Tag Archives for " JKA "
When we do kata is it really mandatory that we come back to the exact spot where we started? I can almost hear your reply; “Yes. Nakayama sensei said so in Best Karate.“ You are absolutely correct. He listed 6 important points for kata in that famous book:
1. Correct Order
2. Beginning and End
3. Meaning of each movement
4. Awareness of target
5. Rhythm and timing
6. Proper breathing
For item 2 above, he clearly stated that “Kata must begin and end at the same spot on the embusen. This requires practice.”
If you are in a tournament this is absolutely a requirement, isn‘t it? If you are off by, say, one meter, I am sure those careful judges will take some points off of your performance.
Have you ever wondered why there is such a requirement? Nakayama sensei did not explain why in his book. Maybe it is such a natural thing and you may think I am wasting my time asking this. But, I have wondered about this and foolishly investigated why for many years. I was curious to know if the creators of kata (Itosu for Heian kata for an example) really designed all kata in such a way a performer will always return to the starting point. After much investigation and direct questioning I concluded that this was not the case. Someone changed the rule and created this new requirement of coming back to the exact starting point. I wanted to find who was behind this and for what reasons. This is a mystery and I wish to share my findings and my theory on this mystery with you today.
If you are a Nidan and above, you must have learned Chinte and this kata could be your tournament kata, especially if you are a female practitioner. We know this is a very unique kata (Chinte literally means “unique or strange hand”,) but do you realize it also has a very unique (strange) ending (three hops backward)? I have researched for many years and asked many sensei about these ending steps. For the longest time, no one could give me a believable bunkai for these “unique” moves with the feet in heisoku dachi and hands clasped together. It had been a big mystery to me, as I could not figure out the meaning of these strange hops.
The following is what I have found in the process of investigation. One Japanese sensei, whose name I cannot reveal, told me it was for balance training. Yes, it is indeed difficult to keep the balance with your feet and hands put together. But if you think it through, it just does not make any sense as you wonder why they were put at the end of the kata. After the final delivery of a kime technique (right gyaku zuki to chudan with ki-ai), we can expect a zanshin move as seen with the last step in Enpi. However, why would anyone put three backward hopping steps that are not stable as a zanshin move? Even if you buy this idea of having this balancing move there, why hop with two feet together? Hopping with only one foot is more of a martial art move (like a tsuru ashi dachi in gankaku.) No matter how much I considered the possibility, I cannot buy into this theory. (read more...)
Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:
In the #47 issue (May ’96) of Shotokan Karate Magazine, late Steve Cattle wrote an article on this kata, Hangetsu. It was a needed and educational article. The title was “Hangetsu the neglected kata” where he pointed out that this kata was most unpopular. He claimed, “I feel it is a very neglected kata, generally because of the difficulty in performing the turns, the stance and its lack of beauty”. He concluded that the biggest reason why this kata is unpopular to the difficulty of turns and its stance, Hangetsu dachi. “The difficulty is in the turn, which is why I think it is neglected in competition as well as the actual stance difficulty”. I agree with most of his claims but I am afraid he has missed some key points. If you investigate the origin of this kata, you will discover the hidden history and the deep mysteries behind this unique kata.
Even though Shuri-te and Naha-te do not share the same kata, Hangetsu (Seisan/Seishan) is one exception. This kata is found in almost all styles including Wado, Shito, Goju, Uechi, Shorin, Ryuei, etc. I will attempt to put the facts together and make necessary comparisons to come up with the answers to many questions. By sharing those findings, I hope the readers will come to a new appreciation and understanding when he/she performs this unique and valuable kata.
There is another article that is definitely worth reading is found in the issue #49 (Nov ‘96). The title is “Inside Tension Stances” and the sub title, “Sanchin-dachi, Neko-ashi-dachi, Hangetsu-dachi” by John Cheetham, the chief editor of this magazine. It is a 3 page article explaining whata those inside tension stances are and how they are constructed. It touches the subject that is not frequently touched and I recommend all Shotokan practitioners to read it if they have not. Unfortunately, the detailed information of Hangetsu dachi and it s very uniqueness were not mentioned or described in this article. However, I can not blame the author at all. He probably has a set of all karate textbooks such as Dynamic Karate, Karate-do Kyohan and Best Karate, but he can find only the steps of Hangetsu kata and not much else. In fact, we can find very little information on how to do this kata properly or on the details of Hangetsu dachi. The author wrote, “ – hangetsu dachi is described in most books and by most instructors as a longer version of sanchin dachi with all the same points as sanchin.” That is how it skips the detailed description of Hangetsu dachi. I will attempt to bring out the hidden facts from the history and the comparison of this kata with the other Ryuha (styles) to fill the gap in this article. (read more...)
Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:
Shihan Koss Yokota is a 8th Dan Shotokan master who started his martial arts journey in the Hyogo Prefecture, more than 49 years ago. In 1981 and 1982, he was crowned champion of the Hyogo prefecture which he represented at the JKA All National Championship in Tokyo.
He currently serves as the technical director of the World JKA Karate Alliance (WJKA) and has recently published a book named "Shotokan Myths", in which he exposes myth and misconceptions many western Karate practitioners have.
What motivated you to write a book about Shotokan myths?
I have been practicing Shotokan karate for 49 years. Along the way I have come across with the questions and doubts in the way we practice but I was a blind follower until very recent. I always kept myself under radar so to speak and did not express my opinions. When two of my teachers passed away (Master Sugano and Master Asai, 2002 and 2006 respectively), I decided to come out. I am aware that it is a taboo for a Japanese instructor to speak up and criticize his own organization or his teachers. When I hit the age of 60 I figured someone has to do this dirty work for the sake of Shotokan karate. There are many incorrect and wrong teachings and training methods. Some are kept behind the curtain of mystery. Some are simply believed so blindly they became the "fact" or "truth". I wanted to tear down this curtain and show what real Shotokan karate is. We must not follow teachers blindly. We must think and continuously ask questions.
|Master Jun Sugano (1928-2002)9th dan JKA,
Vice Chairman of JKA
|Master Tetsuhiko Asai (1935-2006)10th dan JKS,
Founder of JKS and Asai style karate
Where do these Shotokan myth come from? Who first propagated them?
The word "Myths" came to me because I have trained in many dojos in Japan, US and some other countries and found that some wrong ideas were believed by almost all the practitioners. It bothered me as no one seemed to doubt or question them, let alone challenge them. I also realized there is a cloud of mysticism around the Asian culture particularly of the martial arts. Some Asian instructors hide behind that mysticism curtain as it makes them look good or give them more value.
I felt it was about time that some one to step out and blow away the cloud so we can really understand what Shotokan karate is. Without this process we cannot expect Shotokan to truly improve or advance. With the current trend, it will end up in a museum not too far in the future as the people begin to realize the mysticism does not work in a real fighting.
What is your definition or idea of what "real Shotokan" is (or should be)?
An excellent question! Some people define it to the original JKA lead by Master Nakakama. I go even further back to Funakoshi and his roots. I want to find how the original karate was when he brought it to Japan. During the years of propagation of karate in Japan, Funakoshi had to compromise many things. For instance he had to de-emphasize the throwing and join locking techniques from bunkai as he did not want to compete against Judo and Jujitsu. He also emphasized "gentleman's way" by tagging the art to "self defense". I do not mind he changed the names of kata and adopted judo uniform, etc. But I want to search for the original techniques that are more martial art and not the techniques that are modified for sports karate.
Why didn't you simply debunk the myths and create a new style with it?
Some people may do that but that is exactly what I want to avoid. Putting a different wrapping on the box will not make the thing inside the box different. My last teacher was Asai sensei. He introduced a lot of techniques from White Crane kung fu into his karate but he did not call it Asai karate. He continuously called Shotokan karate. He is my model and I teach his style of Shotokan karate.
By introducing white crane techniques, doesn't Asai sensei make his Shotokan teaching less authentic?
You are correct that Asai sensei introduced some kung fu techniques. I call it "extended" shotokan karate because it is still based on Shotokan karate. Indeed it has some techniques and kata that are not found among the regular shotokan organizations like JKA. So, we keep authentic shotokan as a core and we have some extended or additional techniques to supplement the areas where we think Shotokan lacks, namely close distance fighting.
Unless you are the creator of the kata, how can you be certain that the bunkai or meaning of the kata is the correct one, or the one that the creator meant to propagate?
That is very true. Most of the explanation to bunkai before 20th century was handed down from a master to the students verbally. This is why there are many different interpretations and many were lost. We assume Funakoshi sensei learned all the bunkai to the kata from the two sensei he had; Itosu and Azato. In order for us to believe Funakoshi sensei's bunkai was correct, we have to assume the bunkai Itosu and Azato were correct. There is no way we can prove those assumptions are correct.
I know many parts of bunkai were lost through the handing down process over many generations. Even though we will never know the true intentions of the creators, it is still our responsibility to research and investigate to find the "true" bunkai. Doing a kata without knowing bunkai I call it karate dance. Some of the instructors chose to drop off all kata practice from this fact. However, I believe there is enough value left in practicing kata. It would be a totally different topic to discuss on the value of kata.
Have you trained in Japanese Dojo? What were the differences in the understanding and beliefs about karate.
I was a member of JKA dojo in Kobe between 1963 and 66, then 1970 and 1971, and 1981 till 1983. The Japanese students are very serious and well disciplined. They are also very diligent and never give up. They do not cut corners and follow to a letter of what the instructors ask them to do. On the other hand, I must say that I found most of them lack the sense of curiosity or mind of investigation. They follow the orders but never dare to ask "why?" or "is this true?" I do not think it is because they are incapable of doing so but they are discouraged to think that way. I hate to say but it is mostly to protect the sensei so they will not be challenged. One other thing I noticed recently in Japan (I travel to Japan very frequently) is that sports karate is becoming more popular and the martial arts karate is more difficult to find.
Being a Japanese instructor, are there concepts that you understand differently from your Western counter parts?
Many Japanese truly believe that they have a unique culture that no westerners would understand completely. When they speak among Japanese instructors in Japanese, I sometimes hear comments like: "They (the westerners) cannot know (comprehend) this kind of thing because they are not Japanese". I think the gap of communication definitely is one of the causes of the myths and mysteries.
What benefits does Japanese speaking instructors have over non Japanese speakers?
The advantage I have over the western instructors is that I can get the comments that are not made up or modified from my sensei as I am a Japanese student of his.
Another advantage I have is the ability to read the martial arts books that are written in Japanese. I have more than couple of hundred books that are not only on traditional karate but on wide range of other martial arts and most importantly on ki. . I have not seen any good books on Ki that were either written in English or were translated from the Japanese originals.
Unfortunately to the western practitioners, the level of martial arts (of all traditional karate styles) books in English is very low. There are only a few books that are worthwhile as they were translated from the original Japanese books such as Hidden Karate. I wished more good books were translated and that would narrow the gap of understanding martial arts and what are commonly believed by many of the western practitioners.
What are the difference in the conception of Ki between a Japanese teacher and a westerner one?
This is a thousand dollars (pounds) question. I can write a book on this. I believe the difference is not in the conception between the westerners and the Japanese or Asian teachers. It is the degree of understanding or the lack of by the western teachers. I am not saying this to belittle the western teachers. I know the western teachers are very intelligent and diligent in studying the subject. But I think the subject of Ki goes beyond the power or martial arts. It in fact enters into the realms of religion and spiritual concepts which I believe the westerners have problems accepting.
Ki (or Qi/Chi for Chinese martial arts practitioners)
Your book, "Shotokan Myths" mentions that pre-JKA Shotokan karate katas most likely had no Ki ai or at least, involved no yelling. Could a Ki ai be done without the yelling?
Yes this is exactly the point of the chapter in my book and the title of the chapter is "Silent Ki ai". The higher level of Ki ai in martial arts is one without any sound. As you know, Ki ai is made when a Kime (tension or focusing of muscles) is made such as at a delivery point of a punch. This is done by tensing your diaphragm and usually the diaphragm is pushed upward resulting in squeezing the lungs thus the gush of air goes up the throat and you will have a yelling.
By controlling the vocal code you can let the air out without making a sound but creating a Kime. In martial arts we must be able to make a Kime not only when we exhale but also when we inhale which is a difficult tast but can be and must be done. Try to make a Ki ai as you tense your diaphragm as you quickly inhale. It is diffcult to make a sound even if you tried. What you did is a Kime without a Ki ai. You can do the same thing as you quickly exhale. Ki ai is not a wrong thing but it is unnecessary to make a kime.
Shihan Yokota has published numerous articles and books:
Helga's mom brought her to her first Karate competition. Noting that the organizers seemed a little shorthanded she approached the table. "Good morning," she said to the Director, "you look a little shorthanded. Anything I can do to help?" "Well it just so happens we're short a fighter for the under 90 kg division," the director replied. "Sorry," Helga's mom said, "I don't know a thing about Karate." "That's OK" said the director. "We need referees, too."
The following table lists graduates from the legendary JKA Instructor program.
|Name||Year of Graduation||Rank||Position|
|Mikami Takayuki||1957||9th dan||USA JKA/AF Southern|
|Kanazawa Hirokazu||1957||10th dan||Founder SKIF|
|Yaguchi Yutaka||1958||9th dan||USA ISKF Mountain States|
|Ueki Masaaki||1961||9th dan(2011)||HQ Shihan Chief Instructor Worldwide|
|Keinosuke Enoeda||1961||9th dan||"Deceased 29th March 2003".|
|*Miyazaki Satoshi||1961||8th dan||"Deceased 31st May 1993".|
|Sakai Ryusuke||1962||7th dan|
|Ochi Hideo||1963||8th dan||"JKA Germany".|
|Abe Keigo||1965||9th dan||Japan JSKA |
|Takashina Shigeru||1966||8th dan||USA JKA/WFA South Atlantic|
|Kawazoe Masao||1967||8th Dan (Also Chief Instructor ITKF)|
|Okamoto Hideki||1967||8th dan||Egypt|
|Takahashi Shunsuke||1967||8th dan||Chief Instructor TSKF Australia |
|Okuda Taketo||1967||8th dan||"Butoku-kan (Brazil)".|
|Osaka Yoshiharu||1972||8th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Imura Takenori||1977||7th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Kurasako Kenro||1977||7th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Kawawada Minoru||1978||7th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Omura Fujikiyo||1978||7th dan||"JKA Thailand".|
|Ohta Yoshinobu||Attendee||7th Dan||"Head JKA England".|
|Ogura Yasunori||1982||7th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Imamura Tomio||1983||7th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Izumiya Seizo||1986||6th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Shiina Katsutoshi||1986||6th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Hanzaki Yasuo||1987||6th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Naka Tatsuya||1989||7th dan (2012)||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Taniyama Takuya||1990||6th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Takahashi Satoshi||1992||5th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Kobayashi Kunio||1993||5th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Ogata Koji||1994||5th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Walter Crockford||1996||5th dan||"JKA Canada".|
|Hirayama Yuko||1998||6th dan (as of 2012)||HQ Secretariat|
|Okuma Koichiro||1998||4th dan||HQ Full-Time Instructor|
|Iwasawa Mayumi||1998||3rd dan||HQ Secretariat|
|Aragaki Misako||2003||3rd dan||HQ Secretariat|
Abe Keigo, 9th dan (former JKA HQ instructor) JSKA Chief Instructor
Aramoto Nobuyuki, 8th dan (former JKA instructor)
Asai Tetsuhiko, 10th dan (former HQ JKA instructor) JKS/IJKA Chief instructor (passed)
Inaba Tsuneyuki, 7th dan (former JKA instructor
Isaka Akito, 7th dan (former JKA instructor) KWF
Ishimine Minoru, 7th dan (former JKA instructor)
Kagawa Masao, 8th dan (former JKA instructor) JKS Chief Instructor
Kagawa Masayoshi, 7th dan (former JKA member, not JKA instructor graduate)
Kanayama Kyosho, 7th dan (former JKA instructor)
Mizuno Yoshihisa, 8th dan (former JKA instructor)
Naito Takashi, 7th dan (Has left E.T.K.F & returned to JKA)
Shin Naomitsu, 7th dan (former JKA member, not JKA instructor graduate)
Tamang Pemba, 8th dan (former JKA HQ instructor) NSKF Chief Instructor
Tanaka Chougo, 7th dan (former JKA member, not JKA instructor graduate)
Yahara Mikio, 8th dan (former JKA HQ instructor) KWF Chief Instructor
Yamaguchi Takashi, 8th dan (former JKA instructor)
Kanazawa Hirokazu, 10th dan (former JKA HQ instructor) Chief instructor SKIF
Kase Yasuharu, 10th dan (former JKA HQ instructor) Chief Instructor SRKH (passed)
Kasuya Hitoshi, 8th dan (former JKA instructor) Chief Instructor WSKF
Katsumata (Suzuki) Yutaka, 7th dan (former JKA instructor)
Shirai Hiroshi, 10th dan (former JKA instructor) WSKA
Kyle Kamal Helou, 4th dan (JKS instructor) JKS
Tatetsu Meicho, 7th dan (former JKA instructor)
Asano Shiro, 9th dan (former JKA member, not JKA instructor graduate) SKIF
Kato Sadashige, 9th dan (former JKA member, not JKA instructor graduate) Chief Instructor IJKA (not recognized or sanctioned by Asai IJKA)
The list might not be complete.
Karate History & Federations
JKA Instructors & Instructor Program Graduates