domingo, 25 de novembro de 2018

The origin of kata Ryufa

There is an erroneous information circulating on the Internet stating that Akamine learned Ryufa and Kusukun from his friend Seiken Shukomine. This is a serious mistake. Akamine stated that he learned Ryufa directly from its creator, Seitoku Higa, and this is recorded. The photo below shows an annotation made on November 15, 1962, during an examination at ABK. It is written there the following: "Execution of kata 'Ryufa' or 'Rufua' of Master Seitoku Higa - Bugeikan (movements of the serpent) Sergio Yanagisawa and Sadao Saito in the 1st row ...".

This information is also confirmed here.

Both Akamine and Shukomine learned Ryufa directly from Seitoku Higa, who at that time (~1940) was still a senior disciple of Kishimoto. For some reason this kata was discontinued at Bugeikan. Akamine's version is orignal, and Shukomine's, who also learned this kata from Seitoku Higa, revised it to bring it closer to the Passai, the kata that Seitoku would have used as a model for Ryufa. Today this kata is known as 'Passai' in the Gensei-ryu.

(See our post "Ryufa and the dragon hand", and Kusanku in the post about Takemura)

Unfortunately, Ryufa was diffused in some schools that originated from Akamine in a distorted form, since these practitioners did not learn it directly from the master, and the kata underwent several modifications by the hands of others. I realize that many practice a hard and strenuos kata, when it is a light and agile form (the kata imitates a serpent), besides some errors. Akamine extracted his kumite techniques from this kata. Ryufa is one of the most effective katas I know.

domingo, 23 de setembro de 2018

Prisca sapientia

Karate is not what you think. After karate ceased to be regional and internationalized as a sport, the teachings of oral tradition disappeared and were replaced by the myth of the solar hero. And karate became a neurosis. And now we see Marvel superheroes making stunning and hollywood "katas" in competitions, impressive choreographies, but they are just pantomimes. The secret energy of form is lost, and masters are turning choreographers. Competitions are mere spectacles of Broadways.

Kata is not what you think. It is not what it seems to be. Invisible to the eyes are the lines of force that guide the energy of form, it is not the body that creates form, it is energy, and energy has a purpose: it shapes itself into each type of scenario.

To the ancient masters, heaven, nature, and human were integrated into a single cosmos. The body was not what the anatomy books teach, but a pure manifestation of energy: the Cinnabar Field where Shang San Feng, the Emperor of the Night, came down and taught his martial dance swirling on one foot.

A kata was an alchemical caput mortuum, quintessence of dance of a master or an animal in a real combat, dissolved in retort mercury by the fire of our sulfur. This extraction was transferred and precipitated into a kata. The word for this process of spiritual extraction was Hsing-I, which means in the Taoist mystic "inner alchemy."

So it is not the "bunkai" - this tragic fashion that further destroys karate - which explains or creates a real kata. Bunkai is fallacy, fool's gold.

A kata is history, a moment extracted and stored in a small pill to be used at the right time. He only tells us: "use me in such and such a situation and my power only acts in two or three steps; if you use me correctly the Wa will be restored." Put another way, an algorithm that says: "Such a situation can be solved in 2 + 1 steps." If you think of "bunkai", you break the Wa, your mind becomes confused, and the kata is not realized. You should not think about kata, he guides you when you are in Cinnabar Field.

It is for this reason that the ancient katas - the true ones - are very short, only 2 + 1 actions. This can be clearly seen in the short versions of Unsu, Naifanchi, Sanchin, Wansu (Shimabukuro Taro), Sochin, Seisan (Hanashiro Chomo) and a few others that come from a very distant time. They are pure philosophical gold.

sexta-feira, 14 de setembro de 2018

Unsu: the minimax kata

Unsu is a very old kata. It is simple and short but very efficient to teach the practical principles of Naha kempo. Personally, I think it's much better to teach it to students after Sanchin because it gives them a real fighting skill. I think it's much better than the Gekisai, who to me are just kihon.

The version below was transmitted by Choyu Motobu (the "master in the shadows" of Miyagi) and still taught today in the old Goju / Naha-te schools. André Mucci, 5th dan, performs the kata.

Some Shikan-ryu (Akamine's Naha-te style) katas






quinta-feira, 31 de maio de 2018

Principle-Driven Skill Development In Traditional Martial Arts

Russ's book has a peculiar characteristic: it is unique. In fact, it is a reference for anyone who wants to penetrate the essence of karate and qualify for the teaching of this art, now almost forgotten by the new generations. Among other things, Russ redirected his experience in Karate and Chinese Martial Arts to teach the new generation the principles. But he did not seek to invent but to reveal the secrets tested and endorsed for centuries among the ancient founders. In this way, Russ Smith positions himself as a leader in the long chain of those who hold the Art on.

quarta-feira, 16 de maio de 2018

"Shikan-ryu" - The Akamine Karate

Among the masters of Seiichi "Shikan" Akamine we have Kanki Izumigawa, Higa Seiko (in the Izumigawa dojo), Seitoku Higa and Kanken Toyama (who awarded him the 8th dan by AJKF (All Japan Karate-do Federation). Akamine was an assistant to Izumigawa, but founded his own dojo (which was called "Shikan", name given by Izumigawa), in which Shukomine, his great friend, also taught. Along with Shukomine, Izumigawa and Toyama, Akamine gave demonstrations throughout Japan. He came to Brazil in 1957 at the invitation of the Okinawa Association of Brazil to teach his karate. 

Akamine called his style informally "Shikan-ryu," because he was not the Orthodox Goju-ryu, but a combination of effective techniques and Naha-te (Izumigawa/Higa lineage) and Shuri-te (Kishimoto/Higa Seitoku's lineage). His kumite system used open hands and nekoashi in quick, elusive attacks. Today, followers of Akamine changed his style by Orthodox Goju-ryu, and I believe we are (Shoreijikan) the only ones who follow the original system, as a legacy of the former ABK (Brazilian Karate Association) during the Akamine period (1958-1964). 

I am the second generation and was taught in the Shikan's system by Moritoshi Nakaema, Iwao Yokote, Tsuniyoshi Tanaka, Nelson dos Santos, all Akamine top disciples who integrated the first generation. 1957-1964 (I started in 1964). At that time, Akamine taught the kata that he found the most important, besides Sanchin: Seipai, Ryufa, Azato-no-Kusukun. As part of the Goju-ryu, he taught Sanchin, Gekisai Ichi and Ni, Naifanchi, Saifa, Seionchin, Seipai and Ryufa to the shodan level (all other katas were taught above this level). He had his own version of Tensho. Akamine was also a kobudo master and taught this art to few people, of whom I knew only the great masters Yoshiide Shinzato and Nelson dos Santos (who passed to me the Shikan-ryu bo-jutsu), both already deceased.

segunda-feira, 9 de janeiro de 2017

Okinawa Karate in Brazil - a rare historical document

The video below shows a summary of the demonstration of Karate organized by Master Motoku Yabiku in São Paulo, Brazil, in the year 1951. The location was the Pacaembu Gymnasium. Motoku Yabiku was then the president of Okinawa Kenjinkai of Brazil. The three students were (from left to right) the Kukuba brothers and Toguchi.

In the video you can see parts of the kata Naifanchi, Gojushiho (Useishi), Passai and Kusanku, as they were practiced at that time and still preserved in some dojos.

Okinawa Karate demo in São Paulo, Brazil, 1951