Favorite Kata of Famous Sensei

Discussion in 'Karate' started by dancingalone, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I'm always interested in knowing what techniques and kata the older masters favored. Can anyone correct or add to to this list?

    KYAN Chotoku - Passai
    NAGAMINE Shosin - Wankan, Wanshu
    MOTOBU Choki - Naihanchi
    FUNAKOSHI Gichin - Kusanku/Kwanku Dai (Not certain on this one, but reportedly he demoed it a lot in his early Japan days when he was trying to grow karate)
    OYAMA Mas - Tensho
    OTSUKA Honori - Naihanchi
    SHIMABUKURO Zenpo - Kusanku
    MIYAGI Chojun - Shisochin, reportedly he disliked Sanseiru, and he created Tensho, unknown if we should infer that he favored Tensho or not
    HIGA Seiko - Tensho and Kururunfa
    TOGUCHI Seikichi - Seipai
    SHINJO Masanobu - Suparinpei
     
  2. seasoned

    seasoned Grandmaster Staff Member

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    Just a comment.
    I to am interested in the Kata's of old, and who favored what. While doing some of the above kata, I consider the older masters body type along with the names and what the names mean, in regard to the kata. I feel there is much insight to be gained into kata practice, with this in mind.
     
  3. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I've pondered that frequently myself. Of course I am a giant compared to most of the old masters, as you likely are.

    What does this mean for us? Is big person karate the same as small person karate? There's a lot of navel contemplation possible there.
     
  4. seasoned

    seasoned Grandmaster Staff Member

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    You are most correct. There are disadvantages, but we do the best we can. :) I do have a picture in one of by albums of Shinjo Masanobu seasei and myself, and the difference is very operant, but once on the floor, his power more then makes up for any doubt.
     
  5. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    This is correct. Kanku Dai/Kwanku was his favourite kata and the kata that all the hein katas are based on. Originally named Kusanku after one of his dear friends who reportedly brought the kata to Okinawa. As far as I recall anyway. been a little while since I read Gichin's book.
     
  6. twendkata71

    twendkata71 Black Belt

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    That is impossible, since Kusanku was on Okinawa about 100 years before Funakoshi. They could not have been friends.
     
  7. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    replace friend with idol/man he respected then.

    i remember he thought a lot of him, presumed it was that they were friends. obviously not :)

    as said its been a while since i've read about it, memories a bit muddled.
     
  8. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    So Miyagi Sensei's favorite kata was not Sanchin?
     
  9. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Apparently not, going by personal preference. Sanchin's not my favorite either - but it may be the most important kata.
     
  10. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    What is your favorite kata?
     
  11. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Goju-ryu - Kururunfa
    Matsubayashi-ryu - Rohai, but sometimes I get on a Passai kick
     
  12. chinto

    chinto Senior Master

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    actually about 150 years before Funakoshi.
     
  13. chinto

    chinto Senior Master

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    please note that the passai in question is the tamrai not the shuri te version for Kyan Chotoku Sensei. the Tamari version is very different then the shuri version of that kata.
     
  14. Black Belt Jedi

    Black Belt Jedi Blue Belt

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    The masters of old, had one or two favourite katas. The saying goes, "Three years, one kata." They spent so much time focusing on the bunkai for these templates. I remember reading an article by Iain Abernethy on Naihanchi (at least I believe it was that article) claiming that Motobu's favourite kata was Naihanchi, in addition he also favoured Kushanku, Chinto and Passai katas.

    For me, I don't prefer learning so many kata because I find it too overwhelming for me to retain everything. I try to study on bunkai for at least my favourite katas. Holding a black belt in Goju-ryu, I have learned Kobudo and supplementary (foreign) katas, and I felt that I should slow down in learning new katas since Martial Arts is a lifetime of study.
     
  15. TimoS

    TimoS Master of Arts

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    :-offtopic but IMHO the Pinan/Heian kata are partially formed from Kusanku kata, but there are elements from other kata also. If I remember correctly the Pinan and Kusanku correctly, elements from e.g. Jion and (maybe) Chinto are included in them also.
     
  16. OldKarateGuy

    OldKarateGuy Green Belt

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    I believe that most historians of karate would suggest that Itosu created the Heian kata (undoubtely with some assistance, but his is the name usually associated with the Pinan/Heian kata). Supposedly, he based them on a form now lost, called Chai Nang or Channan. Itosu stripped some of the more dangerous technques from this older form, since the Heian (Pinan) forms were actually intended for teaching in the Okinawan public schools. He obviously added content, since it's hard to believe that a single kata contained 5 Heian forms within.
    Kanku (Kushanku) is supposedly named for a historical figure from the 17th Century, an emissary from China to Okinawa, and a military man with experience in the MA. That this man - alternately Ku Shanku or Kong Sung Kung or other similar names - existed and visited Okinawa I think is a matter of historical record. Whether he really taught this form in some form to the Okinawan MA, etc, is another one of those "who knows?" now. Kanku, Bassai, and the Heian forms obviously all share some common ancestry. Whether this is Chinese or Okinawan influence, again, who really knows?
    Kanazawa (SKI founder) tells an interesting story. When Funakoshi Sensei was an old man, late in life, Kanazawa was his young student. Kanazawa learned kanku dai from Funakoshi. Kanazawa had previously learned the same form from another old karate master, who, when both he and Funakoshi were younger men, studied under the great sensei too. Kanazawa asks Funakoshi why the kata is done 2 different ways, one version from the other master and now, another way directly from Funakoshi. Funakoshi replies that he was young, strong and flexible when he taught his old student, but now in his 70's or 80's, his body has changed, and so he teaches the form with higher stances, less strength, etc. Maybe we should all remember this lesson, that kata should not be etched in stone, and that the look and feel of a kata may change depending on the performer. Further, every single instructor who learns and then teaches a kata, will make changes, maybe unconscious or inadvertant, but my students will have my good or bad habits,my quirks. Back in Okinawa and Japan in the early days of karate, every master felt compelled to make changes. So, where a form is from, and what it looked like in some original version, is probably gone forever and we really all are just guessing.
    It does make for interesting reading though.
     
  17. TimoS

    TimoS Master of Arts

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    Actually, Channan was just the "working title" of the Pinan. What I mean is that Channan was the name of the kata before they were changed to Pinan. From what I've been told, Channan doesn't really mean anything (as a word), whereas Pinan does.
    Well, the Pinan contain elements from Kusanku, Jion and maybe Chinto, at least.
    Very true. Just take a look at various Sanchin versions. Or Seisan.
     
  18. OldKarateGuy

    OldKarateGuy Green Belt

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    Well, I think this just demonstrates that the history for specific forms is, for the most part, lost forever. Several of Itosu's contemporaries or students quote itosu as saying the origin of the Pinan forms is one or even two Chinese forms, named Chai Nang or Channan (or even Chiang Nam). Further, these various spellings are claimed to be, alternately, something related to a place name, based on "Southern", so Southern Temple, Southern River, etc. Another version is that Channan (or the other spellings) is a fairly common Chinese name, and that Channan was a Chinese Shaolin monk, who taught a Southern style Chinese martial art. Further, although we know roughly the time line of the Heian kata, we obviously know very little about supposed forms which are now forgotten. So, it would be a mistake to try and pick one form as older or as contributing to another. Maybe all the forms you mention share a common ancestry with Channan (if such existed), or maybe Kushanku was the original, and the others newer. And so on. By the way, one version even goes as far as suggesting that Pinan/Heian Godan (Odan, number 5) was actually an entirely new creation of itosu, and that only Pinan 1 through 4 were derived from Channan. Another little suggestion from a single source, a student of Itosu, was that he originally wanted to call the 5 Pinan kata Chiang Nan cho dan, etc (or some version of the name), but felt that the name was too hard to pronounce (?) and he settled on Pinan as fairly simple, and more appropriate for school children.
    I guess Itosu Sensei should have kept better notes.
     
  19. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    The problem is that we don't have any characters for the "original" kata names. There is some theory that some were just an attempt to pronounce them phonetically from the chinese and that altered over time and then at some point they were attempted to be written down and just tried to find characters that would fit. This is why the same kata like Naihanchi, has so many different ways of writing it, it's real name and translation is lost to time.

    So did "Channon" exist as a kata that is lost? Who knows. It is a theory. What we DO know is that Itosu modeled the pinan kata after Kusanku and Bassai with techniques from other sources (kata). There are many kata that have different names, but alot of overlap on material with each other. They could have came from the same source and then were renamed or reincorporated into other katas.
     
  20. SahBumNimRush

    SahBumNimRush Master of Arts

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    Interesting, I had not heard that before. Where did you hear/read that?
     

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