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JamuraiSack
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 20 Dec 2020
Posts: 3
Location: USA
Styles: Shotokan 1st Kyu

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2020 2:48 pm    Post subject: I am on a hunt for Shotokan's Chinese connection. Reply with quote

Hello! I am a Shotokan Karate practitioner with a large interest in Karate's history. I have spent many years researching it, with special attention paid to kata history. Specifically, I have taken a great interest in Shuri-te and Tomari-te katas, which make up the majority of Shotokan's kata repertoire.

For the past few months, I have been searching deep for any and all connections between modern-day Shotokan kata and older Chinese taolu (the Kung Fu equivalent of kata). Given that Shotokan kata themselves are heavily modified versions of older Okinawan kata, there is no doubt in my mind that absolutely zero direct connections exist between Shotokan kata and more ancient Chinese patterns. Therefore, I am more interested in how the creation of the original Okinawan versions of Shotokan's katas were influenced by Chinese sources.

With that being said, I am not searching for "the original Chinese version" of certain kata as, in many cases, Shotokan's kata did not exactly have an original Chinese version. Rather, their original versions were created by Okinawans as homebrew adaptations of certain Chinese patterns or techniques (Kusanku, Chinto, and Wanshu come to mind almost immediately). Rather, I am searching for any historical connection between any given Shotokan kata and the analogous Chinese pattern or technique that may have inspired it.

Out of all 26 Shotokan kata, I have managed to find a noticeable Chinese connection with only a few of them. These are marked in bold:

-Heian/Pinan: Derived from Kusanku and Channan.

-Tekki/Naihanchi: Unknown Chinese origin. One person on martialtalk.com has stated that his teacher knows the original Chinese version. He allegedly recorded said teacher performing it. The thread is from 2009 and I cannot find the recording. http://www.martialtalk.com/threads/sorim-jang-kwon.80999/

-Bassai/Passai: Unknown Chinese origin. All rumors of 400-year-old Chinese recordings are baseless. Earliest version I could find is Passai Gwa, allegedly created by Chatan Yara.

-Kanku/Kusanku: Created in memory of a Chinese diplomat, as the story goes.

-Enpi/Wanshu: Created as a homage to the teachings of a Chinese ambassador named Wang, as the story goes.

-Gankaku/Chinto: Created by Matsumara after techniques taught to him by a Chinese sailor, as the story goes..

-Jion/Jiin/Jitte: Unknown Chinese origin. Said by some to come from Arhat boxing.

-Gojushiho/Useishi: Unknown Chinese origin.

-Nijushiho/Niseishi: I have come to an extremely weak hypothesis that this kata comes from Xiao Jia, a basic pattern of the Chinese style Bajiquan. The "24 steps" theme - as well as many similar-looking techniques - are shared by the two. The creation of Niseishi closely coincides with a trip its creator - Aragaki - made to Hebei province, the same place that Xiao Jia was born. Xiao Jia also has movements that look vaguely similar to those found in Unsu and Sochin, two other Aragaki kata.

-Unsu: Unknown Chinese origin. Said by some to come from Dragon Kung Fu, evidenced by the unique finger position found at the kata's beginning.

-Chinte/Chinti: Unknown Chinese origin. The kata I am most interested in yet can find the least information on.

-Wankan: Unknown Chinese origin.

-Sochin (Shotokan version): Unknown Chinese origin but appears unique to Shotokan with no connection to any Okinawan kata. There is even an Okinawan kata named Sochin and it is completely different.

-Meikyo (Shotokan version of Rohai): Unknown Chinese origin but appears unique to Shotokan.

-Hangetsu/Seisan: Proven to have originated from the Chinese "Three Wars" pattern, of which there are many variations.

If anyone can help me find any other connections between the above kata and any alleged Chinese sources, that would be amazing. Any other questions, comments, or criticisms about my findings would be equally appreciated and I look forward to what you all have to say. It is my dream to faithfully connect all of these kata to their Chinese origins for the purpose of historical documentation.
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Shotokan 1st Kyu who wants to delve as deep as possible into the style's history and meaning.

Other styles practiced:
-Tang Soo Do (2nd Gup Red Belt)
-WTF Taekwondo (7th Gup Yellow Belt).
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 29027
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2020 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to KF, JamuraiSack! Glad to have you here.

This is quite the goal you have. What sources have you looked into thus far? Have you looked into the Bubishi? You might also look into Harry Cook's tome, Shotokan Karate, A Precise History. Perhaps it will provide some insight?

I'm sure some of our other knowledgeable KF members will be able to chime in somewhat, as well.

Best of luck in your search!
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Bulltahr
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 08 Mar 2015
Posts: 724
Location: NEW ZEALAND
Styles: Shotokan, Seido Juku

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2020 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes indeed Welcome! A great idea to find the roots of all these kata. Sensei Patrick McCarthy has done alot of this type of study and has translated the Bubishi mentioned above. Please keep us posted on your research, I found the Bubishi fascinating as well as some of the historic martial arts sites I visited in China. It is a very interesting topic, good luck!
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Wado Heretic
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 23 May 2014
Posts: 478
Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, and welcome to the forums. Joe Swift did this interesting series of articles on the origins of the initial fifteen kata Funakoshi Gichin brought and taught in Japan - this is a link to part one:

http://fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=220

The other Kata brought into Shotokan-Ryu seem to be of two points of origin:

1. Invention of Funakoshi Yoshitaka.
2. Brought to the system by Funakoshi Yoshitaka, Nakayama Masatoshi, and some other senior students from studies with Mabuni Kenwa and Mabuni Kenei.

My hypothesis on the Sochin of Shotokan is that Funakoshi Yoshitaka took the original, reorganised it, and used it as a vehicle for his own evolving theories eventually ending up with the version we see today. I suspect Sochin is an artefact of this development and he never saw fit, or perhaps more tragically did not live along to rename it fittingly.

With regards to the Pinangata I would like to point out that the majority of evidence we have is that Channan is simply an older name for the Pinangata. Furthermore, if one studies the versions of found in Shi'to-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu, there are examples of novel sequences and techniques not found in Kusanku Dai, and are unique to the Pinangata amongst the canon of Okinawan Kata. There are allusions to sequences that repeat through older kata such as Passai, Jitte, and Seisan. Again, my hypothesis is that Itosu developed or learnt novel techniques he decided to preserve in kata, and framed them in sequences from older kata he felt important to prioritise, and the result has become the Pinangata.

(Edit: I bring up the comparison of versions because Funakoshi Gichin, or perhaps his students, seem to have made a number of modifications to the kata to connect them all together. The Funakoshi line of the Pinangata seem to have more in common with Kusanku Dai in that the shared sequences are done the same way without nuances that differentiate them slightly)

Meikyo is a reorganisation what is otherwise known as Rohai Shodan. The similarities can be difficult to see because of changes to the embusen, and differences in interpretation of certain techniques - The Hammer like motions are replaced with Gedan Barai (Heian Shodan and Pinan Nidan are an example of this change as well). Similarly, the "Crane" stance is interpreted as a back stance, and the double punch as a receiving techniques akin to the start of Pinan Shodan (Heian Nidan). It, however, is just a version of Rohai unlike Sochin. If one looks Rohai as found in Wado-Ryu, it looks like a half way version between Meikyo and the older version of Rohai.

Embusen changes were made under Nakayama in the Japanese Karate Association branch of Shotokan-Ryu to accommodate the rules set up for Kata Competition. Meikyo and Chinte are the ones which suffer the most from these rules changes with regards to changes in Embusen.

I sadly cannot provide any more than that. You have found much of the information that is out there to be found that I know of. I do find your Niseishi hypothesis intriguing. I look forward to reading more of your discoveries.
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JamuraiSack
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 20 Dec 2020
Posts: 3
Location: USA
Styles: Shotokan 1st Kyu

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2020 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thank you all for the warm welcomes and receptive responses!

bushido_man96 wrote:
Welcome to KF, JamuraiSack! Glad to have you here.

This is quite the goal you have. What sources have you looked into thus far? Have you looked into the Bubishi? You might also look into Harry Cook's tome, Shotokan Karate, A Precise History. Perhaps it will provide some insight?

I'm sure some of our other knowledgeable KF members will be able to chime in somewhat, as well.

Best of luck in your search!

Aside from reading through online articles - i.e. whatever small snippet comes up when I search, for example "jitte kata history" - my research has primarily consisted of learning from various senseis over the years as well as my own speculation, as is the case with Nijushiho. I do plan on creating a list of actual books to read, however, as I feel they might be the most in-depth and accurate source of information. These two books you mentioned will certainly be added to the list.

Quote:
Yes indeed Welcome! A great idea to find the roots of all these kata. Sensei Patrick McCarthy has done alot of this type of study and has translated the Bubishi mentioned above. Please keep us posted on your research, I found the Bubishi fascinating as well as some of the historic martial arts sites I visited in China. It is a very interesting topic, good luck!


Your pilgrimage to sounds like an incredible experience. What sites did you visit? What kind of stuff did you learn? Going on a trip like that would be a dream come true for me. Here's hoping the virus can end soon so that I can make it a reality.

Quote:
With regards to the Pinangata I would like to point out that the majority of evidence we have is that Channan is simply an older name for the Pinangata. Furthermore, if one studies the versions of found in Shi'to-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu, there are examples of novel sequences and techniques not found in Kusanku Dai, and are unique to the Pinangata amongst the canon of Okinawan Kata. There are allusions to sequences that repeat through older kata such as Passai, Jitte, and Seisan. Again, my hypothesis is that Itosu developed or learnt novel techniques he decided to preserve in kata, and framed them in sequences from older kata he felt important to prioritise, and the result has become the Pinangata.

You bring up a valid point. I should be weary in my search about the relation between kata within Shotokan vs their relation to each other within their original styles. And I did not know that about Channan, so thank you for that as well!
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Shotokan 1st Kyu who wants to delve as deep as possible into the style's history and meaning.

Other styles practiced:
-Tang Soo Do (2nd Gup Red Belt)
-WTF Taekwondo (7th Gup Yellow Belt).
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wildbourgman
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 26 Feb 2014
Posts: 172
Location: Louisiana
Styles: Shotokan/Shorin Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2020 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are into Jesse Enkamp he has a recent youtube video that actually makes some closer connections of the Shotokan that we see today to Savate from France. He also shows many connections (for Karate in general) in other videos to China.

Now some later connections to China can be seen from Shotokan pioneers like Tetsuhiko Asai and others.

It would be much easier to find the Shotokan connections to China by first looking at Shotokan's connection to Okinawa. Then to find the Chinese connections to the Masters that instructed Funakoshi.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 29027
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wildbourgman wrote:
If you are into Jesse Enkamp he has a recent youtube video that actually makes some closer connections of the Shotokan that we see today to Savate from France. He also shows many connections (for Karate in general) in other videos to China.

Now some later connections to China can be seen from Shotokan pioneers like Tetsuhiko Asai and others.

It would be much easier to find the Shotokan connections to China by first looking at Shotokan's connection to Okinawa. Then to find the Chinese connections to the Masters that instructed Funakoshi.
Agreed. The early Okinawans that were practicing their own brand of MA learned some things from the Chinese, thus incorporating it into what they trained.
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Bulltahr
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 08 Mar 2015
Posts: 724
Location: NEW ZEALAND
Styles: Shotokan, Seido Juku

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2020 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jesse in small doses..............
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Bulltahr
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 08 Mar 2015
Posts: 724
Location: NEW ZEALAND
Styles: Shotokan, Seido Juku

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2020 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JamuraiSack wrote:



Your pilgrimage to sounds like an incredible experience. What sites did you visit? What kind of stuff did you learn? Going on a trip like that would be a dream come true for me. Here's hoping the virus can end soon so that I can make it a reality.


I visited Shanghai and Shanxi province. There is a Wushu Museum in Shanghai, which unfortunately I did not get to visit, I did have good luck in Shanxi, visiting the ancient financial capital of Pingyao (Qing empire) there were several "escort" compaines based there to provide security for the movement of gold and silver around the empire and the buildings, training courtyards and weapons are still there. Swords, Staves, even a type of Sai were some of the weapons I saw there. Seems to me that pretty much everywhere in China has Wushu, the people w ere very friendly and courteous in general. I went up twice and will go again when COVID is sorted out. Making contacts up there helps alot, and I now
have some. No chinese language tho, so you need a translator....
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pingyao
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SLK59
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 05 Nov 2020
Posts: 94
Location: USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2020 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This two-part series from The History of Fighting website appears to be as thorough and balanced as any single-site source I have seen:

https://www.historyoffighting.com/shotokan-kata-history-part-one.php

https://www.historyoffighting.com/shotokan-kata-history-part-two.php

Best of luck in your continuing search!

Cheers,
Scott
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