Bunkai/Hidden techniques - Split from "How Do I Quit"

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by lklawson, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    Which is why I hold Iain Abernethy in such high esteem and wish that he would visit Australia more regularly!
     
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  2. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    That addresses your reply to my post. What I would like to do is look at an issue you raised in another post.

    i think the bunkai shown in the applications you linked is typical of the schoolboy interpretation we all grew up with. Kata does not address multiple atackers with choreographed moves. Any bunkai starts with an aggressive move, either from us or our opponent and from that point onwards the attacker doesn't have to do any move to enable the bunkai to proceed.

    But to address the issue of travelling distance in the kata. If, for example, the kata has three steps forward, that means that we start right foot forward, step forward left and again with the right. But, it could also mean we just change feet. It might mean that we step forward right, step back which gives us left, then forward again right. Now our three steps have just moved us one step. Just a thought. :asian:
     
  3. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I like this way of thinking. Although I'm not a Karate practitioner, I apply the same approach to my training. I believe it leads to a deeper understanding of how to apply the movements. When we take movements from forms and practice them in two-man drills, we always "mess with them" like this.
     
  4. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    What is often forgotten in these discussions is that kata are a mnuemonic device. For example, "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally". What does that mean? For many of us, we remember after all these years that it was taught to us as school children to remember the order of operations in math. Without that context the mnuemonic device means nothing and does nothing for us. We could spend endless hours on the ettiquette rules that it shows us on how to properly address our elder relatives and we would all miss the point.

    Kata is the same way. Until the advent of picture books, labels were not given to the techniques. For example, the movement of an upward/rising block. Just by calling it an upward/rising block we have given it's function and now try to find out how to use the "block" in that sequence. We may rule out that it's not even a block but a forearm strike under the chin. The kata gives us both examples in it by reminding us of the motion, so that we can train multiple applications with one set of movements. That is why there is the big push (in okinawan karate) to not change kata. If I change the kata to fit a certain application, I have lost the other applications contained in that movement.

    Going back to kata and multiple steps in one direction. It doesn't necessarily mean that the whole sequence is to be taught all together to one attacker all at once. In many cases it can mean different attack scenarios with similar variables based on attacker's positioning or attack (right vs. left). Even in some katas, angles were changed to accomodate the space available. For example, Sanchin kata used to be just moving foward and then get to the end of the dojo and turn around and go back. It wasn't until later that the number of steps were added and then things were put so you started and ended in the same spot, why? So everyone wouldn't run into each other.

    Also, we need to understand that up more recent times (around WW2 era) that one kata was considered a complete fighting system so it would contain LOTS of information to be contained within it and not just "an application", it would be multiple applications all very similiar to the movements. So you may find things in the kata to train your body to move in a certain way that don't have an EXACT combat application but train something important for combat, for example 90 and 180 degree turns, or movements built into them to promote health/fitness. Isometric moves in Seisan kata anyone? Or going very slowly in a kata to highlight an aspect, which we know wouldn't be performed that way in a fight.

    So, we need to acknowledge that without being told the specific purpose of what the specifc creator of the kata intended, we are guessing at straws. As far as the empty hand katas containing weapons techniques, I don't agree with that, if you mean attacking with a weapon and not defending against one. The reason is that Okinawa had a very rich Kobudo history and almost all of the early karate masters taught weapons seperately even though that didn't get passed down. It doesn't make sense that they would teach staff techniques and how to use a staff along with basics, drills and sometimes kata and then tell a student that they way to really use the bo is hidden in their empty hand kata. That being said, I think that there are some personal weapons that were used in kata that aren't talked about. For example, I used the example of Chotoku Kyan talking about using the Jiffa (hair pin) in Kusanku. Kyan also talked about using the cloth headwrap with a rock in it to strike an opponent. So, if a kata was a whole system it would make sense that once in awhile you would have that mnuemonic device to remind you of that fact, but it would also mean that there were other uses for that movement and it wasn't exclusive.
     
  5. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    He's a super nice guy and has been generous in not only letting me post my republished old school boxing books on his forum but even gave a recommendation for my Banned from Boxing book in one of his articles.

    Class Act.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  6. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Sorry, in my last post I mixed a phrase (which I hate) and didn't catch it until too late.

    I was typing and was debating between just saying "we are guessing" and "we are just grasping at straws". I have no idea what guessing at straws is....LOL
     
  7. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

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    Punisher wrote:

    There are scores of hours of video online of aikido usage, jujutsu usage, kali usage, boxing usage, actual video of the way the movements are used with two persons. And there are scores of examples of kata application online.

    From all that available bunkai online for karate application, are you aware of any video that shows what you are describing?

    Again, the issue at present (I have others) is that kata sequences of several movements forward (steps/shuffles/jumps) that cover several or more feet, often don't translate to actual fighting because the attacker is in the way of the forward movement. Now he can retreat. And some Okinawan systems practice application that uses a retreating attacker. However some of the ways Okinawans practice bunkai where attackers retreat does not map to the actual ways in which humans fight. There are several systems that practice applications where the attacker retreats, a step at a time, striking with each step. Humans don't fight this way.

    Here's a sequence from Kusanku in Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu. (1:50 to 1:55), and another from Pinan Shodan in Shidokan :)05 to :08)

    There are quite a number of these four step sequences in the Pinan. And throughout the kata there a variety of sequences in a single direction that cover quite a bit of ground, enough ground that would require either the attacker to retreat, if not, the technique would cause the defender to run his body into the attacker before completing the sequence.

    Consequently, those who practice bunkai for these sequences have had to adapt them. A good place to look at examples of these kinds of adaptations is in the Higoanna videos from the 1980s.

    For example in his suparenpei bunkai video, Higaonna performs the movement in the kata at :56. But he leaves off a step and block that precede it. I believe Higaonna reveals the fundamental challenge of doing this forward jumping kick to a target at arm's length, in his performance of the kick. At 1:10, he moves his left foot, which in the kata is in front of his right foot, back well behind his right foot. This is just not the way the movement is done in the kata. It's clear to me that this is an adaption for an attacker at arm's distance.

    A better example of this truncation is found in Higaonna's Sanseru bunkai video. If you look at the way the actual movement is performed in kata, :)21 to 27) you can see that the movement where the two open hands thrust downward is done with the right foot forward. Then there are two stepping kicks forward. In the bunkai video, beginning at :01, the left foot is forward with both hands down. One kick is eliminated from the application.

    We can see this "truncating" again in the Sesan bunkai video. In the kata video, there is a left hand thrust at :33, and it is followed by a big shuffle forward. In the bunkai video, at 1:15 he begins an angular retreat, and has no shuffle forward prior to the triple strike.

    The kata Seipei has a long opening sequence forward. :)01 to :17). In the bunkai video, this was broken down into defenses against three separate attacks. The first defense has a single counter, a spear hand to the abdomen. The second, has an escape from a grab followed be a single elbow to the abdomen, the third technique has two counters. The last two movements of the sequence are left unaddressed.

    My purpose here is not to be critical of Higaonna's movements. It's only to point out the challenges of adapting sequences of forward movements to empty hand fighting where the opponent is at arm's length, and likely not retreating.

    These sequences forward that cover distance happen throughout the kata. Many kata are sets of movements that don't cover much ground combined with those that cover more ground. There are the side-to-side sequences, and the forward sequences.

    I have listed below, a number of sequences from a range of Okinawan kata where the number of steps shuffles and jumps forward would put the defender past the initial position of the attacker.

    Unsu (2:18 to 2:36)
    Oyadomari Passai :)45 to :49)
    Wankan :)18 to :24)
    Kusanku :)38 to :45, 1:25 to 1:30, 1:37 to 1:41)
    Naihanchi Nidan :)06 to :13)
    Wansu :)10 to :18, 34 to :37)
    Gojushiho :)30 to :36)
    Chinto :)32 to :39, :42 to :54, 1:01 to 1:07)
    Jion :)23 to :28, :37 to :51, 1:01 to 1:10, 1:17 to 1:24)
    Chinte (1:10 to 1:16, 1:18 to 1:27, 1:50 to 1:56)
    Jitte :)23 to :24)
    Matsumura Passai :)22 to :29)
    Koryu Passai :)15 to :19)
    Ananko :)36 to :43)
    Anan (7:43 to 7:50, 8:02 to 8:06)
    Pachu (3:56 to 4:00)

    Now one can argue that in these sequences, that they were never designed to be done against a single individual. Or that they were designed to be deconstructed and reassembled in sequences that were more stationary.

    That is one way of looking at these movements. Another would be to wonder why they shouldn't be designed to be used as they appear in the kata, as they are practiced, in the kata.

    And from that frame of reference, if they really don't work all that well against an opponent at arm's length, one could then speculate why were they taught in the first place.

    My question remains.

    Why did Chinese military authorities, tasked with the defense of Investiture missions to Okinawa choose to teach these Okinawans the Kaishu (open hand) kata that have survived until today?

    Were they concerned that the Okinawans, who couldn't carry swords, needed to be able to defend themselves on the rough and tumble streets of Naha, Shuri and Tomari?

    The answer to that, in my opinion, lies in the kata. For those that think they can argue successfully that the kata were indeed designed for empty hand fighting, perhaps they could provide evidence to support their case.

    Please, post some links to youtube videos that support your ideas. Any of the sequences from the list I have provided above might be a good place to start.

    One last point. I am not arguing, and have never argued that there aren't movements, and sequences of movements in kata, that don't lend themselves quite efficiently, to empty hand fighting. Armed kali movements translate into empty hand kali. Koryu sword movements translate into locks and throws in Aiki and Jujutsu arts. The Chinese art of Xing Yi Quan, is said to be a "martial art based on the combat principles of the spear." There are commonalities in the movements if Taichi empty hand, sword and staff. My arguments that military arts may have been the basis for empty hand arts is based, in part, on the fact that this is common across a number of martial arts.

    This doesn't make the empty hand art weak, or deficient. In my view it is empowering. It ties movements back to the days when men's lives utterly depended on their skill with a weapon, skill developed from intense training over many years. The ability to propel something in your hands strengthens and hones your ability to propel your hands when not holding a weapon.

    I find karate to be an extraordinary training tool for strengthening, developing agility, and providing a broad set of good fighting skills. I am not bashing karate when I evaluate the kata and find some movements lacking for self defense. I am celebrating the art. I no longer have to ask "why, why are there so many kata movements that don't map to fighting." They all do, every one of them. And the added bonus is that quite a number of them map quite effectively to empty hand fighting.

    So I have two requests. One, if posters here want to go on criticizing my statement that we should consider the potential that these movements can effectively propel a polearm, I ask for evidence to support your claims that kata were designed for empty hand fighting. There are a number of links/times above. Please consider taking the time to provide some evidence. I, and so many others, have been searching for a long time. Let us know where we can find it. (But please, don't refer us to a couple of people who charge for their recently developed applications)

    My second request is that I again invite those that may be frustrated by what they have seen with bunkai and application to post a link to what you find perplexing. I might be able to help point to a different view of the kata, one that others just might find interesting, rewarding, and worth the effort.
     
  8. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    I will post one link that I found that shows some aspects of what I am saying.

    http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/taira-sensei-demonstrating-bunkai-seipai-kata

    Not surprising that it is the site of the man who singlehandly change my understanding of kata many years ago and features the man whom I now consider my Master and whom I have spent many hours training under both in Australia and overseas. I am thinking that these are the people you are referring to when you say "please don't refer us to a couple of people who charge for their recently developed applications." Both of these men have devoted their lives to their work and I have no hesitation in paying for their knowledge.

    And, yes I am frustrated by my lack of understanding of certain techniques in kata, but I'm working on those and with the help of like minded people I'm sure we will come up with reasonable, testable and practical applications in due course. :asian:
     
  9. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Again, you are making the mistake that kata is a LITERAL translation of an exact sequence. Reread my whole post. Kata is a mnuemonic device, a REMINDER of the lessons that you learned. It is the motion that is important. There are MULTIPLE applications (each one slightly) different contained in the kata. Some of them will need adjustments depending on the circumstance, but if you taught a kata with EVERY "what if" or consideration they would be ungodly long to remember or train each one.

    As to some of the kicks. Okinwan kicks used to NOT extend past the end of your punch when being used in conjunction (low level knee attacks etc.) When you see a long front kick like that followed by a punch, the kata has been altered for the japanese sport style sparring approach. Lower those kicks to the knee and you will find most don't need adjustments.
     
  10. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    And just to elaborate. The kick is not necessarily a 'kick'. At close range it becomes a knee, a takedown or even a means of relocating your attacker's feet to destabilise.

    And, you are so correct in highlighting the difference in focus between the Japanese and Okinawan kicks. :asian:
     
  11. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Correct, I was pressed for time and didn't elaborate too much. But, it goes back to the mnuemonic device thing. When you step, it could be all of those things whether I am in close or the attacker is just a little bit farther away etc.

    Same with the arm movements, the reverse motion, the chambering motion, the return motion etc. are all parts of techniques that have other applications. Not to even get into talking about enlarging your motion or tightening your motion to change between offensive and defensive movements in kata.

    Here is another problem I have with the karate katas are for weapons training. I have not heard of any chinese system saying that their empty handed sets/forms are really designed to teach weapons fighting and that those applications were somehow lost/hidden. They were always seperate. Now that does NOT mean that you won't find systems that integrate their weapons training to match the concepts of their empty hands (Wing Chun) or integrated their empty hand fighting to match their weapon training (Filipino MA's). But, to me, this is different than claiming that the karate katas somehow never knew that their motions was for weapons training and disguised as empty hand forms.

    I would strongly suggest if anyone wants a good understanding of how kata is/was designed and how it was to be used. Read "The Way of Kata" by Kane and Wilder. The examples are from Goju-Ryu, but their analysis and breakdown applies to all okinawan systems.

    I would also point out that any theory of lost/hidden stuff from a japanese karate standpoint, is fairly obvious from those who's lineage stem from the Funakoshi/Shotokan line. Funakoshi took out many things and altered many other things for the japanese audience. For example, when comparing Shuri-style Wansu with Shotokan's Empi. Wansu shows a student how to do a fireman's carry throw in it (Kata Guruma), but Empi has a jumping/spinning move in it's place. Of course now the sequence has been altered and lost so you are now looking at a missing piece that doesn't make sense at all.

    Go to about the 55 second mark for Shotokan's Enpi


    Now look at the older version from Chotoku Kyan's lineage. Go to about the 35 second mark, and it is the same move.


    I think this alteration from okinawan karate to japanese karate is where many things were lost and we got the block/kick/punch applications, and theories abounding as to what the applications were supposed to be. Step one: Close your distance
     
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  12. chinto

    chinto Senior Master

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    I agree, as a student of Okinawan Karate I see a lot of holes in the shotokan kata compared to the okinawan kata of the same name or type. I think this was done by Funikoshi to differentiate it from Jujitsu more clearly to the Japanese people who were completely unfamiliar with Karate.
    That is Not to say the Japanese Karate systems are not good, but just different. I myself much prefer the Okinawan Originals to the Japanese modified versions for myself. They fit me better, but I do know some Shotokan people who much prefer and are better fitted by shotokan and such. all karate is good karate in general.. just a different take on it... once again in general. there are exceptions to every rule.
     
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  13. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

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    K-Man wrote:

    I put together this graphic in powerpoint and exported to jpg. Over the next couple of weeks I will redo it in Visio where I can do it better. I will have an additional document that lists the sources for each connection.

    I believe this information is not consistent with your statement above.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    Not at all. It is exactly as I said.

    Let's look at these in order.

    Wansu
    No mention of Chinese military.

    RuRu Ko
    Not military and not in Okinawa.

    Wai Shinzan
    What is a 'military arts executive'?

    Ason
    Can't find any reference to 'military' and he was in Tomari.

    Kusanku
    Matsumura was taught by Chinto, a trader.

    Iwah

    Good luck finding much on this guy. Military? Probably, I did find one reference as military 'envoy', but no suggestion he taught weapons.

    Castaway (Chinto)
    Military? Very doubtful. Weapons? No mention.
    No mention of weapons even though Mutsumura and Higaonna had learned weapons in China along with their Gung fu.

    Little doubt Kenpo was open hand and was the basis of karate. Weapons were taught, but separately.

    So what exactly did I say?

    Maybe I should have qualified Chinese military. Organised military no, individual military in a private capacity, perhaps.

    How is that in terms of what you claim? Out of seven teachers maybe two or three were attached to the military and they only taught a handful of Okinawans. Hardly a militia capable of protecting a fleet of ships and no mention anywhere of them teaching weapons. Even though two or three of these men may have been soldiers (they may have just been military in administrative positions as envoys) there is no evidence of large scale military instruction.

    And finally, it depends on what you consider empty hand kata to be. I believe that, in China and transmitted to Okinawa, the kata were fighting systems. They only work as a fighting system when you have direct physical control of your opponent. When you introduce weapons the scenario changes. Weapons by their very nature are at arms length. Knives are closer range than sword or bo, spears longer again. You cannot have a predicted response so a weapon kata as such becomes a training system rather than a fighting system. There are weapon kata and there are open hand kata. You may be able to adapt an open hand kata to work with weapons but not without changing a lot of the kata. Why would you bother? :asian:
     
  15. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Agreed about the military idea. It was not like we see in the US, where we send instructors and groups over for the SOLE purpose of training foreign military people from the ground up in certain ways of doing things.

    Also, agree that "Yes" there are movements in the katas that if you had a weapon in your hand would still work fairly well for striking. But, that is far different than it being a tool to properly train/strategize/implement a weapon. I am reminded of the movie, "The Little Mermaid" when people start finding certain ideas of what the katas are for.



    I think there are too many kata "dinglehoppers" out there.
     
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  16. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

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    In support of my contention that longer forward sequences in kata don't appear to be all that well suited for empty hand fighting, I posted the following links to a range of kata across a number of systems. I am interested in seeing the evidence that these sequences do map well to empty hand fighting.

    Unsu (2:18 to 2:36)
    Oyadomari Passai :)45 to :49)
    Wankan :)18 to :24)
    Kusanku :)38 to :45, 1:25 to 1:30, 1:37 to 1:41)
    Naihanchi Nidan :)06 to :13)
    Wansu :)10 to :18, 34 to :37)
    Gojushiho :)30 to :36)
    Chinto :)32 to :39, :42 to :54, 1:01 to 1:07)
    Jion :)23 to :28, :37 to :51, 1:01 to 1:10, 1:17 to 1:24)
    Chinte (1:10 to 1:16, 1:18 to 1:27, 1:50 to 1:56)
    Jitte :)23 to :24)
    Matsumura Passai :)22 to :29)
    Koryu Passai :)15 to :19)
    Ananko :)36 to :43)
    Anan (7:43 to 7:50, 8:02 to 8:06)
    Pachu (3:56 to 4:00)

    K Man replied:

    I would be most grateful if anyone could provide two videos of any Okinawan kata, especially ones from this list, one of the "kihon" kata and one of the "advanced form".

    I am also interested in any responses from any non-Goju students. Are there, in your schools, kihon and advanced versions of kata? Did any of Kyan's students, or Itosu's students, or Hohan Soken, provide kihon versions and advanced versions of the kata that have been handed down. Are they done in less widespread systems like Uechi Ryu, Ryuei Ryu, Genseiryu, or Bugeikan?

    I was not aware that Higaonna or Miyagi passed down two (or more) versions of each kata, one basic, the other advanced. I have not seen that in any literature, nor seen that in the several Goju dojos I have been in, nor heard that Mabuni, who trained with Higaonna as well as Miyagi, taught multiple versions of kata. I would be most interested to learn if this practice is done in more than one of the systems of Miyagi's students (Higa, Yagi, Miyazato, Toguchi, Yamaguchi), as well as in Toon Ryu, which also descends from Higaonna.

    I would be grateful to K Man for links to one Goju kata (please not Gekkisai or Tensho) in both kihon and advanced versions.

    Update, I think this is getting very off-thread, so I have reposted this to another thread. Please post any responses on the new thread.
     
  17. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Again, this is a misunderstanding of the kata when you say an "advanced" version of the kata or a "basic" version of the kata. The kata will not appear to change (not referring to the refinement as a student advances) it is the application and understanding of the movements that change so there aren't multiple versions of the same kata that a student is learning. Why? There are at LEAST three applications for every sequence in a kata. There is no "only" application to them. When referring to "kihon" or fundamental/foundation/basic applications, those are the movements that appear very plain on the surface and only take into account striking aspects and not really the grappling aspects.


    Here is advanced bunkai for some Goju-Ryu katas:


    I only looked at a couple of the clips you listed (Wansu and Kusanku). Again, it comes back to the assumption that the whole string is one long continuous single attack and it is not. Notice in that first section of Wansu, there is the downblock followed by the punch, and then a step forward and then movements done very slowly. This type of thing denotes a seperation of ideas, much like a comma does. The slow moving parts usually denote joint/locking aspects of the art. In the case of this video we see the hand come back across to the head/face on the opposite side and then a punch with the other hand. If you look at other versions, that is not a punch but actually a groin grab. So here we see an example of a technique being hidden in plain sight as to the other applications. The older style okinawan katas had more open hands in them to denote grabbing/tearing motions and then were changed to closed hands (horizontal punches) when taught to the general public.

    In the part about kusanku, one of the things that it teaches is how to fight at night. The series of steps and "knifehands" aren't strikes at all, but moving forward to find your attacker in the dark. You will also notice many dropping movements in the kata to obscure yourself. In the Isshin-Ryu version, they even highlighted some of the ideas more and included a heel stomp to distract your attacker from your true position.

    When you look at Naha based styles (Goju, To'on, Uechi and I would even include Isshin in this analysis) they stayed closer to the source material than the Shuri (Shorin ryu) styles. Itosu admits that he altered the kata for school children to make it less dangerous. Funakoshi admits that he further altered the kata as well. One of the big differences that you see between Naha and Shuri styles is the amount of open hands. Most of the Shuri styles closed alot of the hands and are shown as punches now. This is one reason why I included Isshin-Ryu in with Naha styles, Tatsuo Shimabuku trained with both Miyagi and Kyan and while utilizing many Shuri katas, he reopened alot of the hand strikes to illustrate certain areas of grabbing and such.123
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014

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