say I am pretty much out of my depth here and am quite sure others know better than do I.

    For me, the importance is studying the manner in which such materials are passed and influenced by the passage of materials from one culture through another. For instance, we know that Buddhism came to Japan through Paekshe (Korea) in the 8th century. What we don't know is how much influence the Korean culture made on what went from China through them to Japan. A viable question would be how different Buddhism might have been had it been transmitted directly to Japan from China--- or even India. The same might be said of Japanese sword, metalurgy, horsemanship and tactical methods. But I'll leave that for another thread.

    I the meantime the crux of my querie is to understand how Itosu and Kyan might have had the same teacher in Matsumura but developed specific modifications in their kata. Might they have been taught differently? Might they have targeted different populations to teach? Thoughts? Comments?

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

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    Mark Bishop, Okinawan Karate (1989) is worth a look. http://www.amazon.com/Okinawan-Karat.../dp/0804832056

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Svinth
    Mark Bishop, Okinawan Karate (1989) is worth a look. http://www.amazon.com/Okinawan-Karat.../dp/0804832056
    I second that as well.
    Tony Urena

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Svinth
    Mark Bishop, Okinawan Karate (1989) is worth a look. http://www.amazon.com/Okinawan-Karat.../dp/0804832056

    How would you compare this to UNANTE by John Sells (WM Hawley Library; 2000)? Thoughts?

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

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    I haven't read Sells' book, so I can't say.

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    I can't believe that the Bubishi hasn't been mentioned. It is a Chinese text that was taken directly to Okinawa. It includes White Crane techniques. Patrick McCarthy's version has a good history as well as the translation.
    Respectfully
    Mark W. Swarthout, Shodan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Margaret Lo
    Per the book, katas are almost identical. Maybe its the kungfu that changed and not the goju ryu considering the mess that has been China in the last 150 years?
    FYI Margaret,

    Read the thread on 'Ryukyu Kenpo Karatedo Enkaku Gaiyo' on the homepage.
    Ed Boyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwood
    I can't believe that the Bubishi hasn't been mentioned. It is a Chinese text that was taken directly to Okinawa. It includes White Crane techniques. Patrick McCarthy's version has a good history as well as the translation.
    I have McCarthy's book and it is a good effort. The issue comes in as to how historically authentic the work is. Please understand that this is not a slight at Mr. McCarthy's efforts. Far from it. Rather, the point I am making is that even the Chinese and the Okinawans cannot pin-down exactly what the BUBISHI is, where it came from or what its intended use might have been. Some have styled it a compilation of a number of student manuals. Others have speculated that it might have been various abstracts from a large work or series of works. Yet others have posited that it might have been the efforts of a single person to document as much material as he was made privey to in his MA career and passed on to another. Meaning no disrespect to any of the practitioners here, I must say IMHO the BUBISHI remains a kind of jig-saw piece in MA history which we have yet to find a comfortable place for. Thoughts?

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by glad2bhere
    I have McCarthy's book and it is a good effort. The issue comes in as to how historically authentic the work is. Please understand that this is not a slight at Mr. McCarthy's efforts. Far from it. Rather, the point I am making is that even the Chinese and the Okinawans cannot pin-down exactly what the BUBISHI is, where it came from or what its intended use might have been. Some have styled it a compilation of a number of student manuals. Others have speculated that it might have been various abstracts from a large work or series of works. Yet others have posited that it might have been the efforts of a single person to document as much material as he was made privey to in his MA career and passed on to another. Meaning no disrespect to any of the practitioners here, I must say IMHO the BUBISHI remains a kind of jig-saw piece in MA history which we have yet to find a comfortable place for. Thoughts?

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce
    It isn't a jigsaw piece. It is what it is. Too many people trying to make it into something it isn't. The book isn't going to teach you anything. But if you are taught the methods then in hind sight the book makes sense. The Patrick McCarthy book has some fun reading in it but the material isn't presented in chapter order which irked me a little when I tried compare what he had to say with my Bubishi and notes. Read it has some interesting stuff, mostly the NON- Bubishi material that was injected into the book.

    You are not gong to be able to pin down anything. That is the way it is.

    What is more important and accurate historical account or a fantastic tale to feed the fighting spirit. That is what you will run into.
    Ed Boyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by glad2bhere
    I have McCarthy's book and it is a good effort. The issue comes in as to how historically authentic the work is. Please understand that this is not a slight at Mr. McCarthy's efforts. Far from it. Rather, the point I am making is that even the Chinese and the Okinawans cannot pin-down exactly what the BUBISHI is, where it came from or what its intended use might have been. Some have styled it a compilation of a number of student manuals. Others have speculated that it might have been various abstracts from a large work or series of works. Yet others have posited that it might have been the efforts of a single person to document as much material as he was made privey to in his MA career and passed on to another. Meaning no disrespect to any of the practitioners here, I must say IMHO the BUBISHI remains a kind of jig-saw piece in MA history which we have yet to find a comfortable place for. Thoughts?

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce



    Bruce:

    You mentioned in an earlier post about Okinawans training in White Crane I beleive, isnt it the same thing? There is alot of speculation as to the White Crane training, but nothing positive as to who trained with whom. In a similar fashion Mr. McArthy's book may or may not be "the" bubishi that many of the Okinawan teachers are said to have posessed and used in development of their style. The fact is that it does exist and that even into the this century it is reported to have been used. That would make it reasonably available to someone like Mr. McArthy for translation.

    As to the differences of Itosu and Kyan and their relationship to Matsumura this is quite common. In modern times it has become so important that students learn it "in the original form" or "as it was taught originally" that any modifications by modern day teachers is frowned upon as not being original. The fact is that modification was and still is very common, just not openly admitted because of the stigma attached to it.

    One of the things I have found is that if you can get someone to tell the truth that modifications make perfect sense and fit within the confines of a style.

    I have stated this before, and people who know me get a bit tired of me telling this story but one of the most refreshing moments I have had in my research is when Fumio Demura told me that "he changed the kata" and told me why.

    Ryu Kyu Kobudo traces its lineage through Taira Shinken to Akamine. Fumio Demura trained with Taira Shinken. I trained with a student of Akamine. I found that there were some subtle differences between the Sushi no Kun that I did and what Demura sensei did. Through a sequence of unrelated events I found my self in his dojo one afternoon a few years back, and I was quite surprised to find him in his GI dealing with kids as I walked in the door. Over the next few hours while I was waiting for one of his students, we began to talk about kobudo and the differences. When I asked him about some of the specific differences between our kata he told me that he had changed them and why. One of the most outstanding differences is that he did not do a low back stance that Ryu Kyu Kobudo does. He explained that he did not do this stance in his style, that he found it hard on the knees and that for this reason he eliminated it.

    If we look closely at Shito Ryu (which is what he teaches) the absence of the low stance is one of the signifigant differences from some of the other traditional Japanese styles that were developing around the same time that Shito Ryu was. It made perfect sense for him to make a change here.

    The other fairly common change in application and technique is often due to body style, tall, short, thin, stocky....... or range of preferred fighting be it inclose, at a distance, or a combination of the two.

    Not much was ever written down about the specific developments of Okinawan Karate. Much of the discussions you see on forums like this are often based on "assumptions" I often ask people for a source of information when they make statements of truths and often I dont get a concrete answer other than "I chose to beleive that theory" .

    It is extremly difficult to nail down what did or did not actually happen. Books like the Bubishi by Mr. McArthy I agree should not be take verbatum, but at the same time if we look at the fact that he spent quite a few years doing research in Okinawa and that he has spoken to some fairly knowledgeable people and that he would have access to many of the documents and been able to talk to decendants of the old teachers, it is logical to assume that there would be a certain amount of creedance to his writings.

    Mr. McArthy would not know my name, or even recognize me most likely. I did however know him slightly many years ago in Canada. I have been to several of his seminars here in Canada and have had a similar discussion with him. I found a similar conclusion from him also. We will never know for sure, but by studying the culture, the conditions and talking to decendants we will most certainly come close. I am also aware that Mr. McArthy is on this forum and mean him no disrespect. I do give him credit where it is due.

    Change in the martial arts is enivitable. It is good... realize that change is a personal martial art is a good thing, changes made to an existing system are fine as long as we realize that we have changed it and that the definition of a style is held by its applications and philosophies. If you change Shorin Ryu,,,, you cant teach your changes as Shorin ryu. You can teach Shorin Ryu and within that teach your changes as yours, nothing more.

    Mike O'Leary

    PS: I remember working the "door"
    Old Dragon

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