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#229435 - 02/09/06 02:04 PM Karate Conjecture - Wankan
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
For anyone who has read THE SECRETS OF SHOTOKAN KARATE you know about Clayton's theory that all forefathers of karate beginning with Sokon Matsumura were bodyguards of the Okinawan king and his regents. It even shows a lithogram done by american marines of a regent guarded by two okinwans at shuri castle who have a strong resemblance to what a younger Sokon Matsumura and Yatsune Itosu would look like. After reading this book a couple of years ago I have always referred to it due to its interesting premise. Of course we all know that karate was the art of the okinawan bodyguards and even certain kata within karate contain entire systems of gotente such as the Gojushiho of Matsubayashi. However, my focus here is the Matsubayashi kata Wankan. Wankan is also called Okan in Hogen(the old okinawan dialect). Okan means kings crown. Some people say it is call kings crown because it of a technique in it that resembles the crown, however, I have a different theory. Wankan was the favorite kata of Matsubayashi founder Shoshin Nagamine. Nagamine was taught Wankan by Iha Kodatsu who was a top student of Kosaku Matsumora. There are those who say that Kosaku Matsumora was a bodyguard who worked and/or lived in the castle. Matsumora taught Iha Kodatsu several kata, including Wankan. Wankan is a very special kata in Matsubayashi and I believe there is a distinct reason that Nagamine loved it so much. I think that it was called Okan or King's Crown not for a signature technique in the kata, but becasue Matsumora may have been a personal body guard of the king himself and techniques and principles from this kata were used specifically to protect the king or the king's crown. If someone was to take the kings crown they would definitely be able to take the king's head. I believe due to the nature of the techniques in this kata and its importance in Matsubayashi although not the ultimate kata of shorin ryu it is certainly one of its most dangerous and is about putting your opponent down and out for good.

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#229436 - 02/09/06 02:33 PM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: medulanet]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6768
ref: http://www.kojosho.com/kata.html
Quote:

Tomari-Te was developed out of the Shuri-Te style of karate and was indicative of the karate practiced in and around the Tomari village near Shuri. The differences between the two styles is slight. There were several Chinese visitors to the Tomari region that did not reach Shuri. These teachings did not originally influence Shuri-Te but later an exchange in ideas and katas did take place. Many kata became part of both styles. There were several kata, however, that are unique to Tomari-Te. These were Wansu, Rohai, and Wankan.





Quote:


Wankan kata was introduced into the Tomari district of Okinawa in 1683 by a Chinese envoy or Sappushi of that name. Sappushi were the official governmantal contact between China and Okinawa.





the following sound suspiciously false:

http://www.kua.com.au/kata.htm
Quote:

Wankan - Shaolin based Kata of unknown origin. The old name was Wanduan and the name translates to "sword arm". Using these techniques, your enemies will think your arm is a sword.




Quote:

Previous names : Shiofu, Hito, Okan and Matsukase.



actually, I know 'Matsukase' can't be an older name because it's Japanese. must be the newer name that Japanese renamed it to sometime early 20th Century or later.

lot's of conflicting info out there on a bunch of these kata...this kata seems to one of the many that made it's way over to Okinawa during the time that not much historic info survives. When infomation/history is surely lost, it becomes tempting for a teacher to 'fill in the gaps' by guessing instead of telling the student honestly that they don't know. not sure what to believe...or if anything is reliable.

If the principals in the kata are useful to you, then THATS what you can trust.

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#229437 - 02/09/06 04:00 PM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: Ed_Morris]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Actually its history before it came to Kosaku Matsumora is not of much interest for me. It is Kosaku's usage of the kata that interests me. From what I can gather Iha Kodatsu's only main teacher was Kosaku Matsumora and Nagamine claims to pass on his teachings intact. And actually knowing a kata's usage by the bodyguards can shed a lot of light on its usefullness and assist in knowing how to unfold its principles. I personally don't like reverse engineering which is looking at the movements and trying to come up with applications/principles. I have done it in the past and will in the future, but I like to know the principles/usage and find ways of applying its techniques using the principles as a guideline. From what I can tell the Matsubayashi Wankan/Okan is the closest to the original used by Kosaku Matsumora. This kata is about standing and fighting until either you or your opponent are finished. It is about fighting to the end, much like you would if you were defending your king. More later, I have to go now.

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#229438 - 02/10/06 10:45 AM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: medulanet]
WuXing Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/05
Posts: 481
Loc: Idaho, USA
I have heard that Kodatsu Iha also learned from Oyadomari Koken.
Looking at the bodyguard theory...do you think it likely that the bodyguards all shared the styles they had learned with eachother? Why wouldn't wankan have been practiced by the other bodyguards, and passed on in shuri te? It's possible that it was Matsumora's personal style that he didn't share with the others, or that they didn't care to learn. I know Oyadomari was a Peichin. Was Matsumora also a Peichin?
Even if we knew for sure that this was the style of the king's bodyguards; how would we find out how the kata had been used by them without "reverse engineering" and a lot of speculation?

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#229439 - 02/10/06 12:00 PM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: WuXing]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
I never heard of Kodatsu studying with Oyadomari, but that is possible considering Oyadomari and Mastumora did know each other and train together and they were both "Tomari te" adepts. Yes, Kosaku Matsumora did hold the title of Pechin. I do, however, know that Kodatsu was Kosaku's "top student" so I believe he claimed Matsumora as his main instructor. In terms of Wankans usage I believe it was passed on thorough Kosaku Matsumora, to Iha Kodatsu, to Shoshin Nagamine, to some of his students, and then on to others. Although few, there are some Matsubayashi Ryu practitioners with amazing skill and knowledge of the style and some have this in depth knowledge that we seek. It is those who do not know that must reverse engineer. A lot of the older guys in Matsubayashi like Wax and Grant have some amazing knowledge which they do not always share these days from what I hear. I do infact believe that Wankan was Kodatsu's favorite kata or possibly the one he was most skilled at, or maybe a combination of the lessons taught by his previous teachers, or maybe a compilation skills he used in battle in desperate situations that he knew worked. I believe few teacher knew or taught Wankan because shuri teachers taught many more students than tomari and was more widely learned. However, knowing the purpose of certain kata is not that difficult to learn. Many are clear given proper instruction and a little research. Again Wankan has very few self defense techniques. This kata is for when ass meets the asphalt. This kata is to put people down in a most violent way. Like I said it is to stand and fight until no one is left standing. Again, if an enemy reached the king then all other tactics have obviously failed and there is only one recourse. Stand and fight until there is no one left because you are the last line of defense. There are some anti grappling techniques here but these are mainly to prevent tackles and they are immediately followed up with strikes(a hammerfist to rattle the brain, a hidden knee strike to get them off of you, and a punch if they stand up or another guy comes at you). With Wankan there is no question of its intent. This kata is for fighting to the end.

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#229440 - 02/10/06 02:17 PM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: medulanet]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA
I found the book to be interesting, but largely a matter of spacious reasoning and unwarranted conjecture.

Many of the "facts" pesented in the book do not "check out" or are interperated in very "shaky" ways.

Some presented "facts" are even contradictory in nature.

(as just one example----the whole "nightfigting" idea--the book presents a situation in which they claim "proves" that Matsumore/Itosu was an expert at fighting at night--a useful skill for a bodyguard.
Problem is that in the example they use to "prove" it M/Itosu tells his students to "put your backs to the moon" more or less.
And that is plain foolish.
If your fighting in the dark you REALLY don't want to put yourself BETWEEN the strongest light source and your oppt.
It HIGHLIGHTS you against the light and makes it MUCH more easy to see you, AND it puts your oppt into deeper shadow, making it harder to see HIM.
Not a good plan.)

But specfically in this context--

Okinwan kings did NOT wear "crowns" at all.

(and neither did the Chinese--at least not in the western sense/meaning of the word "crown."

So there was not really any "crown" to protect.

Least I don't think there was---would be more than happy to change my opinion on crowns if someone has better info.


Edited by cxt (02/10/06 02:27 PM)

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#229441 - 02/10/06 03:34 PM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: cxt]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Interesting CXT, I would like to investigate the translation of Okan further. It may be a reference to crown as in crown of the head and therefore protecting the kings head. Or the king may have worn a special hat which would translate into what we know today in western culture as a crown. I am really not sure. Although none of this may be true at all, it sure is fun to think this stuff up. I believe examining all aspects of kata can shed the light on its usage. But one thing I know for sure, Wankan is very special in Matsubayashi, and when I find out exactly why I will let you guys know.

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#229442 - 02/10/06 03:37 PM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: cxt]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
CXT, I looked and you may be wrong about the no crowns on okinawan kings thing. Check out this link.

http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/arttheft/asia/japan/okinawa/okinawa.htm

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#229443 - 02/10/06 05:35 PM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: medulanet]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5821
Loc: USA

Med

Thanks for the addtl info!!!!

Did not know that such things exsisted.

In looking at the picture, it still does not look much like a "crown" in the western sense.

More of a round hat---like chinese officals might have.

But its still listed as a "crown" so it look like they had them.

John Sells (paraphraseing here) lists Wankan as a common to Shorin styles with a Tomarite version passed down by Nakasone Seiyu--said to be Matsumoras own, yet looks nothing like the Shorin, Shiro, or Shotokan versions.

Sells likens the Tomari/Nakasone Seiyu kata to looking like parts of Suparinpei wih parts of Shisochin.

Sells also lists an alternative history from Hisataka Masuyuki.

That Wankan is "hold over" from the "old style" techniques of the karate practiced on Kudaka Island.

Don't know if I would look at Wankan in the same light that I would Kusanku or Suparinpei might be seen as a "top" kata.

But there is no reason to think it could not be either.

Good discussion!
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#229444 - 02/12/06 11:33 AM Re: Karate Conjecture - Wankan [Re: medulanet]
roniwankan Offline
Member

Registered: 08/31/05
Posts: 99
Loc: Brazil, Goias
There is too many interesting stories that I can read here, just what I can say is: there are still too many things to learn about kata.
_________________________
KARATE DO GA MUZUKASHII MICHI ARUKI NI DESSU, SHIKASHI YOI MONO WO YARI MASSU.

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