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Zach_MB
Zach_MB's picture
Wankan Kata

Looking to crowd source some information here on Wankan, Matsukaze kata. From what I understand it is a very old kata with Tomarite roots and today seems to largely belong to Shito-ryu. The first thing that I noticed is that shotokan does a much different version than everyone else. I know that the two versions must have a branching off point somewhere in time since there is one common sequence near the end of each one. Do we know if this was a Funakoshi edit? If so, why did he make such major changes? First impressions tell me that the Shotokan version is much less complex and almost lends itself to a lower level kata (not a negitive thing in the least). It could be that I'm not looking close enough and there are some themeatic overlays between the two versions that I'm missing. But overall they seem like very different kata.

Thoughts?

Reference Videos:

Shito-ryu:

Shotokan (can't go wrong with shotokankataman)

Tau
Tau's picture

The Shito Ryu version presented here is the Matsukaze that I learned in something like 1995 or 1996. My Sensei was of Shukukai lineage.

I don't know if Lee Taylor frequents this forum much. I personally don't know the Kata or enough about it to have an oppinion of my own but I have discussed it with him so I'll give his view unless he'd like to wade in. In Kris Wilder's book Way of Kata there is a section on Japanese terminology. It relates "Matsukaze" to "head." I'm in work at the moment so can't get the book from the shelf to quote directly. Lee's view is that this translation tells you all about the kata Bunkai. His view is that this translation essentially gives you the Bunkai.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
In Kris Wilder's book Way of Kata there is a section on Japanese terminology. It relates "Matsukaze" to "head."

I’m not that familiar with either version of the kata, but my understanding is that “Matsukaze” (松風) translates as “Pine” (松) “Wind” (風). “Wankan” (王冠) means “Kings” (王)“Crown”(冠).

Zach_MB wrote:
The first thing that I noticed is that shotokan does a much different version than everyone else. I know that the two versions must have a branching off point somewhere in time since there is one common sequence near the end of each one. Do we know if this was a Funakoshi edit? If so, why did he make such major changes? First impressions tell me that the Shotokan version is much less complex and almost lends itself to a lower level kata (not a negative thing in the least). It could be that I'm not looking close enough and there are some thematic overlays between the two versions that I'm missing. But overall they seem like very different kata.

It is intresting to look at the other versions of Wankan. As you can see here, the Shorin-ryu Wankan is much more similar to Shito-Ryu’s Matsukaze

As is the Matsubayashi Ryu Wankan

For these versions, Matsukaze and Wankan would indeed seem to be alternate names for the same form. However, as Zach notes, the Shotokan version is very different.

I’ve not looked into this, but my initial thoughts would be that Shotokan’s Wankan and the Wankan / Matsukaze of other styles are not the same form and have a differing linage (sharing a common name), or the Wankan of Shotokan has been radically restructured such that it is essentially a different form, or that name Wankan has been applied within Shotokan to an entirely different kata (which may or may not have had a “pre-Shotokan” existence).

The bottom line is that Shotokan’s Wankan and the Wankan / Matsukaze of other styles are now differing forms that share a common name.

I’d also be interested to hear from others who have a better idea of how this came about?

All the best,

Iain

PS I once taught a seminar with John Johnston 7th dan Shotokan and his take on the bunkai of Shotokan’s Wankan was impressive. The “cover and crash” three-steps forward really resonating with me (and finding common ground with my take on Naihanchi).

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Hi guys,

Just in relation to the Shotokan Wankan. There seems to be a common idea that it was Funakoshi's son Gigo who invented the kata after the Shotokan Style had been "established". I tend to think this due to the "Sochin-esque" feel of the kata (including sochin dachi + punches).  I believe it was Gigo who also invented the Sochin Kata too. Gigo was one of the men to be credited with lowering the stances and working the legs hard in Shotokan Schools. Sochin and Wankan kata fit this kind of training.

Tau
Tau's picture

Tau wrote:
I don't know if Lee Taylor frequents this forum much. I personally don't know the Kata or enough about it to have an oppinion of my own but I have discussed it with him so I'll give his view unless he'd like to wade in. In Kris Wilder's book Way of Kata there is a section on Japanese terminology. It relates "Matsukaze" to "head." I'm in work at the moment so can't get the book from the shelf to quote directly. Lee's view is that this translation tells you all about the kata Bunkai. His view is that this translation essentially gives you the Bunkai.

Got it! Back from short holiday so dug out the book.

The Way of Kata buy Kane & Wilder. Page 174, section on vital areas. Matsukaze refers to the carotid sinus. Lee's interpretation is that most bunkai for this kata are directed at these points. Although that could be said for most kata, certainly any that feature shuto.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
Got it! Back from short holiday so dug out the book.

The Way of Kata buy Kane & Wilder. Page 174, section on vital areas. Matsukaze refers to the carotid sinus. Lee's interpretation is that most bunkai for this kata are directed at these points. Although that could be said for most kata, certainly any that feature shuto.

Thanks for clarifying. I’ve done a little digging too :-)

In Karate-Do Kyohan, Gichin Funakoshi lists the Carotid Sinus under “Matsukaze”. However Matsukaze does not mean “Carotid Sinus” but “Pine Wind” as discussed. By this I mean it is the name of a striking area and not a body part i.e. a doctor would never refer to the area as your “pine wind”, but would instead call it Keidōmyakudō (Japanese for Carotid Sinus).

All the terms used in “The Way of Kata” (great book!) are the ones Funakoshi uses, so I’m guessing that was the source for the names? I also used Funakoshi’s terms for my Bunkai-Justu book.

I also dug out my Japanese language version to ensure that the same characters were being used to write "matsuzake" (point and kata) and it was not a case of differing characters being transliterated to a common result … and it’s not. It is the exact same ones, so that opens some interesting lines of enquiry!

1, Is there a known reason why this point is referred to as “Pine Wind”? The medical term for the carotid sinus is Keidōmyakudō (頚動脈洞 / jugular-move-pulse-cave). So “Matsukaze” is not the name of a body part, but a martial striking point. It’s pretty easy to see the origins of the medical term, but what is the etymology of the area as a striking point? (#)

2, Is the name for this point widely used? Can we be sure it’s not a “Funakoshi-ism? So far, all the books we have discussed go back to Funakoshi’s terminology. Funakoshi - being an accomplished poet - was great at coming up with descriptive new names, so what evidence do we have that the name for the point was used independently of Funakoshi? Is there any?

When explaining the names of the points, Funakoshi writes:

“As for the name of the vital points, I used the ones that are generally and most widely used, as much as I could. However, for vital points that have not been named since ancient times, I gave then names for the sake of convenience. Alternative names and commonly known names are shown in brackets”.

Do we know which category the name “Pine Wind” falls into?

The alternative name Funakoshi gives for this point is “Fugetsu” (wind moon). So maybe that is the “commonly known name” seeing as it appears in brackets?

A quick look through the texts close to hand - and a websearch - shows that neither term is used in acupuncture. Common acupuncture terms in and around the area are as follows:

Man's Welcome - Source: Acupuncture Terminology (ST9)

Water Prominence - Source: Acupuncture Terminology (ST10)

Heavenly Window – Source: Acupuncture Terminology (SI16)

Heaven's Tripod - Source: Acupuncture Terminology (LI17)

Support the Prominence - Source: Acupuncture Terminology (LI18)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_acupuncture_points

So "pine wave" is not named after any acupuncture point. If it is a name that was widely used in martial arts away from Funakoshi, what corroborating sources do we have?

If the name for the point is not found outside of Funakoshi, then it is highly unlikely that the originator of the kata named matsukaze after that point. If, however, we can find that the name was widely used in martial circles, then there maybe something to it? As it stands, I’m not aware of anything outside of Karate-Do Kyohan (or those that make use of the terminology established therein) that uses that name “Pine Wind” for the same area. Hopefully someone can correct me if they are aware of alternate sources?

2, If we accept there is a connection between the name of the form, and the name of this point, how does that reflect itself in the kata?

It could be the case that this weak area is given special attention? But it could also be something like the way a pine bends with the wind (i.e. yielding with force and whipping back) that could be being referred to, and as such there is no referance to any specific point?

Until I get some additional information, I think it is most likely that it is just a coincidence that the name Funakoshi gave the point (as it would seem is the case) and the name of the kata are the same. It's more likey they ended up with the same name, for differnt reasons, at different points in history.

It would be interesting to explore this further, both in terms of the name of the weak area, the kata, and whether there is any relationship between the two.

Thoughts and additional sources everyone?

All the best,

Iain

(#) - “Pine Wind” is possibly a good name for the area due to the way people “sway at the top” while being “rooted at the bottom” when it is struck. The strike causes the neck to fold in such that the head comes forward. As the blood pressure drops, unconsciousness kicks in and the body falls. The head will then “sway” back the other way as a result. It looks different to a strike directly to the head which will send the head back resulting in no "pine tree like motion on a windy day". Maybe that was the imagery Funakoshi was going for? Maybe it's not the name of the area (which we know is Keidōmyakudō not Matsukaze) but the effect of the strike to that area is being described?

Tau
Tau's picture

Thanks for taking the time, Iain. Although I learned and practiced this kata I never graded with it, nor found it of any particular interest. This thread has created some interest and I'll certainly be exploring it in my own time.

I'd be interested in the thoughts of Lee Taylor. Also Kris & Lawrence although I'm guessing that their source of the sames is a common source, e.g. Karate-Do Kyohan.

Can it still be "Tomari" Kata if Gigo Funakoshi invented it? Could it be that one version is an older, Tomari, form and one version is Gigo's?

Certainly I can see many applications targetting the carotid sinus, but any more than any other Kata? Pinan Shodan springs readily to mind, as do Bassai and Kushanku, all of which feature repeated striking to that point.

Mark Powell
Mark Powell's picture

I learned Matsukaze kata in the early 1980's from Yoshinao Nanbu who learned it from Chōjirō Tani who presumably learned it from Kenwa Mabuni. I still practice the kata; in fact it's one of the first kata I teach and only last autumn a couple of our children brown belts demonstrated and it for and received corrections from Ryozo Tsukada. Since at the time I was wrestling learning with Itosu No Rohai shodan and nidan kata's (I've since given up on them)  I didn't pay much attention and didn't ask about the history of the kata however I will contact him and see if he has any answers

I always assumed the name was changed to Matsukase from Wankan in the same way many kata names were changed during "Japanisation" and rightly or wrongly have long believed the name was taken from a 14th century Noh play a fact someone must have told me over the years  as knowing nothing about Noh plays I wouldn't have dreamed that up! I can see almost no similarity between what we practice and the Shotokan Wankan and my own opinion is I doubt they have a common origin.

Here's some info I've found on the web tonight which may or not be accurate:

Quote:
Apparantly Wankan is one of the oldest kata still practised today. It comes from the Tomari-te style of karate and is preserved in Shito-ryu, Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu) and some other styles. Tomari-Te was developed during the 19th century out of the Shuri-Te style of karate. Tomari was a small fishing village near Shuri, though it is now in the district of Naha on the island of Okinawa. The differences between the two styles is slight. However, there were several Chinese visitors to the Tomari region that did not reach Shuri so their teachings did not originally influence Shuri-Te, though later an exchange in ideas and katas did take place. Many kata became part of both styles but there are several kata that are unique to Tomari-Te. These include Wankan. However, Wankan is probably older than 19th century. It is thought to have been introduced to Kudaka Island before reaching Tomari by a Chinese kempo pratitioner who may have used the name Wankan as his own. Wankan's Chinese origins lie in the Hakkyoku ken system of Kempo. It is suggested that the kata became a family kata of the Ryukyu royal family handed down for many centuries from generation to generation. In fact, the name of the Kata literally means "King's Crown" or "King's Victory", which may be a reference to the royal significance of the Kata. An actual lineage for Wankan may be something like this (at least for its inclusion in the Shito-ryu style): Chinese kempo > Okinawa-te > Tomari-te > Matsumara Kosoku (one of the founders of Tomari-te style) > Itosu Yasutsune > Mabuni Kenwa (founder of Shito-ryu) When it also became known under the name Matsukaze (meaning "pine tree wind" or "wind through the pine") is unclear but may be when the kata was brought to Japan. So, what does the kata mean? Matsukaze is considered to be an intermediate kata in Shito-ryu and in Shukokai. It contains both offensive and defensive techniques done together in one motion at various points. It is said that the meaning "pine tree wind" suggests strength but flexibility in the face of adversity, like a pine tree on top of a mountain facing fierce winds. Thus, all movement is in the forward direction, driving the opponent backwards or standing ones ground. A slightly more pragmatic interpretation is suggested by the alternative translation of the word Matsukazi which apparantly is "jugular vein region of the throat", one of the body's most vital points. In fact, all attacks in this kata are focused on the body's three most vital points - the jugular vien (matsukaze), the solar plexus (suigetsu) and the groin (kinteki). Both of these interpretations offer useful insights into the meaning of the kata. Thinking about the steps in the kata there is an emphasis on moving forwards a lot, either moving several steps forward in cat stance or with an alternating kick, strike sequence. The neck is also attacked at several points i.e. a cross-block is performed suggesting a strangulation technique where the crossed arms form a 'v' around the throat and the collar of the clothing is grabbed and pulled sharply together to assist the strangle. Several shuto blocks are performed which could represent strikes to the throat. Several punches are thrown at both chudan and jodan level and the kick sequence could certainly be aimed at the groin. All this fits in with the tomari-te style which emphasises defending and attacking the mid-line. There are also two points in the kata where you stand still and use a sequence of side-evasion, blocks and counter strikes which fit in with the idea that this kata uses both defensive and offensive moves simultaneously.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi everyone,

the vital point known as "Matsukaze" is one of the older ones widely used all over japan.

http://evols.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10524/1076/konish...

Íf you take a look at Konishi Yasuhiros 1956 book "Nyumon shinsho zukai karate nyumon: shindo jinen-ryu" you will find two vital point maps like in Funakoshis "Karate Do Kyohan" on pages 211 and 213 listing 34 points. Allthough most of the points are identical some of them have other names and some of those points differ from funakoshis 40 points. Konishi trained in several japanese koryu systems before taking up karate with funakoshi, motobu and other karate masters and he was a close friend of Fujita Seiko also known as the last true ninja. So my guess is his source is found somewhere in that time of his past. My guess is that Funakoshis source for the vital point maps he used in Karate Do Kyohan is Wado Ryu founder Otsuka Hironori, also already a grand master in a japanese koryu system before learning karate from Funakoshi.

Matsukaze is also a common vital point in Bujinkan Ninjutsu. http://kesshi.com/bujinkan/koto-ryu/kyusho/ (Sorry wasn't able to get a better source). If I remember right it is also used by other japanese koryu systems too not only the ones Konishi and Otsuka studied. Common targets for the sword were points on the neck like Matsukaze and Murasame. The name Matsukaze might come from the sound when you slash open the throat with a sword aiming for that area with all the air leaving the wind pipe. Murasame is translated as rain shower which is also an effect you'll get by cutting open arteries I guess.

I hope that helps.

Regards Holger

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Holger,

Awesome post as always! Having established “Matsukaze” is a widely used term for the point (carotid sinus), it will be interesting to explore if that has a bearing on the kata of the same name.

ky0han wrote:
The name Matsukaze might come from the sound when you slash open the throat with a sword aiming for that area with all the air leaving the wind pipe. Murasame is translated as rain shower which is also an effect you'll get by cutting open arteries I guess.

As typical empty-hand martial artists, I’d not considered that the term may come from the effect of the point being cut as opposed to being struck. That does sound very plausible to me though.

ky0han wrote:
My guess is that Funakoshis source for the vital point maps he used in Karate Do Kyohan is Wado Ryu founder Otsuka Hironori, also already a grand master in a japanese koryu system before learning karate from Funakoshi.

I’ve heard that suggested previously. I’m sure the points themselves would be well known – we can see commonality with the charts in the Bubishi for example – but it would seem the terminology adopted by Funakoshi was Japanese, as opposed to Okinawan or Chinese in origin.

Now we have established that Matsukaze is a widely used term, that does posit the question of how that may relate to the kata of the same name? And if there is a connection there, can that be extrapolated to include the alternate name of Wankan?

It would be great if others more familiar with Matsukaze could give some bunkai examples that would show the vulnerability of the area of the same name being exploited?

If it can be demonstrated that there is enough of link in the kata to render the hypothesis plausible, then we need to then look at what connection that may have with the alternate name Wankan?

Striking the Carotid Sinus results in unconsciousness and we have put forward a few educated guesses in previous posts as to why that area may have been called “pine wind” (Matsukaze). At a stretch, we could say that “King’s crown” (Wankan) could be an alternate name for the same weakness i.e. take away the blood to the brain and there is no consciousness / Take away the crown from a king’s head (blood) and there is no authority (consciousness). As I say, it’s a stretch! One thing that strikes me though is that the embusen of the kata is pretty close to the character for king (王) - i.e. a main vertical line with horizontal offshoots - so maybe that is where the name originates?

And we’d need to be confident of a link between the kata and the point of the same name first, but these things are always interesting to explore even if they lead to a dead end.

I’m really enjoying this thread! Learning lots!

All the best,

Iain

Notes on the Carotid Sinus from Wikipedia:

The carotid sinus contains numerous baroreceptors which function as a "sampling area" for many homeostatic mechanisms for maintaining blood pressure … These neurons then regulate the autonomic control of the heart and blood vessels … Carotid sinus reflex death is a potential etiology of sudden death in which manual stimulation of the carotid sinus allegedly causes strong glossopharyngeal nerve (Vagus nerve is for aortic arch baroreceptors) impulses leading to terminal cardiac arrest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotid_sinus

Never a good idea to stand there and let people hit you in a potentially fatal area as we often see in “pressure point” demonstrations.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Mark,

Mark Powell wrote:
Here's some info I've found on the web tonight which may or not be accurate

That’s an interesting piece. Thanks for sharing. Could you provide the web link for it please?

This bit is particularly relevant to our discussion:

“A slightly more pragmatic interpretation is suggested by the alternative translation of the word Matsukazi which apparently is "jugular vein region of the throat", one of the body's most vital points. In fact, all attacks in this kata are focused on the body's three most vital points - the jugular vien (matsukaze), the solar plexus (suigetsu) and the groin (kinteki).”

I’d like to know who wrote the piece and if they link to any sources?

All the best,

Iain

Lee Taylor
Lee Taylor's picture

Hi All

The amount of information gained here is awesome, all from me just linking the two words together and questioning whether the meaning of the word described in one instance, might be linked to the kata due to the bunkai applications. It has been a long time since I have practised Matsukaze and I have the same limited explanations as many other Shito-Ryu practitioners in that the kata was created by Kenwa Mabuni and meant 'wind through the pine'

It was only when I saw it referenced as 'carotid sinus' that some of the kata's applications made a lot more sense, hence the query! The kata starts with shuto-uke's which we are all familiar with, but the signature part of the kata (21secs in above Shito-Ryu video) really sits well with the carotid sinus meaning with various strikes to the area.

I am sorry not to have any more information, but am happy that my little query has thrown up a lot of valuable information regarding Matsukaze!

Best wishes

Lee

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Peter,

Leigh Simms wrote:
There seems to be a common idea that it was Funakoshi's son Gigo who invented the kata after the Shotokan Style had been "established".

Tau wrote:
Can it still be "Tomari" Kata if Gigo Funakoshi invented it? Could it be that one version is an older, Tomari, form and one version is Gigo's?

I think what is being suggested is that Gigo created an independent kata that went by the name Wankan. There is also an older, separate kata – said to be “tomari-te” in origin – that goes by the alternate names of Wankan and Matsukaze.

Basically “Gigo’s Wankan” (Shotokan’s Wankan) is not the Wankan of Tomari.

As we’ve seen in the videos above, the two Wankans share very little other than a name.

General question to all, is there a source that confirms Gigo as the creator of the Shotokan version?

Not a kata, I’ve ever practised (both versions) but this is a fascinating thread! I love it when a “collective think” opens up so many thoughts and lines of enquiry!

All the best,

Iain

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Lee,

Lee Taylor wrote:
The amount of information gained here is awesome, all from me just linking the two words together and questioning whether the meaning of the word described in one instance, might be linked to the kata due to the bunkai applications.

It’s proved to be an interesting thought experiment which has sparked a lot of interesting discussion. Thanks for having the original thought, and for sharing it with Peter so he could drop it into this thread.

The cool thing – based on the quote Mark posted above – is that others have made the connection too, but it does not look like the commonality has been previously explored to see if it has legs.

Lee Taylor wrote:
It was only when I saw it referenced as 'carotid sinus' that some of the kata's applications made a lot more sense, hence the query! The kata starts with shuto-uke's which we are all familiar with, but the signature part of the kata (21 secs in above Shito-Ryu video) really sits well with the carotid sinus meaning with various strikes to the area.

I like that and I that helps establish that there may be a link.

Lee Taylor wrote:
I have practised Matsukaze and I have the same limited explanations as many other Shito-Ryu practitioners in that the kata was created by Kenwa Mabuni and meant 'wind through the pine'

Shorin-ryu, Genseiryu and Matsubayashi-ryu all have the kata too, but Mabuni does not feature in their linages, which would suggest that kata is older and its origins are to be found further up the “family tree”?

Really enjoying this thread!

All the best,

Iain

Mark Powell
Mark Powell's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

That’s an interesting piece. Thanks for sharing. Could you provide the web link for it please?

This bit is particularly relevant to our discussion:

“A slightly more pragmatic interpretation is suggested by the alternative translation of the word Matsukazi which apparently is "jugular vein region of the throat", one of the body's most vital points. In fact, all attacks in this kata are focused on the body's three most vital points - the jugular vien (matsukaze), the solar plexus (suigetsu) and the groin (kinteki).”

I’d like to know who wrote the piece and if they link to any sources?

Here's the web link:

http://kickasssuec.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/pine-winds-and-kings-crown.html

She does list sources but with the exception of the link to this PDF file I already had the links are all dead:

http://www.bushido-kai.net/images/downloads/Empi.Matsukaze.Wankan.pdf

I am now researching her reference to the Hakkyoku ken system of Kempo in case some answers can be found in Bajiquan.

Iain Abernethy wrote:
General question to all, is there a source that confirms Gigo as the creator of the Shotokan version?

I don't know if Gigo invented the Shotokan Wankan but I've just discovered he is certainly credited with inventing Matsukaze no Kon; a Shotokan bo staff kata.

I agree with Iain this is an awesome thread!

Mark

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Thanks Mark!

Mark Powell wrote:
I don't know if Gigo invented the Shotokan Wankan but I've just discovered he is certainly credited with inventing Matsukaze no Kon; a Shotokan bo staff kata.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the style “Shotokan” gets its name from the Funakoshi’s dojo. Funakoshi was a poet and wrote under the pen name of Shoto (松濤 – Pine Waves). So the dojo was Sho-To-Kan (Pine Wave’s Hall). The “waves” in question are the movements of the pines as the wind flow s through them; which is a topic of one of Funakoshi’s poems. As we can see, it’s the same first character of Matsukaze (松風). 松 can be produced as either Sho, Shu or Matsu. The differing pronunciations can be misleading when transliterated into English i.e. we would not automatically associate “Matsu" and “Sho” as being the same.

Matsukaze no Kon (松風の棍) would therefore mean “The Staff of Pine Wind”. There’s an obvious connection between the wind and the waves of the pine trees, so maybe in this case the name is simply stating it is the Shotokan Staff form?

Video of the kata can be seen here: https://youtu.be/EIDJ9bBQnfQ

All the best,

Iain

Tau
Tau's picture

Right, so, my thoughts. This video (which isn't publicly viewable on YouTube) represents some ideas on the Bunkai of Matsukaze. Things to note:

- It was filmed at the end of Kickboxing class this evening, hence my attire and the background gym' noise

- It wasn't pre-planned or rehearsed

- It represents an outpouring of ideas that I've been having since this thread started

- Being unplanned and unrehearsed it is a little (only a little) disorganised in places. In a bid to be fresh and timely this was done in one take and you can see that there's no editting

- It pretty is much a dump of ideas. My ever-tolerant other half who was filming was surprised at how quickly I talked without pause!

- I'm mostly happy with the ideas. I certainly take account of stances and exposed or predicted anatomical vulnerabilities. I don't think I properly take account of angles. This is only really evident when I play it back

- As a result of the impetuousness of this video I reserve the right to look at it in a week and declare "bullshit!" My hope is that even the flawed aspects promote discussion or lead someone (perhaps me) down a better path

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

I don't know if this is relevant, when practicing this Kata with Soke Kenzo Mabuni, the type of tree that the name refer's to is specifically a Black Pine that grows in Okinawa/Japan.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Dale Parker wrote:
I don't know if this is relevant, when practicing this Kata with Soke Kenzo Mabuni, the type of tree that the name refer's to is specifically a Black Pine that grows in Okinawa/Japan.

It could be and I’d certainly fell into the trap of thinking of pine trees as I know them here is the UK. We could ask the question, “why a pine tree and not any other type of tree?” Was there something special about that type of tree?

I did a quick websearch to see what, if anything, was special about them:

“Because of its resistance to pollution and salt, it is a popular horticultural tree. In Japan it is widely used as a garden tree both trained as Niwaki and untrained growing as an overstory tree. The trunks and branches are trained from a young age to be elegant and interesting to view. It is one of the classic bonsai subjects, requiring great patience over many years to train properly.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_thunbergii

As an “overstory tree” (“The trees in a forest whose crowns constitute the highest layer of vegetation in a forest, usually forming the canopy”) could the name be reflecting the high status of the kata … and could this “crown of vegetation” be the link with the alternative name “wankan” (king’s crown)?

Thoughts?

All the best,

Iain

Lee Adams
Lee Adams's picture

In a recent conversation with one of my Japanese colleagues he explained how Wankan came to be known as Matsukaze and how it entered into the Shito ryu.

Ryusho Sakagami, a senior student of both Mabuni and Taira Shinken, learnt the kata while on a visit to Okinawa - the exact person who transmitted it to him has been forgotten (very possibly Nagamine himself). Sakagami shared the kata with Mabuni who gave it the name Matsukaze as they were unsure of its Okinawan name. The pine tree wind explanation seems plausible as the kata almost certainly came from matsubayashi shorin ryu. 

After Mabuni's death, Sakagami again studied the kata on Okinawaand returned the name within his group to Wankan and the performance of it in Itosu ryu is very similar to that of Shoshin nagamine. Cheers.

Kevin73
Kevin73's picture

Is this a case of trying to translate a word that doesn't have a direct translation for "Wankan" meaning "King's Crown"?  In tomari-te, there is a group of three katas that have "wan" in them.  There is "wanshu/wansu", "wanduan" and "wankan".  From what I have seen, most agree that "Wanshu" does not have a translation as it was a person's name.  Wanduan has not been translated to my knowledge either that I have come across.

Could it be the same with "wankan" and does not really refer to a king's crown?  

Marc
Marc's picture

Karate historian Henning Wittwer in his book "Shotokan" lists the katas practiced in the historical Shoto-Kan and compares their old Okinawan names to the new, more Japanese sounding names that Funakoshi tried to rename them to. Some stuck, like "Enpi" (new) for "Wanshu" (old).

Others did not stick, like "Hitô" (new) for "Wankan" (old).

"Hitô" is written as 飛濤 and according to the dictionary could be translated as "flying waves" or "scattered waves". The second character 濤 could also be pronounced "nami" (as in nami-gaeshi, returning wave, a kick from Tekki/Naihanshi kata).

Just a little trivia on the name of the Shotokan Wankan kata. Not sure how it might help the discussion, but I just thought I'd mention it anyway. Maybe it triggers somebody's association reflexes.