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#233341 - 02/24/06 05:12 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Ed_Morris]
CVV Offline

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
I agree that the different seisan versions resemble in enbusen and techniques. But also very different sometimes.

The goju version and the toon version differ because they have different source. Kyoda Juhatsu learned a version from Higashiaonna Kanyo, a nephew of Kanryu, who also studied in Fuchow China. It is said that Higashiaonna Kanryu only thaught sanchin sanseru seisan and pechurin. So it seems that pre 1900, seisan kata was a very important kata in the curriculum of the masters of the past.

#233342 - 02/24/06 08:26 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: CVV]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
agreed. also CVV, sidenote... re: uppercut in seisan-dachi. I know Meibukan (A. Mirakian) uses seisan-dachi. and also, Kodokan (K. Wall).

One interesting thing about Seisan that I'm not sure has been mentioned... The principles of application in Sanchin can ALL be found in Seisan. You bet Seisan is an important kata in Goju. usually taught around ikkyu. The theory I believe in (and the way I was taught), is that Sanchin is a training kata. while practicing it, the application is within, not to an external opponent. There ARE applications of Sanchin, and Seisan is where the overlaping principals exist. so even though you are practicing bunkai to seisan, you are simultaneously practicing bunkai to Sanchin, so nothing is lost or different really from people who practice bunkai to Sanchin. This is a small (but I think significant) difference and I'm in the minority, but it's the way I prefer to think of the Sanchin/Seisan relationship. plus it makes Sanchin practice special, which it should be, trancending mere external application. It becomes a personal's the unseen foundation...which starts from the inside and is projected out.

roughly, overlapping sequences/applications in Sanchin-Seisan: (without turn)

they even appear in the same order within both kata:
*Opening 3-set sequences. (open or closed hand options)
*3 'knife hand' sequences.
*ending tora guchi. (sanchin or nekoashi dachi options)

#233343 - 02/24/06 09:05 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Neko456]
Victor Smith Offline
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Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

Seisan is a bit of a passion of mine, I doubt there is any version I don't have several variations on tap in the house. Undoubtedly everyone loves the version they practice.

Realistically there is little difference in the complexity of the different versions in use, if you look at them analytically. They're just different.

Goju's is an extremely nice version, but Toon Ryu's is yet a different dimension of time and space. Uechi's is perhaps the one that gives me the greatest pause, but the potential within all the Matsumura No Seisan variations is just as great. They're just different.

The description of Goju's you quoted applies to them all. Such as low kicks, the Isshinryu version contains kicking at the 1" level (to dislocate ankles) to the calf or inner thigh, and all points north. All depending on which kick is being used (even the act of stepping is a kicking exercise).

My new sho-dans spend about 6 months working on part of Isshinryu's Seisan opening application potential, and at that we're not exhausting other potentials that will come in the following years.

Perhaps later this year Ed and others in the area can get together and share Seisan answers and take a look at 20 or so different Seisan's to try and understand how much is in common.

Seisan was documented as performed in festival in the mid 1800's on Okinawa. I haven't seen any documentation what that version was, but that was about the time Matsumora was getting started. Hiagonna's variations arrived on Okinawa in what the late 1890's? Uechi's didn't formally move int till the late 1940's (for decades earlier he was teaching in Japan).

As far as the point where Seisan is taught, from the Kyan lineage it was the beginning. Years ago I saw various Goju groups that didn't teach Seisan till 4th or 5th dan. It sounds like the curricula has been speeded up of late.

On the other hand Miyagi's direct students either learned Seisan right after Sanchin, or not at all. The history seems to show Miyagi chose normally 1 kata plus Sanchin for his students (rarely 2 or 3 others). So most of his students prior to his death would not have studied Seisan, and the concept of teaching all Miyagi's kata is really more a part of his last years thoughts, as well as the practices his students may have changed on his death. [Depending on who's history you read you find different answers, and I can't evaluate them as I wasn't there.]

There really is so much variablity in what different groups in the same camps actually did, it's difficult to discuss anyting but individual cases.

victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#233344 - 02/24/06 11:25 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
would love to get together for a Seisan study group
("Seisaminar" )

I've taken a particular interest in this kata over the years, but I've never compaired versions as a study-since just getting to know one is a part-time I could only share the one I study (Mirakian-Meibukan with later M. Higaonna influence). I'm currently studying w/app the very similar but slight variation of the K. Wall-Kodokan version.

To perhaps continue the spark in the thread, I'll share some bits and pieces I've collected, some of it is sourced...some is not so I appologize in advance. nothings in stone, just take it fo what it's worth or perhaps as a launching into further research if you see something interesting. I don't know the accuracy nor even remember when I joted/copied these I stress taking it with a grain of shio.

Seisan...random notes
There are two major versions, with many variants:
the Shuri version and
the Naha version.

Higashionna no Seisan
Uechi no Seisan
Matsumura Orthodox variant
Tomari no Seisan
Oshiro no Seisan
Arakaki no Seisan
Inami (or Iha) no Seisan
Kyabu no Seisan
Motobu no Seisan

The main lineages that include Seisan include those passed down from:
Matsumura Sokon
Kyan Chotoku
Aragaki Seisho
Higaonna Kanryo
Uechi Kanbun
Nakaima Norisato
Some say that this is the oldest kata that is still practiced in Okinawa, but what basis they use to make this statement is unknown. Seisan means "13" / hangetsu means "crescent moon". Some say that was the name of a famous martial artist who came to Okinawa around 1700.-not likely. Some say that the kata is practiced in Fukien, China among the Fukien Shaolin Monk (Luohan) Fist, Dragon and Lion Boxing Kung Fu practitioners. In Okinawa, there are two different major versions. The Naha-te version is pretty much like the Chinese, according to some sources. The Shuri-te version (which was also taught by Fusei Kise) is quite different, and evolved differently, or so they say. Some say that the Naha-te version was handed down to the Okinawans by the Chinese master Liu Liu-ko, the creator of the "Shouting Crane" style of Fukien, China. Others claim that it was brought to Okinawa by Higashionna Kanryo of Naha-te, a student of Liu Liu-ko. And others even say that it was passed down in Kunida (Kume-Mura) long before Higashionna and Liu Liu-ko came along. As for the Shuri-te version, some say that Takahara Peichin passed it down. Some claim that Matsumura also practiced it, but that claim is questionable, or at least, it is believed by some that he did not include it in his personal system.

Fusei Kise probably got it from one of his teachers who studied under Kyan Chotoku. Some claim that Kyan got it from Bushi Matsumura, but that claim is also questionable.

Some claim that early on, Hohan Soken taught a version of this kata. (unsubstantiated but possible). We just know that it was not taught by him later in life(?unsubstantiated). Another kata we are sure about that he apparently had and decided not to teach is Sanchin. He said that Sanchin teaches the same principles as Naihanchi, so, he said, why be redundant? This may have been the same reason he did away with his verison of Seisan, if he had one, since Gojushiho teaches the same things as it does.

The main lineages that include Seisan include those passed down from Kosaku Matsumora /Kodatsu Iha /Chojo Oshiro, Chotoku Kyan, Seisho Aragaki, Kanryo Higaonna, Kanbun Uechi, and Norisato Nakaima, among others. Shimabuku learned this kata from Kyan. Both the Kyan and the Shimabuku versions of this kata strongly resemble the "Matsumura no Seisan" used in some sects of Shito-ryu (see Sakagami, 1978).

Noted senior Okinawan karate authority Hiroshi Kinjo (b. 1919) states that there is no evidence of a Seisan kata being passed down in the "Shuri" lineages of Sokon Matsumura and Anko Itosu, and that the familiar "Shuri" lineage Seisan versions such as the Hangetsu of Shotokan and the Seisan of Kyan lineage systems, should be referred to as Tomari Seisan. His reasoning is that the so-called Oshiro Seisan as presented in the 1930 "Kenpo Gaisetsu" by Nisaburo Miki and Mizuho Takada was actually passed down from Kosaku Matsumora to Kodatsu Iha to Kinjo's own teacher Chojo Oshiro of Yamaneryu Bojutsu fame.

#233345 - 02/25/06 11:58 AM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

Good research, which of course only goes as far as the researcher takes it.

My own analysis is there appears to be a 'source seisan'. Though the different lines diverge, there is enough commonality between almost all of the seisan variations to suggest there was a beginning and then variation in time.

This is similar to the many variations of Patsai on Okinwawa, just at some point a greater fork took place on the road.

There is no way to determine truth. For example some of the Tomari Seisan versions I've seen bear a greater resemblence to the Goju Seisan than the Shorin variations.

On the other hand, in my mind there is a strong case that the Toon Ryu version may be purer old style than the Goju, far smaller numbers have studied Toon Ryu, meaning less chance for variation (IMVHO), and if the Tomari was source there is too much variation from the Toon Ryu, again IMVHO.

Frankly I consider it impossible to prove the source, but I do believe a concerted study of as wide a range as possible leads to a logical conclusion as to what Seisan's original might have contained.

But it takes setting aside style 'prejudice' (not a bad idea for good trianing, just a hinderance for such an inquiry).

Thought leads to growth.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#233346 - 02/25/06 05:48 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Victor Smith]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
sorry if i repeat, but as were all being so open here are the yet to be sorted notes from my 'research' -

Seisan, (lit 13)

Old Okinawan/Chinese Seishan

1588 famous Seisan chines emaster arrives on Okinawa, first reference to his method and thus the katas origins

Gung Ji Fook Fu (Hung gar Base Form)emphasizes stance conditioning, chi development, solid bridge work, and has a depth of applications waiting for the student to uncover. The name translates to "cross tiger fist", "subduing the tiger", or "taming the tiger".

It is believed Seisan derives from Yong Chun White Crane Boxing from Fujian Province in Southern China, where the form is known as 'Four Gate Hands'.

The version of Seisan taught in the Shorin-Ryu syllabus can be traced back to Soken 'Bushi' Matsumura (1809-1901) a highly influential teacher to Shorin styles, hence the name Matsumura-no-Seisan. This version was revised by Shian Toma (whose lineage can be traced back to Chotoku Kyan(1870-1945), a student of Soken Matsumura.

Named After Maker. Emphasizes straightforward stance, fist blocking, front kick, and rapid technique (Shorin Ryu). Emphasizes strong low stance with heels shoulder width apart and feet pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Also reinforced blocks, punches, Breath control, and powerful Technique. Teaches how to get inside opponents attack while developing a strong foundation.

This Kata is of Chinese origin. It is one of the original Katas from the ancient Pangai-Noon style, and its name derived from Master Seshan. Should be done with Strong Performance, and has Half moon steps and Crescent stance, Induces and trains for close range fighting with short punches and low kicks and multiple changes in direction. The early version of the form emphasized close range self-defense techniques with the sliding foot movements being used.

Korean form, origionally a Praying Mantis Form. Created in the Song Dynasty and influenced by Kuk Kwon, assumed created by Jang Sam Bong.

This kata was developed by a famous Chinese martial artist Master Seishan (or Seisan). He was a great master from the Pangai Noon Style of Kung Fu or southern Chinese boxing. He was sent from China to Okinawa in 1588 by the king to teach Chinese boxing. He remained on Okinawa until 1600, just prior to the Japanese invasion. Seisan kata is believed by some to be the oldest known kata still being practiced in Okinawa.

Many consider that Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura learned the kata from Master Sakagawa or from one of the Chinese masters when he was in China. Master Sakagawa would have learned Seisan from Peichan Takahara, and Chotoku Kyan learned the kata from Matsumura.

Sei meaning ten and San meaning three.

Kanbum Uechi, an Okinawan who studied in the Fukien province of China from 1897 to 1910 with Chou-Tzu-ho developed the Uechi-Ryu system of karate about 1949. This style incorporates movements of the tiger, crane, and dragon. Sanchin is the first and foremost kata of Uechi-Ryu, but another kata basic to this system is Seisan.

In the Goju-Ryu style, Seisan kata demonstrates 13 techniques: three initial fast chest punches in Sanchin-dachi stance, chest block, two kicks to the knee, and assorted quick punching from the horse stance. It ends with a front kick followed by a punch to the chest and drop into the neko-ashi-dachi with mawashi-uke technique. It is considered an advanced kata in this style.

The basic Seisan stance is used over fourteen times throughout the kata. Additionally, and elbow break designed to free the student from a wrist grab is employed in the kata.

Seisan (Seishan) kata is named after a famous Chinese martial artist who lived on the island of Okinawa around 1700. It is said that he was one of the greatest karate men of that era. Seisan is associated with an astronomer and map maker called Takahara Perchin who was the first teacher of "Tode" Sakugawa. The kata is also known to have been performed by some of the greatest karate men in the history of the art including Bushi Matsumura, Yasutsune Itosu, and Chotoku Kyan. Seisan is used in many Okinawan systems shuch as Isshinryu, ShorinRyu, and Shurite. However, as with many other forms, the kata differs slightly between styles.

The unique thing about this kata is that there are two quite different versions. The Naha-Te version of Seisan favors the Chinese style and the Shuri-Te version had its own evolution. The Shuri-Te version can be traced back to Bushi Matsumura and includes techniques repeated in combinations of three, open-handed blocks and a defense against groin kicks.

Hangetsu, means half-moon and is derived from the Sanshin stance and hand movements in the form. The stances and hand movements include semi-circular paths.

Welcome any advice on what you guys think as it cant all be true!
Jim Neeter

#233347 - 02/25/06 10:28 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: shoshinkan]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Truth and the history of Okinawan Karate, what a quaint idea.

I would suggest any of us can read every work published in our language (such as English), and translate every word published in one or two others and you'll still have no idea of what the truth is.

I think the first truth is pay attention to the reality of the kata, what is actually there. The past is past and all the book larn'ng in the world can't give truth.

Second the movements comprising all Seisan variations are of an advanced kata. Some groups will only teach it to senior students, others will teach it to beginners, but you really can't touch on what the kata truly offers till advanced abilities are reached. The movements alone are not enough for any of them.

As far as which variation of Seisan is most advanced, which one yields technique a practitioner actually can use to drop anyone. Does it get more advanced than that. Any of the variations can suggest hundreds of techniques. Is anything more important than the correct execution of any of those techniques?

As for mining the past (and believe me I'm not immune to this), why not consider what the current Okinawan's are really doing. Do you really think they care, beyond polite history, that any piece of their arts originated in China? Do they want their students going to China for the 'source' and leaving Okinawa behind? I feel certain as a group the acknowledge a past, but also will strongly suggest that has past and their art's current manifestitation is the right answer. If not they'd be going to China (and I'm sure some have), but as I've heard they really are spending the time on the art they have, instead of what somebody wishes they could find.

Okinwan karate by design, closed off the past except for oral history. Everyone's assumptions otherwise is simply a house of cards. The better 'historians' tell a good story, and the better story they tell the more one wants to believe it. But belief doesn't make it true (nor does beliving make it false).

Even more so what to the current Okinwan's really care about. Course I don't know because I don't go there, but show me the books about Karate Okinawa has published in the past 10 years, and compare those books against what the world has published in that same time. Off hand I can think of just one.

And how many books have been published from Okinwawa anyway, for the past 100 years? Is it fair to consider hose published in Japan at all, or are those before WWII really Okinawan reflecions, and those after WWII something newer and different?

We should research, we should look, but also we should consider is there any point beyond interest?

For the quest of say Seisan, while I believe we can demonstrate a Seisan core that transcends all the versions (and would irritate those who maintain otherwise, always the best reason to do the research), and an application potential for that underlying Seisan that applies to all the Seisan variations. But still all we would have is a logical construct, perhaps a useful one, a logical one, an interesting one, but still just a construct.

The value of course is if you can bind that study into actual training.

The more I think about this now the more I can see the potential. I've been trying to see the shape of this study for several decades, perhaps now it shows itself.

Hmmmm, might burst a few bubbles at that.

Perhaps we will have a Seisan-ness gathering this spring.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#233348 - 02/25/06 11:05 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
I agree with your points about history except for the big picture view... what I mean is, sure, collecting info and data mining points of view and interviews, etc is interesting and doesn't really add anything to the practice...but what about serious researchers funding translation of texts that haven't been translated or thoughroughly analysed yet? surely there is merit in that practice. New realities of the past are deducted from such rigerous unbiased investegation (hopefully, unbiased). of course what we do here on an internet forum is simply regurgitate and connect dots... which hardly can be considered 'research'.

so I think you are right to say the reality we have is the form we have been shown and practice to work with. and by using many points of THAT data (meaning comparing everyone's seisan), we might be able to determine a convergence. perhaps.

however, let me suggest something which may further burst bubbles....just today looking at versions of Seisan available on the web in video, I'm not convinced they are even of the same origin, let alone 'author'. matsumora-seisan and higashionna-seisan (If I didn't know they had the same name), I'd consider two separate kata with two separate origins. how can we even begin to synthesize 2 kata which don't even have similar embusen or technique? I'd even argue the principals are not common due to the vast diference in execution, sequence and apparent intent.

Is it possible for a kata to be formed in one place and another kata be developed elsewhere without colaborration and have the coincidence of being named the same name? With a name like "13",(prime numbers had very significate meaning in China- 2,3,5,7,11,13..) I'd say, absolutely yes. not only possible, but likely. Perhaps when the masters realized they have common-named kata, they were unwilling to rename it and from early on hypened on the name of the master which taught it? higashionna-seisan vs matsumora-seisan ...not meaning two variations...but two separate kata.

hmmmm.... but I still like the idea of getting together for comparitive Seisan study.

as an interesting reference, I'll tack this on. the math is pretty involved, but if you skip and read the meaning/application of this 3rd Century Chinese derived theorem (by Sun Tzu, the mathmetician not the strategist), it is shown to have potential martial application.
very interesting.
The Chinese have an often overlooked brilliant history of math...the reason for such dismissal is since Europe surpassed them later in history. and the winners write history.

#233349 - 02/26/06 03:04 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

I have a different starting point about kata divergence in that Isshinryu Wansu is a case in point how things may have occured.

What logic impells me is there may well have been a Seisan Prime (a Seisan Source) that underwent different paths of development at some junction. There is enough commonality between all of the Sesian kata to suggest what the core may have been, but from the point of divergence different principles and/or additions began to take place.

This appears to be consistent with the Okinawan kata history track after all. For example the Kyan Wansu kata has a different embusen from the Isshinryu Wansu kata (a derivative), but they have a common core too.

It all depends on how one is willing to look at the underlying kata potential.

I'll even take it a step further, I can offer an underlying application potential from my theoretical underlying kata that can apply to all of the versions in existence. Don't matter how they punch or what tension they play with in practice.

Of course none of this implies that such speculation is the original, just a logical analysis that works.

From my perspective, seeing the vast diversity of form I don't buy the underlying core of Seisan would develop spontaneously in different places. What I see is the divergences that arose as the original template met different individuals with different criteria.

But consistent with Okinawan development, names were terribly important, because only the oral history was what was passed along. So Patsai remained Patsai even with the warp of time (the transmission to Japan and the japanification of the names a different topic). And with that logic Seisan remained Seisan even with vastly different warp of intent.

But we're all outsiders playing a game after all, in that we're not Okinawan's. If the Okinawans don't make a case of it, nor care about the past, only what they're doing, except for any positive value to wring from the study, is it worth more?

I still think a Seisan group share might be of value.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#233350 - 02/26/06 03:14 PM Re: Seisan - The Universal kata ? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

I think I went too fast..."what about serious researchers funding translation of texts that haven't been translated or thoughroughly analysed yet? surely there is merit in that practice."

While I grant you there is merit in those translation efforts, exactly what texts are you referring to? There are efforts being made on the texts published in Japan in the 30's and 40's or so. But they're not Okinawan texts either.

So at best they're texts written for a non-Okinawan audience, and how much do they share? Much of what was written is in the Itosu/developing Shotokan lineage or derivative.

Mabuni wrote in the Goju tradition a great deal (I translated part of his first two works from French translations on Sanchin/Seiunchin and Sepai, though Mario McKenna has done a fuller job with the original Japanese versions).

In 1933 Mutsu describes Seisan (but it is in core the Seisan Funakoshi described in 1922).

And for the Chinese origins. If there was anything that remotely resembled what Okinawan karate developed I would be very glad to accept it as a plausible link, but what I've seen to date, is just hope fullfillment, not linked practices. It's very likely the Chinese sources of Okinawan tradition, also undergoing change, moved in directions that there is no link really remaining. I once read a British interview with a senior Chinese WuShu coach talking about it. His rough opinion was any martial sources for Okinawa's development were not main stream Chinese arts. He felt they were likely worthy individuals, but in the area which such contact occured, it was likely they were not players on the larger Chinse martial scene. It seems to me likely not to be answered anytime soon.

More importantly so because if the Chinese could show the driect link, after what they suffered from the Japanese in the unpleasantness of the last century (how's that for politically correct about the wretchedness which Japan blanketed on China), they would not hesitate to show the links to 'trump' Japan (and in their eyes, Okinawa is but Japan, the distinction too minor to quibble about).

But clear proof isn't there, and I feel very unlikely to spring forth because it may no longer exist. That doens't mean its not real, just perhaps no longer in existence.

All that remains is wonder.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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