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shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture
Historically Pre-Emptive Striking in Karate?

Of course this is not to discuss the value of it, I get that, have used it and teach it.

But something Funakoshi Sensei said, page 31 To-Te Jitsu book,  orig published 1922 this is taken from the Shingo Ishida translation, Masters Publication 1997 (I think!).

'In both kata and actual contest, defense always precedes the offense in any situation. In addition, for every instance of defense, one must follow and connect with some kind of offense. If retaliation does not follow after defending oneself, then he is essentially the same as a 'hitting board'.

He then goes on to explain about 'hente', which I understand is 'changing' hand, i.e the ability to attck with what was the defending hand- or indeed the reverse in th same motion etc.

Anyhow this will be interesting to discuss, just where are the pre-emptive strikes in classical kata? Are they simply assumed (I think so), 

JWT
JWT's picture

shoshinkanuk wrote:

Anyhow this will be interesting to discuss, just where are the pre-emptive strikes in classical kata? Are they simply assumed (I think so), 

I think it does depend on how you interpret the bunkai.  I look at any number of salutations, grab strike combinations, punches, uke techniques etc (eg Gedan Barai or Shuto Uke) and see pre-empts.  

Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture

Hi Jim,

here is one idea along the lines of Gichin Funakoshi's quote, again only an idea.

Kind regards,

Jason

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

JWT wrote:

shoshinkanuk wrote:

Anyhow this will be interesting to discuss, just where are the pre-emptive strikes in classical kata? Are they simply assumed (I think so), 

I think it does depend on how you interpret the bunkai.  I look at any number of salutations, grab strike combinations, punches, uke techniques etc (eg Gedan Barai or Shuto Uke) and see pre-empts.  

John,

Putting the salutations to oneside, thank you for helping me 'see' the half point in Uke as preemptive. Of course I do that and agree it can be used that way, I have no issues using preemptive striking or indeed strategy in real violence.

My point was more one of discussion around what Funakoshi Sensei wrote, and why. granted context is everything!

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Jason Lester wrote:

Hi Jim,

here is one idea along the lines of Gichin Funakoshi's quote, again only an idea.

http://youtu.be/sJUKXUFH-s8

Kind regards,

Jason

Jason,

Thank you for the link to your video, I was thinking more along the lines of hitting the guy before he grabs you, i.e very simple pre-emptive striking from the fence etc and how older karate models express this within classical kata etc.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

posted in wrong section!

Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture

Hi Jim, thanks for the reply.

I suppose any technique could be a pre-emptive strike for example Mae-ken or Kizami as an example, Mae-geri, kicking the attacker before he/she grabs, in this the legs being longer than the arms. we regularly train pre-emtive strikes working all techniques and grabbing situations something no doubt you do and a great training sessionsmiley

Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture

I was in a rush this moring and wanted to do this post before.

Lets take a look at the following videos, for the sake of the drill lets assume the right and left attack is an incoming grab. the Kata is Pinan Shodan / Heian Nidan, opening moves and could be used as pre-emptive strikes.

Note on the videos this could be an attempted hair grab, this is however you have hair unlike mefrown

http://youtu.be/DNO_tJXBZL4

http://youtu.be/F9HnzptBBPQ

Hope these may be of interest and of some use

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Hi shoshin,

Here is a quote from Gichin Funakoshi from  Karate-Do Kyohan “When there are no avenues of escape or one is caught even before any attempt to escape can be made, then for the first time the use of self-defense techniques should be considered.

Even at times like these, do not show any intention of attacking, but first let the attacker become careless. At that time attack him concentrating one’s whole strength in one blow to a vital point and in the moment of surprise, escape and seek shelter and help."

I think this very obvious that Funakoshi endorses pre-emptive strikes.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

shoshinkanuk wrote:
Anyhow this will be interesting to discuss, just where are the pre-emptive strikes in classical kata? Are they simply assumed (I think so)

Pre-emption is a tactic not a technique. Punches, elbows, sweeps, throws, chokes, etc, etc can all be used pre-emptively. There is no such thing as a “pre-emptive technique”, but instead we have techniques used pre-emptively. Therefore many of the techniques in kata can be used pre-emptively; as well as reactively, proactively, etc. It’s a matter of the tactic employed.

The question then becomes, is there historical precedence for the tactic? There sure is! Here are two very explicit quotes from Mabuni and Motobu:

When faced with someone who disrupts the peace or who will do one harm, one is as a warrior in battle, and so it only stands to reason that one should seize the initiative and pre-empt the enemy’s use of violence. Such action in no way goes against the precept of ‘no first attack’ …the expression ‘karate ni sente nashi’ [no first attack in karate] should be properly understood to mean that the karateka must never take a hostile attitude, or be the cause of a violent incident; he or she should always have the virtues of calmness, prudence and humility in dealing with others.” – Kenwa Mabuni

There is a saying ‘no first attack in karate’ …To be sure, it is not the budo [martial art] spirit to train for the purpose of striking others without good reason. I assume that you already understand that in karate one's primary goal must be the training of mind and body… But when a situation can't be avoided and the enemy is intent on doing you serious harm, you must fight ferociously. When one does fight, taking control of the enemy is vital, and one must take that control with the very first move. Therefore, in a fight one must attack first. It is very important to remember this.” – Choki Motobu

As regards Funakoshi, he also recommended attacking first after lulling the enemy into a false sense of security. This is what he wrote in 'Karate-do Kyohan'

"When there are no avenues of escape or one is caught even before any attempt to escape can be made, then for the first time the use of self-defense techniques should be considered. Even at times like these, do not show any intention of attacking, but first let the attacker become careless. At that time attack him concentrating one's whole strength in one blow to a vital point and in the moment of surprise, escape and seek shelter and help."

He does not say; wait for the enemy to attack and then counter. He tells us to show no intention of attacking and then ATTACK so we can escape. That is a sound pre-emption tactic. It can also be viewed as being “defensive” in so much as it is a way to defend ourselves from the unprovoked hostility of others.

shoshinkanuk wrote:
I was thinking more along the lines of hitting the guy before he grabs you, i.e very simple pre-emptive striking from the fence etc and how older karate models express this within classical kata etc.

What Funakoshi advises above is perfectly in keeping with what Geoff Thompson teaches from his fence i.e. show no intention of attacking, lull the enemy into a false sense of security, attack, and escape. The tactic is exactly the same. Geoff uses the fence and a negative, open ended question as an action trigger (the technique). Peter Consterdine – another leading proponent of pre-emption – has differing techniques for pre-emption (i.e. his power slap, etc). However, Geoff, Peter and Funakoshi are all adhering to the exact same tactic. Funakoshi does not provide us with his preferred techniques for this tactic, and it would therefore be a mistake in my view to look for the fence (a technique) or similar in kata when pre-emption is a tactic, not a technique, and when the tactic is clearly endorsed by Funakoshi.

The Funakoshi quote that started this thread is not specifically referring to self-defence or pre-emption. I’d therefore be careful about reading it in that context especially when it would contradict what he has specifically written on the subject. The paragraph that started this thread seems to be to be taking about the need for offensive to always follow defence. If we were to take it as literal instruction that offensive techniques were never allowed before defensive ones in a contest then how would that contest ever begin?! If neither karateka was prepared to attack then neither can counter and they will just end up looking at each other all day. The line “If retaliation does not follow after defending oneself, then he is essentially the same as a 'hitting board” suggests he is primarily talking about the need for a partner to counterattack in training as opposed to just stand their motionless like a board awaiting to be broken. “Boards don’t hit back” as Bruce Lee famously said. Funakoshi  is saying that the partner must hit back. I don’t read it as having anything to do with pre-emption.

I also think that is the context of the whole piece, Funakoshi is taking about “kata” in the sense of formal two-person drills (i.e. like judo kata or pre-arranged sparring). Read that way the piece makes sense as a coherent whole and does not contradict his explicit writings on pre-emption.

When the past masters do specifically take about self-defence, pre-emption, “no first attack” etc they are pretty unanimous in making clear one should hit first, and that in that context hitting first is “defensive” and moral. To look for “pre-emptive techniques” is to confuse techniques and tactics and it’s not the technique itself that is “pre-emptive” but that way in which it is employed.

All the best,

Iain

Ben Ryder
Ben Ryder's picture

I dont think kata teach you how to fight, they just record some techniques you might be able to use. The combative strategies that teach you 'how' to fight (sen, sen no sen, go no sen, sen sen no sen and sasoi no sen) are taught along side it, but taught by the teacher not the kata. The techniques can be applied to any strategy required.

Its a little like a chess board full of pieces that do different things, but simply knowing what they can do (kata) is not the same as knowing when to use them - this has to be passed on by the teacher and experiential learning.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Thanks for all the decent info chaps-it is appriciated.

I do recal those historical statements, and thank you for typing them in to remind me!

Reading back I feel Funakoshi is not specifically talking about karate as applied self defense, and therefore his comments are not sensible to take literally, in this case.

Not that I would anyhow!

DaveB
DaveB's picture
Quote:
I dont think kata teach you how to fight, they just record some techniques you might be able to use. The combative strategies that teach you 'how' to fight (sen, sen no sen, go no sen, sen sen no sen and sasoi no sen) are taught along side it, but taught by the teacher not the kata. The techniques can be applied to any strategy required. Its a little like a chess board full of pieces that do different things, but simply knowing what they can do (kata) is not the same as knowing when to use them - this has to be passed on by the teacher and experiential learning.
My own opinion is almost the complete opposite: that the techniques in kata are the least important aspect and that it is the lessons on fighting tactics and strategy that are what make kata worthwhile. Without these core strategies we are left with a jumble of techniques that we already know, with them we have a road map to victory in every fight and the possibility to learn genuinely new things from studying the form. Where we agree is that there is some foundational knowledge one needs to be taught in order to start down this path and further experience will colour and your understanding and give life to what you learn, but that aside the whole art is there to be discovered, unpacked and applied through all situations. I believe our host uses the example of the acorn that becomes an oak to describe the phenomenon. Am I In the minority? Are kata purely collections of techniques or are the techniques incidental to the strategies encoded within?
Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

Hi DaveB

You're not in a minority of one at least, as your opinion is the same as mine.

As I think everyone on this forum would accept, martial arts training is  always about context and that is certainly true in understanding kata applications. The kata structure, the chose of example techniques and the order in which they are performed are based on an underlying narrative. I believe the majority of kata were designed to be used as a structured lesson (with an instructor)  to teach skills, tactics and principles for self-defence. It follows that the "kata narrative" will be structured in a logical order that is related to dealing practiacally with real fight senarios. Even if the orginiator did not intend there to be one (which I don't believe is the case for the majority of kata's), the narrative is an emergent property of clumping together a range of fighting applications and trying to teach them to students.

The narrative has to be understood by the practitioner to enable them to fully embrace the lessons being demonstrated within the kata form and that cannot be divorced from the fighting principles, strategies and tactics you should employ within the narrative.

I liken kata's to Lesson Plans, or teaching aids.  They are best deployed with a knowledgable instructor to guide the student through the lesson, with approporate examples, to learn the princple lessons. The analogy follows that the student is then able to take kata home for some revision or home work (solo kata practice ) without the sensei being present.

Cheers

Tom

JWT
JWT's picture

I could buy into the concept of a logical tactical or educational narrative if the Kata did not finish where they started. While I would expect good kata to have this, I suspect it has been placed lower on the table of priorities than the aesthetics of the form and not having to move garden or room obstacles each time you train.

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

Since Funakoshi wasnt considered a master by his Okinawan peers, you should probably just ignore his thoughts and turn to the Mabuni page.

Then Study Sen No Sen, and Sen Sen No Sen.

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

JWT wrote:

I could buy into the concept of a logical tactical or educational narrative if the Kata did not finish where they started. While I would expect good kata to have this, I suspect it has been placed lower on the table of priorities than the aesthetics of the form and not having to move garden or room obstacles each time you train.

Finishing where you started seems an awfully small thing to base your argument on disregarding the concept of the logical/tactical narrative idea... Seems a little like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

We are in agreement that ending the kata where you started is important in kata competion, but should really have no baring on the practical fighting lessons expressed.

However, I can understand from a purely human perspective why  the enbusen ends where it started. If you think about presentations or lectures, it is always nice to have a circular reference. It is much more elegant and brings the audience back to beginning of the presentation and re-affirms why you are listening in the first place. I can imagine (having not done it myself) that designing a kata to do this is quite a satisfactory puzzle worth solving, if not just for the sense of achievement from doing it.

Cheers

Tom 

JWT
JWT's picture

Hi Tom

Yes/No. :)

I've been working on some of my drills on the side, looking at what themes and principles I prioritise, and how I might string them together.  Finishing back where I started without superfluous movement is difficult.  It is something I'd like to achieve for the simple expedient of working effectively in a small space.

I think it is important to recognise past teachers as talented, skilled and knowledgeable, but it is a mistake and wishful thinking to place them on pedestals.  We may be standing on the shoulders of giants, but I can think of a lot of people I know who I'd regard as more experienced and more knowledgeable than those Karateka and their predecessors (who may or may not have created these forms).  These men and women were human, not necessarily people with genuine practical or pressure tested fighting experience, and had human foibles.  As a result I believe that it is optimistic to believe that every movement in Kata has a combative application that could be pulled off in a real fight (as I'm sure many were only dojo tested) or that every change of embusen has significant tactical or combative import.  

When a Kata has good techniques, which the practitioner knows how to apply, the order and embusen of the Kata becomes an irrelevance.  A good practitioner sees or feels the opening and moves, whether it is 'backwards' to a past movement or hopping 'forwards' to a later movement.  I see the repertoire of the kata as important, both as individual techniques and as a sum of its parts grouped together, the order of those techniques is not something I attach importance to in general since I feel it is largely dictated by the start/stop position.  

Cheers

JWT

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

Regarding Kata Start/Stop, this is really only a Shotokan thing, and if you look deeply not a Funakoshi thing.

Some of you may say wait, its in Funakoshi's books... Yes, yes it is, but look at who edited the books.

DaveB
DaveB's picture
Dale, I'm curious where you heard Funakoshi was not considered a Master? I presume a source other than Motobu? JWT, as Dale pointed out, ending at the start point is pretty much a Shotokan thing and not even universally accepted within that style. It is certainly not an intrinsic factor to kata study. You seem to have conflated the known, if highly exaggerated issues of modern Japanese Budo karate, with the nature of forms and their study. Kata/forms of karate originate in China and far predate the socially and politically motivated revision of karate in Japan that brought about things like aesthetic focus and ending where you start. Personally I find it hard to believe that of all the hands that kata passed through down the generations, through era's when devoting the time and energy to martial arts was a major life investment and flawed techniques were a life and death matter, that no one spotted dodgy moves until they got to us in the 21st century. If kata are just lists of techniques then they have nothing to teach us as we will only be able to see those techniques that we already know. You mention that a "good" practitioner will be able to use techniques and while this may be true, I feel that what kata offer in their sequence goes beyond "applying" techniques and teaches how to actually win fights. Strategy is about how we get from confrontation to escaping unharmed, from a neutral guard stance to holding the champions belt. Strategy transcends technique, thus enabling us to apply the fighting style of a kata without being limited to its movements or set sequences (that everyone acknowledges can be quite difficult to pull off in a live situation). This is one of the reasons I don't accept that Karate is for self defense against the untrained only. When Motobu said that, he made the classic (human) error of assuming that because he couldn't do something that it could not be done. Just as business men have taken Sun Su's art of war off the battlefield and into the boardroom, so one can adapt appropriate strategy from the street to the ring and back.
Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

JWT wrote:

Hi Tom

Yes/No. :)

Love it smiley

Quote:
I think it is important to recognise past teachers as talented, skilled and knowledgeable, but it is a mistake and wishful thinking to place them on pedestals.  We may be standing on the shoulders of giants, but I can think of a lot of people I know who I'd regard as more experienced and more knowledgeable than those Karateka and their predecessors (who may or may not have created these forms).  These men and women were human, not necessarily people with genuine practical or pressure tested fighting experience, and had human foibles.  As a result I believe that it is optimistic to believe that every movement in Kata has a combative application that could be pulled off in a real fight (as I'm sure many were only dojo tested) or that every change of embusen has significant tactical or combative import.

Lets be clear I don't subscribe to any hero-worship - far too experienced for that. People are People, with all the associated foibles that that entails, and historical figures are no different. There is a whole subject (which I know we have covered in earlier topics) about the evolution of kata form and the challanges associated with students applying omnipotence Sensei's teachings.

Quote:
When a Kata has good techniques, which the practitioner knows how to apply, the order and embusen of the Kata becomes an irrelevance.  A good practitioner sees or feels the opening and moves, whether it is 'backwards' to a past movement or hopping 'forwards' to a later movement.  I see the repertoire of the kata as important, both as individual techniques and as a sum of its parts grouped together, the order of those techniques is not something I attach importance to in general since I feel it is largely dictated by the start/stop position.  

I agree in part, in a fight you do apply the techniques in whatever order works for the given situation at hand. But to be able to do that an intrinsic understanding of the principles of why you apply them is required.

This is where the order of the kata is important as it often provides insight into the fighting principles. 

The whole point about recognising kata as a thing that is greater than the sum of its parts, is that the real value is in understanding the holistic fighting system. Everything is connected, how to apply a fighting technique, when to apply a fighting technique, what pre-emptive or preparatory actions need to be employed etc have to be wrapped into a theme or scenario for them to make sense and be effective. 

It is clear that kata as a vehicle to pass on knowledge was used for a number of different reasons and in a number of ways. Without getting really pedantic about information and knowledge theory.. Information is data that has percieved value, whilst knowledge is the wisdom (gained through experience - allthough the principles, once distilled can be inherited) to apply the information in the right way for the right situation. This is analogous to Techniques, applications and fighting principles in Kata. I don't believe for a moment that ealier orginators of kata were so prescriptive when they codified their fighting tactics and applications in kata, but that is how it would pan out just by the very nature of a lesson structure.

Cheers

Tom

JWT
JWT's picture

DaveB wrote:
JWT, as Dale pointed out, ending at the start point is pretty much a Shotokan thing and not even universally accepted within that style. It is certainly not an intrinsic factor to kata study. You seem to have conflated the known, if highly exaggerated issues of modern Japanese Budo karate, with the nature of forms and their study.

Dale/Dave - I'm genuinely surprised by your comments vis a vis the start/finish.  I've looked at a stupidly large number of form performances over the years in Okinawan, Japanese and Chinese martial arts and in my experience it is very rare for the practitioner not to end up within a metre of their starting point facing in the original direction.  Were you referring to starting on precisely the same spot? 

JWT
JWT's picture

DaveB wrote:
Personally I find it hard to believe that of all the hands that kata passed through down the generations, through era's when devoting the time and energy to martial arts was a major life investment and flawed techniques were a life and death matter, that no one spotted dodgy moves until they got to us in the 21st century.

With regard to this, have you never done a move because it was cool, knowing full well you'd never pull it off if someone was really trying to hit you?  Have you never seen a martial arts teacher get away with using a dodgy move because the student was too mentally conditioned not to hit the teacher?  Some techniques are bad because the movement is being applied in the wrong way in the wrong context, but just as modern teachers often make up and teach dross (and often con themselves as well as their students through their method of practice that it's gold), I do not expect teachers in times past to be any different. smiley

For many teachers and small systems I doubt having flawed techniques was any more a life or death matter than it is today.  While China and Japan are not my areas of speciality, with my historian's hat on (and as a researcher of modern violence)  I doubt very much that those countries were any more violent (in terms of civil violence as opposed to warfare) when these forms and moves were developed than they are now, nor am I convinced that transmission of knowledge, whether through military or civilian origins, was always in depth or accurate.  If the knowledge was automatically encoded in the forms (as opposed to coming from the teacher to be used in conjunction with them)  I don't think texts with tactical tips like the Bubishi would need to exist.

JWT
JWT's picture

Th0mas wrote:

I agree in part, in a fight you do apply the techniques in whatever order works for the given situation at hand. But to be able to do that an intrinsic understanding of the principles of why you apply them is required.

This is where the order of the kata is important as it often provides insight into the fighting principles. 

The whole point about recognising kata as a thing that is greater than the sum of its parts, is that the real value is in understanding the holistic fighting system. Everything is connected, how to apply a fighting technique, when to apply a fighting technique, what pre-emptive or preparatory actions need to be employed etc have to be wrapped into a theme or scenario for them to make sense and be effective. 

It is clear that kata as a vehicle to pass on knowledge was used for a number of different reasons and in a number of ways. Without getting really pedantic about information and knowledge theory.. Information is data that has percieved value, whilst knowledge is the wisdom (gained through experience - allthough the principles, once distilled can be inherited) to apply the information in the right way for the right situation. This is analogous to Techniques, applications and fighting principles in Kata. I don't believe for a moment that ealier orginators of kata were so prescriptive when they codified their fighting tactics and applications in kata, but that is how it would pan out just by the very nature of a lesson structure.

Cheers

Tom

Hi Tom

I think that defining when is a technique a technique, and when is a technique a tactic is a very blurry matter. smiley

I take note of the order and selection in Kata, but for me it is very much just one other element in the list of principles by which I interpret a form and not major enough to make my main list.  I've taken that approach in part because I see single movements and combinations shared between many Kata occuring in many different places, and thus I automatically look at movements both individually and in the context of any of the possible combinations of the form, and in part because I often see repetition which I regard as window dressing to help get a person back to a particular place.  

Cheers

JT

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

Hi john

This may be a semantics arguement,  but I do agree about the blurring, especially as a technique needs to be "applied" and application implies context and tactics are context related. So naturally there is no clear boundary between the definitions of these terms.

Single movements and combinations are certainly shared between different kata, which is to be expected given that human's have a consistent body shape( having only two arms, two legs and a head) which only leaves a finite number of options.  I contest that the differences between different katas (Kushanku, Jion etc) and the same kata's between different karate Styles (Wanshu and Empi) are stylistic rather than functional. 

If when looking at a kata you take a functional-outcome approach to bunkai interpretation rather than a technique focus then these similarities become much more obvious. 

In otherwords the stylistic peculiaries are much less important than the intent of the movements. How can you understand the intent if you don't focus on the context, and understand the fighting strategies and tactics that relate to this situation or scenario.

Clearly there is nothing stopping you taking these principles and pulling together new drills or forms that suite particular lessons you wish to teach... which I believe is a part of what you are doing John.

JWT
JWT's picture

Th0mas wrote:

Hi john

This may be a semantics arguement,  but I do agree about the blurring, especially as a technique needs to be "applied" and application implies context and tactics are context related. So naturally there is no clear boundary between the definitions of these terms.

Single movements and combinations are certainly shared between different kata, which is to be expected given that human's have a consistent body shape( having only two arms, two legs and a head) which only leaves a finite number of options.  I contest that the differences between different katas (Kushanku, Jion etc) and the same kata's between different karate Styles (Wanshu and Empi) are stylistic rather than functional. 

If when looking at a kata you take a functional-outcome approach to bunkai interpretation rather than a technique focus then these similarities become much more obvious. 

In otherwords the stylistic peculiaries are much less important than the intent of the movements. How can you understand the intent if you don't focus on the context, and understand the fighting strategies and tactics that relate to this situation or scenario.

Clearly there is nothing stopping you taking these principles and pulling together new drills or forms that suite particular lessons you wish to teach... which I believe is a part of what you are doing John.

Hi Tom

I'm not entirely sure we're talking or working at cross purposes here.

With regard to intent and context I think (if I understand you) you're taking context and intent from Kata movement sequencing.  I take application, intent and context by putting each movement against HAOV or trained fighting movements, looking at what works and what doesn't, whether it could be follow throughs for success or failure of other moves and so forth.  In some instances the direct Kata sequencing is useful, in others it is irrelevant, in others all the follow moves could be directly sequential to one movement in the Kata.  That's why in the original Heian Flow System I tied almost everything into the Nukite in Nidan/Sandan along with a few other moments.  I don't see the Kata as the context, I see life as the context and Kata as a manual of options.

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

I"m referring to stopping in the exact spot you started.  Which I've seen Shotokan stylist go out of their way to do, and demand from their students.

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

DaveB wrote:
Dale, I'm curious where you heard Funakoshi was not considered a Master? I presume a source other than Motobu?

My instructor Kenzo Mabuni told me this.  Several times.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

3 Okinawan, 1 Japanese and 2 American karate masters (both of whom spent many years in Okinawa and Japan) mentioned to me about Funakoshi Sensei lack of real ability and understanding over the years.

That doesn't make him a bad person, far from it but he had a job to do and it is my belief that he was selected to do it as he was educated, able and willing for the job in hand etc.

DaveB
DaveB's picture

That's interesting, but then I'm not aware of Funakoshi ever saying anything different. I'm really curious to know how respected was Funakoshi's teacher Ankoh Azato? Also Motobu wrote in his book that Matsumura considered Itosu as a "thick headed student" and criticised his naihanchi. Does anyone know if this disdain was widespread? It's sad that KarateKa who were considered master's of his day put so little of their arts depth out there for public consumption.

JWT, I understand where you are coming from with regards to the start/stop position, but I think as Thomas suggests this is more about having an elegant lesson structure. Regardless it is irrelevant to a sequential analysis.

The fifth form of the kung fu system I studied repeats a single set of techniques 5 Times, each set begins by stepping off at an angle and the five repetitions bring you back to the start point. But the point is to learn the principles of using small angle changes and to practice the associated footwork. Just as in karate kata most of the direction changes indicate natural breaks between sequences. It is these sequences that we study within the repeated movement set that teach us the Why of the kata.

If the fifth pattern had only 3 repetitions and ended up somewhere different it would not change the inherent lessons in the form even a little. The same goes for Pinan Sho; if the opening three movements weren't repeated or the set of four angled shuto's were reduced to two it might change the pattern and ending points of the form, but none of the principles behind those sequences would have changed. The same is true of almost every form. 

JWT
JWT's picture

I strongly suspect we'd all have more concensus than disagreement if we were converying our ideas with the space to move, show, tell and experience - possibly with a BBQ warming up in the background and beers cooling in the fridge.

 cool

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