Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bill Hayes Sai Kata Shorin Ryu

Thanks to Bob Maxwell for preserving this video

Email from Mr. Bill Hayes regarding Sai Kata

Smith, Sensei:

Thank you for your kind e-mail. First, let me apologize for the poor technique shown in the 1972 article you referenced - my abilities were very immature at the time and, sadly, have not improved much since then- not even with the passage of some 33 years. I should also mention that, for clarity sake, the "Official Karate" magazine photographer asked that I change certain angles during the photo shoot so that the positions of the sai could
be better shown - the actual "shape" of the kata is, therefore, a bit different than what one sees in the magazine article.

As to your questions - yes, I learned the form directly from my teacher, Shimabukuro, Eizo, Hanshi, Ju-Dan, on Okinawa in his Association's Hombu dojo in Kin-Cho, located outside of the Marine Corps base named Camp Hansen.

I learned the form in 1967 shortly after returning from my first tour in the Republic of South Vietnam. (BTW, at the time I and my colleagues learned it the form was called "Chatan Yara no Sai". My Sensei has since modified the kata and now calls it "Toyei no Sai" [Toyei is how one would pronounce my teacher's name in Uchinagushi - using one syllable from his first and last name].)

The form was taught to my instructor by Taira, Shinken, the famous kobudo instructor. Though my Sensei studied for a short while directly with Miyagi, Chojun, he did not receive any weapons training from him - only hand kata. A version of the same kata is part of the Isshin-ryu Karate-do regimen having been incorporated therein by my teacher's older (now deceased) brother Shimabukuro, Tatsuo.

As you probably know, a number of other versions of the kata exist. The principle reason for that is the fact that Taira, Sensei, would often teach/train at various karate dojo on Okinawa and "gift" his host with kata (such as Chatan Yara no Sai) which he had modified especially for the host to be used within their systems. This was not problematic for him since his focus was on preserving Okinawan weaponry by any means possible and, perhaps more importantly, he understood kata were vessels which contained life
protection concepts - not merely rote "physical education routines".

Therefore, the precise standardized performance of kata was not so important as correctly transmitting the principles they held. As a result various versions popped up from time to time.

My Sensei had thousands of American and Okinawan students in his three dojo on Okinawa during the Vietnam era and so there are thousands of us still practicing Chatan Yara no Sai kata. His newer generations of students, especially the ones who only get to visit Okinawa for ten-day trainings are probably not aware of the name and technique changes and practice what they as Toyei no Sai kata.

There is a DVD available from www.toyei.com which contains what my Sensei teaches these days. I believe DVD#5 has what is now called "Toyei no Sai" on it. The kata Chatan Yara no Sai is well known on Okinawa and is especially preserved in the art handed from Taira, Sensei, to his successor, Akamine, Sensei, to his successors.

Please let me know if I can help further.

Best in all things,

Bill Hayes
"Old Student" of Shorin-ryu

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