Notes on Matsubayashi Ryu Kata, written in 2021
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Matsubayashi Ryu practices a standard 18 empty handed kata with an additional empty handed (Karate) kata and a wide variety of Okinawan Kobudo kata. Today we are only focusing on the empty handed kata.
Fukyugata Ni (普及形)
Naihanchi Sandan (ナイハンチ・内蹯地)
Wanshu (ワンシュー・汪楫/ 汪輯)
Chinto (チントウ・鎭閗/ 鎭鬦)
1. Fukyugata Ichi was created by Shoshin Nagamine around 1941 as a basic kata that could be practiced by any Okinawan style of Karate. It’s name (普及形) translates rougly as “Universal Outreach Form” or “Promotional Form.”
2. Fukyugata Ni was created by Chojun Miyagi around the same time and for the same purpose. It is also called Gekisai Dai Ichi (Goju Ryu) and Chi no Kata (Shito-Ryu & Shotokan). This was done on the behest of the then Mayor of Okinawa.
3. Pinan kata were created by Anko Itosu and implemented in 1907. It is believed that this was his second attempt at creating beginner level/ children’s kata. His first attempt were possibly called Channan and were the basis for Pinan Shodan and Pinan Nidan.
4. Naihanchi Shodan is a historical kata that was originally known as Daipochin (逮坡戰), according to interviews with Shugoro Nakazato Sensei of the Shorinkan. It is believed the kata dates back to Ason. Also it should be noted the legends about Naihanchi being used for fighting on the dikes, between rice fields, etc. comes from translating the name Daipochin. There is still debate on where Nagamine learned the Naihanchi series. According to Joen Nakazato, Kyan lineages only do the first Naihanchi. According to Zenpo Shimabukuro, Chotoku Kyan didn’t teach Naihanchi at all. He stated most Kyan lineages picked up the kata from Nakama Chozo, a direct student of Choshin Chibana.
5. There is some debate about Naihanchi Nidan, but it is generally agreed upon that Naihanchi Sandan was created by Anko Itosu. Furthermore it is most likely that Niahanchi Nidan and Sandan were picked up by Nagamine from Choki Motobu or some other source.
6. Ananku is a kata that is hard to pin down, there seems to be several unrelated kata using this name. It is most likely that this kata was created by Arakaki, Chotoku Kyan, or Nagamine himself. Since Nagamine’s version of the kata is not used in other lineages, it is unlikely that Kyan is the source of the kata, though he may be the source of the name. However, I personally believe that if Nagamine had created his version of Ananku he would have included that information in his publications, like he did with Fukyugata Ichi.
7. Wankan is a kata that comes from Kotatsu Iha, one of the primary proponents of “Tomari-Te.” It is believe Iha created this kata.
8. Rohai is also usually associated with Iha.
9. Wanshu is a harder kata to trace as their are three main versions of Wanshu. The version practiced in Matsubayashi Ryu is believed to have been developed by Makabe Choken and Funakoshi (Gichin Funakoshi’s grandfather). Both men are talked about in Nagamine’s second publication. However by doing a simple kata analysis between, we know for a fact that Nagamine’s Wanshu did not come from Kyan. Nagamine himself claimed back in the 1980s that he had learned Wanshu, Rohai, and Wankan from Kotatsu Iha
10. Passai is believed to have originated with Sokon Matsumura, however extremely early in its history multiple versions were developed, as modifying kata was a common practice at the time. Matsubayashi Ryu’s version is believed to have gone from Oyadomari Kokan to Chotoku Kyan to Nagamine, with each man modifying the kata as it went.
11. Chinto was one of two nicknames given to a shipwrecked Chinese man named Lao, who landed on Okinawa around 1872. He was brought into custody by Kosaku Matsumora, after locals mistook him for a pirate (there was not an epic battle on the beach). Kosaku set Lao up with the Teruya family, who could translate for him, and he taught martial arts as a way to make enough money to pay for a voyage home. One of the kata Lao taught was Chinto. Lau is documented in three newspaper articles from 1878 to 1904. Other kata often associated with Lau are Rohai and Annan. According to Joen Nakazato Chotoku Kyu picked up Chinto from Kosaku Matsumora. It is most likely that Nagamine’s version came from Kyan.
12. Gojushiho seems pretty easy to trace. Nagamine most likely picked it up from Chotoku Kyan. According to Joen Nakazato, Chotoku Kyan picked this kata up from Sokon Matsumura.
13. Kusanku (Chatan Yara) is often believed to be older than what it may actually be. According to Joen Nakazato, Chotoku Kyan learned Kusanku directly from Chatan Yara while he was living in Makihara. According to Shugoro Nakazato, Kusanku experience a name change in the early 1900s going from Ufukun (大君) to Kusanku (公相君). Ufukun translates roughly to “Big Boss, while Kusanku translates roughly to “Mr. Public Official.” We can see that both share a kanji and have similar meanings. Historians believe this name change was an attempt to make the kata sound older and “more authentic” by connecting it to a tale in the Oshima Hiki, a well known document at the time, which was written in 1762. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that Ufukun (大君) was the nickname of Matsumora Kosaku, who taught both Motobu Choki and Chotoku Kyan. However Kosaku’s version seems to differ greatly from the version taught by Chotoku Kyan and Nagamine Shoshin.
What did we learn from Joen Nakazato?
Kyan learned Seisan and Gojushiho from Sokon Matsumura, Annanku from an unknown source in Taiwan, Passai from Kokan Oyadomari, Wansu (sho) from Maeda Pechin, Chinto from Kosaku Matsumora, Kusanku directly from Chatan Yara.
What did we learn from Zenpo Shimabukuro?
Chotoku Kyan did not teach any of the Naihanchi.
What did we learn from Shugoro Nakazato?
Naihanchi was previously called Daipochin, and at least one version of Kusanku was previously called Ufukun.
What did we learn from Anko Asato?
Chinto came from the ship wrecked man. It was Kosaku Matsumora who was called into to assist the man. Mr. Lou was housed with the Teruya family.
What did we learn from the Nagamine?
Nagamine created Fukyugata Ichi. Miyagi created Fukyugata Ni. That Nagamine learned Wankan, Rohai, and Wanshu from Iha Kotatsu.
What did we learn via kata analysis?
Matsubayashi Ryu’s Wanshu and Annanku differ so much from Kyan’s that they most likely came from another source.
What did we learn via style analysis?
Nagamine did not acquire the Fukyugata, Pinan, Niahanchi, Wankan, nor Rohai from Chotoku Kyan. Nagamine most likely acquired Wankan, Rohai, and Wanshu from Iha Kotatsu and/ or Taro Shimabukuro.
What did we learn from data analysis?
Nagamine most likely only acquired Passai, Chinto, Gojushiho, and Kusanku from Kyan. Also the kata in Nagamine’s book seem to be organized by where Nagamine learned them and not their difficulty levels:
Fukyugata, Pinan, and Naihanchi are general Shorin Ryu kata.
Ananku from Arakaki?
Wankan, Rohai, and Wanshu from Iha.
Passai, Chinto, Gojushiho, and Kusanku from Kyan.
What did you learn from me?
Hopefully that you should QUESTION EVERYTHING and find a second opinion, instead of blindly believing one source. Furthermore the majority of this information comes from translations and interviews conducted by Scot Mertz and Andreas Quast, granted I personally view Mertz as a more reliable source.