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#104616 - 01/16/02 03:40 PM Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)

Recently at my dojo, we were discussing the many interpretations of kata and how many of the techniques varied from person to person.

Then a question we couldn't anser emerged.

After the initial bow in Wansu (Isshinryu Version), we step out into a seiunchin-dachi with the right foot, low block w/left, then punch w/right, again to the left. Then, we face forward, step into left-forward seisan, and lowblock.

Wait . . . this kata is Shorinryu. All Shorinryu begin with a left step. Then why do we drop to the right before the first left step?

I'm not looking for a concrete answer for this. I just think it would be interesting to here some of the ideas the more knowledgable would have on this.

Thanks in advance [IMG][/IMG]

#104617 - 01/16/02 08:59 PM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

If you review your Isshinryu Kata I believe you can answer your question.

At least as I was trained, the first step in Nihanchi (with Shorin origins) is the right foot stepping across. The first step in Chinto is identical to the first step in Wansu with the right foot stepping out, and the second step is the right foot shifting back into a left cat stance.

On the other hand Seisan, Kusanku and SunNuSu begin with the left foot, at least how I practice them.

Now perhaps your schools version of those kata is different from mine, or perhaps it is an erronous simplification that Shorin Kata begin with the left step.

Just a thought and several decades of practice,

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

#104618 - 02/23/02 03:29 PM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
Sandifer Offline

Registered: 02/21/02
Posts: 22
Loc: Shelton, WA USA
Having been and Shorin Ryuist for several years, I don't think I ever heard we are suppose to step off with our left foot first. A number of Kata we do but many we don't. As Smith Sensei indicated Chinto for example. We step right leg back into a left cat stance. Passai sho is a right step forward first. As with both Kusanku sho and dai. More often after bowing we step left out into hachiji dachi, but again not all of the kata begin this way. Our general rule however is that what ever foot we stepped out first with will be the foot we step back into hachiji dachi last at the end of the kata. Such as the Pinan series. We bow step out right into hachiji and right steps back into hachiji at the end. It is just a general rule not hard and fast as not all kata follow it.

Do other folks out there follow this same general practice?

#104619 - 05/23/03 11:43 AM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
llnohmrel Offline

Registered: 05/23/03
Posts: 20
I have been studying issin ryu for almost eight years now. In the two dojos I have trained at we have always (after the bowing sequence)flipped our feet into a nihanchi stance as the opening, then downblock punch to the left, and so on. As for the always stepping left as the first move, I was led to believe that the first FORWARD step was left, in all katas excluding sanchin.

#104620 - 05/24/03 05:02 AM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
I've been thinking about this discussion and I'm not sure it's really worth the time to worry about it.

For example one Okinawn instructor I met once described on Okinawa there were maybe 100 Shorin Dojo. Mentioning that to another instructor who trained on Okinawa, he replied, "Yep, may be right and you know, each one of them is doing something different."

Except for books and articles where somebody tries to draw a generalization I've never seen any rules about the right way to execute kata.

As the current arts came out of a non-literate environment (nothing was documented) each generation changed things as they saw fit, and that continues to this day, in all systems I've seen.

So step left, or step right is far less important than stepping correctly the way you're doing it, IMVHO.

Now back to Wansu kata, stepping out to the right, in Seiunchin stance makes great sense if you're using the raising of the hands as a counter to a strong handshake, one where you're popping (overextending the arm) or even breaking it for your reply.


Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

#104621 - 05/27/03 01:32 PM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
Ender Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/29/03
Posts: 2253
Loc: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
In Gojuryu, the wanshua kata sounds almost nothing like what your describing, perhaps because different terminology is used to describe the stances.

We start out by stepping out with the left foot to the left side into a zenkutsi dachi (forward leaning stance) and execute a gedan barai (lower sweeping block) witht he left hand then punch gyakuzuki (revers epunch) with the right hand, then step forward (still going to the left) into niko ashi dachi (cat stance) and do a ridge hand block, the proper name for it I cannot remember. Then the kata goes on, but thats how it starts.

This is a foreign kata to us, and not part of the Gojuryu system, so if it sounds way off, whatever, Im just stating how I learned it.

#104622 - 05/27/03 08:56 PM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

There is a great variety between different kata lineage, even in the same system.

Wansu in the Isshinryu system is out of Kyan lineage. In Isshinryu the front stance is Seisan Dachi, which is almost a Sanchin Dachi with both feet straight instead of toes in like Sanchin (all right there are a great many ways Sanchin is done too).

Your kata sounds like a variation of the version that makes up Isshinryu's Wansu.

BTW, there is no really right way to spell any of these kata, as they were originally in Okinawan Hogan, and often in the same system there are varieties of spelling, just as performance varies.

If you'd like to see a rather standard Isshinryu version of Wansu you can check out Sensei Donnelly's web site at
His demonstrations are within standard Isshinryu performance, and it may help you understand what we are describing.

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu

#104623 - 05/29/03 04:22 AM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
Ender Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/29/03
Posts: 2253
Loc: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
thank you, will do.

#104624 - 07/05/04 03:40 AM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
reaperblack Offline

Registered: 04/30/04
Posts: 558
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
I do shorin ryu, shorin kan style, and we do step back with the left foot first and then left into a horse stance, low block, short strike with the right, step forward with the left low block left, punch right, step forward right, right shuto block. etc.
I don't think I understand the question after that, are you looking for bunkai? Because there's lots.

#104625 - 07/05/04 07:31 PM Re: Wansu Kata (Isshinryu Version)
Dr. Krunk-n-stein Offline

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 120
Loc: here nor there
Wansu is a Tomari Te kata, from Kosaku Matsumora as taught to Chotoku Kyan. Tomari kata and many Naha Te kata (like Seisan) often start and end on the opposite side that Shuri Te kata do. Maybe Kanryo Higashionna or Miyagi were left handed or whoever taught them was left handed.

Remember that Shorin is an amalgamation of Shuri and Tomari tote, hence the left step out and right step back at the beginning of Seisan. Don't think that Naha Te didn't influence Shorin either. It most definitely did.

Just a thought or three.


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