Training Journal : Understanding Kata Variations

When I arrived this morning at my dojo, I quickly realized that I forgot to bring my do-gi. Just have to do my training without them. I wanted to refresh my memories on two kata variations that I picked up at last week’s seminar, Jitte & Bassai-Dai. I started with the shotokan version, going thru the kinks that have been bothering me. After going thru the two kata for about 6 times, I then turned my attention to the Shito-Ryu version. Though similar, ther are several differences that shows what the different Ryu has focused on. Next I worked on my Seisan. I practiced the 3 versions that I know, the Seibukan Seisan, the Shotokan Seisan (Hangetsu) and Aragaki Seisan which I learnt from Vince Morris Sensei some years back.

This morning training has got me thinking about an article I was working on; on the influence on Japanese Karate on Okinawan karate. IMHO, the most glaring influence has been the imposition of ‘standards’. What do I mean by standards? Just look at out karate competitions, especially the kata categories. kata ‘performances’ are dominated by shito-ryu katas. Even in the recent tournament that I went to, students from the Honbu Dojo performed Shito-Ryu katas. I tried to remedy the situation by teaching Dr. Norman to perform the Seibukan Wansu and Passai, while I planned to perform Passai Guwa, Hakkucho and Wansu or Anaku. Worst come to worst I’ll even perform Fukyugata Ichi. As long as perform Okinawan katas, rather than the ‘Shitei Kata’. To me what the point of being in an ‘Okinawan’ outfit if I were to continue doing Japanized kata. I am quiet capable in several Shotokan and Shito-Ryu katas (I might even win gold!), but that is not the point. The judges at the tatami where I’m doing my kata might even disqualify me for doing non-shitei kata, but in my mind, it doesn’t really matter. As long as I get to promote my Okinawan art, for people are watching, and wondering, and asking questions. I have said again and again that I don’t really like going to competitions, but like they say, you have to pay your dues. For me to effectively promote Okinawan Karate-Do, I have to do it, and to do it in open forum so that it’ll get the maximum exposure is to do it it open competitions. I realize, as I run through the different katas, that karate is not meant to be unifor, not like how every Big Mac has to taste the same, not like how every TV produces the same quality picture. It is not package in a factory. Karate has been influenced by people, that has diverse interest, influences and preferences. Hence you have the different Ryus, and even in the same Ryu you have different interpretations, just like Shorin-Ryu has Sukunaihayashi, Matsubayashi, etc. To tell that tale would require more time than I have at the moment.


I have to go. My baby son, Zachary is crying, he is requesting… no… demanding my time with him. All is not about karate. Life is not about karate, Karate is about life. There is the bigger picture call life. I hope one day he will acquire my passion for it though. Enjoy the video clip below, you know you love Yoda… especially when he’s singing to Louis Armstrong..



Gambatte Kudasai!!!


4 responses to “Training Journal : Understanding Kata Variations

  1. Great post, and sooo true about finding the balance between life and training, and the constant struggle to combine (or seperate) the two.

    BTW cute vid 🙂 I’ll keep up with this blog as well because Im always looking for new videos and MA news and updates for my site, Fight Vids UK. Feel free to fingerpoint any vids you come accross in your blog posts and I’ll snatch them up 😉


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