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Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture
Sensei Otsuka's choice of Kata

Not too sure if this is relevant, but its always concerned me?

According to a mojority of sources, the 'official' kata list for Wado is Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yondan, Pinan Godan, Naihanshi, Kushanku, Seishan & Chinto. 9 kata in total, the rest were added later and were practiced and taught by Otsuka Sensei himself

With regards to the choice of kata that are used within Wado, why did Otsuka choose to practice the Pinans and Kushanku which are concidered as having all the same techniques in them but only Naihanchi Shodan is practiced but Naihanchi Nidan and Sandan are not?

There are stories and demi-facts that the Pinans were part of one major kata. Also there is the same instances for Naihanchi katas too. 

To me it seems, dare I say, contradictory to say all that is required is Naihanchi Shodan, when the same could be said for either the Pinans or Kushanku?

Can anyone name any other occasions where this occurs not just in Wado but in other schools too

 

I await your thoughts

thanks  

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Hi Black Tiger!

If I understand your question, I think it is because the Pinans are all different and build upon the knowledge of the ones before. I see them as level 1, then 2, then 3 etc.. hence their names.

However I see Naihanchi a little bit differently. From my own research of the kata I have been lead to believe that as Itosu may have split Kushanku down into 5 chuncks (and inserted other influences) we have the Pinans. 

With Naihanchi, I feel that it was Naihanchi and that the other two kata are just deviations of the principles of Naihanchi. So rather than additional progression of more techniques and defences against certain situations, Naihanchi Nidan & Sandan are simply "here is another way to doing the same things as Naihanchi".  

Looking at it from this perspective I do not think it is contradictory to say that all that is required is Naihanchi Shodan, and all that is required is all the Pinans because Naihanchi itself is its own system (with Nidan & Sandan just different expressions which you can study if you wish to look at alternatives) but the Pinans are all required as they build on and progress teaching different things that have not been addressed by the previous kata.

Leigh 

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Hi Leigh,

Thanks for your response. I have read and heard it said that the Pinans once learnt are a complete fighting system and they were kata I enjoyed practising, but why add Kushanku to the mix when the Pinans say it all and more? Do you not agree that the 3 Naihanchi kata were in fact one kata that was broken down into 3. I also heard that the first 2 are original and the 3rd was created many years after the first 2 by a different Master.

In Wado all kata lead into Chinto which is a wonderful kata to practice, so my thoughts on this are why not just have one kata? My Sensei told me that every stances I'd ever need were already practice in the Pinans.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Black Tiger,

my 2 cents on this.

The old masters only knew a few kata. That is because they are complete fighting systems in their own right.

Mabuni wrote the journal "Karate kenkyu" an article, "Practise Kata Correctly" that is: ... If practiced properly, two or three kata will suffice as "your" kata; all of the others can just be studied as sources of additional knowledge. Breadth, no matter how great, means little without depth. In other words, no matter how many kata you know, they will be useless to you if you don't practice them enough. ...

The theories about Naihanchi are as diverse as recipes for apple pie. Some say that Naihanchi was once a really long kata and that Itosu splitted the kata up into three parts. Some hold the view that Naihanchi Shodan was the "original" kata and that Itosu made the  up the Nidan and Sandan as additional Information, but that the techniques in Nidan and Sandan are based on the principles shown in Naihanchi Shodan.

Itosu was known for that feat. He also formulated Passai Sho, Kanku Sho, Rohai Nidan and Rohai Sandan and maybe Gojushiho Sho.

In my view the Pinan series is a Best of Shorin Ryu Principles found in kata like Kushanku, Passai, Chinto, Jion etc.. That is Itosus legacy. They contain the core inforamtion of his fighting style. Funakoshi wrote, that when you have masterd them you can defend yourself properly. No need for all the rest. They where created as a 5 step system. So the whole 5 Pinans are a fighting system.

So maybe Otsuka chose the Pinan kata for creating a foundation. The other kata are maybe there for delving deeper into certain aspects of fighting. In terms of Naihanchi I think Otsuka saw no need for redundancy and only took the Naihanchi Shodan.

I hope that made sense.

Regards Holger

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Black Tiger wrote:
I have read and heard it said that the Pinans once learnt are a complete fighting system and they were kata I enjoyed practising, but why add Kushanku to the mix when the Pinans say it all and more?

You definitely could just use the Pinans as they are a holistic self-contained system in their own right. There is no “need” to do Kushanku too. Likewise, Kushanku is also holistic and self-contained so you could just stick with it and not do the Pinans.

Why I like to do both is because you get to see different expressions / variations on common combative concepts. Some people do only Judo. Some people do only wrestling. Some do both and enjoy integrating, comparing and contrasting the two systems to gain a new appreciation of both. To me, it’s the same with kata. You don’t “need” to do more than one system / kata, but it can be enjoyable and beneficial to do so.

For us, the Pinans are the “core kata” that we learn first and the associated bunkai forms the core of what we do. We also study Kushanku, Passai & Chinto (and others) later on; not because the Pinans are incomplete without them, but because all three of those kata have fed into the Pinans and our understanding of the Pinans – and the combative methods they record – is enhanced by studying their progenitors too.

Black Tiger wrote:
Do you not agree that the 3 Naihanchi kata were in fact one kata that was broken down into 3.

I don’t agree with that. That started as unsupported speculation a few years ago, but has become “fact” in some quarters. You can make a case for that, but I don’t think it is a very strong one. It is far more likely we originally had one Naihanchi kata (relabelled “Naihanchi Shodan / Tekki Shodan” later on) and that the Nidan and Sandan versions are variations on the first and original one.

There are many references to “Naihanchi” without the number suffixes and I can find nothing that suggests that that Naihanchi was anything other than what is now called “Naihanchi Shodan” in some styles. I can also find nothing that suggests that Naihanchi / Naihanchi Shodan is not a full kata but instead just the first third of a longer one. Suggestions to the contrary are, in my view, unsupported and run contrary to the evidence we do have.

As regards Otsuka, he stated that he felt there was no need to do the Nidan and Sandan versions. He also states that there are many variations on the kata generally. As above, it’s a judgment call as I agree there is no “need” to study alternate versions, but there could still be benefit in doing so. For me, I find that the single original kata has more than enough depth and variation within it for combative and study purposes. However, I can also see how others would want to look at what the “formal variations” of Nidan and Sandan have to offer to the mix.

Black Tiger wrote:
In Wado all kata lead into Chinto which is a wonderful kata to practice, so my thoughts on this are why not just have one kata?

Otuska did say that Naihanchi leads to Seishan which in turn leads to Chinto. However, we need to remember that Otuska did not make these kata, those kata were created entirely independently, and that those kata were never originally intended to be used in a group. In terms of the technical progression of the solo forms, then that would seem like a solid way to order them and I’d therefore agree with the statement from that perspective … but that does not mean that they were created to be used together in that way (they were not) nor does that have any bearing on their application. Naihanchi, Seishan and Chinto are independent kata and any progression / grouping is being superimposed after the fact.

As should come as no surprise, I see little value in kata without bunkai. But if you were to look at things purely from the perspective of solo form and “motion” then Chinto alone would be a bad way to go as there is no progression and you are trying to leap from “beginner to black belt” in a single bound.

From my more bunkai-centric viewpoint, I believe you can have a fully functioning combative system with a single kata at its core, but I’d personally not make that kata Chinto. My reasoning is that I don’t see it as a kata that starts from the beginning, but as a record of the advanced things Matsumura had no experience of prior to his altercation with Chinto the man (my thinking on this is expanded upon here: http://iainabernethy.co.uk/article/chinto-gankaku-kata-history-application).

The bottom line is that most modern styles have collected many more kata than they need and that the ordering and progression of those kata is often from the perspective of “difficulty in performance” as opposed to logic of application. Before the development of the “modern tradition”, the kata we have collected together were generally independent from one another and were viewed as being complete within themselves; as opposed to being incomplete and needing to be combined with others. Today, for the pragmatically minded, there is no “absolute need” to study a number of kata, but there can be benefits in doing so from the perspective of seeing different manifestations of common core combative principles, and for the sheer enjoyment of doing so.

All the best,

Iain

Gavin J Poffley
Gavin J Poffley's picture

I must say that from what I can uncover, the nidan and sandan versions of naihanchi do strongly appear to be a more recent creation based on the original and I would suspect that it is very likely they were created by Itosu Anko and then widely promulgated via his students Mabuni Kenwa and Funakoshi Gichin (which more than accounts for their widespread exposure).

I have heard the above opinion from many Okinawan karate teachers (as opposed to mainland ones) and never met one who uses anything but the basic form.

Of course, they could be older but if they were I think you would see them more frequently outside of the itosu lineage. 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Gavin J Poffley wrote:
I have heard the above opinion from many Okinawan karate teachers (as opposed to mainland ones) and never met one who uses anything but the basic form.

Of course, they could be older but if they were I think you would see them more frequently outside of the itosu lineage.

Thanks for that. Your thinking pretty much reflects my own. Funakoshi reports learning all three versions from Itosu in Karate-Do: My Way of Life and I feel that we are on pretty solid ground when we credit Itosu - the great innovator, modifier and creator of kata - with the creation of the of the Nidan and Sandan versions.

All the best,

Iain

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

I hear what you are saying Itosu is the creator of Naihanchi Nidan & Sandan. With regards to the Kata used by Sensei Otsuka was personal choice, non related as such but fell into the Ryu in 'progressive' states. But what about Suparinpei was originally listed as a Wado-ryu kata with the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai by Hironori Otsuka, but he eventually discarded it. Some Wado-ryu instructors and schools still teach this kata. Also, were the Kata chosen as they fitted better with his Jujitsu part of Wado with the Gumite Gata and the Kihons etc? Also did he pick Niseishi Kata because it seems to be an 'advanced' version of Naihanchi.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Black Tiger wrote:
But what about Suparinpei was originally listed as a Wado-ryu kata with the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai by Hironori Otsuka, but he eventually discarded it. Some Wado-ryu instructors and schools still teach this kata.

You have a few differing lists of “official” Wado kata depending on the group and point in history. Suparinpei was on the list as a Wado kata along with the Pinan Series, Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan, Chinto, Bassai, Wanshu, Rohai, Niseishi, Jitte & Jion.

Suparinpei is practised in some Wado quarters (not many). Indeed at one point the World Karate Federation kata list also included a Wado version of Unsu (which I’ve personally never seen).The current list is the ten Wado kata of Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan, Chinto, Bassai, Wanshu, Rohai, Niseishi, Jitte & Jion. The Pinans are missed off the list as they are deemed unsuitable for competition. So we have fifteen in total. However some Wado groups stick with the “core nine” of the Pinans, Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan & Chinto believing the others to be unnecessary.

Black Tiger wrote:
Also did he pick Niseishi Kata because it seems to be an 'advanced' version of Naihanchi.

I really don’t see that connection at all. Aside from the fact they both start with “N” I see no connection, nor do I see Naihanchi as progressing to Niseishi. Otsuka did state that there was something very deep about Naihanchi and it would take more than a lifetime to master, so I doubt he saw it as basic and needing an advanced version … not that I can see how Neseishi would be such an advanced version? Both kata are independent of one another. Not sure where you heard that, but I can’t see it having any merit.

All the best,

Iain