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WadoBen
WadoBen's picture
Need help with Wado's Rohai

I was hoping some of you good people out there could give me a little help, I'm currently working on Wado Ryu's Rohai and I'm completely stuck with trying to workout the bunkai with a move. Towards the end of this short kata is a "double punch" followed by stepping back and performing a 360 degree turn into a Knife hand "block" for those of you unformliar with this kata I've included a link to it on YouTube below. And advise on this small but confusing section and what a 360 turn would imply would be of great help. 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Ben,

Wado’s Rohai is an odd one; in so much as it is an incomplete entity. There are many versions of Rohai, but the Wado one is essentially “Rohai Shodan” from Anko Itosu’s three Rohai (i.e. Rohai Shodan, Rohai Nidan and Rohai Sandan). The video below illustrates this quite well:

Rohai Shodan

If you look at other versions of Rohai you can see they are much longer, and quite different from one another. For example:

Matsumura No Rohai (Shito Ryu)

Meikyo (Shotokan’s version of Rohai)

As I mentioned, Anko Itosu is credited with taking one version of Rohai and rearranging it into three parts. However, only the first part made it on to the Wado curriculum. I’m not aware of explanation as to why this is the case. Did he learn all three from Mabuni (a student of Itosu and one of Otsuka’s karate teachers) and decide to drop the other two? Or did he just learn the first one? I don’t know.

Either way, we do know that Otsuka dropped the kata after the second world war such that the “official” Wado kata were The Pinan Series, Naihanchi, Kushanku, Seishan, and Chinto.

For those Wado groups who still practise Rohai - and there are a lot of them – there needs to be an understanding that Wado essentially has one-third of a kata that has many disparate variations. It’s therefore not a good candidate for the holistic methodologies we find in other “complete” kata.

My background was Wado, and Rohai was a kata I was taught and practised for a long time; it is no longer part of my training and core teaching now though for the reasons outline above. I therefore do not have formal bunkai drills for that kata. Happy to share my thoughts on it though :-)

The motion to me looks like an over hand punch (see the recent “Yama-Zuki” thread for variations) followed by reaching between the enemy’s legs and over their shoulder. The shoulder is then pulled forward as the enemy’s rear leg lifted. See the picture to the right of Funakoshi and Otsuka demonstrating something similar. In this instance, the yama-zuki would have been done with Funakoshi’s back to our viewpoint. The beginnings of the throw would then look as pictured. The flow of the kata will then throw the enemy over and the continuing foot motion will result in a stamp to the downed enemy (step 1) and a step away to create space (step 2). Obviously this has been “formalised” in the kata, but the motion is definitely there.

Never easy to get these things across in text only, but I hope the general idea comes across. I’m sure others will also share their thoughts to in due course.

All the best,

Iain

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi all,

The rotation shuto is very similar to that which completes Wanshu/ Enpi kata.  Some groups actually go airborne when performing the rotation in Rohai. 

Rohai isn't present on my Syllabus but my application for Wanshu could apply here. 

As Iain said it is difficult to describe in words so hopefully this will make sense!

Working from the Yama- zuki as an overhand right having released the left wrist use your Shuto uke preparation (left hand)to push the opponents left arm away.  Your right hand which as just made contact as an overhand hook strikes Haito to the base of your opponents neck as you draw his head into the "V" of your arm.  Your form would look like Shuto prior to finishing the knife hand strike. 

With your opponents left side pushed through and his head tightly controlled simply rotate the per the katas example aiming to take your opponent to the ground, completing the Shuto will effect a wrenching/ ripping sensation which may aid the takedown. I personally consider the final forward stepping Shuto as the "what if" option.  If the opponent manages to maintain his balance then the kata suggests driving into a Shuto to maintain dominance.

I hope you can picture what I'm trying to describe and find out of interest. 

All the best

Mark

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

So Wado's Rohai only consist of Itosu Rohai Shodan?

Do they do the Shotokan Meikyo?

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

I am pretty sure from our perspective Rohai is a TomariTe import kata by Hohan Soken, and not a Matsumura lineage kata passed down.

Putting that aside I love the kata our version is close (in enbusen) but still significantly different (technically) to the example shown labeled Matsumura No Rohai Shito Ryu.

In our version the double strikes do not link to the turn, as we have a KakeTe and Furi Uchi with crescent kick to turn but for the example shown a scoop throw makes absolute sense.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi everyone,

Jim is right, there is no Matsumura no Rohai in Karate, as well as there is no Matsumura Chinto. That is some kind of typo I guess because there are Kata going back to the Tomari adept by the name of Matsumora (Kosaku that is). The strange thing is that even the Japanese mislable that Kata as Matsumura rather than Matsumora. Both Rohai and Chinto are Kata from the Tomari region.

As for the application, I also see the similarities to the last sequence of Empi/Wanshu. The main application for this move is a throw called Kata Guruma in Judo (sometimes known in the west as the firemans carry).

Take a look here:

Regards Holger

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi,

We know that Wanshu was also known as the "dumping" form, referring to throw, or something similar that Holgers link demonstrates.  

I however have my reservations as to its practicality in a real situation.  Certainly it is possible,  I don't dispute that and knowledge of its presence and application is essential to a rounded study of kata.  

For myself I prefer to find Bunkai Oyho that I reckon will have a greater likelihood of having relevancy for the type of situation I might face in my world , hence my own take on the sequence. 

I think in our study it's essential that you feed your own personality into your Bunkai.  Even when there is a documented application if it doesn't work as your best option then you should try and find something that does.  

Of course you have to apply the principles as described in the kata and for the purpose of demonstration it should be recognisable as the said sequence. If those criteria are met then the application is sound in my opinion.

Regarding the question initially posed by WadoBen if he doesn't think Iains idea or mine or the video Holger shared would suit him he should work with the most likely scenarios of civilian conflict to find a solution which may better suit his needs. For the enjoyment element of Karate aside from the physical practice that's one of the most rewarding aspects. 

Regards

Mark

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Dale Parker wrote:
So Wado's Rohai only consist of Itosu Rohai Shodan?

Do they do the Shotokan Meikyo?

Yes, that’s essentially right. What others call “Rohai Shodan” is the only Rohai in Wado.

Otsuka originally said that Wado had sixteen kata which were: The five Pinan kata, Naihanchi, Kushanku, Seishan, Chinto, Passai, Wanshu, Rohai, Niseishi, Jitte, Jion and Suparinpei.

Suparinpei was dropped relatively quickly giving what most people would recognise as the fifteen Wado kata (although a “reconstructed” Wado version of Suparinpei now exists within some Wado groups i.e. Hakoishi Katsumi creating the version practised in Wado-Kai). Otsuka later stated that the following nine were enough: The five Pinan kata, Naihanchi, Kushanku, Seishan,& Chinto. So they are the core nine that everyone does, and they also tend to be relatively consistent across all the different Wado organisations.

The point is not all Wado groups include Rohai; but for those that do it is essentially Rohai Shodan, with the other two not being practised. Wado people do not have or practise an equivalent of Shotokan’s Meikyo.

shoshinkanuk wrote:
I am pretty sure from our perspective Rohai is a TomariTe import kata by Hohan Soken, and not a Matsumura lineage kata passed down.

ky0han wrote:
Jim is right, there is no Matsumura no Rohai in Karate … That is some kind of typo I guess because there are Kata going back to the Tomari adept by the name of Matsumora (Kosaku that is)

A large amount of Shito-Ryu practitioners do practice a kata that is called “Matsumura no Rohai”, so there is definitely a kata by that name in karate … whether that is the right name of it or not is another question :-)

Holger’s suggestion that this could have its origins in a pronunciation / typo problem between Matsumora and Matsumura seems a solid explanation to me. Especially where there are also Shito-Ryu practioners who call the same kata “Matsumora no Rohai”.

ky0han wrote:
As for the application, I also see the similarities to the last sequence of Empi/Wanshu. The main application for this move is a throw called Kata Guruma in Judo (sometimes known in the west as the firemans carry).

I agree. It also fits with the following motions.

Mark B wrote:
Regarding the question initially posed by WadoBen if he doesn't think Iains idea or mine or the video Holger shared would suit him he should work with the most likely scenarios of civilian conflict to find a solution which may better suit his needs.

Absolutely. There is always a need to fit the individual into training and avoid “one size fits all” training and teaching.

The application should always suit the individual, and I think this is nicely captured in Itosu’s sixth precept:

“Learn the explanations of every technique well, and decide when and in what manner to apply them when needed”

I like that translation (and not just because I paid a small fortune for it!) because of the distinction between “learn” and “decide”.

All students will initially learn the same methods; regardless of their physical attributes or preferences. I think this is important for karate’s long term health and effectiveness as instructors need to be able to teach all body types; not just their own. If people only ever learn what works for them, they will be unable to teach anyone unlike them. The other extreme is people only ever learning things that work for others. There needs to be a middle way.

Once a technique has been learnt, the student, as an individual, then needs to work that into their personal expression of karate by deciding (with guidance and through experience) what works for them. First they learn: then they decide.

In some cases they will decide to use a method “as is”. In other cases they will decide to use it in a modified way (which is still consistent with the principles illustrated by the initial example). They may also decide not to use it at all … and that’s fine so long as they are able to teach it so others who may find it useful.

Enjoying this one! Thanks folks!

All the best,

Iain

rbartley
rbartley's picture

I am with ky0han on the naming of the kata.  I practice both Wado Ryu and Shito Ryu  karate and the version practiced in Wado is referred to in Shito Ryu as Itosu no Rohai.  The version I learned first was Matsumora No Rohai Shodan, which is essentially the same as the Shito Kai version above.  It was always stressed that this was not invented by Matsumura to avoid mis-pronouncing the name.

Iain, your comments regarding the Wado Rohai as being an incomplete entity is interesting.  Would you say the same about Naifanchin/Naihanchi?  Some people are of the opinion that the three Naifanchin/Naihanchi kata were derived from a single original kata (http://www.cw-fc.com/karate/kata/naihanchi.htm). 

As you know, Ohtsuka said :

""There are three (Naihanchi) Katas, Shodan, Nidan and Sandan, but the last two are almost useless."

Do you think he thought the same about Itosu No Rohai Nidan and Itosu No Rohai Sandan?

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

rbartley wrote:
Iain, your comments regarding the Wado Rohai as being an incomplete entity is interesting.  Would you say the same about Naifanchin/Naihanchi?  Some people are of the opinion that the three Naifanchin/Naihanchi kata were derived from a single original kata (http://www.cw-fc.com/karate/kata/naihanchi.htm). 

As you know, Ohtsuka said :

"There are three (Naihanchi) Katas, Shodan, Nidan and Sandan, but the last two are almost useless."

Do you think he thought the same about Itosu No Rohai Nidan and Itosu No Rohai Sandan?

Otsuka also said that Naihanchi was his favourite kata, there was something profoundly deep about it, and it would take more than a lifetime to master.

My take on things is that there was originally one Naihanchi; which now goes by the name of “Naihanchi Shodan” in other schools because two other versions of the kata were subsequently created.

Although some people do say that all three were originally one kata, I don’t see this reflected in what has been passed down to us from history. “Shodan” was the original, with the others coming later (as with the “dai” and “sho” versions of some other kata). There are quite a few schools that have one single kata called “Naihanchi”. I’ve also yet to see any evidence for the “three were originally one” hypothesis, other that a strong assertion that that was the case. No traditional style practises a version of Naihanchi that looks like all three together … but plenty of styles do practise a version of Rohai that looks like all three combined. So we are not comparing the same thing here:

Naihanchi is complete kata in itself. Two subsequent versions have been developed, so some have renamed the first one shodan to reflect that.

Rohai Shodan (called “Rohai” in Wado) is one part of a three-part approach to an older kata.

I have no way of knowing what Otuska thought, but I would guess that he felt the “original” Naihanchi was all that was needed (which seems to have been also reflected in his teacher Motobu’s work).

As to why he only included one part of the Rohai series, I don’t know. What we do know is that he dropped it later on. So whatever his initial thinking he changed his mind later.

All the best,

Iain

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

Interestingly enough, in Shito-Ryu, Itosu Rohai Nidan and Sandan, have very interesting bunkai with a lot of Kakushi Waza compared to Shodan.