# 014

posted Dec 3, 2012, 8:56 PM by Ernest Estrada   [ updated Dec 5, 2012, 12:43 PM ]

While on Okinawa, I manage to visit a number of dojos - not only shorinryu but gojuryu and uechiryu. One of my favorite dojos was the Yagi Gojuryu Meibukan hombu dojo located in Kume, Okinawa. I manage to asked some questions concerning why there were no mirrors in the dojo training area. The Kan-cho replied that in their dojo, the teacher is the mirror. Hence, there is no need for a mirror. He went on by further stating that a mirror is only used in the change room where a student can change his face from happy to serious. When one comes to the dojo one must become serious instead of playful. After training, the student goes back to the change room and tranform himself/herself from serious back to happy!

# 010

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:55 PM by Daniel Wilkins

Another good question from class: in kata, why do we have to end where we start? Who said you did? Not me. Don't get me wrong... there does appear to be a big emphasis in doing just that. In Toyama Kanken's hombu dojo (the dai nippon karatedoh renmei) the emphasis was always on technique, not on ending up where you started. Toyama Dai Sensei offen said that if you focus on ending up where you started, your technique suffers.

In 1975 I had the same discussion with my teacher, Nakazato Shugoro Dai Sensei. My question to Sensei was... do we end up in the same place as where we started. Especially in performing pinan sandan, I am always a meter off if I do the kata correctly. Nakazato Dai Sensei advised me that you do end up in the same place and then performed the kata for me. He was exactly one meter off. He then looked at me and said... see, same place. He then turned around and went outside to punch the machiwara. I just stood there not knowing what to say. Later I went to a late night dinner at one of the seniors restaurant. I explain to him what had happen and asked for some feedback as to what I saw. Since I do not consider myself the sharpest tool in the shed, I was ready for a practical answer. The senior then simply stated that Sensei started the kata in the dojo and ended the kata while still in the dojo. He continued by saying that Sensei did start and end in the same place, the dojo. He continued by telling me to work on my technique and not worrying about ending up in the same place. The statement 'end where you start' is a guide, not something written in stone.

Well, the little woman states I have chores. More later.

# 009

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:54 PM by Daniel Wilkins

Continuing with naihanchi and moving on to patsai (passai)...The kata naihanchi-no-go is the shorinryu version of the naha form, sanchin. It is rarely done outside of Okinawa and it is part of the Itosu line. This kata and the naihanchi-no-ju are mostly done during Chibana-ha style demonstrations. A couple of years ago one of my students brought me a video of the kata being performed during a Shorinryu Shidokan taikai on Okinawa. The kata was demonstrated by a Chibana student, K. Shimabukuro. There is one more naihanchi (naifanchi) kata that I learned while living in Japan in 1963. The kata is called Motobu-no-naifanchi. I learned the form from a previous student of Motobu Saru but I did not receive enough formal instruction in the kata to do it justice. Hence, my lack of willingness to offer instruction in this form.

My favorite kata are the patsai series. I teach three patsai kata (Chibana-ha line), patsai no sho, patsai no dai and koryu patsai (also referred to as patsai no guwa). Now this may become a little confusing so bear with me. The kata patsai guwa was the original patsai sho. The present patsai sho (I am a Chibana-ha practitioner) was the original patsai dai. Chibana Dai Sensei learned the kata, Tawada no patsai, from his brother-in-law, Tawada. In 1914 Chibana Dai Sensei demonstrated the kata in front of his teacher, Itosu Ankoh. Itosu was impressed and advised Chibana to preserve the kata in his teaching. Chibana Dai Sensei then move the kata around. The old patsai dai was re-named patsai sho. The Tawada patsai was renamed patsai dai. And the older version of patsai sho was originally re-named patsai guwa and later changed in 1978 to koryru (ancient/old) patsai. The change was made by the late Miyahira Katsuya, the then president of Chibana Dai Sensei's association, the Okinawa Shorinryu Karatedoh Kyokai.

The patsai kata that I have documented include the following: Chibana-no-patsai (as taught by the Zen Nippon Karatedoh Renmei), Tawada-no-patsai, Matsumura-no-patsai, Tomari-no-patsai, Matsumora-no-patsai dai ichi, Matsumora-no-patsai dai ni, Kyan-no-patsai, Motobu-no-patsai, Ishimine-no-patsai, Itosu (shotokan)-no-patsai and Chibana Dai Sensei's patsai sho and dai.

# 006

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:53 PM by Daniel Wilkins

A question from Shihan Mike O'Grady on the naihanchi kata that I teach: I teach a total of six naihanchi forms. The first three are simply naihanchi shodan, naihanchi nidan and naihanchi sandan as taught by Itosu Ankoh and passed down to Chibana Choshin Dai Sensei. The 4th one is naihanchi nu kata as taught by Yabu Kentsu. He did not like the pinan series. He felt that the pinan series was a watered down version of orthodox karatedoh and hence he did not offer instruction in those kata. He then 'elongated' the naihanchi nu kata to 89 movements. The 5th and 6th kata are called naihanchi no go (hard naihanchi) and naihanchi no ju (soft/fast naihanchi). These last two are very rarely taught and are a little bit hard to describe.

More on the last two at a later date. And, more on my favorite research topic, the patsai forms.

Toyama Kanken and his methods of the stick

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:52 PM by Daniel Wilkins

Found this posted on a bulletin board of a dojo on Okinawa. It was entitled, 'Bojutsu.'
"With bare fists, watch out for the young. They're stronger and can beat up the old. But with the BO, watch out for the old. They're wiser and more experienced and can beat up the young."

Toyama Kanken (1888-1966) was an Okinawan who had migrated to Tokyo and founded the Zen Nippon Karatedoh Renmei (All Japan Karatedoh Federation). He received a bulk of his training from Itosu Ankoh and was a noted pratitioner of Okinawan style bo. Toyama Dai Sensei often stated that there were only two styles of bojutsu - the Tokyo style and the Naha style. In 1936, Toyama Dai Sensei identified the Tokyo style as having a thinner, lighter and tapered bo. Further, that many of the techniques of the Tokyo style mixed with the Japanese spear techniques. With the left hand forward, they would poke with the right hand (like a spear). The Tokyo method was a single end weapon with the length of the bo measured by extending the arm over the head and measure the length to the tip of the middle finger (long, like a spear).

The Naha method showed the bo was not tapered and stressing the right hand forward. The Naha bo was usually practiced by the commoner with the the poke being done with both hands stressing the power aspect. The Naha style showed it to be a double ended weapon with the length of the stick being measured to the tip of the practitioner's ear.

It was felt that since the Naha style bo was a commoner's weapon that the practitioner had very little exposure to the Japanese spear methods. So the tendency was to use the Naha style bo as a cudgel.

Presently, the Tokyo style and Naha style may have merged and it may be difficult to recognize the style. All bo's appear to be six foot in length and either tapered or un-tapered (depending on one's likes or dis-likes). Many of todays older karate practitioners have received most of their schooling on mainland Japan and have brought the Tokyo style to Okinawa on their return.

More later...

Give me that olde style karate!

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:52 PM by Daniel Wilkins

I wrote this on 05/09/1975 : Discussed Okinawan karate training with an older Okinawan 7-Dan. The first part dealt with the machiwara (makiwara). Ideally, the machiwara should lean towards the individual and NOT stand straight up. This is because when one strikes a straight machiwara, the force will push the board back and put pressure on the lower part of the fist rather than the knuckles.

Point 2 : The Shuri style machiwara is different from Naha style punching board. The Shuri style was as low as the breast bone and as high as the shoulder. The Naha style punching board was as low as the belly button or as high as the solar plexis. The Shuri style used a short, high stance while the Naha style used a low horse riding stance to place emphasis on the twisting motions of the hip.

Both styles of machiwara are good and should be considered.

Nowadays, it is a machiwara for the masses - all the machiwara are the same height. Back in the early 1960's when I started, all machiwara were custom made as were all bo's. Nowadays, all bo's are six foot (roku shaku bo) and made for the masses. To this day, all my punching boards and bo's that I use are custome made by a little Okinawan from Jackson, MI. My precious - my HANZO BO is 8 foot long and two inches in diameter and it is make from a Brazilian hard wood.

The Anvil and the Dojo Forge

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:51 PM by Daniel Wilkins

Instructors of Okinawan karate often use stories, anecdotes, analogies and metaphors in order to pass on concepts, ideas and theories. These are rich in visual imagery and I would like to share the following one which I found posted on the bulletin board of Kanei Uechi Sensei's Dojo in Futenma, Okinawa (around 1980).

The Dojo Forge: The Okinawan karate instructor is much like a master craftsman or blacksmith. The craftsman's mallet was forged through his many years of strict guidance and rigorous training with the old masters and the wisdom, knowledge and understanding he gained during that apprenticeship. The karate dojo then becomes his anvil. The hard and constant training and instruction are the fire with which he tempers the flesh, blood and spirit of his students the metal, which he hammers into the next generation.

Author Unknown

Bojutsu or 'am I getting any better?'

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:50 PM by Daniel Wilkins

Years ago, I remember one day that a student asked his teacher for permission to perform the stick form, Sakugawa no kun. Not only did he want to show off for his friends who were watching but he also wanted to receive some positive strokes from his teacher. The teacher immediately recognized what was going on and simply said... 'fine, do your best.'

The student gave a strong performance of the kata and upon finishing it, looked towards his teacher in anticipation of praise he so strongly wanted.

The teacher, smiling, simply stated the following: 'you are making slow but steady practice.'

The bojutsu sensei then cautioned the strong but slow student with this reality statement: "Student, I have taught you all that you know! But always remember that I have not taught you all that I know!!"

Yes, I favor the stick (kun) and I teach a little known style called Ninten-ryu Bojutsu. I first started to learn Ninten-ryu Bojutsu while living in Japan in 1963. My bojutsu instructor was Hanaue Toshio who was ranked a Shihan in Ninten-ryu. According to Toyama Kanken Dai Sensei, Ninten-ryu Bojutsu is a pre-war style stick art. It contains ten stick forms. More later.

My 51st Anniversary Surprise Party

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:49 PM by Daniel Wilkins

Many thanks for the the surprise party... and yes, it was truly a surprise. First time I was caught unawares. This is my 51st year in the study and practice of Okinawa Karate. To me, it seems like it was yesterday. The cake was great - uhmmmm chocolate.

What was really great was the old timers that showed up from around the state. It brought back many memories.

Thanks for the memories, guys.


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