Bassai/Passai/Pal Sek Variations from style to style and respective bunkai

SahBumNimRush

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So, we have to work with what we have and try to use our knowledge of techniques to unravel the secrets of the kata we are studying, regardless of the variations. I haven't tried it, but, it might be possible to look across the spectrum at the differences to help with our understanding. :asian:


I'll put this here, since it involves OMA, JMA, and KMA's Since we were recently talking about bunkai and how changing the form/kata/hyung is a detriment by limiting applications, I thought I'd start a new thread to explore this a bit further. I previously posted in another thread about Seisan, but since I don't really know that for very well, I thought I'd start with Bassai.

For reference sake here are the various forms of Bassai Dai from the various styles that practice the form:

Shito Ryu Bassai Dai:


Shorin Ryu Passai Dai:


Shotokan Bassai Dai:


Shuri Ryu Passai Dai:


Wado Ryu Bassai:


Gensei Ryu Bassai:


Kyokushin Bassai:


Shindo Jinenryu Bassai:


Shukokai Bassai:


Shorinji Ryu Bassai:


Tang Soo Do Bassai:

 
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SahBumNimRush

SahBumNimRush

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Here is some older footage of bunkai as per the JKA from the 1960's.

 
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SahBumNimRush

SahBumNimRush

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Sequentially, I'll start from the ready motion posture through the first movement. When I first learned the form I was taught this movement as a lunging block, i.e. attacking the attack. Much like the bunkai above demonstrates.

As I gained experience and rank, I was shown applications as a throwing defense against a wrist grab. I can't seem to find an example on the almighty youtube of the technique, and I don't have a personal video of it.. . I'll have to continue to do some digging.
 

Makalakumu

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Here is a video I produced on the opening move for Bassai kata.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRiQh-7Z578&list=UUQRaQdqLXTEtDcT8hjQTbAA&index=5

Bassai means "to penetrate the fortress." I interpret this to mean that all of the applications are designed to turn a very bad situation around completely around. Therefore, the applications in Bassai tend to have more techniques in them that would cause serious injury.
 

TimoS

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Bassai means "to penetrate the fortress."

There's just one minor problem with that translation: the kata name Passai was already known before Itosu (?) selected the kanji for it. This means that we don't know for sure what, if anything, Passai originally meant. Maybe it did mean "penetrate the fortress", maybe it didn't. In Seibukan we don't use the kanji for (most of) the kata, precisely because of the reason I stated.

Oh and sorry for nitpicking, I've had a few beers and that tends to make want to split hairs :D
 

Makalakumu

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There's just one minor problem with that translation: the kata name Passai was already known before Itosu (?) selected the kanji for it. This means that we don't know for sure what, if anything, Passai originally meant. Maybe it did mean "penetrate the fortress", maybe it didn't. In Seibukan we don't use the kanji for (most of) the kata, precisely because of the reason I stated.

Oh and sorry for nitpicking, I've had a few beers and that tends to make want to split hairs :D

That makes a lot of sense. It's sort of how everything evolves. The names come after the thing exists.
 

Never_A_Reflection

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Sequentially, I'll start from the ready motion posture through the first movement. When I first learned the form I was taught this movement as a lunging block, i.e. attacking the attack. Much like the bunkai above demonstrates.

As I gained experience and rank, I was shown applications as a throwing defense against a wrist grab. I can't seem to find an example on the almighty youtube of the technique, and I don't have a personal video of it.. . I'll have to continue to do some digging.

Honestly, my favorite application for that movement is one that my instructor teaches that he based on the idea that Patsai/Passai/Bassai was taught to the bodyguards of Okinawan royalty and, as such, contains mostly techniques for protecting another person. My instructor does acknowledge that we don't know for certain that this is what was intended, but the theory still yields some interesting results in bunkai. Essentially, the fist-in-palm position at the opening is the Okinawan version of the Secret Service's "hands ready position," which can be seen here:

secret-service-hands-ready.jpg


This position allows the bodyguard to be relaxed, but also have their hands in a position from which they can easily and swiftly counter attacks that may be initiated against them or the person they are defending. Since the kata then proceeds to cover distance, we can assume (based on the above theory) that we are covering distance to get between an attacker and the person we are defending. From there, the kata shows a me-oto-de uke (married hands receiving technique), which is done slightly differently depending on the version you do, but the general movement typically involves an outward-moving chudan uke (mid-level "block") with the other hand performing some sort of supporting action. This can be used simply as a way of supporting the movement, structurally, to shove the attacker away while deflecting their attack. What we typically do, however, is use the supporting hand as a strike--either nukite (spear hand) or shuto (sword hand) while the other hand deflects the attack. In our version the supporting hand is not touching the primary hand/arm, but is instead held rigidly in a spear/sword hand configuration pointing at the other hand, very much like you see in the Shorin-Ryu example provided in the OP.

You can stop there, but we usually practice putting the attacker on the floor by grabbing them from there and performing the following technique. In our kata, that is a spin (the kosa-dachi (cross-legged stance) indicates that a throw can be done from that position) followed by either a left outward-moving chudan uke (our Passai Sho) or by the hands dropping (our Passai Dai). Both hand positions can result in throwing the attacker, but in slightly different ways.
 

K-man

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Wow! Sesan had a convoluted path with multiple sources but Bassai! That is something else. I tried to draw the links but it is a truly incestuous picture. All the styles that were posted with versions of Bassai are interconnected. I am not being lazy by posting from Wiki but that more or less summarises the information I found. The most interesting thing of all, and nothing to do with variation, is that the creator of the kata was left handed. Or, maybe it has everything to do with the different versions as one after the other of the masters teaching Bassai tried to adapt it to a more right handed form.

Of the Okinawan versions of Passai, a clear evolutionary link can be seen from Matsumura no Passai (named after the legendary Sokon Matsumura), to Oyadomari no Passai (named after the Tomari-te karate master Kokan Oyadomari), and then onto the Passai of Anko Itosu who popularized karate by introducing it into the curriculum of Okinawan schools. The Matsumura version has a distinct Chinese flavour, whereas the Oyadomari version is more "Okinawanized". It was further modified by Itosu, and is thought to have created a "sho" (Passai sho) form of it. Gichin Funakoshi of Shotokan took it to Japan and taught them as Bassai dai and Bassai sho. The Tomari style which incorporated Oyadomari no Passai was passed down the Oyadomari family for three generations, originally taught by a Chinese living in Tomari (possibly named Anan), who "used very light techniques". Sokon Matsumura also learned Chinese boxing from the military attaches Ason and Iwah at Fuchou.
The Okinawan versions include powerful blocking and angular defense against attacks from multiple directions. This form is at least 400 years old (based on a carbon tested, silk drawing of the form), and is a family form (Passai is the name of a family in Okinawa). The creator of the form was left-handed. If the practitioner keeps that in mind, some more of the hidden techniques of the form will become visible.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passai

I learned Bassai Dai about twelve years ago in another life and, to be honest, I didn't like it. It did not fit with other Goju kata. But that's another story. :) I have no more than superficial knowledge of the ins and outs of Bassai. So if it's OK, I'll just grab a beer and watch the discussion from the sidelines. :asian:
 

TimoS

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The creator of the form was left-handed
Doubtful. Of course it's possible, but since nobody knows the true origins of Passai, how can we know that the creator (who might not even have been Okinawan for all we know) was left-handed? I don't have the book at hand right now, but I think McCarthy has speculated that the kata was originally Chinese.
Oh and as for Passai, there exists also a version that is not related to the versions linked here earlier. We call it Passai Guwa, some call it Koryu Passai. Here's the Seibukan version
[yt]pamrxy5WsgM[/yt]
 

K-man

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Doubtful. Of course it's possible, but since nobody knows the true origins of Passai, how can we know that the creator (who might not even have been Okinawan for all we know) was left-handed? I don't have the book at hand right now, but I think McCarthy has speculated that the kata was originally Chinese.
Oh and as for Passai, there exists also a version that is not related to the versions linked here earlier. We call it Passai Guwa, some call it Koryu Passai. Here's the Seibukan version
[yt]pamrxy5WsgM[/yt]
I'm sure you are right about being Chinese. It is most likely that it was brought back by Bushi Matsumura. Almost everyone else involved in Bassai was student of, or student of student of Matsumura. The Okinawan base seems to be Shuri-te. :asian:
 

dancingalone

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Sequentially, I'll start from the ready motion posture through the first movement. When I first learned the form I was taught this movement as a lunging block, i.e. attacking the attack. Much like the bunkai above demonstrates.

As I gained experience and rank, I was shown applications as a throwing defense against a wrist grab. I can't seem to find an example on the almighty youtube of the technique, and I don't have a personal video of it.. . I'll have to continue to do some digging.

I see one possible interpretation to be the technique called nikkyo in aikido. It surely also exists in virtually every other system I've studied by one name or another. The wrapping of the hands and fingers in the Passai opening movement is a hint on how to turn the attacker's hand (and his core) to secure leverage immediately.

This video isn't perfectly the idea I am expressing since it doesn't show using the left hand as part of the technique, but it's probably close enough.

 
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SahBumNimRush

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The wrapping of the hands and fingers in the Passai opening movement is a hint on how to turn the attacker's hand (and his core) to secure leverage immediately.




I believe this is similar to what I was getting at previously. By wrapping and pulling the opponent's arm and core to secure leverage, then the "leaping" into the cross leg stance beyond the opponent, takes the opponents locked wrist quickly and fiercely behind his own body for a throw.
 
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SahBumNimRush

SahBumNimRush

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Honestly, my favorite application for that movement is one that my instructor teaches that he based on the idea that Patsai/Passai/Bassai was taught to the bodyguards of Okinawan royalty and, as such, contains mostly techniques for protecting another person. My instructor does acknowledge that we don't know for certain that this is what was intended, but the theory still yields some interesting results in bunkai. Essentially, the fist-in-palm position at the opening is the Okinawan version of the Secret Service's "hands ready position," which can be seen here:

secret-service-hands-ready.jpg

My Sah Bum Nim was an honor guard for Kennedy, and teaches this "passive" defensive posture as well. I had no idea this "posture" was something utilized by the Okinawan guard centuries ago.
 

K-man

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My Sah Bum Nim was an honor guard for Kennedy, and teaches this "passive" defensive posture as well. I had no idea this "posture" was something utilized by the Okinawan guard centuries ago.
Most of these guys have a 'passive' ready position. Body language says, "OK guys, everything is under control. From that position it is easy to move to 'active' ready or take immediate action. The one I don't like is the guy with the interlocked fingers. If he was grabbed from behind that could be the difference between an easy escape and being controlled. Hands clasped in front, fine .. hands by the sides and slightly to the front, fine. Fingers interlocked, not for me.
 

Makalakumu

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In the sequence right after the opening, the series of outside inside and inside outside blocks, I've been playing with an application that moves an opponent and lets you take the back. I can see something like this being used as crowd control. Sweep the arms out of the way and turn the person around.

If Matsumura is the origin of bassai on Okinawa, it would make sense that certain kata would contain crowd control techniques. I imagine they had plenty of opportunity to escort people out or clear a path through a crowd.
 
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SahBumNimRush

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In the sequence right after the opening, the series of outside inside and inside outside blocks, I've been playing with an application that moves an opponent and lets you take the back. I can see something like this being used as crowd control. Sweep the arms out of the way and turn the person around.

I have used the 2nd-4th moves in a similar manner which you describe in defense from a rear shoulder grab, lapel grab or strike. The first two inside out blocks to position the opponent in a position which gives you the leverage (i.e. locking the wrist, elbow, and/or shoulder), then the turning outside in block to throw or move the opponent out of the way.
 

K-man

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OK. The beer is finished and now you are talking application I'll throw one in. In fact this scenario is best suited to a left handed person despite TimoS' scepticism. ;) I am also applying my understanding of the 'rules' of kata that determine positions relative to your opponent, all strikes are to vital points and all techniques should be finishing techniques or put you in a dominant position to finish. Also before karate went into the schools the hands were open, not clenched.

Before someone shoots me down, I have just looked at this now and have not pressure tested it apart from subjecting my wife to the basic movement.

Attacker (Uke) pushes or grabs with his left arm towards the right shoulder (grab) or right side of torso ( push or punch) . This is likely going to be closely followed by a right punch.

Defender (Nage) moves to the right allowing the Uke's hand to move towards Nage's right side. This makes it possible for Nage to grab the left wrist and lift and turn Kote Gaeshi (wrist throw). Normally this would be a straight take down and finishing move but let's assume it fails. Even in failing the first move will have unbalanced Uke. The 180 degree turn in the kata represents a spinning anticlockwise turn that finishes with a left hand strike (most likely ura haito uchi or ura ken uchi, but could be shuto uchi) to the back of the skull (GB 20). Normally this should be a finishing strike but again, let's assume it fails. The right arm goes under uke's left arm to trap the arm near the shoulder, turning him so he is now face to face again (second turn). That exposes the left side of the neck for a left ura haito to the throat (ST 9). Again, that should be a finishing move. Etc, etc, etc. I had never before thought of looking at a kata from the perspective of a left handed person. :asian:
 

Never_A_Reflection

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My Sah Bum Nim was an honor guard for Kennedy, and teaches this "passive" defensive posture as well. I had no idea this "posture" was something utilized by the Okinawan guard centuries ago.

I certainly can't guarantee that they did, but it stands to reason that body guards would have figured it out before the Secret Service did sometime in the thousands of years they existed all across the world.

In the sequence right after the opening, the series of outside inside and inside outside blocks, I've been playing with an application that moves an opponent and lets you take the back. I can see something like this being used as crowd control. Sweep the arms out of the way and turn the person around.

If Matsumura is the origin of bassai on Okinawa, it would make sense that certain kata would contain crowd control techniques. I imagine they had plenty of opportunity to escort people out or clear a path through a crowd.

I would agree with this approach. I will say, however, that I feel the sequences of outside-inside/inside-outside chudan uke are an "Itosu-fication." By that, I mean that those sequences don't seem to exist in older versions, and so while I have found a similar application for them, I prefer to work with versions that did not receive modification (or much modification, at least) by Itosu. Some good examples are the Passai passed on by Hohan Soken, the Passai passed on by Taika Oyata, and the Passai that Chibana learned from Tawada Sensei. Of those, I only practice Tawada Passai (also called Matsumura no Passai) as passed on by Chibana as Passai Dai, which can be seen here:


In this version, you can see that those inward/outward uke sequences are not present, and if memory serves they are not present in the other two examples I listed. If we look at these versions, then we see a rising wedge being made with the arms, which then drop and proceed into a jodan uke and then into a me-oto-de age-ura-tsuki (married hands uppercut). For this sequence, I see it as either advancing through a crowd, much as you mentioned, or defending against nearly any frontal assault, which is something that would be likely to occur if you step in front of the person you are protecting. The wedge action of the arms is used today to escort clients through crowds, and the dropping arms could easily be used to press two people apart in the process, while the subsequent movements could be used to counter people trying to grab you or otherwise stop you. For a frontal assault of some type, I use this as a flinch response (hands come up to protect the head) and once contact is made I drop the arms, control whichever limb I made contact with and strike with the jodan uke to the head/jaw/throat (depending on what is open). The movement after that (married hands uppercut) serves very well as a method of clearing a blocking limb out of the way and countering, in case the attacker was able to block your initial jodan uke.
 
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TimoS

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I think this video has been here on MT before, but repetition is good :) Here are some applications to Passai
[yt]tKBo5wcAzwo[/yt]
From 2:40 onwards.
 

Makalakumu

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It all sounds like good stuff. The version of bassai that we all practice may be different, but I think we can all come up with some decent applications for it. For my part, I originally learned the kata with no applications. In my lineage, the applications were not transmitted and it's been something that I've had to pick up later. There is also a fair about of reverse engineering of movements going on with my practice as well. So, I can't really say if what I work out is historically accurate. I try to do as much research as possible, but in the end, it all comes down to my interpretation.

I wonder if there is anyway to verify what the original applications actually were? Is it possible to train in a system that teaches bassai and has passed down the exact applications through a distinct lineage that goes right back to the originators of the kata? I'd love to actually catch a glimpse of the minds who created the kata I just practiced this morning.
 
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