Monday, April 22, 2013

14 April 2013: Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai Session

On 14 April 2013, the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai studied Kanegawa no Timbei, Wansu/Wanshu/Empi, Naihanchi Sandan, and Seipai. Each school performed two rounds of their kata, and following their second performance, they explained/demonstrated the meanings and applications of all the kata movements.

The Kanegawa no Timbei kata is said to be a longstanding weapons tradition and was preserved by Taira Shinken, the founder of Ryukyu Kobudo. Essentially a short spear and shield art, its origins are found in a simple farmer’s hat or wooden pot cover used in conjunction with a sharpened stick (potato digger) called a hira. When the stick has a metal tip, it is called a rochin. When demonstrating the meanings for this kata, I chose primarily to show applications against an opponent armed with a sword. Many kata have a distinct “flavor” to them, and this one has a strong emphasis on deceiving the opponent. This includes feints, constantly hiding the weapon with your shield, and even purposely turning your back on the opponent to draw him in. Because the opponent is armed with a sword, blocks are either jamming the opponent’s attack before he can enter the proper range or deflecting the sword at an angle if he is in the proper range. There are no attempts to block the blade directly, since it could theoretically slice through your shield, especially if it is in fact just a hat or pot cover.

The Wansu/Wanshu kata is considered by some to be the oldest of all Okinawan karate kata. The Okinawan pronunciation is “Wansu” while the more Chinese pronunciation is “Wanshu.” Gichin Funakoshi Sensei renamed it to "Empi" when he introduced karate to the Japanese mainland. The Tomari version of this kata is likely closer to the original version, as opposed to the Itosu version. It was interesting to see the variations of the throw towards the end of the kata as well as the turn/jump which immediately follows. Some schools demonstrated jumping over a low attack, while others jumped over the body of the opponent they just threw. Others have the meaning to actually jump on the opponent as a finishing move. In the Itosu Wansu, according to Chibana Chosin Sensei, the throw takes place during the turn and the opponent is stepped around rather than jumped over.

There is some speculation, although unconfirmed, that the Naihanchi Sandan was a creation of Anko Itosu. Naihanchi Shodan and Nidan, on the other hand, are generally accepted as being the creation of Tudi Sakugawa. In any case, all the Naihanchi kata served as the core kata for the Shurite schools. Chibana Chosin Sensei once explained to my Sensei that when he started training with Itosu Sensei, he was first taught Naihanchi Shodan. This was the only kata he was taught for 6 months, and he was required to practice it 200 times a day. This was Itosu Sensei's way of testing his will and commitment.

The Seipai kata is a Nahate kata, meaning it was imported and performed in Okinawa in the same way it was taught in China. Seipai means “18”, although the number itself does not appear to have any significance. 

Performing the kata (in order):
  • Kanegawa no Timbei - Ryukyu Kobudo - Steve Lodge, John Oberle (Explanations)
  • Empi (Wanshu) - Kenshukan - Ralph Sakauye Sensei
  • Empi - Island Ki - Frank Lopes and Loma Lopes (Round 1) and Hisae Ishii-Chang Sensei (Round 2 and Explanations)
  • Wanshu (Tomari) - Hikari Dojo - Charles Goodin Sensei
  • Wansu (Tomari) - International Karate League - Craig Hamakawa Sensei (Explanations), Gary Hiramatsu Sensei, Robert Matsushita Sensei, Steve Lodge Sensei, Carl Sunada Sensei
  • Wansu (Tomari) - Zentokukai - Angel Lemus Sensei
  • Naihanchi Sandan - OSKA - Grant Kawasaki (Explanations), Ted Kaneshiro, John Oberle
  • Naihanchi Sono San - Kyokushin Karate - Herb Ishida Sensei (Explanations), Dean Harada Sensei
  • Seipai - Senbukan Dojo - Alan Lee Sensei (Explanations), Ryan Okata

Observing: Alan Yokota

1 comment:

Ari Maccabi said...

Wow! That is just interesting. It is inspiring to see schools showcasing their capabilities on different styles of martial arts. Not only do they get to showcase what they have learned, they also raise interest among the youth to pursue such a disciplined craft.
Ari Maccabi