## Thursday 30 May 2024

### Podcast Episode 3 - The Evolution of Karate From Antiquity to Modern Day

Here is our new podcast episode, let us know what you think. Plenty more on the way!

## Tuesday 21 May 2024

### Podcast Episode 2 - Function Dictates Form

Here is the newest episode of the Kodoryu podcast, "Function Dictates Form". Enjoy and let us know what you think!

## Saturday 4 May 2024

### First Podcast Episode!

We are quite late to the podcast party but here is the first episode of the Kodoryu podcast "Great Karate Myths"

This episode is on Creative interpretation of Kata -

https://open.spotify.com/episode/1PhwXGnfHkJ5ysPJtViXKX?si=ZwucBQ7ZSn6CnGl5kxUhGg

## Thursday 12 August 2021

### Itosu's Kata 'Modifications'

 Anko Itosu

This article (Dai and Shō in Kata) recently shared on the Motobu-Ryu Facebook page and website briefly discusses Itosu's modifications to several antique forms, namely Kusanku and Passai. The Kodoryu group researches and preserves the original functions of the antique kata (forms inherited in Okinawa from China). Keeping this approach to kata in mind the article raises several questions.

Why did Itosu modify the kata? Kusanku and Passai had an original function and purpose, by changing the kata or 'modifying' them what is encoded in the movements becomes obscured or worse completely lost. There is no explanation or information from Itosu himself discussing the original functions of the forms and what benefit changing them has brought to the kata. Did Itosu know what was originally intended for the katas Kusanku and Passai? or did he inherit only the sequences? without the kata functions Itosu was free to alter the forms as he pleased.

Itosu's modifications to kata can in some ways be seen as the starting point (or deviation?) for the modern approach to kata, defined as 'creative interpretation'. Once the form has been altered and the function lost the disconnected sequence can be interpreted however anyone chooses as we see today with instructors creating endless applications for all the 'versions' of kata across the different styles of Karate. Creatively interpreted Karate and kata has separated itself from the original functions of the antique forms and become something quite different. What if Itosu had known the original functions of Kusanku and Passai, would there have been a need for Dai and Sho 'versions' or the restructuring of kata?

## Saturday 27 June 2020

### The Six Ji Hands of the Bubishi

 The Six Ji Hands

The six Ji hands of the Bubishi are described as methods of striking vital points. Are the six Ji hands really effective tools for fighting or are their origins and usefulness found elsewhere in something much less offensive such as traditional Chinese methods of massage?

 One Blade of Grass Hand?
 Blood pool Hand?
 Claw Hand?

## Thursday 2 November 2017

### Assume Nothing!

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."
William of Ockham

So much is assumed in Karate especially when it comes to the subject of kata and their function, this makes even suggesting an alternative nearly impossible regardless of how much evidence is presented. Here are a few assumptions that I encourage everyone to challenge and examine how it affects perspectives and approaches to kata.

1. All kata are for unarmed self defence/fighting.
Where did this assumption come from? one function and one context for all of the antique forms and systems? What about other contexts such as battlefield, policing, body guarding, theatre and stage, spiritual/religious movements and of course salesmen making money!. What about other functions such as weapons (battlefield and also tools for policing and body guarding), control and restrain methods, spiritual practice and embodied performances, stage choreography and artistic pieces including martial dances. The assumption that all kata are representations of the same thing is a very narrow lens to examine forms with.

2. All kata are of the highest quality.
Why assume that the techniques in the kata are of any use? they may not be great representations and solutions to combative problems. Some may have been created by individuals that had never had a real fight not unlike many of the teachers creating endless applications for the forms today. There were just as many wannabees, frauds and scam artists around in Ming dynasty China as there are today. Some kata once understood may not be the ultimate answer to all combative problems as perhaps hoped for. Some techniques may simply have been made up to make a quick buck.

3. Kata have been transmitted seamlessly through an impeccable lineage of noble honest masters.
Alongside the assumptions regarding the content and quality of kata is the assumption that they have been passed on perfectly through an untainted lineage. This also assumes that the individuals that make up the lineage were all great students, practised hard and learnt everything that they needed to know then became the next master in a succession and sought out worthy students to transmit the kata and teachings on to. There are endless possibilities that can corrupt a teaching, such as how students learn and what they ultimately do with the material. Some will make changes or completely reinvent what they have learnt, add other things, alter the function and context, not pass on everything, have varying motives to study in the first place, some will not have understood fully or correctly, mistakes get made over time, changes due to lack of relevant experience and fantasies, dishonesty and so on. It is also worth considering the great shifts in culture, society and politics in China and how that may have effected the practise of martial arts and its transmission. The list could go on and on!!

4. All kata explanations and interpretations are equally valid.
This is one of the biggest assumptions currently fashionable especially with teachers who are dependent on this type of belief to keep the seminars full and the cash coming in. Who decided that anyone could make up whatever they like when interpreting a kata? (and then sell it!!!) It seems reasonable that there was an original intended function to the various antique kata regardless of whether it is knowable or not today. It also seems reasonable that if the original function is not known that the focus of effort on a form should be to try to know and understand the intended function. If for example the original function of a form was for using a pair of sai or a bo then what possible use could that form and those techniques have for escaping a head lock, reacting to a straight stepping punch or a wrist grab?

By challenging the many modern assumptions made about kata a deeper appreciation and insight can be had for the diverse functions, contexts and possibilities recorded over time in the antique forms.

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off once in a while, or the light won't come in."                                                                                                                                                          Isaac Asimov

## Monday 25 September 2017

### Lost And Found

Research into European Martial arts has a huge amount of support from within its community and rightly so, the work being done and the fascinating results are being fed back into modern practises which in turn are revitalising arts that for a long time have been preserved only in books. Some treatises are quite obscure in their descriptions and demand real work is put in to decode the meaning and extract the techniques. This is not an easy process and requires time, effort and patience.

Karate researchers have an advantage in that the source materials for Karate are not recorded in books they are recorded in movement, the kata! The various martial arts forms collected and preserved in Okinawan Karate also demand the same time, effort and patience to unlock the original function as the European martial arts manuals do.

The prevailing attitude amongst many kata 'specialists' is that it is not possible to know the original functions of the kata. Does this belief extend to those trying to understand antique martial arts from books and treatises? Clearly not as many embrace the Bubishi as containing knowledge and skills that can be extracted and applied. So Martial arts can be worked out from books but not from movements?

The belief that the original functions are lost is false and just as many great European martial arts are coming back to life thanks to the serious research and effort being made, so too are the martial arts preserved in the antique kata. With a huge body of work and research from various groups like the Kodoryu group whose sole purpose for over 30 years has been to unlock the original functions of the forms inherited from China. The evidence is overwhelming and just waiting to be tried, tested and critiqued!