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sensei8
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
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Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To the layperson, Taikyoku Shodan and Heian Shodan look the same. Of these two, Heian Shodan is the advanced one. Taikyoku series is Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan, and depending on the school, are taught at Sankyu - Ikkyu, and not as a prerequisite of the Heian series, which destroys me saying Heian Shodan is advanced compared to Taikyoku Shodan, and other schools teach the Taikyoku series before the Heian series.




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shortyafter
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Joined: 17 Nov 2016
Posts: 169

Styles: Kyokushinkai, Shotokan

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there sensei8. I was taught the Taikyoku series first, but we rarely if ever actually practice Nidan or Sandan. They were basically presented to me as slight modifications of Shodan, which is exactly what they are. Usually in class we start work with the Heian series and go from there, but it wouldn't be odd for us to train Taikyoku Shodan every now and then.

I think it would be easy to say that "Heian Shodan and Taikyoku Shodan are basically the same kata", which is what you said would be perhaps a layperson's perspective. The reason I feel than Heian Shodan is more advanced is obviously because there's more to it. The upper blocks I have quite a good handle on. But I would be lieing if I said my shuto and back stance, as well as rotating in back stance, felt natural to me. I need to work on those few pointers. Once I have those more or less "mastered", they also appear in Heian Nidan, plus a slew of new things for me to work on.

I've heard people say the Japanese would traditionally spend months or even years on one kata. I can see why - and I can see the natural progression of Taikyoku 1-3 -> Heian 1-5. For me rote memorization is not enough, I want to be sure I am executing these kata correctly. And to make sure of that I have to start with my base, first.

I wasn't aware that there was another way of teaching it. Thanks for the input.
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JR 137
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Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2442
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shortyafter wrote:
Hi there sensei8. I was taught the Taikyoku series first, but we rarely if ever actually practice Nidan or Sandan. They were basically presented to me as slight modifications of Shodan, which is exactly what they are. Usually in class we start work with the Heian series and go from there, but it wouldn't be odd for us to train Taikyoku Shodan every now and then.

I think it would be easy to say that "Heian Shodan and Taikyoku Shodan are basically the same kata", which is what you said would be perhaps a layperson's perspective. The reason I feel than Heian Shodan is more advanced is obviously because there's more to it. The upper blocks I have quite a good handle on. But I would be lieing if I said my shuto and back stance, as well as rotating in back stance, felt natural to me. I need to work on those few pointers. Once I have those more or less "mastered", they also appear in Heian Nidan, plus a slew of new things for me to work on.

I've heard people say the Japanese would traditionally spend months or even years on one kata. I can see why - and I can see the natural progression of Taikyoku 1-3 -> Heian 1-5. For me rote memorization is not enough, I want to be sure I am executing these kata correctly. And to make sure of that I have to start with my base, first.

I wasn't aware that there was another way of teaching it. Thanks for the input.


While theyíd spend years on a single kata, the Taikyoku and Pinan/Heian series werenít part of this. Both set were allegedly created by Gichin Funakoshi and Itosu to make teaching kids and beginners easier. The Pinan/Heian series is said to have been Kusanku/Kanku broken down into easier to digest separate kata. Itosu and Funakoshi changed a lot of how karate was taught once they started teaching on mainland Japan. I highly doubt they had adults studying Taikyoku kata for several years before moving on.

With the exception of Sanchin and Naihanchi, I highly doubt the shorter kata (like todayís kyu kata) were studied for years. Iíd picture the longer and more complex kata like Kanku, Gojushiho, Seiunchin, etc. to be the kata that people studied for several years. I donít think it was until karate became formalized and curricula were developed that these relatively shorter and less intricate kata even really came into play.

I could easily be wrong though. Iím basing this on what makes sense to me. A karate historian could easily disprove it all with dates and developers of the individual kata.
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shortyafter
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi JR. That's a great point, and one I had indeed thought about. I too heard that the Heian/Taikyoku katas were added later as a sort of beginner's thing to get new students into the groove. Spending a year on Heian Shodan is probably a bit extreme.

That said, I do think the idea of moving slowly and perfecting the basics is a good one. That's what I'm trying to get at here.

Thank you.
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JR 137
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Add to that that a lot of Shotokan organizations donít teach the Taikyoku kata to adults, but rather to kids. Those organizations start off with the Pinan/Heian kata. Iíve seen many Shotokan curricula that donít have the Taikyoku series in the adult syllabus. It strikes me as kind of odd not teaching the kata your systemís founder developed, but I get it.
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shortyafter
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
Add to that that a lot of Shotokan organizations donít teach the Taikyoku kata to adults, but rather to kids. Those organizations start off with the Pinan/Heian kata. Iíve seen many Shotokan curricula that donít have the Taikyoku series in the adult syllabus. It strikes me as kind of odd not teaching the kata your systemís founder developed, but I get it.

That's interesting. We did a lot more Taikyoku in my Kyokushin dojo than we ever have done with my Shotokan instructor. The Heian katas do seem to be the meat and potatoes, at least for beginners, at my Shotokan school. Not really sure why, either.
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shortyafter
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since sort of cutting ties with my Kyokusnin school I've been a bit confused about what karate means to me. Well, today I arrived early to class and I was alone in the waiting room. I was reading Funakoshi's 20 precepts. There are many that stuck out to me, more than they have in the past, but one I really liked was "you can use the forces of nature in your karate" or something along those lines. Think of the rivers, think of the mountains, and act like them.

I was already feeling a lot of clarity from the week, because I had been reading part of Funakoshi's "Karate-do: My Way of Life". He talked about how a guy was able to defeat an opponent first with his gaze and then with a simple ki-ai. Why? Because he realized, in a sense, it didn't really matter. He was nothing more than a blade of grass, in this infinite universe of ours, and he was completely ready to die. So he was calm, and still, and that stillness utterly petrified his opponent.

Tonight my instructor was using me, as he often does, because he knows I'm tough, as a model for the rest of the class. We were practicing kumite techniques. He was really going at me hard. But I thought of the nature precept, and thought - "what does a mountain have to fear?" I was the mountain. And I took his blows with no fear. He was hitting me hard in the stomach, for sure. But as I watched him attack me, with that stillness of mind and heart, it looked as if he was a mere dwarf of something. The whole thing was almost laughable. Mind you, I absolutely respect this man and his karate and he is a great instructor. But I really felt that nothing could touch "the mountain". I was simply a blade of glass in this infinite universe of ours, and I had (and have) nothing to fear.

My technique has a long way to go, as does my spirit. But I understand Funakoshi when he says - "spirit comes first". This is true strength, and I have karate, my instructors, and the universe to thank for my progress. I also want to thank all of you guys for being here for me, listening to me, and supporting me. Thank you.
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bushido_man96
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds like a good class. Funakoshi provides some great reading, and can be quite inspiring.
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shortyafter
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I said the other day, I had a great class on Friday. Today my instructor was telling some teen students when they would be examining for their next belt. A couple of blue belts that earned it last December. Well, they will be taking their exam next December for brown or blue/brown. I said to myself, I feel like I will be prepared for my blue belt by then as well. Well, another lower rank student will be taking his exam in June. Then my instructor turned to me and said, you will have your exam in December. Which felt good. Because my gut feeling aligned with what my instructor's telling me.

I was reading over the recent post about "what does your black belt mean to you?" Good post with lots of interesting stuff. Well, obviously I can't answer that question but I can answer what the pursuit of black belt means for me. For me it's about showing myself that yes, with hard-work, effort and patience I can achieve it, and achieve anything. Especially for me as a kid who got made fun of for being chubby and unathletic when I was in school. Showing myself that I'm just as capable as anybody else, physically, mentally and spiritually, is a big deal for me.

I know the belt doesn't necessarily indicate that, and progress is something that happens independently of the belt. But there's just something about having that visual reference that gives me confidence, strength and hope. However, I'm not in a hurry to get my black belt. Yes, I will do my best to work towards it. But for me it's about earning it the right way, because like I said, that's what really counts. I'm also fortunate enough to train with a very good instructor, and I know he won't rush me through the belts unless I've truly earned them.

So I'm feeling good about my karate, and I'm looking forward to improving every day, but also to having that tangible milestone for next December. Thanks folks.

Edit - PS, I'm a teacher, and advancing through the karate ranks is a good way for me to say to myself and to others - "If I can do it, anyone can".


bushido_man96 wrote:
That sounds like a good class. Funakoshi provides some great reading, and can be quite inspiring.

Yes, it was. And I agree about Funakoshi. Thank you.
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shortyafter
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's Spring Break here and my parents have come to visit me. We did a bit of tourism in the big city here. There was class one day this week but because we were out of town I missed it. I was happy, however, because I found cool little ways to do my karate... stretching in the morning, kihon at night, some pushups before bed. It felt good, like karate was supposed to feel I think.

Today I had some time at home to do about 30 minutes of kihon, kata and stretching. It also felt good. I feel good about my karate.

Thank you folks for listening to me and supporting me.
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