Our Karate system: An in depth look

Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu is a traditionally taught Karate system owing its origins to Shoto Ryu and many other styles of Karate including Goju Ryu, Shorin Ryu and Shotokan; Japanese styles such as Aikijujutsu, Jujutsu and Judo and various Chinese forms of Quan Fa.

However there are various aspects that make Toshu Jutsu a true “system” and not just a “hotchpotch.”

These are:

1) The traditional focus around Kata of a single schoolwith a clearly defined lineage
2) The theoretical commitment to a quantifiable method underpinning the system
3) A methodically taught and graded syllabus and curriculum
4) A clearly defined purpose and mission statement
5) A coherent system that is none-contradictory and every technique has a place

Toshu Jutsu

Toshu Jutsu

1) The traditional focus around Kata of a single school with a clearly defined lineage

The first two kata Channan [Pinan] Nidan and [Channan] Pinan Shodan (renamed Heian Shodan and Heian Nidan by Funakoshi) have been in the system since at least 1850. They were practiced by Matsumura, (b1798) passed on to Itosu, Azato and Kyan and brought into the Shoto Ryu and Shito Ryu systems by Funakoshi and Mabuni respectively. The next three kata, Sandan, Yondan and Godan were developed by Itosu in around 1890 and became important introductory forms in Shorin Ryu (both Kobayashi Ryu and Matsubayashi Ryu), Shoto Ryu, Shito Ryu and Shukokai.

Naihanchi (Tekki) was introduced to Shuri Te and Tomari Te in around 1840 by a Chinese master called Ason. From thereon it became an important form to masters like Matsumura, Matsumora and Motobu. It may have been Itosu’s favourite kata (Tekki means iron horse and so does his nickname Anko) and was one of the first kata ever demonstrated in Japan, being performed by Shoto Ryu headmaster Makoto Gima in the 1920s.
The next kata Fukyugata (Gekisai) was introduced into Shorin Ryu quite late (1940s) and is the first kata in some styles (such as Goju Ryu).

Bassai was an important kata in both Shuri Te and Tomari Te. It may have been introduced to Okinawa in 1828 by Matsumura and was also favoured by Motobu and Oyodomari. Master Funakoshi considered it an important kata and almost universally (Shotokan, Shorin Ryu, Wado Ryu, Shito Ryu, Shukokai etc) it is a prerequisite for black belt. Kushanku (Kanku Dai) was likely introduced to Shuri in about 1750 and was made famous by Tode Sakugawa, Chatan Yara and Matsumura. In some styles close to Matsumura, Kushanku is considered the most advanced kata, and Master Funakoshi may of been of this thinking in the 1920s as he demonstrated it in Japan. Like Pinan, Naihanchi and Bassai, Kushanku is usually considered mandatory for blackbelts. Our next kata Wansu (Empi) is often considered to be Okinawa’s oldest kata and was said to have been introduced in the 1600s. It is associated with the Tomari area and is practiced in Matsubayashi Ryu, Shoto Ryu and Wado Ryu. Our next kata are strongly associated with a Naha Te master who is nonetheless important to Shorin Ryu (especially Shoto Ryu and Shito Ryu) named Seisho Aragaki. These kata are Wankan, Nijushiho and Seishan (Hangetsu).

So out of our first 13 kata, the oldest (Wansu/Empi) was introduced to Okinawa 330 years ago in 1682, the newest (Fukyugata/Gekisai) was formulated in 71 years ago in 1941, so our kata were formulated over a 260 year period.

My 2nd Dan grades were recognised in Kokusai Budoin (IMAF) by Hirokazu Kanazawa’s Shotokan division. Kanazawa Hanshi (a student of Gichin Funakoshi) received his own grade from IMAF. as did the likes of Gogen Yamaguchi (founder of Goju Kai) and Hironori Ohtsuka (founder of Wado Ryu). I then took my 3rd Dan under Kokusai Budoin studying under Reiner Parsons (who was graded 5th Dan by Tadanori Nobetsu in Nisseikai, and 6th Dan by Shoto Ryu headmaster Ikuo Higuchi), and I was able to train directly under Japanese grandmasters such as Nobetsu. As a 4th Dan I was awarded the shogo title of Renshi under authority of Dai Nippon Butokukai, the same organisation that granted this rank to Gichin Funakoshi in 1938. My 5th Dan was conferred by PAJ Handyide Shihan who studied under Kanazawa and many others.

2) The theoretical commitment to a quantifiable method underpinning the system

In addition to the “Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu” syllabus, our system is taught according to a self defence methodology called the Bushinkai Method which I have written at length about.

In a nutshell, the Bushinkai Method is comprised of:

– The Science of Violence. The theoretical and practical understanding of self defence and violence
– The Science of Technique. The theory and principles behind efficient technique
– The Science of Learning. Methods used for imparting and absorbing skills

Although I have coined the phrased “Bushinkai Method” and “The Three Sciences” it is my believe that all the most effective self defence systems have been such because of teaching these three areas. They are our equivalent of the driving test’s “theory, practical and hazard perception.”

Covering these areas ensures we are not just learning an “art” but rather becoming effective at self defence – the goal of the Toshu Jutsu masters of old.

3) A methodically taught and graded syllabus and curriculum

In Bushinkai, belts are not just for reward and gratification nor are they status symbols outside the Dojo. The grading system of Bushinkai is essential to the methodical learning of our art.

The curriculum of Toshu Jutsu is vast and the syllabus only represents a part of it. The curriculum is “everything” that we teach, whereas the syllabus is just a convenient cross section broken up into segments to facilitate learning.

With each grade comes a new kata, a new set of basics, perhaps a new weapons and a higher expectation of self defence capability and technical proficiency. Also as we advance there is more room for freedom, more room for specialism, and a greater sense of proficiency and knowledge.

With each grade students can monitor their progress with what they “must know, should know and could know.”

4) A clearly defined purpose and mission statement

The purpose of Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu is to teach a combat-effective self defence based system of Karate/Jujutsu.

We don’t care to be the biggest or the most popular and we don’t care to win competitions, neither do we care to be used as a babysitting service, a drop-in centre or a youth club. We respect instructors who teach children, respect competition fighters and respect those who teach particular professions, but that is not where we fit in. We are a self defence club aimed at adults. Our club is small but the quality is high. There is nothing wrong with teaching young children be we don’t feel that is where our strengths lie.

We aim to “give back” to Karate by creating a system that is more efficient and well rounded than those that have gone before; while still staying true to the traditions and conventions of old styles such Shuri Te, Shorin Ryu and Shoto Ryu.

As part of the International Toshu Jutsu Federation we are part of a research group (kenyukai) charged with researching and furthering our historical understanding of the root arts of Karate.

As part of Shikon and Kokusai Budoin UK we are able to cross-train with quality clubs in a range of other arts like Judo, Aikido, Jujutsu and Iaido.

5) A coherent system that is none-contradictory and every technique has a place

In some styles I have trained with in the past, the approach has been like this: The instructor, say a Karate instructor learns a new technique, say a Judo technique, and shoehorns this technique into what they teach. The technique may contradict what they usually teach but they are determined to teach their new trick.

Instead every technique is taught referencing the core system. For example the first throw we learn is Osoto Gari and this is related to our basic punch Oi Tzuki – it uses the same semi circular foot movement and the same “one hand pushing, one hand pulling action” – this is bunkai in its purest form. The second throw we learn is Tao Otoshi which relates to our basic parry Gedan Barai – in that it utilises a diagonal sweeping motion and Zenkutsu Dachi type posture.

This is in the spirit of the original Toshu Jutsu. Sokon Matsumura (my teacher’s teacher’s teacher’s teacher) who studied many different arts and assimilated them all into his Shuri Te.

Matsumura began with Shuri Te in around 1811, studying under Tode Sakugawa (learning Wansu) and Chatan Yara (learning Kushanku). He then journied to China where he trained with Iwah in a style described by Mark Bishop as “a mix of southern Shaolin and Pakua”, learning Seishan, Useishi and Jutte. When he returned he created his masterpiece Bassai Dai. But Matsumura did not stop there, he also trained with Ason learning Naihanchi and Anan learning Chinto and Chinte. Finally he journied to Japan and mastered Jigen Ryu swordsmanship. Matsumura did not teach 5 different arts, he assimilated all his knowledge into one coherent system which became Shorin Ryu, the art which gave us Shoto Ryu, Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Shukokai, Yoseikan, Budokan, Matsubayashi Ryu and Kobayashi Ryu.
Toshu Jutsu returns us to the original source of Karate. We do not teach the branches or the twigs – we teach the trunk, the trunk that is our system.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s