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#272313 - 07/17/06 09:56 PM curriculum = system?
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
does your form curriculum serve to build a fighting system? if so, I thought it an interesting topic if people explained the binding and/or complimentary form sets.

some food for discussion:

why does your style have the particular kata/forms that it does? if one was taken away or added, would it still be your system?

I've never read someone explaining the reasoning of why those particular forms make up the curriculum by the style creator....or even a reasoning which makes sense; if not provable historically, but provable by action. The only place I've heard and have seen this demonstrated/explained clearly is where I currently train and was wondering out of curiosity if this has been a theme of your training.

I'm particularly interested in those styles proporting to be pre-Itosu. but this is of course open to every and all.
another way of thinking of this is, do you have form which combines your forms?

#272314 - 07/17/06 10:37 PM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Ed_Morris]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Well "I don't know nuthin out no pretosu katers". The gentlemen that you are currently studing with and I have some shared Background. They probably ran into many of the same roadblocks and incongruities. I have over the years. As you know Chung do Kwan had it's roots in shotokan. Lee the founder of CDK was a student of Funikoshi. You will find many of shotokan/ okinawan based form still used in our schools. One difference you see in practice is that the blocks have generally moved higher. This may be because of their predilection for Kicking people off horses.

Many people are familiar with WTF or ITF forms. There is another series that reportedly finds it origins in the CDK and or Kuk Mu Kwan. The series of forms is called Kuk Mu and were designed I believe by Jae Bok Chung in the mid 50's. The Kuk Mu series 1-5 contans the basic block and strikes of the system and uses only the front,side, back and roundhouse kicks. They differ in range from the shotokan forms because of the focus on kicking. Although you see a shotokan influence imho it is not a place to look for applications other than the straight forward hard hitting and kicking. I feel Shotokan may not have the subtltiy of okinawan styles and the Kuk mu forms step away one step further from that subtlty. They are quite useful for developing mobility and proper mechanics for power generating with punches and kicks. I do feel that they are unique and representitive of that period in history. Joe lewis once said of Chuck Norris's success in competion "The japanese could punch and the koreans could kick, Chuck was the guy who could do both" I think in large part that is what Tang soo do, Tae so do and CDK TKD have tried to facilitate.

In my opinion there is more than enought to build a fighting system with Though it is not perfect. As they say any idiot can make something more complicated. It is much harder to simplify.

#272315 - 07/17/06 10:57 PM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: oldman]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
actually, I'm not exaggurating when I recall it was said that they ended up throwing all the TKD stuff away and basically started over. thats not a dig to you or TKD, since I don't know what any of the kwons have to offer, it's just the truth of what I've heard people say who started in a modern Korean Art and moved abruptly to another Art which intreiged them and which they had access.

but we are all biased to whatever we currently study. I was hoping to gain insight as to not the origins of curriculum, or the political reasoning for their inclusion...but rather the technical reasons in fighting rt philosophy. the majority of TMA I've experienced simply did that set of kata because it was always thus. as if by magic, one day after performing the kata for the 10,000th time, a practitioner would be transformed into a proficient fighter able to defend themselves in any situation. I would argue that performing kata that many times would make us better at kata...and thats about it. UNLESS, meaning is put to the forms, not only in 2-person drill, but in being shown to realize the relationships between the various forms, so that, when combined, it consists of not x amount of responses to y attacks, but the philosophy necessary to be able to adhoc the situation.

#272316 - 07/18/06 07:42 AM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Ed_Morris]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
Very interesting post Ed, something I feel Medulanet and Victor could really awnser well.

Personally I feel that the term 'system' is in relation to base body movement, tactics and training methods and whilst the kata does deliver 'technical' methods ultimatly the way we do things dictates the system.

Personally the kata we work at my dojo were selected for a variety of reasons, firstly historical/classical/authentic ones, secondly to follow general shorin ryu 'tradition', thirdly because its what I know and feel to be a very good combination for a karateka.

to be clear we work the following -

Pinan 1,2
Naihanchi 1,2
Sanchin (ok not shorin but of great value IMO)

and some others that my Sensei will show me when im ready...........white crane based studies.

Now of course kata have commonality and certain ones build on skills introduced earlier, but for me I feel that apart from obvious 'linked' kata that is a bit of skillful reengineering by very good karateka - has value of course. Personally I do simply feel that the kata of most systems are simply a collection of the originators own training, as it came to them (and sometimes with their additions)- not a structured, tick in box approach at all to a 'fighting system'.

Personally im fine with that as im confident that to meet simple self defense very little is needed anyhow in reality, but that little needs to be very good and trained correctly with reality in mind, based on simple principles and solid training.

hope that makes some sense, just where im at...........
Jim Neeter

#272317 - 07/18/06 09:19 AM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

From an Okinawan perspective there were no systems, only instructors, and curriculum being a set path of study was also frequently individualized. [For sake of argument I'm talking pre 1950's.]

You didn't join a system you trained with an instructor. And many instructors varied their curricula or even the way the kata were performed.

I believe the rise of systems began when karate traveled to Japan, and the idea spread from there. Of course often these were the same people who said You Must Not Change Kata, after they had already done that, too.

In turn the use of systems on Okinawa must move to the post WWII years.

The idea of systems fixed karate in a place of time, and give rise to drawing lines around what a system is and isn't.

But I don't see any of the arts really being so defined.
Likewise curricula are useful, but IMO for the instructor to try and use to cover 'X' amount of material. For the student I thing the adoption of curricula, knowing it, has been nothing but a hinderance to all arts development. It gives them a false sense they've accomplished something, such as I know kata "Z", and not there are decades of different kata "Z" in the act of knowing it.

BTW, one serious Okinawan Shorin system head is completely serious that all you should do is your kata, and not worry about 'bunkai'. Their answer is that uncountable kata performances will give arise to the abilit to spontaneously respond if attacked.

Whether you beleive it or not, it is followed in their system of teaching.

There are absolutely no 'truths' a that can be stated that don't have serious artists who hold the exactly opposite point of view.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#272318 - 07/18/06 09:29 AM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Victor Smith]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Victor...these are two 'keepers' for my journal. Thank you!


...there were no systems, only instructors


...there are decades of different kata "Z" in the act of knowing it.

#272319 - 07/18/06 10:24 AM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
the historic sense is always interesting, but what I'm asking is the reasoning behind teaching a student a certain group of kata as oppossed to other groups of kata. perhaps using the word 'curriculum' is not exactly what I meant.

a specific example, JUST for example, I wouldn't expect the thread to change direction by someone pointing out technical flaws in an example to illustrate a point - is Miyagi not teaching Naihanchi. I'm sure there was a reasoning there, we will never know HIS reason...but we can come up with our OWN reasoning for teaching or not teaching. That reasoning we decide is based on what? could be based on the interpretation of it. maybe there is overlap (in our interpretation) that makes it deemed unnecessary. or it could simply be based on what our influences are and how well we did/didn't learn it. or perhaps we do include it since it closes the gap in a particular training study.

the decision process of deciding which kata or skillset to teach a student and what not to teach is what I'm hoping to draw out of the thread.

The combination of skills extracted from a particular group of kata / drills. - whatever we prefer to call that (curriculum, a system, school of thought, Ryu, etc), is based on what? tradition or Science ? or perhaps just faith/trust in the tradition which leads to the science?

#272320 - 07/18/06 03:03 PM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

"what I'm asking is the reasoning behind teaching a student a certain group of kata as oppossed to other groups of kata.
Ok, I understand. I think the simplest answers is history. The way of transmission tended to be you studied your instructors art till you obtained authorization to teach it. That authorization may have come from the instructor, of they were not around it may have come from others recoginzing your abilities.

In most cases the core of the previosu art became the teaching. I suppose a case can be made in Goju that Miyagi for a very long time taught very little to his students, and taught most of them differently, but in the end they pulled most or all of his teachings together.

But they still retained small but significent differences.

As time passes some instructors gather instruction from other teachers, and Shito Ryu, Shotokan and/or Isshinryu evolve. Why kata are retained or rejected was never really documented, and in many arts at different times the instruction changed, again by the instructors focus.

New Kata eventually became part of the arts. New ways to teach beginners can be found from Itsou/Funkaoshi, Miyagi and Nagamine.

New kata to teach certain advanced skills also arose. Miyagi created new kata. Shimabuku Tatsuo created new kata.
And today some of the Shotokan Seniors are also creating new kata. Uechi actually more than doubled their system by adding new kata.

I think individual instructors have many reasons why they do so.

In my case I retain the classical content of Isshinryu, but I have made additions based on my other studies.

In my case it was to:

1) try and develop a sounder way to prepare beginners (as my primary program is focused on youth, and the style founder never ran youth programs. But I do so retaining all of the original approach, just get to it more gradually.

2) to allow my students to understand what others do, so they intimately know what Goju, Shorin, Shotokan and some Kung Fu students may do.

3) to allow my students to discover a different range of motion potential than our original style contains (but in the long term we find enough variation within Isshinryu for application against any attack. Still it does add an element so nobody knows our full range.

4) Some of the advanced kata studies teach different advanced skills than our curricula. They may not be necessary but they are useful for very long term study.

I think there are as many answers as instructors. Some groups may have developed specific reasons for change, hard to say. Because why is rarely really discussed with outsiders.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#272321 - 07/18/06 05:08 PM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Victor Smith]
CVV Offline

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
Curriculum = system? Yes, if it is trained over and over to achieve a certain goal. In the old days, that system was individualised to the person and a student would learn from several masters if possible. He would build his own system and adapt as he saw fit. If he would become a recognised master, he would teach his curriculum to his most trusted students, if he considered them worthy enough, otherwise his sytem would die out. The recognition for the butokukai demanded an official curriculum linked to a style practised by an organisation recognised by the butokukai. Not linked to a person. Okinawan practitioners complied to the rule, but since karate has a tradition of individual interpretation it became/becomes very difficult to have clearly standardized in detail systems (styles). The same evolution exists in the Chinese styles where every generation adds or disposes of training methods and forms/applications.
Miyagi briefly touches the subject in his gaisetsu

3. Karate circles in the past
We also do not know origin of the name "karate", but it is true that the name "karate" was made recently. In the old days it was called "Te". At that time people used to practice karate secretly, and a masters taught a few advanced Kata out of all the Kata only to his best disciple. If he had no suitable disciple, he never taught them anyone, and eventually such Kata have completely died out. As a result, there are many Kata which were not handed down. In about middle of Meiji period (1868-1912), prominent karate masters abolished the old way of secrecy. Karate was opened to the public, so it was soon recognized by society. It was dawn in the development of karate. In accordance with the rapidly progressing culture, karate was also recognized as physical education, and it was adopted as one of the teaching subjects at school. Therefore, at last karate has won the social approval.

4. How we teach karate at present.
According to oral history, in the old days, the teaching policy of karate put emphasis on self-defence techniques. With just a motto of "no first attack in karate", teachers showed their students the moral aspects. However, I heard that in reality they tended to neglect such moral principles. So gradually the teaching policy was improved with the change of the times. Now we discontinued and abolished the wrong tradition of so-called "body first, and mind second", and we made our way toward Tao of fighting arts or the truth of karate. Eventually we have obtained the correct motto "mind first, and body second" which means karate and Zen are the same.

Those who are engaged in teaching karate in Okinawa prefecture and outside Okinawa prefecture at present are as follows. (in random order)

In Okinawa prefecture:
Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Anbun Tokuda, Juhatsu Kyoda, Choshin Chibana, Jinsei Kamiya, Shinpan Shiroma, Seiko Higa, Kamado Nakasone, Jin-an Shinzato, Chojun Miyagi

Outside Okinawa prefecture:
Gichin Funakoshi, Choki Motobu, Kenwa Mabuni, Masaru Sawayama, Sanyu Sakai, Moden Yabiku, Jizaburo Miki, Yasuhiro Konishi, Shinji Sato, Mizuho Mutsu, Kamesuke Higaonna, Shinjun Otsuka, Shin Taira, Koki Shiroma, Kanbun Uechi

5. About karate styles or Ryu
There are various opinions about Ryu or styles of karate in Ryukyu (= Okinawa), but they are just guess without any definite research or evidence. With regard to this matter, we feel as if we are groping in the dark.

According to a popular opinion out of them, we can categorize karate into two styles; Shorin-Ryu and Shorei-Ryu. They insist that the former is fit for a stout person, while the latter for a slim person. However, such an opinion proved to be false by many studies. In the meantime, there is the only opinion we can trust. It is as follows: In 1828 (Qing or Ching dynasty in China), our ancestors inherited a kungfu style of Fujian province in China. They continued their studies and formed Goju-Ryu karate. Even today, there still exists an orthodox group which inherited genuine and authentic Goju-Ryu karate.

#272322 - 07/19/06 02:02 AM Re: curriculum = system? [Re: Ed_Morris]
bo-ken Offline

Registered: 06/07/04
Posts: 1228
Loc: beaver falls, PA, beaver
You guys always seem to blow my mind with your knowledge. I feel that eventhough kata is the core of the curriculum I don't think they make the entire system today. I say today because karate has changed over the years and most students don't care about kata nearly enough. Katas have made me what I am. The Pinan and Bassai katas have shaped how I train. I say that because those are the katas I practice the most. So I think that if I had learned other katas over the years I would move differently.

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