Introducing Bushinkai Karate: Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu

Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu is a traditional system of Karate and Jujutsu taught by the Bushinkai Academy of Martial Arts. Classes are held at Van Dang Martial Arts, Newton Street, Manchester. It may be considered a type of Shotokan, but aims to teach the older combative skills of the art rather than the sporting form.

What is Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu?

Linguistically Hakuda was a southwestern Japanese approach to Jujutsu using lots of strikes, Kempo is a Japanese translation of the Chinese Chuan Fa (Fist Law) and Toshu Jutsu is an alternative pronunciation of Karate Jutsu (Chinese Hand Art) – essentially then it denotes  “Okinawan Karate and Japanese Jujutsu of Chinese origin.” It is very much a “Shorin Ryu” based system along the lines of Shotokan, Shoto Ryu, Kobayashi Ryu, Matsubayashi Ryu or Wado Ryu – however the aim is for the art to represent the trunk rather than the branches.

Who is the chief instructor?

Senior International Instructor Simon Keegan who holds the grade of 5th Dan in Shobukan Karate (based on Shotokan and Budokan), awarded by the headmaster Shihan PAJ Handyside, under the World Union of Karatedo Federations. He was previously awarded the title of Renshi (polished teacher, awarded after 4th Dan) by the national director of the Dai Nippon Butokukai. His Renshi title was awarded in Shoto Ryu Karate (old style Shotokan as it was taught in the 1920s by Gichin Funakoshi, Makoto Gima and Hironori Ohtsuka). Simon’s teacher Reiner Parsons was graded by Shoto Ryu headmaster Ikuo Huguchi. Simon also had chance to train under Reiner’s Goju Ryu teacher Tadanori Nobetsu Hanshi (headmaster of Nisseikai a combination of Goju and Feeding Crane) and was awarded 3rd Dan. Prior to this Simon held the grade of 2nd Dan in Nihon Jujutsu (under Shizuya Sato), Judo, Shotokan Karate, Ryukyu Kempo Karate Jutsu and also holds this grade in Taiji Quan. Prior to this he trained for eight years in the Bushido Academy and nine years in a Chinese martial arts academy, and before that trained informally under his father Sifu David Keegan. All together Simon has trained formally in Shotokan-Budokan based systems for 20 years and in total for around 30 years, together with 10 years of Nisseikai and 9 formal years of Chinese internal martial arts. Internationally graded, he is one of the region’s most experienced and qualified Karate teachers.

Who are the other instructors?

National Instructor Kicki Holm was awarded 2nd Dan in Shotokan by Soke Hirokazu Kanazawa and she is a proud member of the Danish National Karate team; Regional Instructor Dan Sanchez 2nd Dan has studied Karate for some 10 years and also studies Brazilian Ju Jitsu, having recently trained under a BJJ World Champion, Club Instructor Ben Gaunt who has also attended seminars with several top instructors from Patrick McCarthy to Steve Rowe to Terry Wingrove.

By whom is the style recognised?

Bushinkai is affiliated to Shikon, which is in turn recognised by the World Union of Karatedo Federations and the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts. Bushinkai is also a part of the United Kingdom Budo Federation (formerly IMAF GB), the British Jujutsu Federation and the International Toshu Jutsu Federation.

How practical is the style?

Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu is taught according to a method of self defence called The Bushinkai Method – very simply – three sciences (violence, technique and learning). In other words, understand the subject, get good technique and learn how to make it work.

From white belt to black belt, the syllabus has much in common with any Shorin based school such as Shotokan or Wado Ryu. We cover the same stances, the same strikes, the same core kata (Heians, Tekki, Bassai, Kanku, Empi, etc) and many of the same activities such as Kumite (sparring). So that is the common ground, the Kata, Kihon and Kumite… So what makes Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu different?

Here are some of the areas unique or particular to the teaching of Toshu Jutsu:

1) The Ten Ks. We don’t just teach the three Ks (Kata, Kihon, Kumite) we also teach Kobudo, Kumiuchi, Kansetsu, Katame, Kakie, Kyusho and Ki. These are respectively forms, basics, sparring, weapons, grappling, locks, joint manipulation, sticking hands, pressure points and Chi.

2) Integrated grappling practices. In Judo the first two throws usually learnt are Osoto Gari and Tai Otoshi. In Karate the first punch is usually Oi Tzuki and the first block is usually Gedan Barai. Our syllabus unites both of these practices in a coherent way. In other words, we learnt the motion of Gedan Barai as a block, then we practice the Tai Otoshi throw using the principles of Gedan Barai (the hands move in a downwards diagonal taking the opponent over the Zenkutsu Dachi stance); when we learn Osoto Gari we do so with the principles of Oi Tzuki (one hand forwards one hand back, legs describe an arc). This way we still learn the most basic blocks and throws, but the students instantly connect with the idea of bunkai/oyo (analysis and application of a movement) and also with the idea that our Kihon are not just basic blocks and strikes, but also an intrinsic part of other areas such as grappling. This same idea is transferred to other throws and locks. Prior to 1920 especially, Karate lots of grappling techniques that were related to kata. Some of these were demonstrated by Gichin Funakoshi at the back of his book Karatedo Kyohan.

3) Self defence not Ippon Kumite. One step sparring is a useful concept. It teaches a finite defence against a single powerful attack. The main weakness with Ippon Kumite is when it only teaches defences against “Karate attacks” (usually straight thrusts), therefore we defend against all manner of attacks, from uppercuts, to bearhugs to headbutts. Karate was never intended for defences against sporting attacks. Choki Motobu’s ‘Kempo’ shows many of these types of defences.

4) Intelligent kata bunkai. The first katas are learned at approximately one kata per belt. At each grading students must also perform bunkai for each of the kata they know. These are prescribed techniques that can include throws, locks, chokes, pressure points and so on.
Again, bunkai movements were always intended to utilise grappling controls, such as those demonstrated in the Okinawan Bubishi.

5) Weapons kata.
 Each of the kata may be performed with weapons including Kihon (Bo), Heian Shodan (Sai), Heian Nidan and Sandan (Nunchaku), Heian Yondan (Tonfa, Tanto or Dip Dao), The empty handed movements are not replicated exactly with the weapon, instead the nature of the move is performed while keeping to the principles of the weapon. For example to perform a lower parry with the hand and with the Bo require totally different dynamics, but the end result is still a lower parry. In keeping with the heritage of the style, we also study Chinese sword (Jian) and Japanese sword (katana). Versions of Wansu (Empi) and Passai Guwa (Bassai Sho) have been developed for these swords, which keep to the nature of the Okinawan forms but are also faithful to the principles of Wutang sword and katana. Some kata have traditionally made sparse use of weapons applications, typically Bo grabs (Empi, Jutte, Kanku Sho, Meikyo) but several other kata can also be adapted for weapons. For example the Matsumuras used to practice Kushanku with hairpins as weapons.

Performing Heian Nidan with Nunchaku demonstrates how all our skills are integrated:

6) Non-Shotokan basics. After around blue belt, students also practice, in addition to “Shotokan basics” a different set of strikes. These are more rounded, subtle and powerful techniques that resemble the techniques of Hsing-I, Budokan, or Kung Fu. They include the splitting strike (a circular shuto), the diagonal backfist, the vertical reverse punch, the circular block, the stepping kizami and others. These techniques evoke an opposite principle to Shotokan Kihon. Where Shotokan Kihon use “dropping” movement (sinking into the stance), these use rising movement (rising from the stance).

7) Two man drills. Our two man drills are in different categories. Some are designs to build reactions, some are to build sensitivity, some are to build reactions, some are to build ‘flow’ and are some are designed as a method to practice percussive techniques in a live environment. Most Chinese schools use some form of sticking hands or push hands, including Tai Chi and Wing Chun, but for the most part these have been “forgotten” in Okinawan/Japanese Karate. Drawing and condensing drills that are true to styles like Uchinadi but also drawing on arts like Tai Chi, I have also extrapolated a kata called Matsu from our longest drill which demonstrates the relationship between kata, drill and bunkai. This kata strongly resembles Fujian Quan like Sanchin and Suparimpei.
Paired form (Tegumi Renzoku Geiko):

Solo form (Matsu kata):

8) Kata as styles. In old Chinese systems there was no distinction between a form and a style. Okinawan masters would also refer to the old forms as styles. We study in this manner. The first style is represented by the five Heian/Pinan forms and originate as their previous name ‘channan’ suggests in Chang Chuan (long fist boxing). These forms are the most basic yet versatile in our repertoire. The second style is the Shorei which includes the fundamental forms Naihanchi (Tekki) and Fukyugata (Gekisai). The former was a favourite kata of Choki Motobu and the latter was developed by Motobu’s student Shoshin Nagamine. They are very close in styles that use tight stances but also have a stronger internal element. The next style is “Wutang Chuan”. These are Shuri/Tomari kata – namely Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai and Empi that were derived from the Chinese internal arts of Bazi Quan, Taiji Quan and Hsing-I Quan. These forms are also internal but have a much lighter feel to them than the slow, heavy Shorei forms. Next we come to the Shaolin (Shorin) forms that were the type learnt by Aragaki of Kume. These include Matsukaze (wankan), Nijushiho and Hangetsu (Seishan). Studying both Taiji/Hsing-I and Shaolin Chi Kung forms has given us insight into the different unique styles of these Quan.

What Kata are taught?

The primary forms are:

  • Heian Shodan (Pinan Nidan)
  • Heian Nidan (Pinan Shodan)
  • Heian Sandan (Pinan Sandan)
  • Heian Yondan (Pinan Yodan)
  • Heian Godan (Pinan Godan)
  • Naihanchi (Tekki Shodan)
  • Passai (Bassai Dai)
  • Kushanku (Kanku Dai)
  • Wansu (Empi)
  • Seishan (Hangetsu)

Other forms are:

  • Fukyugata (Gekisai Dai)
  • Matsu
  • Wankan
  • Nijushiho
  • Bassai Sho
  • Kanku Sho
  • Jutte
  • Meikyo
  • Gojushiho
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