Isshin-ryu founder Tatsuo Shimabuku began formal study under
weapons master Taira Shinken. There are differences of Okinawan Kobudo styles today,
but common principles from a common root. The five major Okinawan Kobudo or ancient
weapons systems: Honshin-ryu kobudo, Matayoshi kobudo, Uhuchiku kobudo, Ryukyu kobudo,
The following katas are Tatsuo Shimabuku's versions he incorporated into Isshin-ryu.
Katas Believed Taught by Taira Shinken to Shimabuku Sensei: Tufia Kata: Hama Higa No Tufia • Sai Kata: Chatan Yara No Sai • Bo Katas: Urashi No Kun • Shishi No Kun Dia .
Katas Believed Taught by Kyan Chotoku to Shimabuku Sensei: Bo Kata Tokumine No Kun and Sai basics.
Armstrong Sensei referred to Tokumine No Kun as Tokumine No Kun No Dai and Shishi No Kun as Shishi No Kun Dai. His students today may use Tokumine No Kun and Shishi No Kun Dai.
"Dai" Indicating greater. "Sho" when used indicating lesser.
"Nu Kun" "No Kun" "No Kon" You will see any three versions. I have chosen "No Kun" because it reads as it sounds. I believe "Kun" means wood staff while "Kon" means precepts such as Dojo Kon or Dojo Precepts as we use the words.
Weapons Katas Created by Tatsuo Shimabuku: Kusanku Sai from
the Hand Kata Kusanku.
Kyan No Sai Sensei Shimabuku’s early version of sai basics is not included in today’s Isshin-ryu list of katas. Shimabuku Sensei dropped it when he created Kusanku Sai and incorperated the basics from Kyan No Sai to end of Kusanku Sai.
Kyan No Sai is an excellent kata for teaching basic sai skill, preparing the new student to learn the other two more complicated Isshin-ryu sai kata.
Hand Kata Created by Tatsuo Shimabuku: Sunsu Kata, his exceptional
contribution to traditional Okinawa karatedo. Sunsu Kata is a combination of basics
and techniques from the other Isshin-ryu katas as well as elements from other Okinawan
katas. There are many interpretations of what the name Sunsu means.
Hama Higa no Tuifa and Chie Fa:
Some North American Isshin-ryu perform what they call Chie-fa no Tonfa Kata, based on a1960s film filmed by Armstrong Sensei. Tatsuo Shimabuku never taught a kata called Chie-fa. Chie-fa is an unfortunate miss translation and miss spelling of Tuifa. Tonfa being the Japanese word and Tuifa the Hogen (an Okinawan dialect) word for the weapon. Tuifa, was the name used by Tatsuo Shimabuku.
Some think the film shows a few segments or techniques of the longer version of Hama Higa no Tuifa Taira Shinken was also known to teach. Although I saw the Tatsuo Shimabuku film - and the film can be found on YouTube - and the weapons were on the Armstrong dojo wall, I do not remember ever doing a kata involving the Tonfa or Tuifa at Sensei Armstrong's Dojo, or seeing anyone else do so either. Although some said they did and there are several pictures of them in the dojo with tonfa.
To the best of my knowledge the tonfa section of the film was edited
out of the kata films offered by Armstrong Sensei. Today I do the Okinawan Kata,
Hama Higa no Tuifa.
Hama Higa no Tuifa of Hamahiga Island off the coast of the main island is the popular and traditional Tonfa or Tuifa Kata of Okinawa. Chie-fa Kata, however, has become for many American Isshin-ryu groups a tradtional American Tonfa Kata
There are many versions of the kata. But, we are interested in the one taught by Taira Shinken to Tatsuo Shimabuku. You may see Taira performing the kata on youtube. It is a very old film. It appears, about the last three or four seconds at end had been destroyed due to age and clipped.
At first glance it appears that the left-right horizontal movements after the figure eight movements are not there. Yet, although they are done so fast and film so old you can still tell they are there after closer and intent observation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhxvS3Zf-hU
Here are two Isshin ryu from across the country doing the same Hama Higa no Tuifa considered standard by most Isshin ryu who do the kata.
Jeff Perkins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKZq54_f9DY
Michael Calandra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=7_1oaCEuIDE&NR=1
___ Michael E. Odell
"I have no problem with anyone who brings new ideas and knowledge into the system as long as you don't break one rule: Don't try to fix something that is not broken. There is nothing wrong with the way our basics or katas as taught by Shimabuku, Sensei. I suggest that if you do not like the way he did things or how he set up the system then look for another style and leave Isshin Ryu alone. Tatsuo Shimabuku trained and proud of it." ___ Sherman Harrill, Sensei
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"Do not initiate first strike. But strike first" ___ Michael E. Odell ©