Shotokai Course Report - February 2013

Renshi Kidby opened the afternoon’s training thanking everyone for such a good turnout and gave everyone a warm welcome especially Sensei Minh Chung and also friends from other local karate groups. Minh is one of Harada Sensei’s top instructors and students. Renshi went on to explain the content and reasons for the day by saying…

“In the early days of karate there weren’t many, if any, books around and information was passed down by word and mouth, not always accurately though. It was common belief that Shotokan was Funakoshi’s true way. Now we know better. Shotokai means the way Of Funakoshi and Shotokan means the house of Funakoshi. Both styles are therefore attributed to Funakoshi Gichin yet both different. In their own right as styles of karate neither is right, neither wrong, just different, yet Shotokai is nearer to the true teachings of Funakoshi Gichin.

“The split came initially with different syllabus, philosophies and beliefs shortly after the bombing of the original Shotokan dojo in 1945. Further distance was put between the two styles when Shotokan started practicing freestyle. This is something Shotokai does not encourage as it dilutes, effects and changes technique.

“The final split came over whether Shotokan or Shotokai should organise Funakoshi Gichin’s funeral when he died in 1957. Funakoshi’s son Yoshide decided he under the banner of Shotokai would organise the funeral which soured relationships beyond repair.

“Egami is credited with being the first chief instructor of Shotokai. In 1966 Harada-Sensei brought Shotokai to the UK which was about eight years before Kanazawa Sensei first visited our shores. These two instructors are amongst only a handful of karate-ka that can honestly say they trained with Sensei Funakoshi.”

The content of the course was to study Bassaidai. It has many forms and many variations and is even practiced by some styles of Kung-fu. The reason for Bassaidai was not really the kata itself. It was to look at the differences between Shotokai & Shotokan using something students felt comfortable with to see and feel the variations and differences in training and to open eyes to another way of doing the same thing.

Renshi began taking us through Bassaidai the Shotokan way, partly as a warm up and partly as an introduction to the afternoon, but also to show the Shotokai students, who accompanied Sensei Chung for the afternoon, the Shotokan way of doing it.

Sensei Chung began by breaking the kata down in to sections. He taught them a bit at a time explaining to be softer, to use your hips and body shape correctly, and to move more smoothly from one technique to the next. Next in sequences we were allowed time to practice the relevant bunkai. Some was the same, or similar, some eye-openingly different. Once the whole kata had been taught and practiced, we concluded the afternoon trying to perform the kata the Shotokai way but not until after Sensei Minh Chung had been persuaded to perform the kata.

In summary, in comparison, Shotokai is deceptively strong; it is a smoother softer variant of our style with shorter stances, using progressive kimae and good use of hips and body shape and due to the variations mentally challenging. One big obvious difference is that in Shotokai there is no kiai. This is something introduced in to Shotokan since the death of Funakoshi Gichin. As the students departed, tired but happy, after a good afternoon’s training they were given a certificate of participation.

In an email received by Renshi following the course, Sensei Chung wrote:

“It really was good meeting you and your students, very many thanks for having me and for being so welcoming. I and those who came along thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and meeting a lot of people. It was all very friendly and relaxing indeed. The only regret was that I didn't have enough time to get everything in, although I hope that people did get a "feel" for Shotokai. Many thanks for inviting me. I look forward to seeing you and your students again soon.”

On behalf of all the CFTS and guests who turned up on the day let’s hope that day isn’t too far away. On behalf of all of CFTS, thank you Sensei Chung. Oss!!