Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai Session: April 15, 2012

Most people remember April 15th as tax day, but for the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai, it was when we held our latest training session. The kata we studied were Seisan/Seishan/Hangetsu kata, Naihanchi/Tekki Sandan, and Anan.
Starting off with a little bit of karate history, the Seisan kata, also referred to as Seishan when using a more Japanese pronunciation, was introduced to Okinawa via Matsumura Sokon of Shuri. Despite this, it is considered to be a Naha-te kata, since it was originally taught in China and brought back to Okinawa. The fact that it is a “number” kata, literally meaning “13”, also lends credence to this idea, as that is a common indicator it was imported from China. This being said, three main variants appeared over the years, reflective of overall themes in Okinawan karate. The Shuri version was taught by Itosu while the Tomari version was taught by Chotoku Kyan, with both having learned Seisan from Matsumura Sokon.  The Naha version was taught by Arakaki Seisho, who most likely directly imported Seisan from China at a later date than Matsumura. Gichin Funakoshi changed the name to Hangetsu (Half Moon) for Shotokan.
All three of the Naihanchi kata (Shodan, Nidan, Sandan) were created by Tudi Sakugawa. Some believe it was actually Itosu Anko who created Naihanchi Sandan, but according to Chibana Sensei, Itosu emphasized that all three Naihanchi kata should never be altered because they were created by a master as skilled as Tudi Sakugawa. Sakugawa created these kata using techniques learned while training in Peking (Beijing) in northern China. This is in contrast to many other Okinawan karate pioneers, who primarily studied in southern China, often in the Fuzhou area of Fukien (Fujian). The main focus of this kata is developing strong and powerful basics. These kata were renamed to Tekki  (Iron Horse) by Gichin Funakoshi. As an interesting note, Kyokushin refers to them as Naihanchi, but use “Sono Ichi/Ni/San” rather that “Shodan/Nidan/Sandan”. “Sono” is a Japanese counter word that is roughly equivalent to “volume”, as different volumes of books, so they have Naihanchi Volumes 1-3.
The Anan kata comes from Naha-te Ryuei Ryu, which was the Nakaima family style only introduced to the public in the early 1970s. The version that Roberts Sensei performed was the Shito Ryu Hayashi-ha version, which they had added to their curriculum at some point after Ryuei Ryu became public. Like many karate kata, the name itself has no known meaning.
During the portion where the different schools explained a movement or set of movements and the fighting application, I noticed there seemed to be a common Naha-te theme in the Seisan kata of hitting an attacking arm and then a smooth transition to grabbing and pulling off-balance, as demonstrated in the meanings by Lemus and Nakata Sensei, rather than just trying to grab an attack mid-air. In addition, a lot of the other schools demonstrated the response to a reverse bear hug, which involved dropping the body weight and easily breaking the grip by bringing the arms forward. This effectively both raises the level of and separates the opponent’s arms without having to sacrifice a strong biomechanical position yourself. An even simpler response is just to drop weight and strike the opponent’s groin, which works even if the lock is much lower on the body.
A technical word of advice was given on the knee kick, which appeared in one of the meanings that was demonstrated. In order to effectively generate the greatest amount of force into the opponent, it is important to bring the opponent’s body down fairly low. When they are not brought down low enough, you will almost always find your grounded leg start to lift up or your striking leg having to reach out past your optimal power generation range in order to strike.
After the session ended, refreshments were provided by Steve Chun (C.Q. Yee Hop Co./Commercial Enterprises), Grant Kawasaki (Hanapa’a Sushi), Sasano Sensei, Ishii-Chang Sensei, Loma Lopes, Nakata Sensei, and Alan Yokota. It is always nice talking story and catching up on how everyone is doing! 
Performing the Kata (in order):
  • Seisan - Ryukyu Kobudo - Pat Nakata Sensei, Alan Yokota, Roy Rivera, John Oberle
  • Hangetsu - Island Ki Dojo - Taylour Chang and Frank Lopes (Round 1) and Hisae Ishii-Chang Sensei (Round 2)
  • Seisan - Kenshukan Karate Kobudo Association - Ralph Sakauye and Shawna Carino (representing James Miyaji Sensei)
  • Seishan - International Karate League - Craig Hamakawa (with participation from Gary Hiramatsu Sensei, representing Walter Nishioka Sensei, and Robert Matsushita)
  • Seisan - Zentokukai - Angel Lemus Sensei, Judy Lemus Sensei, and Rob Toonen
  • Naihanchi Sandan - OSKA - Pat Nakata Sensei, Alan Yokota, Steve Chun, Grant Kawasaki, and John Oberle
  • Tekki Sandan - Aikenkai - George Sasano Sensei
  • Naihanchi Sono San - Kyokushin Karate - Herb Ishida Sensei and Dean Harada Sensei
  • Naihanchi Sandan - Dexter Chun (representing Charles Goodin Sensei)
  • Anan - Minakami Dojo - Sean Roberts Sensei
Carl and Clyde Kinoshita
Loma Lopes (Frank Lopes’s wife)
Tommy Terayama

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