Tag Archives: Hanshi

Short History Original Style

Original Style of Ryukyu (Okinawa) Karate

Okinawa is the birth place of original karatedo. And in fact the first public demonstration of Karate was given in Okinawa in 1906. The first style develop was based in the town of Shuri on Ryukyu Island. The second style was developed based in the town of Naha also on Ryukyu Island. And a third town of note is Tomari. These three towns are historically close to one another and there was exchange between the towns and between schools and masters.

Shinan Masayoshi Kori Kudaka (Histaka), Kensei, 10th Dan was the legitimate inheritor of Shorijiryu Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom. Shinan Masayoshi Kori Kudaka (Hisataka) made a provincial tour of China, Russia, Afghanistan and around other Asian countries. Shinan Kudaka had reformed the original style of Shorinjiryu Karatedo and combined strong and highly developed techniques from those Fighting Arts and also added natural principle as well as animal movement and motion which became Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo.

Shinan Masayoshi Kori Kudaka (Hisataka)

Shinan Kudaka is a descendant of SEIWA, the 56th Emperor of Japan. Shinan Kudaka studied Ryukyu Karate including being taught and trained by Grand Master ANKOU ASATO and Master CHOUTOKU KYAMU. After World War II he returned to Kyushu Island, where he had spent his infant years, in order to study Bojutsu and Jujutsu. He then entered the army where he learned soldiery, bayonet handling and was exposed to true fighting. He continued his training in the Martial Arts but could not satisfy himself with the Dojo practice and was always looking for an opportunity to increase and test his knowledge with other Masters.

In 1929, he was the one of the representatives of Ryukyu Karate to be invited to an International Martial Arts Festival in Taiwan. After that, he toured Taiwan and China for almost a year with Master CHOJUN KYAMU, never losing a fight to a mix of Kempo practitioners, Naginata and Budo Masters. He returned to Japan where he studied Judo at the Kodokan (the Headquarters School of Judo) with Master SANPO TOKU who was the strongest Judoka at that time. While there he attained the rank of 4th DAN which was a special promotion with regards to his distinguished efforts: a truly remarkable achievement. He also studied Kendo and traveled throughout Japan competing in every police department against Kendo Masters without losing a single encounter. In one of his many demonstrations he was challenged by a swords master in a test of strength. He defeated him by breaking a hardwood board that even the sword could not cut. As a result, a duel between he and the sword master evolved. He, weaponless, defeated the sword master. Continuing his search for other Martial Arts he returned to china to master Shorinji Kempo.

Expanding Karatedo

Let’s ask ourselves the question: “What do we need to do to further the expansion of Contact Karatedo?”

First, we must think about what each Shihan has to do from a basic point of view. Each Shihan and each member of the committee should know each other, and freely communicate regarding their current situation.

We must study the past history and then create future goals. We must put in place a clear organization to succeed with clear roles and responsibilities so everyone knows which tasks they are working on and how they align to the overall goals and vision.

For future growth of the Contact Karatedo, we need to think of it like the growth of a tree. To grow, trees need plenty of sunlight, oxygen, water, and nutrients. A healthy tree needs a strong trunk with many branches and leaves. Similarly, Contact Karatedo needs a strong Hombu and Federation with many schools educating their own students. Through this, the tree can flower and generate fruit from its blossoms.

It should be our collective joy and obligation to be the keeper of posterity, passing down the teachings from parent to child, having it grow stronger with every generation. This kind of natural philosophy will bring us success. This means that we need to have more branches, more students, and a larger organization working together towards common goals.

To enable this, we should all share our power together, cooperate, and do our best towards the expansion of the Contact Karatedo.

Definition And Purpose of Kata

All the fundamental element of karatedo have been put into formal sets of systematized sequences thoroughly developed, codified, and improved by dedicated karatedo Masters through the course of several centuries.

Each set, called a kata, is made up of carefully selected elements which all have a profound meaning both intrinsically, and in their context. Each posture, movement or technique is the most appropriate one under the circumstances, for it has been repeatedly tested over hundreds of years in innumerable occasions of real fighting over matters of life and death. In recent days, these principles have been scientifically rationalized by great karatedo Masters such as Dr. Masayoshi Kori Hisataka (Kudaka in Okinawa), who brought his expertise in the field of anatomy, physics and psychology to the study of karatedo principles.

Kata are truly a microcosm of karatedo for they contain all of the essential principles, techniques and traditions. The salutations with their philosophical implications, the proper postures and stances, body and foot movements, the control and use of breathing, the various techniques, and their timing, the proper mental attitude, the kiai-spirit, and the search for perfection in the execution of each technique are all included in the various katas.

Until very recently, the kata were kept secret. They were never practiced publicly by karatedo Masters who were transmitting their knowledge only to a handful of trusted students through the practice of kata. Kata was then the sole and unique form of karatedo training. This gives a measure of the historical and practical importance of the kata in karatedo studies.

A kata is performed alone against imaginary opponents. Its purpose is to develop every aspect of karatedo: posture, body movements, techniques and mental attitudes. The assiduous practice of kata leads to a deep understanding of the techniques of karatedo. It develops the ability to use these techniques and to respond almost automatically to any kind of attack in any situation. In addition, kata contains all of the various strategies of fighting.

Kata Training

The Original Okinawa Style of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo Kata Training Method

This method is derived from the principle of the four seasons, combined with proper breathing. Kata training will improve the mind, technique and body, teaching self-defense while giving one a healthy body and mind.

True Kata training helps one master offense and defense techniques as a fighting method and build up the mind, spirit and power to have a healthy and strong body. The ultimate goal of Kata is to master the principles of fighting and true Super Karate Koshiki Contact Karatedo techniques. An additional benefit of Kata is that the training is suitable for people of all ages and physical conditions to perform.

  • In the static training method, the basic Kata is “Kudaka no Sanchin”. The basic open hand Kata (also meaning advanced Kata) is “Kudaka no Seisan”.
  • In the active training method, the basic Kata is “Koshiki Naihanchin”. The basic open hand (advanced) Kata is “Koshiki Bassai”.

In interpreting and applying Kata, there are three key dimensions: the surface interpretation, back side (reverse) interpretation, and hidden interpretation. The surface interpretation can be translated to the obvious technique of punching, kicking or striking, called Go-ho (hard way). The back side (reverse) technique is generally the throwing, locking and choking technique which is called Ju-ho (soft way). The hidden technique usually refers to weapons techniques (called Buki-ho) which include the six foot Bo stick, trident knife (SAI), or Ken (Sword).

The Study of KATA

Karatedo originated in Okinawa. In Okinawa, practicing Kata had a special meaning because Karate teachers taught Kata only to trusted students in secret. In this context, it is possible to say Kata is really the bible and Cultural Heritage of Traditional Okinawa Karate-do.

To learn Super karate Kata correctly is to learn the interpretation of Kata at the surface, reverse and hidden layers; which means to understand the three ways of Go-ho (hard way), Ju-ho (soft way) and Buki-ho (weapons).

At first, one should study the soft interpretation and exercise various applications of Kata throwing, locking and choking techniques with a partner in paired work. Next, one should practice the hard way, which is the application of punching, kicking and striking techniques. In the advanced level you should learn and practice weapons applications with the Bo (six foot staff) and Ken (sword). Then you will have a complete understanding of Ksts.

You should always continue training and studying traditional Kata because there are an unlimited number of applications depending on the situation. You need to keep on improving to perform proper Kata mentally and physically.

In original Okinawa karate teaching, it was said that “Karate starts from Kata and finishes with Kata.” There are various interpretations of this. But an obvious one is to study Kata to learn the correct motions as a beginner, and once you get your black belt, you should study the application of KATA which provides deep knowledge for real combat. Through continued Kata training you can use the techniques, strategy and mindset in an emergency situation.

According to the stories about an old karate grandmaster Choki MOTOBU, he was famous as a top fighter, but his training consisted almost entirely of practicing the basic Kata Naihanchin for three years initially, then practicing Kata Bassai and studying the deep level of applications for Kumite (Sparring) and real combat embedded in these Kata. In the early Showa era in Okinawa everyone knew of the great MOTOBU, and it was said that “No enemy stands in front of MOTOBU….”.

Commercialization of Dan Degrees

It is deplorable that some Karateka become too commercialized and lose the true spirit of Karate-do as a martial art. Basically, Karateka should train hard to seek the truth of karate with a high level of knowledge and technique, compete at many International tournaments and contribute for Karate society.

Without such elements, we should not open a new style, school or organization on our own. And certainly, giving certificates or belts in such circumstances is not allowed. This kind of trend breaks the honor of trained Karateka, and brings the overall organization of Karate into disrepute.

This is true even if they say their Karate is “not a martial art and is just a sport.” It is not fair to the real practicing Karateka. This kind of commercialization can be seen not only in North America but also in Japan, where commercialized schools offer black belts or certificates without any official recognition from the original founders of the style.

As a result, it can be difficult to identify the clear difference between officially recognized Dan grades properly granted by authorized representatives of the original style, and “purchased” Dan grades sold by commercialized schools to make money.

Originally, Dan grades or certificates were granted by representatives of the original style depending on the improvement of students, carefully tested. The Dan grades of Karate were given by the leaders of each style of Karate from Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate. This process is similar to many professional examinations for such areas as: medical doctors, lawyers, professors, etc. where there is a clear record of international tournaments evidencing the successful honor of the person.

As time progresses, though, we hope that people are starting to find the difference between the real styles and the commercialized schools, and will screen out the commercialized schools that are not proper representatives of the original style. Simply put, the trunk and branches of a tree should be related, not separated.

Karate is a true martial art. Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karate builds a healthy mind and body through hard training of combat with diligent study of technique and strategy, contributing to society through peace and better health.