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#372974 - 01/20/08 02:38 AM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: BrianS]
CVV Offline

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium

Low deep stances are a modern thing, not valuable in my opinion.

Monkey Kata
Deep enough for you ? He was in his seveties when performing this and already sick. He learned the kata from his father. Their tradition in bu-jutsu go all the way till 16th century. Their is some great info on the Matayoshi fighting traditions in the latest meibukan magazine.

#372975 - 01/20/08 03:45 AM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: Ed_Morris]
CVV Offline

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
The low stances in relation to fighting could come from the need to train mobility even when going deep to reach the target. JKA ippon kumite format tries to score "fast in - fast out" as only punching(tsuki-uchi) or kicking(geri) technique would score. One ippon and you won.
But to think thy would fight from deep stance is a misconception. Ippon kumite
From what I have heared from Kanazawa the early univesrity matches where much more brutal, allowing more contact, and closer fighting.

WKF shobu allows grabbing and throwing so fights can continue on close distance. It's a pitty elbows/knees/headbutts ar no longer allowed. JKA is part of WKF and they compete in WKF-circuit.

Was the deep stance was primarely influenced by JKA ippon kumite? The format was the base for most of the karate point fighting systems. Other systems would have changed their kata to very low stances(Wado, Goju, Shito).
I do think that ippon kumite was the result of primary kick/punch applications and that their sense of best practice irimi was moving in a straight line, like you see in fencing/kendo. But point fighting evolved and most systems allow close-in techniques with high stance.
The association deep stance / play tag = point fighting, I think is not correct.

#372976 - 01/20/08 10:03 PM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: CVV]
kakushiite Offline

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Several have noted that in sparring long stances are not effective, and have drawn what I believe is an incorrect conclusion about the relationship of deep stances and sparring.

What sparring added to the traditional practice of karate was a need for explosive forward movement for offensive techniques. Without an attacker quickly covering ground, there is no sparring. (As an aside, this does not imply that explosive forward acceleration was not a useful skill in Okinawan karate, just that the emergence of competitive sparring in Japan led to the development of new training methods to better develop this skill.)

The original impetus for sparring in Shotokan, likely came from Funakoshi's son Gigo. Gigo is also credited with the movement to high kicks and deep stances. After Gigo's death in 1945, Funakoshi's top student Egami continued with the emphasis on deep stances and high kicks.

This kind of training is grueling on the legs. And the constanct coverage of lots of ground through explosive steps from one long stance to another is a great training regimen. It is especially well suited for developing the strength and speed needed to cover lots of ground in kumite attacks. (I would also argue that this training, over the long term, may not be all that good on the knees, especially for those more muscular or heavyset.)

Below is an old clip of Egami's students, probably from the 40s or early 50s. It is instructive to look at the forward movements at :13. There is so much forward momentum that the student's stance doesn't stop him. And look at the students doing one step sparring at beginning at :36, and also at Taikyoku Shodan kata at 1:03. These are incredibly deep stances and anyone who has done this kind of training knows well what incredibly good conditioning this is for the legs, and can really improve the speed of offensive charges common in kumite. Those that cover a lot of ground quickly.

Once again, this doesn't mean that you would use these techniques, the same way in kumite. For mobility, you need to start in an upright stance.

We all use all sorts of training regimens that improve different capabilities but don't directly translate into kumite or fighting.

For a comparison, let's review this clip of a kendo training regimen. I believe anyone would be hard-pressed to say that these precise movements would be used in a kendo match. But they certainly do help build the leg power needed for the explosive offensive movements needed in kendo.

One last note. I believe there is a big difference between the deep stances in the Matayoshi kata and what was practiced in Shotokan video above. While Matayoshi spends a lot of time in these deep stances, he does not use them to cover a great deal of ground the way that the Egami students do. It's the movement from one deep stance FORWARD into another deep stance that really helps develop the forward explosive power.

I believe that the Matayoshi stances would likely be more effective in improving stability and balance, a very different capability, but one that has enormous advantages in fighting.


#372977 - 01/20/08 11:03 PM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: CVV]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
Here is my logic for guessing that there is a connection between long and low stances to safe long-distance point spar - Funakoshi as well as his contemporaries all consistantly had relatively high and short stances. As noted by kakushiite above, post WWII saw changes not only to Shotokan, but to mainland Japanese systems in general towards safe distance point-sparring. This also corresponds to the time we see longer and lower stances particularly from the arts which incorporated this type of sparring into their training. It's my belief that since the assumed fighting range changed, so too did the assumed range of kata interpretation....thereby naturally lengthening, widening and lowering kata form.
As it became it's own look-and-feel (long and low), judges started to base the status quo on it's visual style and it stuck as a standard. More recently, with the advancement of protective gear and improvement to overall safety standards in sparring, these same arts are slowly closing the allowable distance - and as a result, we've started to see the stances slowly but surely creep back to the higher more natural fighting stances which are better suited at closer ranges - not surprizingly, the kata follow suit. So future 'standard' Shotokan may someday return back to looking more like Funakoshi and his generation.

my guess - no hard evidence, just observation.

#372978 - 01/21/08 06:51 AM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: Ed_Morris]
CVV Offline

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
Ed, I disagree with that logic, especially regarding the generalization for the Japanese schools.
Read this Interview
with Kanazawa regarding competition in the 50ies and 60ies.
They could tell from kamae wich style a karateka was. Goju neko-ashi dachi. Wado high stance no kamae. Shotokan more a long stance with kamae. The stategy to score the point in shotokan was from a longer distance than the strategy of the other styles/schools. The JKA format of kata with the long stances was a training tool, for the JKA not for Goju-kai not for Wado-kai and not for Shito-kai. Their kata did not use the long zenkutsu or kokutsu dachi. But they all did point fighting.

Kakushite, the Egami video says training in the 70ies, not 40ies or 50ies. The wideness of the stance Egami uses is even for most other shotokan groups too much. I do not know why he altered as he did but I believe he broke away from JKA. In regard to JKA, Nakayama is your man. I have one book from him amd he never stands in a deep and long zenkutsu-dachi. But he was already older in that book. I have always heared that the deep stance is a training tool.

#372979 - 01/21/08 12:01 PM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: CVV]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Interesting points on this thread. One, I am not a kata guy, and two, I do have a partial heritage from Shotokan informing the karate that I practice. Perhaps that's why I think low stances, outside of covering distance and leg conditioning have real defensive uses...regardless if they were thrown into the pot after the fact.

We practice in some sense a sport-centric karate. Not that the impetus is for sport, but some techniques are derived from MT and boxing because they were found to be valuable while using them...not that they have to be in a venue for sport only.

In any case, we also practice very low and long front and kibadachi stances for use as well. These are not necessarily for covering distance, but suprisingly, and perhaps for some, counter-intuitively, these are used to unbalance and control while in close proximity to an opponent as you take him off balance and he's falling.

As a point of observation, I found a couple of videos of my original instructor, Yoshida Sensei, but now named Hirahara Sensei (he had changed his name in Japan to take over an in-law's business). After the head of our style died, he started his own organization that isn't quite karate any more, but also contains Yoga and his take on martial arts. But some of this stuff is pretty much how I was trained by him. On this first link, go to the last of the listed videos and I think this will show some of what I am talking about.

And here is another link that just shows flow, but in one section you see him demo a movement into zen-kutsdachi with and uraken back hand strike. You'll have to hit on the video player link under the Japanese characters that say DVD.

Edited by butterfly (01/21/08 12:14 PM)

#372980 - 01/21/08 01:35 PM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: butterfly]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
never said low stances are functionless. what I'm saying is the overall look and feel of mainstream shotokan changed corresponding to around the time sport-sparring was popularized (post WWII). but maybe I'm wrong. maybe Shotokan always had ground grappling in it's kata as well?

#372981 - 01/21/08 05:13 PM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: Ed_Morris]
Shonuff Offline

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 604
Loc: London, UK
Hi Ed

I didn't see anyone suggest that Shotokan has always had ground grappling.
However I've suggested that the superficial changes to the art, such as elongation of stances, actually make no diffrence to the quality and effectiveness of the art presented as Shotokan when taken in context of the kata and Gichin Funakoshi's writings regarding their study. Regardless of the reasons for those superficial changes.
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

#372982 - 01/21/08 06:08 PM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: JKogas]
Zach_Zinn Offline

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 1031
Loc: Olympia, WA
Edited out, going to far back in time.


Edited by Zach_Zinn (01/21/08 06:10 PM)

#372983 - 01/21/08 07:48 PM Re: Value of kata (Groan!!!!), revisited. [Re: Shonuff]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
if this sub-topic is not even in agreement that there are significant differences between what Funakoshi demonstrated (there are video and book pictures) in the 20's comparred to popular Shotokan today ...then there is really nothing to discuss.
It's like trying to explain the historical differences of Okinawan Karate and Japanese Karate. not to say one is better than the other, they just developed along different paths.

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