Shimabuku Tatsuo demonstrating a movement coincidently used by Shiroma Shimpan
At a time where many are exploring the use of Karate techniques it remains interesting how few are talking about what has already been shared. Especially in the books written in the 1930’s when various Karate instructors were sharing details about their arts to the Japanese. Through the work (and I do mean work) of Patrick McCarthy, Charles Joseph Swift, Mario McKenna and others, those works have been translated into English and are available for many to use. However, there are few who comment of converse publically on those works. For many I believe they are read once and then are left to gather dust on their book shelves.
These books, many of which we written by students of Itosu Anko, together explain much of the earlier Karate pre-1900 studies, and together share the shape of earlier karate.
It is my opinion these works are worth hard study to understand through the sweat equity that is required.
When Nakasone Genwa published the “Karate-Do Taiken” in 1938, he included a chapter by Shimpan Shiroma on “Karate-do Kata and their Meaning”. Shimapan was a student of Itosu Anko, as were many of the authors in 1930’s Japan, and looking more closely at his description of karate usage should help understand the earlier use of karate.
He does not break down specific kata. Instead he takes general techniques from many kata and shows their potential use. In his words “ Each movemeni found in a Karate-do kata contains both the means of attack and defense, but until this is understood kata will probably appear as a pointless dance. When the purpose is understood, that it contains the techniques of attack and defense, one will be deeply moved and excited by a kata performance.”
1. “Each movement of a Karate-do kata contains both the means of attack and defense.” He then proceeds to describe various ways a strike, a nukite ,a double nukite or a block and a kick can be used to do this.
2. He shows how the Age-uke may be utilized. As a block, as a block turning into a strike, of as a block then strike. Also he talks about the range where the technique may be used.
3. Then he turns his attention to the uses of the Shuto-Uke. As for the interior use followed by a lead hand strike to the face. Ot the exterior use followed by a grab and strike. Even including a Moroto Soto-Uke variation, and a Morote-ichi uke variation where the lead hand is used for a strike.
4. Dropping below a strike into Shiko-dachi using a Shike-tsuki.
5. Follow a side block with a simultaneous face strike with the blocking hand and a reverse punch to the body.
6. Parry with a LFF chinto ‘X’ block, then parry to the right strike, follow with a left hand descending parry to a left strike and then a right hand down parry with a simultaneous left strike to the neck carotid artery.
7. Use of high open backhand parries to head strikes
8. Use of double punches, lead hand forward, against a left punch, punch deflecting their punch, pull back the lead hand while parrying the right hand counter strike with your left palm descending, then strike them in the face with your right hand.
9. Use of the right knee parry of a right kick (interior line of defense) and a left knee parry against a right kich, then place the left foot down (spinning off the attacker) and double palm strike to their spine (exterior line of defense).
10. Dropping into horse stance to make a lower block effective, or rising to make a side block effectime, both require both hands (the one not blocking nearby the elbow for alignment strength.
11. Working from cat stance, block a kick with a down block, rise to block a head punch with a side block (also with secondary hand near the elbow as before) in this position it could respond to a punch.
12. Next he shows two different variations of the augmented block found in Okanawan Karate.
13. With the attacker’s left punch, right foot forward with the right closed fist augmented block, then the right hand rolls off the block and strikes the left carotid artery..(Interior line of defense).
14. For a right strike, the left foot steps forward and blocks with a left open fist augmented block and then the left hand strikes under his arm as they step forward. (exterior line of defense).
15. In right cat stance you parry down with the left fist/hand, then use the vertical right pressing block as a strike to the face at the same time.
16. Using the chambering of the hands to the right to catch and control a punch, then raise the knee and delive a sword foot thrust outwards and downwards at an angle in a stomping motion.
17. Two versions of the crouching posture (kusanku) with closed fists and open hand blocks.
18. Use of the lower downward sword hand block to catch and control/deflect a kick.
19. Use of the upper sacrifice block to catch and control the hands holding a descending sword.
20. Use of the forward stance descending low block to deflect(control) a kick.
21. Striking with the double punch (Patsai)
These are but brief notes I have made for myself. Taking the time to perform this analysis I can advance a theory what Shiroma Shimpan was showing.
1. The techniques shown through the drawings and the text are logical karate techniques. Nothing exceptional.
2. The technique series shown are the starting technique from the kata, and it’s logical extension to conclude the attack. Only occasionally is it just the movement from the kata. That would mean that most likely the kata techniques were not all that was used. Rather the different instructors would choose to show different techniques (IMO not just what Shimpan Sensei shows) That means watching the kata you would never know what was not shown. You most likely would interpret what you were watching through the filter of the karate you new.
3. This means that the applications were ‘greater’ in density than just the kata. The ‘bunkai’ I was taught from Sutrisno Tristan Sensei followed similar principles, but more advanced in the techniques used). Much valuable effort has been expended by many (myself included) on just the use of kata technique, but this has IMO been far less explored.
4. For those inclined there would be several good clinics here to share Shimpan’s thinking.
5. He clearly explores use of any technique for its use for interior and exterior line of defense. This promotes that any technique could handle most attacks whatever they are. He shows that there is more potential than one attack and one defense.
This is most that I see at this time.
Shiroma Shimpan concluded his piece:
“For the reader who endeavor to study Karate-do, he will realize there are several things that I have not fully explained. However, if he studies and progresses in Karate-do it will reveal it’s vastness to him. IT is my sincere hope that Karate-do will not be another theory simply talked about, but that it will be a study actively pursued every-day. Karate-do techniques are unlimited.”
May many more offer their thoughts.
A related post on my blog http://isshin-concentration.blogspot.com/2013/07/kakushite-hidden-hand.html