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#345124 - 06/03/07 10:38 PM Funakoshi and modificiations
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

"Sorry to hijack the thread but by which thinking and point of view did Funakoshi make the modifications within the Okinawan Kata? Did he lose the essence?"

Interesting question. Personally I don't see it as very relevant. There is just kata and the choices around it's use. And a whole lot of people who want to push their own points of view.

If you take Fuankoshi Ginchin, yes he did change and modify the kata he studied. Then again that was the true mark of an Okinawan karate-ka. Why else did the island have 15+ bassai kata? As nothing was documented in the past, there was nothing but memory and a persons word as to what was prior. And if your instructor did or didn't change their kata you had little choice but to accept your instructors word.

Having been working on kata around 35 years or so, change is a guaranteed constant. You change, your technique becomes more refined, at year 20 you cannot do your kata that you did at year 3. Teaching at year 30 you cannot teach your kata as you did at year 10.

Almost everyone in the world, including the Okinawan's take continual pot shots at everyone elses studies. But that's just yak.

As there are an infinite nubmer of ways technique, kata, applications and sparring may be incorporated into the study of any karate style, if you find good practitioners, it really doesn't matter how they train.

Take someone who just does kata and never applies them, and also runs a hard tournament competition school. Their best students can blow you away with their competition tools.

Tools are equal opportunity employers. If you get good enough to make it work, does it matter if others make different choices and end up in the same place.

I've seen a lot of different varieties of Shotokan, each with great differences from themselves and from other Okinawan systems. Each variety with a lot to be admired, and often with completely different principles at odds with the others choices.

In Funaokshi Ginchin's place I don't think he left one thing out.

He started in Japan in the university groups. So you have students for 4 years and then they move on. He tailored his program so others with very short training time could establish clubs to train people for 4 years.

There is only so much you can do in 4 years. His first students entered a world where Japan was conquering everything. The Shotokan survived the war years and re-entered the trade.

But you have to understand Karate is a very, very minor study in Japan. Very few Japanese actually study the art. Look at Japanese life, they work, really, really work for a living. So only those who could become instructors would stick with their art, and then frequently focused on the beginning studies (which are the focus of all real programs, without beginners you never get advanced students).

So in that mold, people who could not spend 20 - 40 yeras training with an instructor, shaped where Karate would go for them.

And change occured on Okinawan too. In 72 when the USA returned control of Okinawa to Japan almost no children were studying karate. By 1976 most of the adults began being captured in the new Japanese building projects and karate attendance really dropped. People working didn't have the time of previous years to train. Till today 75% of the Okinawans studying karate are kids. (BTW I'm praphrasing information shared by Dan Smith of the Seibukan on the Cyber Dojo, earlier).

Pehaps the numbers of Okinawan's engaged in serious training has remaind the same. Perhaps it's less.

Different places different needs, differing answers..

Yet all real karate, IMVHO.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#345125 - 06/04/07 02:48 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Victor Smith]
Shonuff Offline
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Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
Nice post Victor!

"Sorry to hijack the thread but by which thinking and point of view did Funakoshi make the modifications within the Okinawan Kata? Did he lose the essence?"

For myself the answer to this is I have no idea what point of view funakoshi took. And no, he did not loose the essence. I say that because 1. He said so in Karatedo Kyohan and he would have understood the essence of Karate better than anyone living today IMO. 2. Karate and it's transmission became his life and by all accounts it was his love as well. I can see many reasons for allowing and advocating changes to karate's surface form, but not it's essence. What those after Funakoshi may have done or not done is a different conversation.

Where none but a few believe Karate is meant to look a particular way, it baffles me that the form of Funakoshi's art causes so much contention.
_________________________
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

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#345126 - 06/04/07 03:22 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Shonuff]
Stormdragon Offline
Who Dares Wins
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/05/04
Posts: 3409
Loc: Salem, OR
So some would say that he turned karate (especially the kata) into mere physical exercises. Do you think he lost much if any of the principles of movement, combat applications, offense and defense, breathing, etc?
_________________________
Member of DaJoGen MMA school under Dave Hagen and Team Chaos fight team under Denver Mangiyatan and Chris Toquero, ran out of Zanshin Martial Arts in Salem Oregon: http://www.zanshinarts.org/Home.aspx,

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#345127 - 06/04/07 06:47 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Shonuff]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Quote:

Where none but a few believe Karate is meant to look a particular way, it baffles me that the form of Funakoshi's art causes so much contention.




Actually, I believe much of this was started by Choki Motobu who stated that Funakoshi's art was not real karate but only a dance. I also think he stated it was an imitation of real karate. If Funakoshi knew the essence of karate-DO then is it safe to say that Motobu knew the essence of karate-JUTSU. So it is not only some people on this board, but one of the greatest Okinawan fighters of all time said the same thing regarding Funakoshi's art.

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#345128 - 06/04/07 08:46 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: medulanet]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
with full respect to Funakoshi O'Sensei,

I feel the art of shotokan as we see it today, bears little resemblence to the Okinawan arts that he was taught.

There were major forces at work to make this thing happen as it did and I dont even see it as good or bad anymore,

The reality of it is I try and follow ther older Okinawan ways with my karate, as best I can,

and that bears simply little or no resemblence to the modern shotokan ways, and why should it?

There are of course many, many superb shotokan people, but that is not my point.

and now its time for the old saying, 'many paths same mountain................'

but this depends on ones sanity, sometimes it is a different mountain.
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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#345129 - 06/04/07 09:08 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Victor Smith]
Isshinryukid4life Offline
Professional Injury causer

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 2455
Loc: Knoxville.
1Karate-do Is not the same as the shotokan of today,& There's a prettyygood chance that we may never know what Funakoshi's karatedo again. That's a positive.

2 Funakoshi, never sparred a day in his life,& In his lifetime niether did his students,until sometime after his death.

3 Funakoshi's,bunkai was lacking when he came to japan,& I'm speculating that's why he went back to Okinawa.

4 Before funakoshi transferred/taught the he himself learned in Okinawa,They were more combative,but what he taught these same kata's in Japan they became recreational.

However, Funakoshi's students IMO made shotokan more aggressive ,they still named the style in honor of there teacher,As Shoto was his pen name.

Quote:

In Funaokshi Ginchin's place I don't think he left one thing out.




He left out plenty,but i'd say it was for political reasons though.
_________________________
http://www.hotforwords.com

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#345130 - 06/08/07 02:15 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Isshinryukid4life]
Shonuff Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
Funakoshi never sparred a day in his life???
That is quite a claim to make especially without sourcing it. Where did you read/hear that?

Med, I would dispute Motobu's greatness, nothing I read about him suggests he was particularly great, just that he liked to pick fights and was well known because of it.
I agree that Motobu was certainly the first and by far the most credible critic of Funakoshi's Karate, but I don't believe that what is spouted by modern critics has anything to do with him.
As to Motobu's claims about Funakoshi's Karate I cannot and would not try to contest them, what Funakoshi taught would seem to have not been combat effective! (Bet you never thought you'd hear me say that!)
But then Funakoshi stated that what he taught was not what he had practiced on Okinawa, that Karate had changed and would keep changing.
I believe that in an age where the violence of the past was being pushed out of all area's of Japanese tradition (this was happening in Japan well before WW2) Funakoshi was passing on what Itosu wished him to pass on. I find it hard to believe that Itosu would've entrusted that responsibility to someone who did not understand Karate as it was, plus after actually reading what Funakoshi actually did believe about Karate training etc I'm convinced he knew what he was talking about as nothing he ever wrote is bad advice even by modern standards.

If Funakoshi's linneage and time training is correct and true (as I understand it he was older and thus even more "old School" than Motobu) then I think his knowledge and understanding would have been at an exceptionally high level.
I think the kata he taught that were devised by Itosu and others contain the same tech's and principles as those practiced originally OR that they represent a systemisation of Karate methods (footage of Hohan Soken doing an identical chinto to that shown in Funakoshi's books confirms the authenticity for me and my own research into application confirms the applicable nature of the kata for me).
For me it is the kata and their lessons that are truly valuable. How you train around the kata depends on your individual goals and your common sense. I don't believe that any singular school or style can bring any individual to their maximum potential as each of us is different and after a point we need to direct our own development. Recognising that point and acting on it can be made harder by systems of hierarchical control that tie people into them by closing their thinking, but that's another debate.

The key point is you either believe Funakoshi was trained under Ankho Azato and Ankho Itosu (and thus their students) from early childhood continually into his adult life for something like 30 or 40 years under these (and other) top Karate Masters before coming to Japan to teach or even before Itosu began on his popularistion/school education program, and everything that goes with that level of instruction (a degree of exposure to karate that most today only dream of); Or you don't.
_________________________
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

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#345131 - 06/08/07 04:11 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Isshinryukid4life]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

My admiration of Isshinryu is next to none, but one of the most effective karate-ka I've ever known is a Shotokan stylist, whose father trained in Japan in the 1930's, and yes under Funakoshi Sensei. So I've heard the story somewhat differently.

I strongly recommend anyone wanting to understand some of Shotokan's history in depth to read Harry Cooks book on Shotokan (soon to be published in a 2nd edition).

Funakosh's art came out of his training in the 1800's. Karate was just karate as Itosu defined it to him (pre the Pinan kata develoment decades later).

Karate was always hard training. Was it a combat art in the 1800's I doubt it, the Okinawan's didn't have anyone to fight against (except drunks and wild kids). It's generally accepted nobody did kumite as we have it today in those days.

Then when Funakoshi's in his late 50's he moves to Japan and begins teaching 4 year programs for all intents and purposes. How much can university students get in 4 years, and on top of that he was moving around between the clubs at the different schools, and those who had a little training were actually runnign the programs.

Karate wasn't Japanese. It was taught in the Universities, but the students for the most part moved on when they graduated. More important things to do like conqure the world (yes I'm not terribly happy with the japanese historically to say the least).

He wasn't running a long term program for most, but a 4 year study. So the art fit the shape of the need.

Did Funakoshi ever spar? No idea, never heard of it anyway. He did believe karate-ka should not use their art, that it was to dangerous. After all it did contain makiwara training, and power does result from the striking.

That Motobou has a street rep, and fought one fight against someone who had no idea what he would do is true. How good was he, depends on what you're willing to believe. He certainly was effective in his range. He didn't appreciate Funakoshi's approach to spreading the art, but then as an instructor he was far less effective so that only a handfull were trained by him (which was the older Okinawan tradition). Funakoshi's answers were new.

The Shotokan people did experiement with sparring with Funakoshi's acceptance, though he later moved away from it. But Funakoshi by that time was more titularly in charge than in reality the leader. He was old, a figure. On his death the different factiosn within his stuents split many ways and many times, each with different visions.

BTW my friend who is super at sparring, never including sparring in his classes. His skills came from drills others don't use and in turn when he sparrs (such in his former torunament days) he uses actual kata techniques not just backfists and reverse punches, to great effect.

One true effect is vastly different approaches, either using sparring or never touching it and using other thnings, can still be very effective.

And for bunkai, well there never was bunkai on Okinawa, because technically the term was borrowed in Japan from other meanings and crafted for some of the Japanese emerging karate groups (and not all of them). On Okinawa most of the practice had very little terminology. Instead of calling it something they just made you feel it.

My friend has incredibly effective and deep Shotokan bunkai, but the student doesn't start it till after sho-dan. When I studied Isshinryu there were absolutely no kata applications studied. While I have personal deep studies, and have received trianing from the late Sherman Harrill on his application studies, I don't teach such till after black belt either.

Funakoshi obviously had some 'bunkai' for his kata. He showed some of it in his original 1935 version of the 'Karate-Do Koyan', though it was dropped later by the JKA.

Application study really requires great kata technique performance. As most of the Shotokan people were 4 year students its possible that their studies didn't get to that point, and as the JKA developed in such light, it just didnt happen for some reason, and their eventual dvelopment of kumite filled a gap.

BTW as I understand it Funakoshi never did go back to Okinawa, remaining in japan for the rest of his life. His son did travel and study with others a bit, but his life was cut short and it's difficult to say what he would have helped shape in time.

As the Shotokan developed, almost from the beginning, others had much to do with what took place. Those who became the first instant instructors of the different clubs had as much to do with what happened as Funakoshi Sensei.

My interest is only because I've tried hard to understand where my friend's abilities and training originated. BTW he's Indonesian and not a JKA member. His father was released from the Japanese navy when Indonesia was freed pre-WWII, and later was in the guerilla underground against the japanese in the war. And BTW his father used his Shotokan against the Japanes.

They would have a hard time not believing Shotokan was a combat art because they lived it.

I certainly don't know enought about the history. Just enough to keep looking and trying to understand what they did.

Different times different needs.

No one has to like them or the result. That's personal choice, but it does help to really research the issues to know how decisions are made, IMVHO.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#345132 - 06/08/07 05:41 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Victor Smith]
Stormdragon Offline
Who Dares Wins
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/05/04
Posts: 3409
Loc: Salem, OR
Why wait till Shodan? Seems good to learn practical skills quick. kenpo does well with that.
_________________________
Member of DaJoGen MMA school under Dave Hagen and Team Chaos fight team under Denver Mangiyatan and Chris Toquero, ran out of Zanshin Martial Arts in Salem Oregon: http://www.zanshinarts.org/Home.aspx,

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#345133 - 06/08/07 07:11 PM Re: Funakoshi and modificiations [Re: Victor Smith]
Shonuff Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
Excellent post Victor, very informative, Thanks.
_________________________
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

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