Can anyone help me understand this better?

Makalakumu

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On reading this short biography of Gichin Funakoshi's son, I came across this thought provoking paragraph.

Yoshitaka insisted on using low stances and long attacks, chained techniques, something that immediately separated it from Okinawan karate. He also emphasized the oi zuki and gyaku zuki.

Is this change in emphasis something that really sets Japanese karate apart of Okinawan karate? Does anyone understand why Yoshitaka emphasized these things in particular rather then a traditional Okinawan approach?

Apparently, GF thought these changes were just fine?

Master Gichin Funakoshi approved without exceptions, even though what he taught, occasionally, and at least apparently, contradicted what his son instructed. Gigo was always held in high esteem, and respected by his students, thus he was in no way an impediment in the evolution of the, so-called, Shotokan style, and never created conflicts between Masters and students.

Also, according to this article, GF's son seems to have been the impetus behind many the changes that brought about what we would now call Shotokan. What does everyone else think?


[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif, Courier New]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif, Courier New]In 1936 Karate-do Kyohan was published, this book included the basic fighting methods but mostly it included the changes in the kata, following the newly established technique framework. This book clearly represented the birth of Karate-do as a new Japanese martial art, finally outgrowing it's Okinawan heritage, this was very clearly established with the change in the "kara" kanji and also with the renaming of the kata with "good" sounding Japanese names. [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif, Courier New]Yoshitaka and Gichin Funakoshi published a new book in 1943, Karate-do Nyumon, where Yoshitaka is said to have written the technical material and his father the initial chapters and the historical section[/FONT]
[/FONT]
 

dancingalone

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Is this change in emphasis something that really sets Japanese karate apart of Okinawan karate? Does anyone understand why Yoshitaka emphasized these things in particular rather then a traditional Okinawan approach?

Okinawan karate has tremendous focus on bunkai as well as kobudo. It's understood that kobudo training reinforces empty hand and vice versa. Japanese karate schools frequently do not train either bunkai or kobudo, eschewing both for more time spent in jiyu kumite.

Apparently, GF thought these changes were just fine?

I don't have a source, but I thought Funakoshi spent his final years lamenting what karate had become on 'mainland' Japan. His Okinawan peers held him in somewhat low repute, particularly Choki Motubu, but that may partially be due to GF's success and acclaim among the Japanese.

Also, according to this article, GF's son seems to have been the impetus behind many the changes that brought about what we would now call Shotokan. What does everyone else think?

Again, no source, but I thought Masatoshi Nakayama was the main spearhead for changing GF's karate into a martial sport.
 

Brandon Fisher

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Its hard to say what Funakoshi thought of his son's changes to karate as he has been taught. But yes Nakayama did make a big push on sport karate in Japan.
 

seasoned

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Japan thought Okinawan karate, as being crude and barbaric, and endeavored to sophisticate it. They took a complete SD art and turned it into somewhat of a sport, with emphasis placed on rigid militaristic undertones.
 

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I Think the low stance thing was about getting a more solid base. Chained offensive techniques could have to do with winning rather that defending??? And I believe the sporting aspect of karate was to promote karate so all could enjoy it's benefits and make it less esoteric. Thank God, otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion. Have you read "My way of Life"?
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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Yeah, I have, I like the book a lot because I think its a great way for all of us to see what the Founder's intentions were when he brought karate to Japan.

When you say that karate was "esoteric" before the changes, what do you mean?
 

RoninSoul

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Well, I meant practiced in secret.
–adjective 1. understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite: poetry full of esoteric allusions. 2. belonging to the select few. 3. private; secret; confidential. 4. (of a philosophical doctrine or the like) intended to be revealed only to the initiates of a group: the esoteric doctrines of Pythagoras. With respect Maunakumu,Osu.
 

Carol

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Low stances are also seen in the fighting styles of Indonesia. The reason for them is because there is a lot of limestone in the Indonesian terrain. Limestone erodes easily (geographically speaking) in the presence of water, which can mean that even a few feet of land can have a great deal of variability in terrain.

The low stance was developed so the fighter could be stable in uneven or unexpected terrain (mud, etc).

There is also quite a bit of limestone on the main islands of Japan, the sporadic unevenness can be seen in varying degrees when traveling throughout the countryside.

While I can't say for sure that was the reason for the deep stances, I can definitely see a realistic and practical application for them.
 

NW_Tengu

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Low stances are also seen in the fighting styles of Indonesia. The reason for them is because there is a lot of limestone in the Indonesian terrain. Limestone erodes easily (geographically speaking) in the presence of water, which can mean that even a few feet of land can have a great deal of variability in terrain.

The low stance was developed so the fighter could be stable in uneven or unexpected terrain (mud, etc).

There is also quite a bit of limestone on the main islands of Japan, the sporadic unevenness can be seen in varying degrees when traveling throughout the countryside.

While I can't say for sure that was the reason for the deep stances, I can definitely see a realistic and practical application for them.


While I wont dispute the reasoning here, I seem to remember from Funakoshi's writing that the deep stances were to strengthen the legs and that one should use higher stances in actual fighting to utilize better mobility. I cant remember the exact book. However, as I currently re-reading Karate-Do My Way of Life as well as the Nyumon and Kyohan I will try to get the chapter and page for referance.
 

Cirdan

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Just a thought.. could the deep stances also make onlookers think of Sumo, but without the ah... physical impressiveness? Since that art is very respected this could be good for spreading Shotokhan and give it a more Japanese feel.
 

Andrew Green

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It may be that there is too much looking for meaning in something that doesn't have much.

Japanese martial arts where, around that time period, being adapted into almost military prep. Emphasis being on obedience, conformity, committed and aggressive attack, endurance, etc.

Deep stances fit that mold pretty well, more upright, "relaxed" stances not as much.
 

RoninSoul

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Naw... I think you need to look at the mechanics of it. Lower stance = wider base. Harder to knock you over. Same same (< Miaggi speak) Kiba dachi. The principal when applied to all stances make them more solid, like a nice deep Zenkutsu dachi. Has'nt your Sensei ever had you throw a reverse punch while in Zenkutsu dachi then pushed on your hand as he walked by. When you moved or became unstable he told you that you were not deep enough? You then spread your feet wider, your body got lower and your stance then became more solid. I'll have to ask my Sensei but I think I'm right.
Respect, Osu.
 

Cirdan

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It may be that there is too much looking for meaning in something that doesn't have much.

You are probably right. This is how myths like Naifanchi being practiced for fighting on raised land betwen paddy fields came to be.
 

astrobiologist

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Lower stance = wider base. Harder to knock you over.

Take a deep soto hachiji dachi, have a partner push on you from the side and you will remain strong (as long as you're properly rooted), but if that partner pulls or pushes you from the front of back, you will go down.

Likewise, a zenkutsu dachi is strong from the front or back (that's why your instructor can push on your fist from the front), but if you draw a line between your feet, the line that is perpendicular to that line and centered with your body is a line of balance from which an opponent could push you over.

I like to train with deep stances for leg development and to focus my energy into rooting, however when it comes to maintaining balance in a fight, I prefer a shorter, taller stance that allows for quick movement. But, to each their own...
 

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