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Dale Parker
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ky0han wrote:

Hi Dale, in regards to Kosokun/Kushanku/Kanku Sho. I think we have to refrain from the idea of an original Kata. When Kushanku taught his methods he might have taught an original Kata. Maybe he taught Yara a different form than Sakugawa. Maybe Sakugawa and Yara formed their own Kata after being taught Kushankus way of fighting. Maybe Yara put everthing into one form and Sakugawa put the methods in two forms (Kushanku, Channan). Who will ever know.

Sakagami lists Kosokun/Kushanku/Kanku Sho as a Kata of Itosus. Maybe Itosu came accross the Yara Kushanku and took some methods out there to form an additional Kushanku (which he named the younger/newer Kushanku or Kushanku Sho).

Regards Holger

In Shito-Ryu our Kosokun history points to Chatan Yara No Kushanku as the source of Itosu's Kushanku.  Kushanku taught his form to Yara.  Yara taught this form to Peichin.  Peichin taught this form to Sakugawa.  Sakugawa taught Matsumura.  Matsumura taught Itosu.  Itosu created Kushanku and Kushanku Sho from that.  Mabuni Kenwa chose the contemporary pronounciation of Kosokun Dai and Kosokun Sho.  

Itsosu also created all 5 pinan kata from an analysis of Kushanku, ie Kosokun Dai.  

IMO there is no lost kata here.  Are there lost kata, most likely yes, but not in this instance, but that is my opinion.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Dale,

as far as I know Sakugawa was directly taught by Kushanku himself. As far as I know Shito Ryu has Yara Kushanku and Matsumura Kushanku as well as Itosu Kushanku Dai and Sho pronounced Kosokun.

Who is Peichin? Peichin is a class rank title at the ryukyuan royal court. Itosu was in that Peichin class, Matsumura too, practically every old master from back then had such a rank.

Can I ask you what your source is on that information?

Oh I think there was a Kata called Channan. Motobu said it as well as Sakagami. In the 1938 book Karate Jutsu no Kenkyu by Itoman Seijin recently translated by Marion McKenna is a list of Kata. On that list is a Kata by the name of Yoshimura Channan.

Regards Holger

Dale Parker
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My information comes from personal notes from conversations with Soke Kenzo Mabuni.

From what I recall he made it sound as if Peichin was a single person.  I don't have more on it.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi All,

Dale Parker wrote:
Peichin taught this form to Sakugawa.

ky0han wrote:
Who is Peichin? Peichin is a class rank title at the ryukyuan royal court.

Dale Parker wrote:
My information comes from personal notes from conversations with Soke Kenzo Mabuni. From what I recall he made it sound as if Peichin was a single person.  I don't have more on it.

It sounds to me like it could be Peichin Takahara who is being referred to here? He was said to have taught Sakugawa and also to have advised him to train under Kushanku. It’s also very common for him to be referred to by title and name (whereas it is not common to hear of Itosu referred to as “Peichin Itosu” for example). I’m sure that is the single individual being referred to here and that may account for him simply being referred to as “Peichin”?

As regards, there being a “lost” kata called “Channan” I think we need to be sure to mark an important distinction between a kata evolving to become something else and a kata being lost.

There was certainly a kata called “Channan”; I think the evidence is very strong for that. Where I think the evidence is weak is for a “lost kata” that was entirely independent of Itosu. If there was a lost kata called “Channan” that was around a couple of generations before Itosu we need to explain why absolutely no other versions of it are around today? Why, for example, has Kushanku kata been passed on via many schools in many forms, but all we have for Channan is a few obscure references?

I think the simplest and most logical explanation is that “Channan” was a creation of Itosu. If it was not, why did the person who taught it to Itosu not teach it to anyone else? And if they did, why did no other students pass it on? In fact, why did Itosu himself not pass it on? He seems to have taught other older kata in addition to his Pinans, so why not Channan? I feel the most logical explanation is that Itosu was the source of Channan, and he did pass it on, but by that time it had evolved into the Pinan series.

As  always, that is simply my personally preferred hypothesis – which I will obviously be happy to change in the light of further evidence – but based on what I know at the moment, I feel that makes most sense to me: The kata is not “lost”; it simply is here in an evolved state and known by another name.

ky0han wrote:
In that manual, published in 1562, general Ch'i Chi-Kuang describes how important the empty hand fighting is for his military training. He called it the basics of weaponry. According to him he took the fighting style of Emperor T'ai Tsu which was a Long Fist Style (Ch'ang-Ch'üan - Long Fist). …

 ….Over the years that style could have developed further so that in 1756 a military attache by the name of Kung Hsiang-Chün (aka Kushanku) came to Okinawa and taught this Long Fist style to Karate Sakugawa.

There is nearly a 200 hundred year gap here, so I’d have to ask how can we be sure of any link? While there may be a strong coloration between the 32 postures in the manual, such colorations are not uncommon. I have many old boxing and wrestling manuals on my shelves, and a great many of the techniques look very much like motions found in certain karate kata, but that does not mean western boxers went to Okinawa to teach, or any other direct link. Different people found similar ways of fighting strikes me as the simplest explanation.

ky0han wrote:
Due to the fact that Kushanku was in the military it is not unlikely that he had learned Long Fist Boxing there.

It’s possible, but it does require 200 years of almost no change if we are to accept that the 1562 illustrations were what Kushanku was teaching in 1756. This would mean the method would need to saturate the Chinese military – in order to make it probable that this single military man called Kushanku leant and taught the exact same method all those years later – and that it would need to remain largely unchanged for 200 years.

This would mean that this version of “Ch'ang-Ch'üan” would be unquestionably the most consistent and widely practised method in marital history … and yet in a few generations it became lost? No other version of it being passed on in China or Okinawa? I can’t see that happening. Any form that was that widely practised and was around for over two centuries largely unchanged would be all over the place. If the theory is to be more robust, I think I would need a good explanation of this sudden “overnight” disappearance of such a hugely popular and consistent methodology?

ky0han wrote:
Sakugawa learned two Kata from Kushanku and taught them to Matsumura, one named after his master Kushanku and one that was simply called Long Fist or Ch'ang Ch'üan which eventually became Channan.

Interesting! I’ve not heard that before. Could you tell me what the source is for Sakugawa learning two kata from Kushanku? How do we know one was called “Long Fist” and that this became know as “Channan”? Why the name change from “Ch'ang Ch'üan” to “Channan”? This thread is drawing out loads of great stuff and I’d really appreciate if you could expand on this if you have time.

Back to this Channan hypothesis, I do feel it requires some “leaps” i.e. what has been suggested to be a hugely popular, widely practised, and very consistent method for over two centuries disappearing from history in a few generations with no explanation as to why; no explanation as to why another version of the kata encapsulating this method did not find its way to us by a lineage independent of Itosu i.e. by one of Masumura’s other students, or indeed the hundreds of thousands of people in the Chinese military who must have learnt it; etc.

We don’t know anything for certain of course. So we have to go with the theory that we feel best explains the information we do have. Ockham’s Razor states that “one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power.” In this instance I think the simplest theory, which also has the greatest explanatory power, is Channan was the “Proto-Pinan”; and as such Itosu was the creator of them both with his earlier creation being superseded by the Pinans we have today. That explains things in the simplest way to me (I could be entirely wrong of course!).

The great thing about threads like this is that many competing theories are aired and lots of information is shared so individuals can explore decide for themselves.

Thanks to all for the great contributions!

All the best,

Iain

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Iain,

good post.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
It sounds to me like it could be Peichin Takahara who is being referred to here? He was said to have taught Sakugawa and also to have advised him to train under Kushanku. It’s also very common for him to be referred to by title and name (whereas it is not common to hear of Itosu referred to as “Peichin Itosu” for example). I’m sure that is the single individual being referred to here and that may account for him simply being referred to as “Peichin”?

Takahara Peichin was allegedly born sometimes around the 1680s and allegedly died in the 1760s. I doubt that a man that old in 1756 learned Kata from Kushanku himself. That he advised his alledged student Sakugawa to learn from Kushanku makes more sense to me. To call somebody by a title that was very common back than is no way to distinguish one person from others in my eyes. So that points to the direction that Sakugawa directly learned from Kushanku.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
As regards, there being a “lost” kata called “Channan” I think we need to be sure to mark an important distinction between a kata evolving to become something else and a kata being lost.

There was certainly a kata called “Channan”; I think the evidence is very strong for that. Where I think the evidence is weak is for a “lost kata” that was entirely independent of Itosu. If there was a lost kata called “Channan” that was around a couple of generations before Itosu we need to explain why absolutely no other versions of it are around today? Why, for example, has Kushanku kata been passed on via many schools in many forms, but all we have for Channan is a few obscure references?

That would point in the direction of what Nakama Chozo told Mark Bishop that Itosu learned Channan from a Chinese and developed it further. He later would rename them Pinan.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
I think the simplest and most logical explanation is that “Channan” was a creation of Itosu. If it was not, why did the person who taught it to Itosu not teach it to anyone else? And if they did, why did no other students pass it on? In fact, why did Itosu himself not pass it on? He seems to have taught other older kata in addition to his Pinans, so why not Channan? I feel the most logical explanation is that Itosu was the source of Channan, and he did pass it on, but by that time it had evolved into the Pinan series.

According to Nakama it would be an enhanced version of what he learned from that dubious Chinese. Maybe the Chinese stayed only for a short amount of time on Okinawa and just taught Itosu. Who knows :o). Maybe Itosu created the Channan on his own after he learned the fighting methods of that Chinese. Could have been so.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
There is nearly a 200 hundred year gap here, so I’d have to ask how can we be sure of any link? While there may be a strong coloration between the 32 postures in the manual, such colorations are not uncommon. I have many old boxing and wrestling manuals on my shelves, and a great many of the techniques look very much like motions found in certain karate kata, but that does not mean western boxers went to Okinawa to teach, or any other direct link. Different people found similar ways of fighting strikes me as the simplest explanation.

It’s possible, but it does require 200 years of almost no change if we are to accept that the 1562 illustrations were what Kushanku was teaching in 1756. This would mean the method would need to saturate the Chinese military – in order to make it probable that this single military man called Kushanku leant and taught the exact same method all those years later – and that it would need to remain largely unchanged for 200 years.

Interesting! We can't be sure of anything it is part of the theory I guess. This form of Long Fist did absolutely saturate into the chinese military. Those 32 gestures even found their way into another military manual, the old Bubishi that was published in 1621, and that found its way around China and even influenced the newer Bubishi. There were certainly changes all over the place but the core may have been kept intact over the years.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
This would mean that this version of “Ch'ang-Ch'üan” would be unquestionably the most consistent and widely practised method in marital history … and yet in a few generations it became lost? No other version of it being passed on in China or Okinawa? I can’t see that happening. Any form that was that widely practised and was around for over two centuries largely unchanged would be all over the place. If the theory is to be more robust, I think I would need a good explanation of this sudden “overnight” disappearance of such a hugely popular and consistent methodology?

As I said I doubt that it did not change over the years. But it didn't disapear over night. Kushanku is according to that theory a Kata that is based on Long Fist Boxing. It was not named Long Fist though but after the originator. When Itosu learned a form from that dubious Chinese years later he asked him probably what he was learning. That man may have called it simply Long Fist (or Ch'ang-Ch'üan) and so Itosu named this methods Channan and not after the name of that Chinese.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
Interesting! I’ve not heard that before. Could you tell me what the source is for Sakugawa learning two kata from Kushanku? Why the name change from “Ch'ang Ch'üan” to “Channan”?

That is an asumption made by Henning for his theory as I understand. The name change is explainable by the ryukyuan dialect. Ch'ang Ch'üan is the chinese pronounciation according to the Wade Giles transcription of the characters for Long and Fist. Pinyin would be Cháng Quán. I don't know about the Hogen way to pronounce those characters. But according to that theory it eventually became Chan Nan. We have no Kanji for Channan only Kana. And so it is absolutely not sure if Channan is or was Long Fist in Chinese.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
Back to this Channan hypothesis, I do feel it requires some “leaps” i.e. what has been suggested to be a hugely popular, widely practised, and very consistent method for over two centuries disappearing from history in a few generations with no explanation as to why; no explanation as to why another version of the kata encapsulating this method did not find its way to us by a lineage independent of Itosu i.e. by one of Masumura’s other students, or indeed the hundreds of thousands of people in the Chinese military who must have learnt it; etc.

Matsumura had not many students that had a great influence on Karate history. Itosu despite being only a short time student was the most influential. Maybe his main students only learned Passai and Kushanku most of the time, Channan being an exception. Long Fist Boxing is a widely practiced form in China even today. So no disappearence at all. It all goes back to that Long Fist Boxing of Emperor T'ai Tsu as does the form of General Ch'i Chi-Kuang. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changquan

Again very good post and very thought provoking. I really like that.

Regards Holger

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Holger,

Many thanks for the above post! That’s great and it answered my questions very succinctly. Thanks very much for the great addition to the information shared in this thread. I’m finding all the various viewpoints expressed and information shared fascinating! It’s also really appealing to the “karate nerd” in me :-)

All the best,

Iain

JWT
JWT's picture

This is an excellent thread!

As it's only in draft form, and I'm surely I'm going to play with it (adding and subtracting information) quite a bit, I don't mind sharing part of the re-write on the origins of the Pinan forms taken from my current writing project.  Those of you who've got the current Heian Flow System will spot some of the changes I'm sure. 

smiley

Where does the kata come from?

It used to be a commonly repeated belief in the Shotokan community that the Pinan Kata were derived from the Kata Kushanku (Kanku-Dai).  It is true that as a whole, the two have many movements in common, but the simple process of analysing and counting the prevalence of the techniques in both forms is enough to establish that they are at the same time very different.  For a clearer picture look at the excellent technique Morote Uchi Uke (assisted inside receiver), it is one of the most common techniques in the Pinan after Gedan Barai (down sweep) and Shuto Uke (knife hand receiver), occurring nine times.  It does not appear at all in modern Kuushanku.  The Pinan set uses Age Uke (upward receiver) five times, it is also conspicuous by its absence in Kushanku. There are other techniques unique to Pinan that do not appear in Kushanku and visa versa.  This of course does not prove that the Pinan was not derived from Kushanku, what it does tell us is that whoever designed it certainly had another source in addition to Kushanku for the kata’s techniques. Kushanku has entire sequences that are found in the Pinan set, but then it also contains complete sequences that are found in Passai/Bassai Dai as do the Pinan.  There are also significant common sequences or techniques with Kata such as Sochin and the Tomari Te Kata Jion.

One thing that supports the Seito Matsumura Shorin Ryu oral tradition that the Pinan set was developed by two instructors is the apparent division between the first two Kata and the later three.  In terms of recurrent techniques the first two Kata feature Age Uke, but that is not featured at all in the later three.  The first two also have a heavy emphasis on  Shuto Uke which is hardly used at all in the later Kata, although overall the embusen of the Kata is not particularly dissimilar, there is perhaps a more common element between the first two and the second three.  On a small island like Okinawa there are bound to be crossovers in practice, as indeed in any martial art working to similar goals regardless of providence, but In some respects the first two forms are reminiscent  of the Tomari Te Kata (Passai, Jion, Jiin, Jitte, Empi) with their emphasis on Gedan Barai, Age Uke, Shuto Uke and Oi Zuki,  while the second three Kata have more aspects  in common with Kushanku, though the Kakewake Uke combinations and sequential Fumikomi movements also hint towards links with Tomari Te or a common ground with  some of the Tomari Te Kata.  While that division might suggest a split identity and two different hands at work, it should be noted that the difference could simply be a reflection of different envisioned training aims and priorities for the different Kata.

Whether we look to Kushanku, to Passai, to Jion/Jiin/Jitte or to Chiang Nan (as a place after which the Pinan form was originally named) as points of origin the common thread uniting all these Okinawan forms is their Chinese roots. 

Kushanku was apparently named after a Chinese man known as Kusanku (also Kushanku or Koso Kun) who visited Okinawa in 1756 as part of the retinue of the Chinese envoy.[1]

Passai (also known as Bassai) originated in China.   There are now a large number of different version of this kata practiced in modern karate, including for example  Matsumura no Passai (after Sokon Matsumura) and Oyadomari no Passai (after Kokan Oyadomari, the Tomari Karateka who was taught it by a Chinese man living in Tomari) and the Passai of Anko Itosu.  The kata has developed considerable variation over the years, but in many versions there are clear technical and stylistic similarities with the Tomari Te Kata Jion, Jiin, Jitte and `Enpi. 

Jion, Jitte and Jiin are Tomari Te Kata.  It has been speculated that their origins lie in the Chinese Jion temple.

If Itosu called his original versions of the Pinan kata Chiang Nan after a Chinese man he met in Okinawa (or was taught the form itself by a Chinese man as Nakama believed) then it is possible that the techniques taught came from a system based in the Chinese city of Chang’an (Xi’an) in eastern China.  By the time of both Itosu and Matsumura the city had been called Xi’an for two hundred years, but given that was merely a blink of an eye compared to over a thousand year history of the old name, it would not be unusual for a set of methods to be named in the older tradition.  As Xi’an was one of the most populous well connected cities in China and former capital,  it is not unreasonable to suggest that it would have been a melting pot for martial arts and home to many different fighting traditions.

While it is possible that Itosu learned a kata called Chiang Nan from a Chinese man living in Okinawa, there available evidence suggests otherwise.  The forms practised today survive in many different variations across numerous karate styles.  If Itosu learned a version of a Kata called Chiang Nan in Okinawa, why did no-one else?  Why aren’t there numerous versions like there are of Passai?  There are no provable or credible surviving examples of an earlier form.  It is far more likely that Itosu (and possibly Matsumura too) formed the Chiang Nan / Pinan kata from favoured personal combinations along existing favoured sequences from other forms (such as Passai, Jion and Kusanku) with potentially new combinations from this mysterious Chinese teacher in Okinawa. It is certainly not unusual for martial artists to borrow ideas and methods from their peers.

Chang’an ??translates as Perpetual Peace, though the city had in the Xin dynasty been known by the  different (but similar sounding) characters ??Constant Peace before being named Xi’an ??Western Peace.  In the context of the terms Pinan and Heian this is very interesting.  The one constant in the name of the city has been the character ?‘an’ peace.  Itosu changed the Kata name to Pinan to make it easier for Okinawans to pronounce and Funakoshi changed the name to Heian to suit the Japanese, but both men retained the core character ‘an’ peace.  As Karate historian Iain Abernethy has observed, the combinations Pin-an and Hei-an could mean ‘peace and tranquility’, but combined would commonly mean the equivalent of the English colloquialism  ‘safe and sound’.

john titchen

[1] H. Cook, Op. Cit., page 9.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Iain,

No problem you are welcome.

So you are a certified "Karate Nerd" too smiley. Hehe.

Regards Holger

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi John,

JWT wrote:
For a clearer picture look at the excellent technique Morote Uchi Uke (assisted inside receiver), it is one of the most common techniques in the Pinan

That position is in those 32 gestures of General Ch'i Chi-Kuang called "Flag and Drum Position". The General describes its use as a throw.

Since we have no Kanji of how Channan was written everthing is speculation. Yours is interesting too thought.

Since Itosu was the line successor of a Gusukuma of Tomari all the Tomari influences you mentioned make perfect sense to me. However we will never know how the Pinan-Gata came into existance for sure but it is fun to speculate.

Regards Holger

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

ky0han wrote:

Hi Iain,

No problem you are welcome.

So you are a certified "Karate Nerd" too smiley. Hehe.

Regards Holger

There is a certification for that?  Is there a membership card as well?

JWT
JWT's picture

Dale Parker wrote:

There is a certification for that?  Is there a membership card as well?

Are you kidding?  There's even a holiday camp. devil

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

erm ok im in...................

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

JWT
JWT's picture

LOL

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Printed off and put safely in my wallet :-)

All the best,

Iain

jeffc
jeffc's picture

Hi Iain

I read your Channan theory and it certainly sounds plausible, but I am by no means an expert in this area at all.  However, I was reading Morinobu Itoman's Study of China Hand Techniques (translated by Mario McKenna) again, which is apparently a translation of his book that was originally published in 1934, and (on page 90 of my book) lists the kata that were practiced at the time.  Included at number 31 of 42 kata is one named Yoshimura-shi Channan.  Pinan I to V are also included.  Is that referring to a different Channan kata?  Or is it evidence that Channan was being routinely practiced in Okinawa as late as 1934?  If so, where did it go?  If it was still being practiced in 1934, alongside the Pinan series, does that cast doubt on it being the forerunner to the Pinan kata?  I have no idea and was hoping you may be able to cast some light for me!!

With respect

Jeff Capstick

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture
Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Jeff,

jeffc wrote:
… and (on page 90 of my book) lists the kata that were practiced at the time.  Included at number 31 of 42 kata is one named Yoshimura-shi Channan.  Pinan I to V are also included.  Is that referring to a different Channan kata?  Or is it evidence that Channan was being routinely practiced in Okinawa as late as 1934?  If so, where did it go?

The article by Joe Swift that Dale has linked to above is a great piece if you’ve not already read it. He mentions Yoshimura Channan in it:

Joe Swift wrote:
References to Channan can be found as far back as 1934. In the karate research journal entitled Karate no Kenkyu, published by Nakasone Genwa, Motobu Choki is quoted referring to the Channan and the Pinan kata ….

… Ryusho Sakagami, in his 1978 Karatedo Kata Taikan as well as Tokumasa Miyagi in his 1987 Karate no Rekishi both give extensive kata lists, and both list a kata known as Yoshimura no Channan (Miyagi, 1987; Sakagami, 1978). It is unknown who Yoshimura was, but he may have been a student of Itosu.

So, as with so much of this, we don’t know :-) But if I wanted to work this into my personal take on things I would suggest that maybe Yoshimura could have been someone who learnt the “proto-pinan” from Itosu and decided to stick with it? We don’t know who he was, who he studied with, or what that kata was like of course. So who knows?

Joe Swift also states that:

Joe Swift wrote:
Although there is opposition, most of the primary written materials point to the fact that Itosu was indeed the originator of the Channan/Pinan tradition, based upon his own research, experience, and analyses.

That’s the view I also personally have.

All the best,

Iain

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

Hi All

From reading through all the posts on this topic, my impression is that Channan was never a kata ( or a fully formed and completed kata as we would understand). Rather it refers to a fighting style that influenced itosu or his instructors. 

This kind of fits the model of Kushanku and Chinto which are "understood" to be the names of the instructor who perhaps taught some novel fighting techniques (novel to the local okinawan's) who then devised a kata to record and memorise the techniques and principles.

So Itosu was taught a bunch of fighting tricks and strategies from someone (not a kata), maybe based on a chinese long fist style. He wanted to record it and so he set about incorporated it all into a set of kata with a bunch of other stuff from Kushanku, Chinto, Passai - and he may have then used Channan ( (being the okinawan pigeon for Chang-Chuan) as a working title for his proto-Pinan.

Sorry it gets confusing ... just wanted to tease out the meme...

Cheers

Tom

Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture

Hi Tom,

you could very well be right and i dont think anyone has suggested that, great thinking : )

What you say could very well be right and it does make a lot of sense, sadly we will never really know for sure, however, your post has certainly got me thinking and no doubt others will to.

Kind regards,

Jason

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi gents,

in regards to Yoshimura Channan this Yoshimura could be Yoshimura Chogi (1866 - 1945). In Nakamoto Masahiros "Okinawa Kobudo" translated by Miguel Da Luz it is mentioned that Yoshimura was a student of Matsumura Sokon and Ishimine Shinchi (1812 - 1892). That Ishimine is also in this excellent book and it is said that he is somehow related to Sakugawa (the wife of his eldest son was the eldest daughter of Sakugawa) so maybe there is a connection to Channan.

Regards Holger

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