"Okinawan Short Breathing Form"

Koshiki

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I have a kata/history question for you guys. In my school, there's a form, purportedly of Okinawan origins, which we call only the "Short Breathing Form." It's performed as, you guessed it, a breathing exercise, rather than something to be applied, generally speaking. (We don't have a "long" breathing form, if you were wondering...)

Most of the kata we do are well known, traceable, with history that every one is familiar with. This on, no one has any idea, so I was hoping some of the well-studied minds on here might know the form, likely by another name.

It begins with the hands atop one another, heels together, toes out salutation as found at the beginning of many Goju Ryu kata (That I've seen.) From there it's entirely in a Horse Stance, slowly performed hand techniques as follow:

1. Both hands push low with the knife edge.
2. Both hands come up and push outwards at rib level with the ridge hand.
3. Both hands push high with the knife edge.
4. Hands come down and push inwards at rib level with the knife edge.
5. Both hands come up to the right with a crane head.
6. Both hands come up to the left with a crane head.
7. Miwashi Uke/Circle Bock.
8. Miwashi Uke other side.

Anyone see anything familiar in there, or is this just some weird bastardization that was randomly attributed to Okinawa?
 

Bill Mattocks

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As far as I know, it sounds like a breathing 'exercise' rather than a form or kata. I have seen something similar performed, but it was while warming up. That's all I got.
 

Never_A_Reflection

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I would assume that your Sensei learned it from their Sensei, and so on, but it definitely sounds like an exercise rather than a kata. I've seen a variety of different junbi undo (preparatory exercises) that are done in patterns like this, and several of them incorporate breathing. You would really have to ask each person who passed it down to try to to figure out who created it.
 

oftheherd1

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In the Hapkido I studied, we had breathing exercises where we would be in a horse stance, with our arms at our side, hands open. We would kiai and continuing to breath out, thrust our hands slowly out. We would slowing bring our hands back in as we slowly breathed in, with our mouth open. As we gained ability,we might in through our nose. All the time we were doing that, we would concentrate on our Tan Jon, that area about 3 inches below our belly button. Three reps, then arms moving up, then arms outstretched moving together in front and back out, then hands down to in front of our thighs and back to our sides. Done correctly over some time will begin to improve your gi.

But that wasn't really a form as we did not move our feet. We simply called it breathing exercises.

EDIT: As Bill mentioned, we did that at the beginning of our warmup kicks, right after our meditation.
 
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Koshiki

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Oh yeah, it's definitely a breathing exercise, and we use it as such, not as a kata. I guess I was a bit unclear on that. Nevertheless, I was curious if someone might know the origin of this specific pattern, whether or not we want to call it a form...
 

Bill Mattocks

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Oh yeah, it's definitely a breathing exercise, and we use it as such, not as a kata. I guess I was a bit unclear on that. Nevertheless, I was curious if someone might know the origin of this specific pattern, whether or not we want to call it a form...

I don't know where it might have originated, but I don't know that much about the history of such things, so I don't take that to heart.

As to whether or not one might call it a 'form', let me first say that to me, a 'form' and a 'kata' are the same thing. A set pattern of exercises designed to demonstrate a given set of blocks, punches, kicks, or other offensive or defensive movements.

Now if you ask me if the breathing exercise you describe could be called a 'form', I would say that you can call a hand grenade a biscuit, but I would not put one in the oven, if you see what I mean.

In my understanding of kata/forms, they are generally designed to demonstrate a series of offensive and/or defensive movements; I am not sure breathing and stretching qualifies as that, so for me, I would say no, it is not a kata/form.

On the alternative, the Okinawan kata known as 'Sanchin' is taught by many styles of martial arts in one format or another, and for some of them, there is no 'practical application' to them; they are indeed designed to exemplify proper breathing, balance, stance, and so on So I guess there are always exceptions.

For those tempted to say so, no, I do not believe Sanchin has no bunkai. I am just noting that some styles do not teach it as having any.
 
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Koshiki

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Hi Bill Mattocks! I'll be honest, I have no idea who you are, but I've read a few of your recent posts which were phenomenal, and all the respected old hands about this forum seem to be very excited by your return, so I look forward to reading and learning more from you.

As to whether or not one might call it a 'form', let me first say that to me, a 'form' and a 'kata' are the same thing. A set pattern of exercises designed to demonstrate a given set of blocks, punches, kicks, or other offensive or defensive movements.

I agree, most definitely. Although, I think it might be fair to say that, in many usages, "kata" is a subset of "forms," given that those forms generally referred to as "kata" are the Japanese/Okinawan ones. For example, most people wouldn't look at a Yang Tai Chi form and call it a "kata."

On the alternative, the Okinawan kata known as 'Sanchin' is taught by many styles of martial arts in one format or another, and for some of them, there is no 'practical application' to them; they are indeed designed to exemplify proper breathing, balance, stance, and so on So I guess there are always exceptions.

I was tempted to bring up Sanchin earlier, in that I think nearly everyone would agree that it is most definitely a "kata" and perhaps the most iconic kata to boot, and yet many people learn, train, and teach it as nothing more than an exercise in breathing, stability, conditioning, etc.

And this reason...
For those tempted to say so, no, I do not believe Sanchin has no bunkai. I am just noting that some styles do not teach it as having any.
...is exactly why I shied away from bringing it up! (I believe some people also practice Tensho in this same manner, which blows my mind, as it's one of my favorite forms in terms of Bunkai.)

But most relevantly:
Now if you ask me if the breathing exercise you describe could be called a 'form', I would say that you can call a hand grenade a biscuit, but I would not put one in the oven, if you see what I mean.
...I'm not sure whether or not I would consider the set of motions a form. I think I would, since "breathing exercise" doesn't fully describe it. The motions are viable martial techniques, and to an extent, it does lend itself to bunkai study, though it is lacking in appropriate footwork. If I had to guess, I would say that it may have begun life as a legitimate form or kata, and has since been simplified to a breathing form. I don't know.

BUT, regardless of what term best suits it, I'm still holding out hope that someone will recognize it and identify it...
 

Dirty Dog

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I agree, most definitely. Although, I think it might be fair to say that, in many usages, "kata" is a subset of "forms," given that those forms generally referred to as "kata" are the Japanese/Okinawan ones. For example, most people wouldn't look at a Yang Tai Chi form and call it a "kata."

That would be because it's silly to use Japanese names for Chinese forms. Japanese forms are called kata because that is the Japanese word for forms. Just as Korean forms are called poomsae, hyung, or tul. Because those are the Korean words for forms.
 
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Koshiki

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That would be because it's silly to use Japanese names for Chinese forms. Japanese forms are called kata because that is the Japanese word for forms. Just as Korean forms are called poomsae, hyung, or tul. Because those are the Korean words for forms.

I'm aware. I thought that's kind of what I wrote above, or at least implied. My point being that the word "kata" as used in Karate may have more specified, consistent meaning and connotations than do all forms across all styles, precisely because it is the Japanese for "forms."

Similar to the "dao" versus "knife/sword" conversation that has been meandering across a thread here. The terms are used for the same sorts of thing, but across cultures and languages, they do have different meaning. "Dao" is translated into English as "knife," but frequently applies to things that no English speaker would ever call a knife. The terms pertain somewhat to one another, but the translation is imperfect, and knives, swords, machetes, and polearms are all some sort of subset of the word "dao."

The point I'm getting at being, at least in my experience, the English term "form" is generally used for a wider range of things (like "dao") than is the Japanese word "kata", (like knife). I'm sure that is not the usage in Japan or Okinawa, mainly because I find it a touch unlikely that many Japanese Karateka are using much English in their teaching.

Does that make a bit more sense?

I mean, its a fairly nit-picky point either way, I just don't have a better term for a set pattern of motions with potential combat applications which is practiced as part of a Martial Art...
 

Bill Mattocks

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Hi Bill Mattocks! I'll be honest, I have no idea who you are, but I've read a few of your recent posts which were phenomenal, and all the respected old hands about this forum seem to be very excited by your return, so I look forward to reading and learning more from you.

Thanks, but I'm a crusty old curmudgeon who came to martial arts later in life. Don't put a lot of store in anything I happen to spew.

...I'm not sure whether or not I would consider the set of motions a form. I think I would, since "breathing exercise" doesn't fully describe it. The motions are viable martial techniques, and to an extent, it does lend itself to bunkai study, though it is lacking in appropriate footwork. If I had to guess, I would say that it may have begun life as a legitimate form or kata, and has since been simplified to a breathing form. I don't know.

BUT, regardless of what term best suits it, I'm still holding out hope that someone will recognize it and identify it...

Well, it seems to me that breathing and stretching does pretty much cover it, at least as you've described it and I understand it.

"Viable martial arts moves?" OK, in that sense, but you can also argue that nearly every movement is as well. For example, I have some sensei who can be persuaded to show some really painful applications that can be applied from what appears to be the bow in, bow out, and so on. I often practice both offensive and defensive techniques that are developed from the simple 'kamae' position. However, a bow is not properly kata (at least not as I understand it). It may have practical applications that can be developed from it, but the bows at the beginning and end of a kata are not kata in and of themselves, in my opinion.

BUT, regardless of what term best suits it, I'm still holding out hope that someone will recognize it and identify it...

You motivated me to do some searching on Google. I see elements of it in 'Chart Two' of Isshin-Ryu basic exercises for lower body, and others seem to be calling it 'shinkokyu' or 'shinkokyuu'. I am not familiar with either term, but here are some examples.



Here's a funny walking version (with song and video)

The Algorithm March, Japan’s Strangely Entertaining Exercise | The Japan Guy

They literally sing:

Sutte haku no ga shinkokyuu
すってはくのがしんこきゅう
(Take a deep breath)

Interesting, eh? Breathing exercise, as it seems. Cool, though.

Great thread!
 
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Koshiki

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For anyone who's interested, this would be the pattern in question. Probably should have just recorded this off the bat, I suppose...

 

Bill Mattocks

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Looks like Tai Chi got drunk and hooked up with San Chin, is what. ;)

Just kidding! Yeah, that's too short for me to consider it a kata. I'm pretty sure I've seen some variation of that embedded in one kata or another, or a warmup exercise, but I just can't say when or where. Sorry I'm not being helpful here. Perhaps someone else has seen it.
 

EddieCyrax

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For anyone who's interested, this would be the pattern in question. Probably should have just recorded this off the bat, I suppose...



Looks very similar to the 10-point blocking system in Shaolin Kempo.....which they probably stole from someone else.....but very close....

In this style it is performed in one of two ways....one slow as a breathing exercise....and the other fast related to true strikes/blocks....
 
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Koshiki

Koshiki

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Looks very similar to the 10-point blocking system in Shaolin Kempo.....which they probably stole from someone else.....but very close....

In this style it is performed in one of two ways....one slow as a breathing exercise....and the other fast related to true strikes/blocks....

Interesting. We do it as a slow relaxed breathing exercise, as a slow hard breathing exercise, and as shown here, at a more general speed.
 

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