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#185350 - 09/14/05 04:40 AM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: trevek]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
To first stick to the topic, it is not unreasonable for an organization to decide on one standard for rank promotions. The obvious reason is so that individuals accross the group know a baseline where other individuals have been.

On the other hand, just becuase that organization adopts bassai-dai as the sho dan requirement, it doesn't mean an individual school may not teach additional kata, just not have them dan requirements.

Why make such a change? I would think that they feel there is greater merit of having a sho-dan candidate concentrate on one form, not pick between a group of forms. As I teach the same takes place, though my course curricula is very different from Shotokan's, a sho-dan candidate isn't making choices, rather they're working on what they've been given.

If there is a value to organizations this seems a valid choice for them to make to me.

Point two, can later generations exceed the 'mastery' of the founder? I would certainly hope so, that should be the real focus of creating a system, to create something alive that will move through time, and that training should be trying to develop those who excell, to greater levels.

Funakoshi built his teachings on the shoulders of Itosu's instruction. My personal interpretation of Funakoshi as prim mover in developing Shotokan, was that he didn't do everything, he developed students, his son and others, who did a great deal too, and after his death they continued to make their decisions (personal or group) and Shotokan moved forward.

Third, forget the issue of rank. Its introduction to karate was a sop for Japanese culture and had no bearing on karate itself. The Okinawan's never awarded Funakoshi rank because there was no rank on Okinawa, there was just karate training and you were an instructor or you were a student.

Rank became a Japanese power trip that the true Japanese martial arts controlled through a central organization, and the Okinawan's toed the line to try and link up to be part of the big boys culture.

I don't recall all the details right now, but one of Funakoshi's students made the board, and Funakoshi was awarded less rank than his student had, and off hand that was the only rank promotion Funakoshi had. I'm quite sure Miyagi Chogun, Goju's founder, was ranked higher.

Rank really meant the pecking order in that association, nothing else.

Funakoshi obviously found value in borrowing rank from Kano's developing Judo. He originally promoted people to black belt with one years training, and eventually felt 5 dans were enough, for him. He obviously wasn't looking over his shoulder at what other groups were doing.

On his death, the Shotokan Seniors, who were looking at other groups, felt they would have been lessor in those others eyes if they didn't move to 10 dans.

Balderdash, those groups never really gave Shotokan any look anyways. The truth is everyone always looked down on everyone else. [Broad generalization but rather true then and today.]

The rank a group has is irrelevant, outside of that group. All that really matters is the quality of the technicians one produces, and whether the group is trying harder to move in stronger directions.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#185351 - 09/14/05 06:17 AM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: Victor Smith]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
To return to topic (as Victor says), perhaps I can give you an example of TKD dan gradings. From white to coloured belts a student has to learn a specific pattern for each new grade. Of course they can be asked to perform other patterns from previous gradings too. First dan gradings also involve one specific pattern (and any earlier ones an examiner chooses to ask for). 2nd Dan gradings are, I believe, based on three particular patterns. of course it is entirely upto the examiner which patterns the student performs but they must know them all. This was the case with my chang hon TKD gradings.
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#185352 - 09/14/05 06:51 AM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: Mark Hill]
shotokanwarrior19 Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 129
Loc: Cortland, OH, USA


At my dojo the required katas to be performed for the 1st dan test are all 5 of the Hein katas, Tekki Shodan and Bassai Dai. Kanku dai, Jion and so on can be learned before 1st dan but are not required for testing. So its not to surprising to me that bassai dai is the chosen kata in ur organization and as far as and degree above 5th in shotokan, i also believe that 5th should be the highest because no one in shotokan can surpass master funakoshi in knowledge of the art.

Who says we can't?

I guess knowledge wise u could possibly surpass Funakoshi with the advacements that the martial arts have made. I guess i should have said that out of respect for the styles founder 5th degree should be the highest, i dont see why above 5th degree is necessary anyway, i really think that it is just an ego thing.
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#185353 - 09/14/05 07:40 AM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: shotokanwarrior19]
MAGr Offline

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 1147
Loc: London, home: Athens
The fact that someone's style has developed and been passed on and made so popular world wide shows respect enough.
In any case he is dead, I m sure he doesnt care that much.
The point of a ranking system is to reflect knowledge and rank, not politics or levels of respect. If you are not going to use the system for reflecting rank and therefore knowledge, then dont call it rank, call it something else.

I am all for tradition, but not for the sake of tradition but because of the number of years that it has survived and the history that it bares.

A rank, IMO and correct me if I m wrong, is generally used as a system to determine who has authority over who. It is obvious to me (maybe because I am misinformed) that japanese culture has a great deal of formality and authority involved. I m pretty sure that the ranking system had less to do with fighting ability and martial knowledge and more to do with who is the son aof who and the general of the grandmaster's spawn and the elder of the bla bla bla.
In the modern age and at least in the western world, it is only a reflection of knowledge since there is no need or want to abide and obey someone because they are from X village and are 190 years old.
Rank is purely based on knowledge, so therfore if someone knows more and is more able and is more in touch than a fifth dan or the standard of a fifth dan then they should be given a higher rank.
Who cares what rank the master was.
Apparently kung fu was 'created' by an Indian buddhist who made excersises so that his disciples could endure the long hours of meditation. I m pretty sure Yip Man was probably better informed than him about the combat principes and kung fu generally.

Like Victor said, If what the first one does is also the best that can be done then the total cannmot be very good.
If you cannot progress from step one then its not a very good ladder.

#185354 - 09/14/05 08:27 AM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: znra251]
glad2bhere Offline

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
I have viewed the study of hyungs as manditory for understanding the cultural underpinnings of the art that I study. Put another way, if I was back in college, hungs would be the "required reading list" for a class. FWIW.

Best Wishes,


#185355 - 09/14/05 11:47 AM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: glad2bhere]
Bushi_no_ki Offline

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1669
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
To try and help rerail this thread, in AKK, there is a form (kata) for each belt up to green, one form for third class brown, one for first black, one for second black, and one for third black. All the forms are named either short form or long form, and have a number. The general order that most schools teach by is short 1, long 1, short 2, L2, S3, L3, L4, L5, and L6. When testing for first black, you do have to do all forms from S1 to L4 for the test. Of course, AKK doesn't have as many kata as some of the OMA do, in the sense of length of kata.

#185356 - 09/14/05 01:03 PM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: znra251]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
I think the standard 1st Dan Syalbas is Taikyokus, Heain 1-5, Tekki 1-3 and Bassia sho other advance katas are learned before Shodan in preparation for Nidan, and seasoned Shodan.

I would not feel bad if some of the pressure was taken off you to decide which kata to do. Imagine if you studied Shito-ryu you would have 15-20 katas out of their 50 kata syllabass. Anyway concentrate on your ippon-kumites, self defense techniuques and free sparring these are yours to improvises. Until you get Yodan you are to learn the system not suggest changes, they won't even ask until then.

As for Soke Funkakoshi being Godan, he is a Soke higher then any rank in the system. Rank is just a structure of protocol not a power structure, especially in this case.

Funakoshi is the Man in Shotokan = school of Shoto = G. Funakoshi's pen name. Just to beat a dead horse.

#185357 - 09/19/05 07:07 PM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: Neko456]
znra251 Offline

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 39
returning to the question, although thanks to everyone for the feedback, i was wondering if anyone can suggest why bassai dai may be more worthy of shodan grading than say Jion, which the WKF selected as an example of shotokan kata for their shitei kata. of Kanku-dai, another WKF shitei, or empi.

does anyone see anything in bassai dai which is lacking in these katas, and does anyone else think that in terms of natural progression kanku dai would have to come next, as it was the kata from which the heian katas were drawn?

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#185358 - 10/21/05 11:15 AM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: trevek]
dogfacedboyuk1 Offline

Registered: 10/19/05
Posts: 116
I was in the KUGB for 13 years and every person I ever saw do a different kata to Bassai Dai for their 1st dan grading
either failed or didn't perform it very well. Our instructor at the time advised us to choose Bassai Dai as we had been performing that longest. The look on sensei Enoedas face said it all when I watched him observing a different kata to Bassai Dai for many of these people. I don't agree with your comment znra251, about the lack of choice being detrimental to 1st dan grade hopefuls at all. What kata you have to perform for a first dan grading is largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of anyones karate training. There is nothing to stop any brown belt becoming skilled in any of the other first dan kata at all.

Regarding the comment made about dan grades having changed value, I think dan grades now are so inconsistant that they have been devalued considerably. I gained my first dan when I was 21 years old. It gave me a great sense of achievement, after training 6 years beforehand it was a nice feeling to wear the coveted black belt. I was howver never in a hurry to get there. I took 6 months between 3rd kyu-2kyu, 1 year between 2 kyu-1 kyu, and 1 year between 1 kyu to 1st dan - mainly because I always hated gradings. But many people are in a hurry to get there and see it as the BIG GOAL which, as us sensible people know, it isn't. Does anyone remember those ads that used to appear in various magazines advertising miraculous "be a black belt in x amount of months"? Talk about making a mockery of us. There are also many 1/2/3rd dans who's standards are either above their current grade or below it due to different associations grading standards. And even then within the same association you get instructors with different expections of standards. Andy Sherry for example is a very strict grading examiner, if you get your dan grade from him you know you are worth it. And of course for an unfortunate few politics can get in the way of taking your gradings. The worst example of the devaluation of dan grades is when people break away from their organisations and claim high grades to which they are not entitled, but that's a whole other subject. Take the story of my first shotokan instructor . When he was 18 (he was about 33 when I started training with him so I think this incident took place in the early/mid seventies), he ran a special kids karate class and they all saved very hard and did various things to raise some money to get sensei Enoeda down to their club for a course. Sensei arrived for their lesson late and he finished it early. When my instructor approached him to complain about this sensei Enoeda told him "Do not speak to me like that - you no take 2nd dan." Now I find this incredibly bad attitude from a man who should be setting a shining example. My instructor had attended many courses by Enoeda (and Asano sensei as well), following him around the country for the best part of a year in preparation for his 2nd dan grading and ended up stuck at 1st dan for 17 years!! Then on a one day course he attended sensei Enoeda walked up to him and asked him to take his 2nd Dan grading!

I personally do not believe in grades beyond first dan and I always prefer to ask how long somebody has been training as opposed to "what grade are you?". I never graded again myself for 9 years (and then unfortunately had to retire from practice due to injury)and it never bothered me at all.

A few people have commented about grades over 5th dan and "how can anyone be better than the creator of the system?". I think it's perfectly possible to be better than a creator of a system. It's all down to how hard you train and good you get, who you trained under and how long you have been training. It's only ever going to be a very small percentage of us will ever get that far and become true masters and achieve great things but possible none the less. Nobody will obviously ever have the magnificent pedigree of master Funakoshi, but I think the standard of Karate will improve as time goes on and we shouldn't mourn the loss of the " golden age" of the old karate masters. I intend no disrespect to the memory of master Funakoshi, but I'm sure I read that he was regarded as not the best person to take karate to the Mainland by his contempories. His language skills and status gave him the edge and made him the candidate to do the honours of demonstrating karate to the Japanese. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong on all of this, but I'm sure I read this in a book on the history of Shotokan.Choki Motubu another famous Okinawan karate master was highly critical of master Funakoshi's skill and is supposed to have been quoted as saying "If Funakoshi has been graded 5th dan, what am I - a 10th or 11th dan?"

#185359 - 10/27/05 12:43 PM Re: Compulsary Kata for Dan grading [Re: trevek]
WuXing Offline

Registered: 10/24/05
Posts: 481
Loc: Idaho, USA
I think dan grading is all relative, really. And it can only be compared to others within the same style. Funakoshi being Go-Dan in whatever ryu he ranked in before going to Japan isn't really relevant to shotokan. To shotokan, he is the master, O-sensei, and might as well be tenth degree. Once shotokan became its own different style, apart from the okinawan karate, Funakoshi's old rank wouldn't matter, right? Tenth degree is simply the highest rank in each style. If you compare the different styles, their tenth degree masters have different kata and knowledge.

The Japanese tried to put karate into an orderly box, as had been done already with judo and kendo, but found that to be impossible. There are simply too many styles and variations to make a single standard of testing for all karateka.

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