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Michael Rust
Michael Rust's picture
Pinan History

I'm looking for clarification on the alterations Anko Itosu made to the Pinans when he introduced them to the school system. 

Did Itosu just disguise the intended applications of the pinan kata from the children or did he also alter the movments of the kata ?

If he altered the movements of the kata do we know to what extent ?  If the moves were completely changed then I would have to assume it would seriously affect our interpretation of the bunkai possibly making it less brutal ?

ky0han's picture

Hi Michael,

I don't think that Itosu changed anything for the children in school.

The changes he made were according to his understanding of things and he tought them to his adult students as well. It is alway said that there were more open hand techniques back then and they were changed into techniques with a fist and stuff like that. But that was not only Itosu. That changes were made because the okinawans thought that a blow with a fist is more powerful than with an open hand.

What he didn't teach the school children is what those movements were for. The purpose of training those children was for them to build proper bodys and a proper mindset as future soldiers for the imperial army. They were not meant to be fighters, so they didn't learn fighting. Itosu together with Yabu and Hanashiro introduced the military training form we know today, lining up, doing things at commands (gorei) and so on.

Thats my take on this.

Regards Holger

Jr cook
Jr cook's picture

I believe that the applications are still apparent in the Pinan series. Quite a few of the sequences of movements in the Pinans can be seen as taken directly from other kata such as Kushanku. Once you can identify one such sequence you can find that there are solid applications for the movements, no matter which kata it is pulled from. In some cases, and this may vary slightly by styles, the sequences seem more simplified for the pinan katas. Not simple in terms of being less effective but, more simple to learn as a student. It is my opinion that the structure of the Pinans is the part that may have been simplified. The "teeth" are still evident in the forms but, the individual Pinan katas are created to be more user friendly for newer students. I would even consider that if you were to practice in depth the katas of Chinto, Ananku, Kushanku and arguably 1-2 others, you would have all the Pinan applications in your arsenal without knowing the series of Pinan kata.