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#107552 - 04/13/05 03:16 PM Re: Animal names for kata?


The numbering of the kata is most possibly linked to buddhist principles except sesan wich in my opinion is related to luck (number 13 in China is a lucky number).
Others like sepai (18) niseishi(24) sanseiru(36) useishi(54) pechurin(108) are related to buddhist principles.
Leaves Nepai(28) as an odd kata like sesan (not fitting).
Some believe that Shorei style indicate the (predominantly taoist internal) teachings from Wudang temple.As the kata mentioned above are classified Shorei I have a hard time believing this explenation as their naming indicates buddhist influence (not taoist). I believe that Shorei indicates kata's recently imported into Okinawan fighting traditions. They are also strongly related to monk fist/white crane/tiger boxing. The others mentioned styles, I have no visual reference to the quan in lion/dog/dragon boxing so i cannot evaluate this statement but it comes from Bubishi, McCarthy translation in his comments on origin of karate.
Regarding kata sanchin, sishochin, shochin,seyunchin, naifanchin. I believe they are imported through Iwah and Ason into Okinawa. Funakoshi states in one of his books that Ason teached Shorei-ryu in Naha. Possibly five ancestor/monk/white crane/tiger fist. I think in here we find our references to animal names for how the techniques in certain kata are explained, related to the animal naming of the chinese styles. Some of the techniques can be tracked back to animal movements. Take opening sequence of sanchin, saneseru, sesan, suparinpei. Do it with open hand opening with double kake uke. Retract one hand into hiki-te (kake uke form) and strike out with the finger tips. This technique resembles current white crane forms. Do it with keiko ken and it resembles a lot tiger style like uechi ryu striking in sesan and sanseru.
I do not think a straight answer is possible unless a chinese form can be found that resembles the okinawan form. In Goju, I have not yet encountered someone who could point to the exact chinese style from where the Goju kata originate.
So I have some reserves when I hear that Kururunfa is linked to praying mantis or saifa to monkey.

#107553 - 04/13/05 03:39 PM Re: Animal names for kata?
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5829
Loc: USA

My best guess is that some form of formal Chinese fighting art came in with the "36 families"--what it was is anyones guess.

I don't think many forms of Okinawan karate can point to a specifc Chinese style--still extent anyway-and say "that is the style our karate came from."
So I would agree that no-one 'really" knows where the kata of goju-ryu came from.

You have Higashiona--and Aragaki who was his first teacher--the demonstrations of specific kata found in Higashions style--before Higashiona went to China.
And then you have the kata practiced in Ryuei-ryu -who also claim descent from RyuRyuKo--and they share simlier kata--and some different kata as well.
Then you have Uechi Ryu--totally different line of descent, yet some of their kata are "kissing cousins" to those found in goju--or vice versa.

Interesting stuff.

#107554 - 04/13/05 04:05 PM Re: Animal names for kata?

It appears, (so far), that the animal names were attached by a best guess method of Funakoshi. Which I suppose makes sense when you are trying to sell Karate to the world.
I'll let you know if I dig up anything solid on this. Thanks for pointing directions.

#107555 - 04/15/05 01:02 PM Re: Animal names for kata?

#107556 - 04/15/05 01:36 PM Re: Animal names for kata?

The article assumes things I do not always agree with but the sources from where it makes these conclusions are taken in high regard by most of the karate society (McCarthy Bisshop Meitoku Yagi ...). I have my reserves in identifying Xie Zhong Ziang as Ru Ru Ko since Seko Higa, Meitoku Yagi, Seikichi Toguchi descibe him as an 'old man'. Also the quan he thaught are not found in Goju.
Regarding the Japanification, I have a intresting story. I talked regarding Okinawa kobudo with Takeshi Uchiage shihan. His father, Kenzo Uchiage, trained with a sort of chain while he was a young man. Miyagi sensei told him that this kind of training was not worthy a 'Bushi'. So I guess he was very attentive to what his students would portray, making sure it would not damage the image for the Japanese.

#107557 - 04/15/05 01:38 PM Re: Animal names for kata?

Nice article, kara.

#107558 - 04/15/05 02:07 PM Re: Animal names for kata?

That's interesting CVV. So that beg's the question: If Miyagi Sensei knew what the art would become when processed thru the Japan machine, wouldn't he have had his own special group of students that he taught the real-deal to?
Also, perhaps the complexity of the decision to name a successor was just too great and therefore never official?

a side-note: During the early 20th c, Japan had a real chip on it's shoulder after spending decades modernizing their military, they were bullying the whole east asian region (including russia! but esp China). Okinawan masters would have at first been reluctant but eventually compliant to transfer some kind of knowledge in the art. After WWII, okinawans would have been happy to teach the American GI's the same stripped down version they taught the Japanese.

do you think that is an accurate/fair view?

#107559 - 04/15/05 02:10 PM Re: Animal names for kata?
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5829
Loc: USA

I am also very curious as to what Higashionna learned from Aragki.

"Common" Goju style katas were demonstrated publically for the last Chinese Envoy to Okinawa.

It would be interesting to know from who exactly Aragaki got his training--and to whom possibly Higashionna was able to contact in China based upon his training with Agagaki

#107560 - 04/16/05 06:28 AM Re: Animal names for kata?

as far as 'real deal', for Goju, I do not think that Japanese were thought differently then Okinawan masters.
I have trained Okinawa Goju the first 9 years(IOGKF while still affiliated with Jundokan), next 3-4 years Yamaguchi influenced then the last 13 years more generally JKF Goju Kai mostly influnced by Takeshi Uchiage and Osamu Hirano. I have also had the privilage to train at siminars with Tomahoru Kisaki who has been instructed by Chojun Miyagi at Ritsumeikan University. A friend and teacher of mine has trained on numerous occasions with Takeshi Uchiage and Kenzo Uchiage (former student of Miyagi at Ritsumeikan) and was able to attend siminars wit Ujita (former student of Miyagi at Ritsumeikan).
The Jundokan is part of JKF Goju-kai and 2 of the seniors act as special advisors to the technical commite. IOGKF was up till 1996 part of JKF Goju-Kai through the Jundokan untill his conflict with the rest of the karate society regarding his claims on who inherited the Goju system from Miyagi. I think his organization (the Japanese branch) is now affiliated to JKF Goju-kai.
Meitoku Yagi of the Meibukan has stated several times that you learn genuine Goju-ryu in the dojo of his dear friend Gogen Yamaguchi in Tokyo and that he has personally instructed Yamaguchi's sons.
I must say that the Japanese dojo's have always focused on the sport side of karate and on jyu kumite. Why ?. Most of their students are university students. Most of them stop training after University and they are not loocking after the secret teachings. They just persue it for Budo sport. Those who continue evtually open up and find the diversity of techniques and applications. Kisaki said to me that regarding application from kata Miyagi would say 'think, you will figure it out yourself'. He would show application of the techniques but has never formulated formal bunkai. Although kata is static, it's application is not as no 2 fighs are the same. When exploring kata this way, the secrets reveal themselves through guidance of the masters and by self exploration. I have noticed that you are not instructed directly these themes untill you are ready and ask for them. At that point, you are instructed the deeper meaning of techniques. Then you have to experiment with it yourself to understand how it works. If you have a teacher that cannot provide an answer or thorrough discussion regarding such a subject, you are probably on the wrong track. Untill the point you can come to that, the searching to the deeper meaning, you will be instructed in the form like 'do like this' or 'put your fist here' without thourough understanding. It is also important that the base is properly build before engaging in such a training manner.
This is how I receive instruction and I cannot say that the Japanese masters are less knowledgeable than the Okinawan.
That's my perception.

#107561 - 04/16/05 08:12 AM Re: Animal names for kata?

I can identify with the learning method you described. I'd add that sometimes when left to our imagination, we might come up with an application which doesn't quite fit the movements of the kata. we were encouraged to explore and develop those ourselves. dan testing for bunkai was neither correct nor incorrect while kyu testing in bunkai was with a fixed technique.
To tie this in with the main topic, I feel kata was meant to be interpreted. The quest of finding your own interpretation is as personal as how you integrate your training into your daily life. If some wish to think of kata by animal names,numbers,chinese names or japanese names what would it change? The names are just as interpretable as their applications.

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