Shorin Ryu Technique Terminology: 松林流

Karate Japanese Terminology:

Hidari (左): Left

Migi (右): Right

Mae (前): Front

Yoko (横): Side

Ushiro (後ろ): Backward; Behind

Soto (外): Outside

Uchi (内): Inside

Gedan (下段): Low; Low Level; Lower

Chudan (中段): Center; Center Level; Middle

Jodan (上段): High; High Level; Higher

Kamae/ -gamae (構え): Posture; Ready

Tachi/ -dachi (立ち): Stance(s); Stand

Tsuki/ -zuki (突き): Thrust

Uke (受け): Receive; Receiving; Defense

Keri/ -geri (蹴り): Kick; Kicking

Kata/ -gata (形・型): Pattern; Form

Kata (方): Method

Seme (攻め): Attack

Uchi (打ち): Smash; Pound; Hit

Ate (当て): Hit

Nage (投げ): Throw; Take Down

Katame/ -gatame (固め): Set; Pin

Ken/ Kobushi (拳): Fist

Seiken (正拳): Correct Fist

Kentsui (拳槌): “Hammer Fist”

Uraken (裏拳): Back Fist

Ude (腕): Arm; Forearm

Te/ Shu (手): Hand; Arm

Hiji (肘): Elbow

Enpi/ Empi (猿臂): Monkey Arm; Monkey Elbow

Shotei (掌底): Palm Heel; Palm Base

Shuto/ Tegatana (手刀): Hand Blade; “Knife Hand”

Haito (背刀): Back of Blade; “Ridge Hand”

Ashi/ Soku (足): Foot; Leg

Tsumasaki (爪先): Protruding Claw

Sokutei (足底): Foot Base; Sole of Foot

Josokutei (上足底): Ball of Foot

Sokko (足甲): Instep; Top of Foot

Sokuto (足刀): Blade of Foot

Hiza (膝): Knee

Kyobu (胸部): Chest

Fukubu (腹部): Abdomen

Kinteki (金的): Golden Target; Groin

Kintama (金玉): Golden Jewels; Groin

Koshi/ -goshi (腰): Hips; Lower Back; Waist

Harai/ -barai (払い): Sweep; Sweeping

Morote (両手): Both Hands

Sasae (支え): Support; Prop

Soe (添え): Accompany; Support

Wari (割): Split; Proportion

Sayu (左右): Left and Right

Kosa (交差): Crossing; Intersecting

Kaku (角): Square; Right Angle

Kakushi (隠し): Hiding; Concealing 

Oi (追い): Chasing

Hazushi (外し): To Remove; To Unfasten

Otoshi (落とし): Dropping

Maki (巻き): Winding; Twisting

Tori (取り): To Take

Mage (曲げ): To Incline; To Lean; To Bend

Saguri (探り): To Search; To Probe

Ura (裏): Behind; Hidden from View

Tate (縦): Vertical; North-to-South

Mawashi (回し): Turning

Tomoe (巴): Half Circle; Tadpole Shaped

Hangetsu (半月): Half Moon; Half Circle

Ippon (一本): One Point

Nihon (二本): Two Point

Nidan (二段): Two Levels

Sanbon (三本): Three Point

Bagua and Palgwe

From Matt Sheridan

-無極-
Chinese: Wuji
Japanese: Mukyoku
Korean: Mugeuk

The void. The great potential.

-陰陽-
Chinese: Yin Yang
Japanese: In Yo
Korean: Eum Yang

Opposing forces. Darkness vs Light. Passive vs Aggressive. Female vs Male.

-太極-
Chinese: Taiji/ Tai Chi
Japanese: Taikyoku
Korean: Taegeuk

Balance between the two opposing forces. The formation and maintenance of the universe.

-八卦-
Chinese: Pa Kua/ Bagua
Okinawan: Ba-gu
Japanese: Hakke
Korean: Palgwe

The Eight Trigrams are comprised of a grouping of the opposing forces of yin and yang.

☰ 1 乾 — Heaven 天
☱ 2 兌 — Lake 澤
☲ 3 離 — Fire 火
☳ 4 震 — Thunder 雷
☴ 5 巽 — Wind 風
☵ 6 坎 — Water 水
☶ 7 艮 — Mountain 山
☷ 8 坤 — Earth 地

Even here we have opposing concepts:
Heaven vs Earth (1 & 8.)
Lake vs Mountain (2 & 7)
Fire vs Water (3 & 6)
Thunder vs Wind (4 & 5)

The Palgwe can also represent the directions of a cosmic compass. The four cardinal directions plus the four ordinal directions.

Martial Arts Titles used in Japanese and Okinawan Martial Arts

Originally written around 2015 by Matt Sheridan

範士 hanshi. 範 (han) means model, example, or pattern. 士 (shi) means gentleman, scholar, or warrior. A hanshi is thus the model samurai or model warrior.

教士 kyoushi. 教 (kyou) means teacher so the kyoushi is the teacher of warriors, or the warrior that instructs.

練士 renshi. 練 (ren) means to polish or drill. Thus renshi is the warrior that drills, or the polished warrior.

教士 isn’t in most Japanese dictionaries but 教師 (kyoushi) will be. 教師 means professor and I have hypothesized that this is where calling a high ranking black belt a professor comes from.

範士 isn’t in most Japanese dictionaries, but 藩士 (hanshi) might be and is a retainer.

達士 tasshi was replaced with the kyoushi title and in some cases may still be used. 達 (ta) means expert so a tasshi is the expert warrior.

Doushi is another no longer used title. Not sure what the kanji was for it as I have been unable to locate it. It was a lower title than renshi. Perhaps it was 道士 which would be a warrior of the way. However, 道士 refers to a daoist priest. Perhaps it was 同士 meaning fellow or companion, which would say you are referring to one of your peers. Regardless, it is speculation about doushi until I find or am provided the proper kanji.

A note on shihah. 師範 (shihan). We have already seen both characters above. Shihan is thus the teaching model or teaching example.

Osu, Oss, and Ossu: That word doesn’t mean what you think it means!

Originally Written in 2018-ish by Matt Sheridan

There is a phrase that is commonly used in some mainland Japanese styles of karate and their offshoots that Okinawans strongly dislike. Thing is this is actually three phrases: Osu, Osu, and Ossu.

You may notice that there are some practitioners that seem to use Osu as a greeting. In Japanese there are pretty standard greeting used at particular times of the day: Ohayo Gozaimasu, Konnichiwa, Konbanwa, etc. The first use of Osu comes from a shortened greeting. In Japanese characters this Osu is written おす. The first character (お) is O, and the second character (す) is Su. This comes from Ohayo Gozaimasu. In Japanese characters Ohayo Gozaimasu is おはようございます. They’ve shortened it taking only the first character お and the last character す.

That doesn’t seem so bad, right? Why would the Okinawans dislike that? Simple, when greeting other martial artist we expect our students to be polite and respectful. I’m sure your sensei has mentioned this aspect of martial arts culture before. Generally the longer the greeting is in the Japanese language, the more polite it is. Ohayo Gozaimasu is very polite. Less formal would he Ohayo (おはよう), which is what you would use with close friends. Osu is essentially the equivalent of yelling, “Oi,” at someone in English. If you are a Punk Rocker talking to another Punk Rocker, that’s absolutely fine… but a martial arts student talking to another martial artist or instructor, especially in a formal setting like a class, seminar, testing, or tournament? Not really appropriate.

The second Osu is often used as words of encouragement. This comes from the Japanese verb, to push. Even in English when we are encouraging people we’ll sometime use the phrase, “push,” such as, “push it out,” “keeping pushing yourself,” maybe drop some sick beats and, “push it real good!” American humor aside, lets get back into linguistics. This Osu is written 押す, in Japanese. This is the standard dictionary form of the verb.

Again that doesn’t seem so bad, right? Why would Okinawans dislike this? The problem is, this is again a slang version of encouragement. You have probably heard two common Japanese phrases:「出る釘は打たれる」which is, “Deru Kugi wa Utareru,” or, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” 「頑張って」 which is, “Ganbatte,” or, “keep at it!” You see in the Japanese language there is already an acceptable phrase for encouragement. Making up a new one is being the nail that sticks up. In short your words of encouragement just became more about you and less about the person you are encouraging. Furthermore this phrase is also used as slang for something else which is not dojo appropriate, something we would consider “bar talk” rather than “polite talk,” and for that reason alone most polite karate-ka avoid Osu as words of encouragement, “to push.” As my old association president used to say, “No. Not good. No. Not right.”

You may be wondering, “now Matt… Matt, Matt, Matt, you completely skipped over OSS and OSSU!” That’s because I was saving the worst for last. Firstly let’s establish that OSS and OSSU are technically pronounced the same and are also written the same (both phonetically and officially) in Japanese. Phonetically OSS is おっす, while OSSU is おっす, and the kanji for both is 押忍.

There are a few verbal and written elements that need brushed on before proceeding to actually translating the term: Pauses and Devoiced Vowels. When we romanize the Japanese language, slight pauses are represented by double consonants. In this case SS, we also see this in the kata name Bassai. In Japanese they are represented with a Chiisai Tsu (小さいつ), or っ. Secondly the U in OSSU is Devoiced meaning you don’t pronounce it, which is funny because everyone yelling “OH-SOO” is technically saying the word incorrectly in the first place. To represent the correct pronunciation people started romanizing the word as OSS, which is also funny because OSS breaks acceptable romanization methods and is an incorrect English spelling. The proper romanization is Ossu and the proper pronunciation is more like O’s’. Fun, right?

On to translation! We have already seen the first kanji in 押忍. Again this is “push.” The second Kanji (忍) has many meanings. You may recognize it from terms like Ninja (忍者) or Shinobi (忍び), where it means “conceal, secret, spy, or sneak,” however in this case it is different. In Ossu, the second kanji (忍) means to, “endure, bear, or put up with.” Thus Ossu is, to push and endure. It can again be used as encouragement, “you should push and endure,” as well as confirmation, “I will push and endure.”

That doesn’t seem so bad, right? Why would Okinawans dislike this? This form of Ossu was introduced to karate via two main individuals who had very similar backgrounds and mindsets. The first was Masatoshi Nakayama of Shotokan, the first technical director of the JKA. The second was Masutatsu “Mas” Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate. Both men served in the Japanese Imperial Military around the time of WWII. Ossu is used in the military similar to how Americans will use, “Sir, yes sir!,” Hoorah,” and “Oorah!” Now, if you recall from history, WWII was the single most devastating event to happen to the Okinawan Island and people, and it was primarily due to the Japanese Imperial Military. Yelling OSSU or OSS in an Okinawan dojo, or Okinawan style, is a slap in the face to the hardships that many of the living instructors had to face in the rebuilding of their homeland following WWII. As well as the hardships they had to face in the 1970s when the US government handed the island back over to the Japanese government, something many Okinawans are still not happy about. Fun… right… oh yeah, the slang we talked with 押す, which isn’t dojo appropriate, also applies to 押忍.

Why I Joined the WMKA

Or was he…?

The World Matsubayashi Ryu Karate Dō Association is often attributed to Shoshin Nagamine. However, it was actually the brain child of, and started by, an American instructor living in New York, USA. There are some things about the association that are strange to me, such as how they deny the fact Kinsei Taba was once president and pretend that Yasuhara Makishi was instead.

However, I attribute this to the general Okinawa mindset that “agreed upon legends” are the “official history” of an art.

So, as a karate history buff and researcher, why would I knowingly join an association that wasn’t entirely forthcoming about their past?

LtoR: Jerry Figgiani, Takayoshi Nagamine, and Kinsei Taba. Photo stealthily borrowed from Jerry Figgiani Sensei.

Because I honestly don’t care about their past!

I care about the future! Karate’s future! My future! My future students! And my future student’s future!

Shocking! I know!

I joined my original association in 1995. Over the decades that followed I kept a close eye on changes. Eventually I was even made a record keeper and historian for the association under the request of its founder Han, Man-Hee. I watched as once upon a time we had an age requirement of 12 for 3rd Gup/ Kyu, but then later they promoted a 12 year old to 4th dan. I watched as our Instructors Course went from a 36 hour course to an 18 hour course. And the rank requirement for the course was done away with so yellow belts (9th and 8th Gup/ Kyu) could take the course and get certified to teach. I watched as Cat Stance was removed from the curriculum in favor of back stance. I watched as Green Belt Drills (7th and 6th Gup/ Kyu) became Master Level Drills. I watched a style, or rather System, or martial arts crumble and die, due to corruption and laziness.

I witnessed the worst-of-the-worst!

I don’t know…

And due to how things were structured, I was powerless to stop this!

That association was micromanaged down to the smallest degree.

Belts were pre-established and concrete.

Ranking system was pre-established and concrete.

Testing requirements were pre-established and concrete.

How to run testings was pre-established and concrete. You weren’t even allowed to add things to the test, such as: partner drills, form applications, fitness requirements, NOTHING!

What was to be taught at each rank was pre-established and concrete. And heaven forbid if you tried to teach something “earlier” than required!

How to run tournaments was pre-established and concrete.

How to run seminars was pre-established and concrete.

Certain schools would even try to place additional restrictions on other schools in an attempt to establish dominance!

So I left that association New Years Day of 2016 and joined the Shorinkan.

Needless to say, the shackles chaffed and I walked away for good!

However, after Richard Poage Sensei and Jeff Alred Sensei passed away, I was in the process of Shopping Around for a new association to join. I could have started my own! I had helped start several other associations, so starting my own would have been a cake walk.

Problem is, I have no interest in being my own Top Dog. I hate Top Dogs! Always barking!

Yip! Yip! Yip!

So I had two criteria: No micromanagement below Shodan (1st dan) and high standards above Shodan!

This may surprise you, but most global associations DO NOT CARE what you teach below Shodan. Even the Shorinkan has no requirements for instructors, prior to Shodan! But as I had left the Shorinkan, that wasn’t going to be a viable option for me.

So up to this point, I had trained to “Black Belt Level” in Taekwondo, Judo, Hapkido, Shobayashi Ryu, and Kobayashi Ryu. And for a wide variety of reasons I always left! Be it because my instructor jumped ship, my instructor died, or… no that’s it! Just two reasons…

So I called up Michael Mullett, my current instructor, and I began asking questions.

Turns out the WMKA was an association that maintained high standards above Shodan and didn’t care what instructors did before Shodan.

Be still my heart!

So I became Michael’s student, with the intentions of eventually opening a registered WMKA dojo.

My Shorin Ryu sensei. One retired, two died, and the fourth loves my crazy antics.

I get to choose what belts I use, how many kyu I use, what order I teach concepts and kata. I get to choose how to handle promotions, testings, testing requirements, etc. So long as, by Shodan, my future students meet the minimum requirements (12 Empty Handed kata and 7 Yakusoku Kumite). And lets face it, the fact one WMKA dojo has little to no sway over another, is just icing on the cake!

Perfection!

If I could get rid of Kyu completely, without it biting my future students in the back, I would!

Karate-Obi Preview

For some odd reason I’m the guy many people thinks is obsessed with belts, due to my research on the history of the belt system.

However, I haven’t actually owned very many belts, nor have I owned many belts from varying companies. All my original colored belts, and my original black belt, were made by ProForce.

My opinion on ProForce belts is that they are a really decent quality for a very affordable price. For example, that is what my ProForce black belt looked like after 15 years of wear and tear.

Besides those I’ve had a Fuji white belt which came with my Judogi, as well as a Ronin Brand green belt, which I also use for Judo.

To be honest the Ronin Brand (the most expensive colored belt I’ve owned) is my least favorite. It is thinner, harder, and the fabric twisted making it hang oddly. Granted I think the twist is just a fluke. However that’s not what this review is about.

Today lets talk “custom” black belts. As I said I don’t own very many, and my original black belt was just a standard ProForce belt. Back when I got it it cost around $5. But these bad boys? Closer to $100!

So what do you get for $100?

For starters, most martial arts belts are mass produced in Pakistan and shipped worldwide. However, most custom belts are made in countries with higher work standards, maintaining more ethical work conditions.

They offer one sided embroidery. This of course is primarily an aesthetic preference, but the only way to do one sided embroidery is to embroider the belt before it gets stitched together. Otherwise the embroidery will show up backwards on the back of the belt.

The back side of the Satori and Tōkaido obi.

That being said, I once knew an individual who got a tattoo by taking his belt to a tattoo artist and requesting the kanji on his belt to be tattooed on his chest. The practitioner didn’t actually know which side was the “front” of his belt, nor did the tattoo artist, so he ended up getting the symbols tattooed backwards on his chest. I never had the heart to tell the guy, and eventually he left martial arts. As they say ignorance is bliss. I’m sure that tattoo still means a lot to him.

For those unfamiliar with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writing systems, this is a common mistake.

They generally use a more durable core. Many cheaply made belts use loose cotton or polyester batting (similar to the inside of a quilt), or even just a strip of foam! However the core on more expensive belts are usually a weaved together cloth belt, similar to belts used by the military.

There are more rows of stitching along the length of the obi.

Some will say that the more rows of stitching there is the longer the outside sheath will last. There is this belief that karate belts fray from the outer edge towards the center. While there is a grain of truth to this, for those of use who utilize throws and ground fighting, we’ve not had the same experience, as the whole width of the belt is rubbing against the ground and your opponent.

Satori: 14 rows
Tōkaido: 11 rows.
Fuji and ProForce Lightning: 9 rows.
ProForce and Ronin Brand: 8 rows.
The most frayed part of my original ProForce belt after 15 years of use.

Finally, with custom made belts you often get a wider variety of widths, thicknesses (weight), exact lengths vs numbered sizes, etc. The Satori obi my sensei ordered for me is a standard width. However, my Tōkaido was ordered with additional width. This makes it so that the knot is slightly larger when tied, and takes a bit of additional time to break in. The wider Tōkaido is also a bit softer, but as I’ve never owned a standard width Tōkaido belt, I can’t say if their standard width is just as hard as the Satori obi.

However, having been training for around 25 years I can say this, many cheap, mass produced belts will last just as long as an expensive belt. Regardless of the price the outer sheath will fade and fray. The inner core will also eventually become frayed as well. (Tōkaido especially is known for the fact the core becomes very stringy after the outer sheath rubs away.)

An example of a Tōkaido belt that has long lengths of sting from the core fraying.

I’ve talked about this before, but for those who love the frayed look expensive Satin and Silk belts fray faster than Cotton and PolyCotton blends. For those that don’t care about single sided embroidery (or embroidery at all), plain belts are often 1/2 to 2/3 the price of an embroidered belt from the same company.

Manufacturers may not like me saying this, but when it comes to a belt just made for training, often that $5 to $10 belt will do the job just as well as that $100 belt.

Gatekeeping in Martial Arts

Originally written in 2016 when I was the admin on the Ryukyu Martial Arts (Research and Discussion) group page as well as the Okinawan, Japanese, and Korean Karate (History, Research, and Discussion) group page on FaceBook.

gate·keep·ing
/ˈɡātˌkēpiNG/
noun

  1. 1. the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.

gate·keep·er
/ˈɡātˌkēpər/
noun

  1. an attendant at a gate who is employed to control who goes through it.
    • a person or thing that controls access to something.

gate·crash
/ˈɡātˌkraSH/
verb
gerund or present participle: gate-crashing

  1. enter (a party or other gathering) without an invitation or ticket.

In the martial arts, people often boast, quite pridefully, that you can find people from all walks of life. We try to give a general sense of inclusiveness for the public to see. Many noted martial arts authors have gone into great depth on why what they teach is great for women as well as men, children as well as adults. So much so that the common view is often, “Karate? That’s just for kids though, right?” But that’s a topic for another day. Today I want to address how even though we advertise about the inclusiveness of martial arts, we actually do quite a bit of gatekeeping some of which is even done purposefully.

This starts the moment a potential new student walks through the door. How quickly are they greeted? What kinds of questions are they asked? Does the instructor interview (formally or informally) the potential student? How much do they charge for tuition? Testings? How much paperwork is there to fill out? Etc. All of these are gatekeeping measures.

Instructors often want to know the potential students measure of patience. Will they sit through a class or wait till break before they are addressed? Often judge how the student talks will be noted early on. Are they a casual cusser? Do they use polite speech already? What’s their confidence level? Do they keep good eye contact? Etc. Noting these things lets the instructor know how much work he has cut out for themselves, if this potential student will mesh well with the group of current students, and if the student should be turned away.

Instructors often ask if the potential student has previous training. If so: How long did they train? How long ago was that? What belt/ rank did they make it to? What style was it? Who was their instructor? The list of potential questions go on. Again this is partially to see how the potential student will mesh with the current student base, as well as to see what the potential student may already know and if they should be put into a white belt or something else.

Tuition… oh tuition… such a touchy subject for some people. Should we charge? What should we charge? How much is too much? Should we give discounts for certain things, such as government workers, families, etc? Is your school a co-op where tuition is based on the number of current students?Most of these are questions I have absolutely no desire to discuss at the moment, as this is a write up about gatekeeping. Despite some instructors intention tuition is one of the only “on pager” gatekeeping systems in place. The long and short of this being those of a low Socioeconomic background simply can’t afford this type of hobby/ lifestyle. If they can afford lessons, sometimes they can’t afford gear. …or promotion. …or certification. …or seminars. …or tournaments. …or travel. You get the point. Are there workarounds to all of these? Absolutely, but they will not be addressed in this write up.

So, you waited to talk with the instructor, you satisfactorily completed the interview (formal or informal), you filled out all necessary paperwork, and your check cleared the bank, congratulations, you are now a student. So that’s where the gatekeeping stops, right? Nope! That was just the beginning.

Throughout the rest of your martial arts journey you will continue to be monitored by gatekeepers. They may be your fellow students, parents of other students, assistant instructors, instructors, associational administrators, social media administrators (such as myself), ect. Recently a friend of mine was removed and blocked from a page and that inspired this write up. For the most part he hasn’t had to deal with a lot of martial arts politics (or he doesn’t lead on that he has), but while we’re brainstorming on why he may have been blocked I figured I would address this more fully.

On the page I manage (and act as gatekeeper on) I have systems in place to ensure gatekeeping while I also have systems in place to mitigate “bad” gatekeeping. For example, when someone requests to join the page, or they are invited by another member, they are given a one week period to answer two screening questions. With this system in place, over 50% of requests are denied. This is relatively similar to what happens when someone is looking to join a dojo, dojang, school, gym, etc, except of course that we have a higher turn away due to fake accounts, inactive accounts, bots, hackers, language barriers, etc.

How do we mitigate “bad” gatekeeping on said page? We have a policy where admins and moderators do not handle page business privately. In most schools (martial arts or otherwise) students are often encouraged to privately seek help from someone of authority, if they are having an issue. That could be talking to the instructor after class, discussing the issue with the parent, seeing if any other students have experienced this same issue, etc. While this is somewhat of a decent tactic, most martial artist and martial arts instructors have ZERO training in social conflict resolution and mediating, thus it often devolves into gossip, manipulation, unfair actions, etc. We call this “backdoor dealing” in martial arts, and it is something that should be mitigated and nipped in the bud.

Foo Dogs or Shisha are often used as Gatekeepers.

So why spend so much time discussing these sorts of negative gatekeeping? Because it happens. Coming up through the ranks I alwayso wondered why certain people “quit.” Then later I was asked by the president of my association to become a record keeper and historian for the association. Being somewhat thorough I interviewed many of the “quitters” and I found most of them shared a common denominator, they all had negative interactions with the same individual.

This individual viewed himself as a gatekeeper, and despite not having any authority over those that left he would often do everything in his power to make people he didn’t like miserable. Those who are not happy or who feel unappreciated often leave in order to find greener pastures. So by using social connections and back door dealings, this person would drive people to the point they no longer cared about the association, then after they cut their losses and left he would label them a “quitter.” This is a bully tactic by the way, which is why it is considered “bad” gatekeeping.

Anyways, I have rambled on quite long enough. I honestly view gatekeeping as something that is important and should be taken seriously. And obviously it goes without saying, that I could have been much more brief and much more detailed about this topic.

Kata of Funakoshi Gichin & Early Shotokan

I originally published this list back in 2013…

Which kata were actually taught by Funakoshi or in the Shotokan dojo? Lets check our handy dandy BOOKS THAT FUNAKOSHI WROTE!!!

Karate Jutsu (~1925): 15 Kata
-Pinan 1-5
-Naihanchi 1-3
-Koshokun
-Passai
-Seishan
-Wanshu
-Jutte
-Chinto
-Jion
(Kata mentioned but not taught: Goju shi ho, Chinte, Jiin, Wandan, Rohai, Jiyunmu, Wandoo, Sochin, Niseishi, Sansei Ryu, Supaunpei, Wankwan, Cokan, Unsu, and Sanshin.)

Karate-Dō: Kyohan (1935 & 1958*): 15 & 19*
-Taikyouku 1-3*
-Heian 1-5 (Pinan)
-Tekki 1-3 (Naihanchi)
-Bassai (Passai)
-Kanku (Koshokun)
-Enpi (Wanshu)
-Gankaku (Chinto)
-Jutte
-Hangetsu (Seishan)
-Jion
-Ten no Kata*
(“Names in use in the past include Pinan, Seishan, Naifanchi, Wanshu, Chinto, and the like…” -Gichin Funakoshi*)

Karate-Dō: Nyumon (1943): 27 Kata**
-Ten no Kata
-Chi no Kata (Gekisai Dai Ichi/ Fukyugata Ni)
-Hito no Kata
-Heian 1-5 (Pinan)
-Tekki 1-3 (Naifanchi)
-Bassai Dai (Passai)
-Bassai Sho
-Kanku Dai (Koshokun)
-Kanku Sho
-Enpi (Wanshu)
-Gankaku (Chinto)
-Jutte
-Hangetsu (Seishan)
-Jion
-Meikyo (Rohai)
-Hakko (Sochin)
-Kiun
-Shōtō (Unsu or Tomari Chinto)
-Shōin
-Hotaku (Gojushiho)
-Shokyō

*Appeared in the 1958 edition but not the original 1935 edition.
**Were documented as, “kata currently being explored at the Shotokan dojo,” according to Funakoshi at the time the book was published.

You Should Never Have to tell Your own Abuse Story!

I just wanted to take the time to thank my friends who have shared my story. So far only a small handful (three people) have been kind and brave enough to do so.

Last June I was diagnosed with Suicidal Depression and Complex PTSD, after being harassed by martial artist for years. Unfortunately 100% of this harassment came via online interactions. Instead of me telling you my story (which I already have) here’s a Blog written by my friend Noah Legel last year. Noah writes…

Noah in front of the scroll I had commissioned for Richard Poage, Renshi 5th dan, when he was in the hospital.

Lately, I have been getting a lot of messages, and seeing a lot of posts, which are related to Matt Sheridan. People know that I know him, and have for quite some time, so they come to me to find out what the deal is. With that in mind, I’d like to clear some things up, and hopefully put matters to rest. This will be a long one, and I know it doesn’t apply to everyone who has had encounters with Matt, but I’m going to cover a broad spectrum.

First, I know that Matt infuriates a lot of people. He says a lot of controversial things, sometimes about people you might hold in high regard, and he often does so in a way that comes off rude and disrespectful. I know that he can get defensive quickly in conversations, and that can seem rude and disrespectful, too, although that seems from his past experiences. I get it. I’ve talked to him about it, and I’m sure it’s coming up in therapy, as well.

As upsetting as it may be, what he says is true, to the best of HIS knowledge. Key words, there, being “HIS knowledge.” Right or wrong, it’s based on the evidence he has seen, just like the rest of us. Nobody knows everything, and people can definitely have just part of the story, rather than the whole of it. If you know different, great. If you have materials to share that show a different side of the story, great. That’s not what I have seen happen, a lot of the time, though–people like to jump down his throat, instead.

Second, and building on that, is the fact that the people he upsets seem intent on continuing to rant and argue with him after the conversation should be over. This has gone to the point of people seeking out his posts on social media just to cause dissent, creating multiple social media accounts specifically to get around being blocked so they can keep pestering him. He’s still a human being, and he hasn’t hurt anybody, so that’s really unnecessary. Yes, it might be beneficial for him to work on his delivery, but it doesn’t make harassment an acceptable response.

Matt has mental health struggles, which many martial artists claim to be supportive of, and has developed PTSD symptoms because of martial artists cyber-stalking him. While he is getting help, I don’t think disagreements on the internet need to devolve into threats, wishing death on someone, and finding every avenue to comment and message him about how terrible you think he is. Therapy and medications only go so far. If you don’t like him, that’s fine–ignore him, or block him, and move on. I have recommended to him to do the same. When people feel the need to keep making new accounts to pester him, that doesn’t work so well.

Third, I have seen people call him a fraud when he points out things they don’t like, or accuse him of hiding his background. I think this partially stems from the fact that he doesn’t have a website or official resume posted online, so while he hasn’t hidden his background, there is also no single source for people to readily check against, making it easy to assume that he is hiding things. For that reason, I will address what I know of his experience, and have seen documentation of or been directly involved in, so people can stop asking.

As far as I am aware, Matt has not said anything fraudulent about himself, his experience, or his training. He was legitimately graded to 4th Dan in a Korean style called Youn Wha Ryu–you don’t have to like the style, but that’s the last grade he tested for and earned in it–and as I recall they tried to promote him to 5th Dan, but he refused it. He was the historian for the Youn Wha Ryu organization he was a part of, and was quite well-versed in the curriculum. He left the organization after they informed him that they were going to use him as a scapegoat, and blackmail him, if I recall correctly.

He has also trained off-and-on in a few different styles of karate. This includes training with us, under my Sensei, for approximately 2 years. When he joined the dojo, he asked to start at white belt, but my Sensei tended to honor advanced belts earned in other systems, and just explain to other students that the belt was from a different style, and test the person for an equivalent belt in Shorin-Ryu when they were finally ready. You could consider this an “honorary black belt,” although my Sensei didn’t give out certificates for such things, as I have seen some do. This meant that Matt was allowed to attend advanced rank classes, train in the full curriculum, and even join testing panels from time to time. He did live about an hour away, so he was typically only at the dojo once or twice a week, but he did indeed train there regularly enough that my Sensei would ask about him if he missed a week.

I know some like to point out that his kata/kihon don’t look right, or good enough for his experience and rank, but he has a learning disability, and has had to frequently change karate schools thanks to instructors moving, retiring, passing away, etc., so of course he will still look like a Korean stylist who is new to karate, because he has had to keep starting over and changing styles. Most people would. He also frequently points out that he believes his skill level to be “mediocre,” so he isn’t claiming otherwise.

Physical skills aside, Matt has studied karate history, having started with its connections to Korean martial arts, for a long time as part of his role in his old organization, and as a personal interest, and has also taken on the study of the Japanese language to aid in that. Some of his research has been published in a magazine or two, and cited in at least one book published by another author. He is technically more published than I am, if you’re going by traditional publishing standards. Even so, he’s a little fish in a big pond, and he has said as much.

I am not trying to say that everyone needs to love and forgive Matt, but how about let’s not try and drive someone to suicide for being rude and saying things we don’t like? He had himself committed for treatment, today. Take the high road, like we say martial artists should, and everybody can have some peace.

I will not be taking comments on this post.

-Noah Legel

Noah and I on my last day living in Arizona.

Thank you, Noah. Having great friends like these, is quite literally the only reason I’m still alive today.

Osu, Oss, and Ossu: That word doesn’t mean what you think it means!

Originally Written in 2018-ish by Matt Sheridan

There is a phrase that is commonly used in some mainland Japanese styles of karate and their offshoots that Okinawans strongly dislike. Thing is this is actually three phrases: Osu, Osu, and Ossu.

You may notice that there are some practitioners that seem to use Osu as a greeting. In Japanese there are pretty standard greeting used at particular times of the day: Ohayo Gozaimasu, Konnichiwa, Konbanwa, etc. The first use of Osu comes from a shortened greeting. In Japanese characters this Osu is written おす. The first character (お) is O, and the second character (す) is Su. This comes from Ohayo Gozaimasu. In Japanese characters Ohayo Gozaimasu is おはようございます. They’ve shortened it taking only the first character お and the last character す.

That doesn’t seem so bad, right? Why would the Okinawans dislike that? Simple, when greeting other martial artist we expect our students to be polite and respectful. I’m sure your sensei has mentioned this aspect of martial arts culture before. Generally the longer the greeting is in the Japanese language, the more polite it is. Ohayo Gozaimasu is very polite. Less formal would he Ohayo (おはよう), which is what you would use with close friends. Osu is essentially the equivalent of yelling, “Oi,” at someone in English. If you are a Punk Rocker talking to another Punk Rocker, that’s absolutely fine… but a martial arts student talking to another martial artist or instructor, especially in a formal setting like a class, seminar, testing, or tournament? Not really appropriate.

The second Osu is often used as words of encouragement. This comes from the Japanese verb, to push. Even in English when we are encouraging people we’ll sometime use the phrase, “push,” such as, “push it out,” “keeping pushing yourself,” maybe drop some sick beats and, “push it real good!” American humor aside, lets get back into linguistics. This Osu is written 押す, in Japanese. This is the standard dictionary form of the verb.

Again that doesn’t seem so bad, right? Why would Okinawans dislike this? The problem is, this is again a slang version of encouragement. You have probably heard two common Japanese phrases:「出る釘は打たれる」which is, “Deru Kugi wa Utareru,” or, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” 「頑張って」 which is, “Ganbatte,” or, “keep at it!” You see in the Japanese language there is already an acceptable phrase for encouragement. Making up a new one is being the nail that sticks up. In short your words of encouragement just became more about you and less about the person you are encouraging. Furthermore this phrase is also used as slang for something else which is not dojo appropriate, something we would consider “bar talk” rather than “polite talk,” and for that reason alone most polite karate-ka avoid Osu as words of encouragement, “to push.” As my old association president used to say, “No. Not good. No. Not right.”

You may be wondering, “now Matt… Matt, Matt, Matt, you completely skipped over OSS and OSSU!” That’s because I was saving the worst for last. Firstly let’s establish that OSS and OSSU are technically pronounced the same and are also written the same (both phonetically and officially) in Japanese. Phonetically OSS is おっす, while OSSU is おっす, and the kanji for both is 押忍.

There are a few verbal and written elements that need brushed on before proceeding to actually translating the term: Pauses and Devoiced Vowels. When we romanize the Japanese language, slight pauses are represented by double consonants. In this case SS, we also see this in the kata name Bassai. In Japanese they are represented with a Chiisai Tsu (小さいつ), or っ. Secondly the U in OSSU is Devoiced meaning you don’t pronounce it, which is funny because everyone yelling “OH-SOO” is technically saying the word incorrectly in the first place. To represent the correct pronunciation people started romanizing the word as OSS, which is also funny because OSS breaks acceptable romanization methods and is an incorrect English spelling. The proper romanization is Ossu and the proper pronunciation is more like O’s’. Fun, right?

On to translation! We have already seen the first kanji in 押忍. Again this is “push.” The second Kanji (忍) has many meanings. You may recognize it from terms like Ninja (忍者) or Shinobi (忍び), where it means “conceal, secret, spy, or sneak,” however in this case it is different. In Ossu, the second kanji (忍) means to, “endure, bear, or put up with.” Thus Ossu is, to push and endure. It can again be used as encouragement, “you should push and endure,” as well as confirmation, “I will push and endure.”

That doesn’t seem so bad, right? Why would Okinawans dislike this? This form of Ossu was introduced to karate via two main individuals who had very similar backgrounds and mindsets. The first was Masatoshi Nakayama of Shotokan, the first technical director of the JKA. The second was Masutatsu “Mas” Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate. Both men served in the Japanese Imperial Military around the time of WWII. Ossu is used in the military similar to how Americans will use, “Sir, yes sir!,” Hoorah,” and “Oorah!” Now, if you recall from history, WWII was the single most devastating event to happen to the Okinawan Island and people, and it was primarily due to the Japanese Imperial Military. Yelling OSSU or OSS in an Okinawan dojo, or Okinawan style, is a slap in the face to the hardships that many of the living instructors had to face in the rebuilding of their homeland following WWII. As well as the hardships they had to face in the 1970s when the US government handed the island back over to the Japanese government, something many Okinawans are still not happy about. Fun… right… oh yeah, the slang we talked with 押す, which isn’t dojo appropriate, also applies to 押忍.