14 posts / 0 new
Last post
Tez
Tez's picture
A kata designed specifically for women?

I've been reading that there is a kata that was specifically designed for women's self defence, called Aoyagi it comes from Shito Ryu. Does anyone have any info or details about this kata at all?

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I find this very interesting, but know very little about it. Hopefully one of our Shito-Ryu members can give more details and correct any misunderstandings?

I believe that the kata Aoyagi also goes by the name of Seiryu. In Tommy Morris’s 1982 book “Shukokai Karate Kata” (Shukokai having its roots in Shito-Ryu) when introducing Seiryu kata he states the following:

"Seiryu is an unusual kata, in that it has a slightly different variation for lady practitioners. The first three shiko-dachi stances and arm movements are omitted, and instead she steps forward into zenkutsu-dachi and performs an elbow strike with the palms of the hands facing each other. When the kata is performed by a man, there are a number of techniques performed with dynamic tension and deep breathing …."

In a discussion on this in the old forum (found HERE) this webpage was put forward as giving some background to the kata:

http://www.jkr.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48:seiryu-the-story-behind-the-kata&catid=34:history&Itemid=53

As to how actuate any of this is, I have no idea. The kata is demonstrated on the above page though and is also embedded below.

 The kata under the name Aoyagi is also demonstrated below

As to what the bunkai is that the female version different, I have no idea. I’d be fascinated if people who know more about this kata could provide further information though?

All the best,

Iain

Gavin J Poffley
Gavin J Poffley's picture

Can't say I know much about the kata in question but I can confirm that the names "aoyagi" and "seiryu" are in fact different ways of reading the same Chinese characters "??", which regardless of the reading have the meaning of "blue willow". I would also expect it to be able to be read as "aoyanagi" as well.

It did strike me as having a passing resemblance to a modernised version of the gojuryu kata "seiyunchin" though, sepecially the first line.

Gavin J Poffley
Gavin J Poffley's picture

Seems the new website does not like Japanese text encoding... not sure how to fix that!

Chris Palfrey
Chris Palfrey's picture

I actually learned aoyagi for the first time 2 weeks ago, and was told by my instructor that seiryu was subtly different - the initial 3 moves are in shiko dachi as opposed to zenkutsu dachi, and the teisho-ukes are in nekoashi dachi as opposed to moto dachi. I have however found no evidence of this anywhere else.

dsgintx
dsgintx's picture

I found this kata, first seeing the seiryu form, on the web maybe 6 months ago?  I was surfing youtube and found it there.  The history that I found (in maybe an hour or so of further digging) was that it was created by Yasuhiro Konishi and Kenwa Mabuni with guidance from Morihei Ueshiba.  Since I am now studying Aikido as a second art, I was very intrigued.  The kata was apparently created in the 1930s specifically for teaching women self defense techniques.  In Ryobu Kai, they apparently do the kata as Seiryu.  Others do a slightly different version as Aoyagi.  It's not a terribly long kata, maybe comparable in length to one of the pinans.  It has some movements that are different from what you see in the more commonly practiced kata ("mainstream"?) and in my maybe 2 hours of noodling the bunkai, I have to say I'm seeing applications that would work better for a smaller person against a larger one.  For example, the age uke works well as a strike at the head/neck but as I can testify, it works much better when you are shorter than your uke (I'm 6'1" so I definitely notice that).  There is also more retreating footwork than we are used to seeing in mainstream kata.  I know the kaisai genri suggest retreating footwork suggest a defensive technique, but I think in Aikido, we would say that retreating footwork (e.g. tenchin) suggest being behind in timing, which is a subtle but important distinction in my view.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=26&v=e_lLkt3tHMo​ 

In the comments in youtube, there is an assertion made that Mabuni created the kata first made by a commenter, calling it Aoyagi.  May all energy devoted to finding the answer to who was first find more productive purpose.  I honestly don't care who did it first, I just want to learn how to make it work.

Tau
Tau's picture

Anyone remember the web site 24fightingchickens? In its day it was a great resource although I now realise full of (unintentional) misinformation. Any of the Karate clichés you ever want are there. I wish it were still up, just for nostalgia and amusement. The chap that created it clearly invested a LOT of time and effort into it. I digress but one of the theories put over on the web site is that Chinte is a kata for women. The three backwards hops at the end demonstrate subservience to the family patriarch.

Patrick
Patrick's picture

I have a book written by Kenwa Mabunis son ( couldnt remember how to spell his name ) where he mentions that his father created a kata, maybe two I dont remember, designed for women. I'll look it up later tonight. All I really remember was that he said the kata were very short and hadn't gained popularity due to lack of flashy moves and such since they were supposed to be purely self defense oriented. I think he also said they addressed attacks from men towards women, I believe he used a bear hug from behind as example. It was a short paragraph, I will try to post it with citation later

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Partrick,

Patrick wrote:
I have a book written by Kenwa Mabuni’s son ( couldnt remember how to spell his name ) where he mentions that his father created a kata, maybe two I dont remember, designed for women. I'll look it up later tonight.

It would be good to have the quote as part of the thread. I suspect it will be in reference to the Shito-Ryu kata Aoyagi / Seiryu. In Tommy Morris’s 1982 book “Shukokai Karate Kata” (Shukokai having its roots in Shito-Ryu) when introducing Seiryu kata he states:

"Seiryu is an unusual kata, in that it has a slightly different variation for lady practitioners. The first three shiko-dachi stances and arm movements are omitted, and instead she steps forward into zenkutsu-dachi and performs an elbow strike with the palms of the hands facing each other. When the kata is performed by a man, there are a number of techniques performed with dynamic tension and deep breathing …."

It would be good to have that confirmed by a second source.

All the best,

Iain

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
I digress but one of the theories put over on the web site is that Chinte is a kata for women. The three backwards hops at the end demonstrate subservience to the family patriarch.

That strikes me as one hell of a stretch. Indeed, I’m more inclined to favour the “hopping over your dead foes” or “escaping with your hands and feet tied up” explanations :-)

I think we can be pretty sure that Shotokan’s Chinte has the hops at the end simply to fulfil the dictate of that style that kata must start and end at the same place (the “Kiten”). If we look at the Shito-Ryu version, for example, there are no hops.

That does not mean we can’t do cool things with those hops (see below), but I think we can be confident the hops were not there originally. Furthermore, even if the hops were there from the off, to extrapolate them into a demonstration of female subservience is highly suspect in itself. I think we can safely bin that idea.

All the best,

Iain

Shito-Ryu Chinte (no hops)

 

Shotokan Chinte (with hops)

 

Bunkai for Hops

Tau
Tau's picture

Tau wrote:
one of the theories put over... is that Chinte is a kata for women. The three backwards hops at the end demonstrate subservience to the family patriarch.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
That strikes me as one hell of a stretch. Indeed, I’m more inclined to favour the “hopping over your dead foes” or “escaping with your hands and feet tied up” explanations :-)

...even if the hops were there from the off, to extrapolate them into a demonstration of female subservience is highly suspect in itself. I think we can safely bin that idea.

I agree, but I think it's good to raise these theories just to bring them into the open and dismiss them.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to go and practice my hiding-from-Ninja bunkai!

Patrick
Patrick's picture

Sorry this took so long! Excerpt from Kenei Mabunis book " Empty Hand the Essence of Budo Karate " p16

Karate has changed more and more into a competition sport. This is one of the reasons why the number of women practising karate mainly for self defense has recently considerably decreased. But besides healthcare, self defense was the original aim and is still a very important asppect of karate. When my father taught at the Meijo Girls College, he invented two special self defense kata for girls. One was called Meijo kata according to the name of the school and meaning " bright star ". The other was called Aoyagi meaning " green willow " referring to elegance and gentleness. These kata were made for real combat. They contain techniques against typical attacks towards women like embracing from the front or from behind, and punches that use the energy of the attacker. But these real combat kata are very short and not appropriate for competition and therefore unfortunately not very popular in our days. "

This is all he had to say about these kata in his book. There is some good historical info in there, and his take on things, and the what he said his father believed is pretty interesting overall. I found one statement of particular interest to me. He said the reason some blocking movements start from around the hip was simply because the formal standing position back in the day was with the thumbs hooked into the front of the belt/clothing, so this would be the natural starting position of the hands. Makes sense to me, as I often find myself standing with my thumbs hooked into the pockets of my modern day blue jeans without thinking about it.

Tau
Tau's picture

Patrick wrote:
the reason some blocking movements start from around the hip was simply because the formal standing position back in the day was with the thumbs hooked into the front of the belt/clothing, so this would be the natural starting position of the hands. Makes sense to me, as I often find myself standing with my thumbs hooked into the pockets of my modern day blue jeans without thinking about it.

Interestingly, this is what I was taught the movements in Pinan Sandan (three steps with hands at hips) were for! (Way back when, when I was naive.)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Patrick wrote:
The other was called  meaning " green willow " referring to elegance and gentleness. These kata were made for real combat. They contain techniques against typical attacks towards women like embracing from the front or from behind, and punches that use the energy of the attacker. But these real combat kata are very short and not appropriate for competition and therefore unfortunately not very popular in our days.

Thanks for sharing that Patrick!

So that’s two good literary sources of Aoyagi being a kata for females (or at least there is a female variation of it). It would be fun to apply the “bunkai lens” to it and see if we can see what is going on there. Something to add to the “to do” list :-)

All the best,

Iain