Mike Eschenbrenner said that:
'I have found the historical documentation on this subject to be so lacking that it is very difficult to make firm conclusions. There are some references to kata being of Chinese origin'.

You would of course be correct to come to this conclusion, there does lack documentation, which has proved to be a major issue when researching anything Okinawan.

There is little doubt that Kata are of Chinese origin,
the point I am trying to make is that these kata were taken by the Okinawans and modified in accordance with their preferences and were integrated with the various forms of Te. They were probably further modified through experience of individuals and teachers. Consider how many variations there are of Passai and Seisan to name two (one Shorin and the other Shorei)

You state yourself, quoting Mark Bishop, that 'karate katas taught today are simplified versions of the Chinese forms' Some of them are, but unless some one can give me clear evidence of some of these forms in Chinese systems that are the same I shall continue to be sceptical.

There are also several references in the same book by Bishop to the modification of Kata and the incorporation of Okinawan Te. In fact at then end of the second edition Mark Bishop provides a list as to which kata are practised in various schools and the Okinawan or Chinese origin of these forms. Please note the word origin, here we mean some form of prototype.

Ok as for actual Okinawan creations of Kata lets try: Pinan/Heian, Fukyu and Gekisai series of Kata. In Uechi Ryu lets try Kanshin, Kanshiwa. Other kata include Soshin, Niseshi, Naihanchi Sandan.

Lets consider Passai Dai, a very old Okinawan Kata, according to Ushiro, K (2003) when speaking of the transition of movements in this kata (known as tsunagi) he states: 'Long ago during the period when Karate was called Tei, that this term was said to have originated in the Okinawan traditional dance called Maikata. This Maikata dance has been preserved to the present day and it is possible to discern traces of movements, postures and use of fists and legs in karate' (page 109).

There are also numerous references from a large number of divergent sources to Chinese practitioners witnessing Okinawan Kata and pointing out that they can see some similarities, but the kata are actually in a different form.

Actually Nagamine does not offer a list of 10 people responsible for translation at all, he is expressing a deep appreciation of certain people who assisted him with his research in the acknowledgements, which ends with Charles C Goodin of hawaii who proof read. The likes of Kikuzato Kyobun and Kinjo Setsu were not involved in translation. Yes I am sceptical as I know that language is a difficult thing gto translate and maintain any real accuracy.

However although I may be sceptical of cross cultural translations, I do not doubt the following statement as being true: 'The secret performances of Chinese masters in the art of self-defense came to be known and their kata integrated with te'.

You earlier made reference to the Chinese community near Naha in Kume village, however you will note that the reference in Nagamine's book is to Kanryo Higgaonna as the restorer of Naha Te, implying it had died out. Making the Shorei Ryu line, which is perhaps (according to some) the closest to the Chinese lines, quite modern.

Ok lets consider Takao Nakaya (1986) who considers two main schools of thought on the origin of Karate: 1. Karate came from China. 2. Karate is of Okinawan origin, Nakaya goes for the latter and state he believes that 'Okinawa had a unique martial art which was influenced by various Chinese martial arts as contact between China and Okinawa increased' Nakaya bases his conclusions on teh basis of a njumber of propositions:
1. Long history ogf Okinawan family martial arts, he makes reference to Motobu family here.
2. Karate is not known to have existed on the otehr Ryukyu Islands, but China traded with these too. If karate cam efrom China it is reasonable (so he argue) that the other Ryukyu Islands would have the same art, but interesting to note weapons systems do seem to exist on the other Islands.

In discussing Kata he suggests that the Okinawans may have named these out of respect for the Chinese who may have shown them, but this does not mean that they necessarily exist in other Chinese systems. Kusanku and Chinto may very well have been named after Chinese martial artists, but this does not mean that they existed in complete Chinese systems and especially not Chinese battlefield systems.

Ok lets consider some one more well known Eihachi Ota, you mentioned Chinto: 'Most versions of Chinto derive from one of the following: Matsumura of Shuri, Matsumora of Tomari, or Chotoku Kyan' (Ota transl Ravens and Polland 2006).

Ok what about Kusanku may have been the name of Kung Shang K'ung a Chinese military envoy from 1761, but the term can also be translated as 'to view the sky' describing its opening movements (Ibid page 219). Now here in this kata I would go with Chinese origins, but again there are a number of variations of this kata.

Another reference this time from a Chinese system Ngo Cho Kun and Alexander L. Co. (1983 1996) who places the influence of Chinese martial arts on Okinawan martial arts in the eighteenth century, the claim here is that Karate borrowed from Ngo Cho Kun (Five Ancestors). The kata Sam Chien in Ngo Cho Kun may be similar to Sanchin, but it is not the same. But what about In Tin Tat form from the same system and its relationship to Okinawan martial arts?


Regards

Chris Norman