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Okinawan Goju-Ryu II: Advanced Techniques of Shorei-Kan Karate (Literary Links to the Orient) (v. 2) Paperback – January 1, 2001
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Author of Surviving Armed Assaults, The Way of Kata, and Martial Arts Instruction
The book details two karate kata or forms and their analysis by Goju Ryu karate master the late Seiki Toguchi. One, kata gekiha, was created by Master Toguchi. The other, Saifa, is a traditional kata of the Goju ryu system
On the positive, this book is very useful for many schools that train kata without ever examining their original purpose. Many schools practice kata or forms as standalone objects without ever practicing the techniques in the kata with an opponent, or perhaps even realizing that the techniques exist. The book explains application of the kata which is essential to the understanding and practice of traditional karate. After mastering the kata, the intense drilling of the techniques with a partner is core to traditional karate training and is the only way to enable one to actually use these techniques in a real situation. In this respect, the book is very good as it gives a starting point for making use of these techniques with many simple principles that can be applied to the kata or forms of any style.
If, however, one is well familiar with the kata in these books, the analysis presented seems to be incomplete at best. I can not comment on kata gekiha because it was created by Master Toguchi originally. However, in regards to kata saifa, techniques are treated as though they were put in the kata in a random manner, with no explanation as to why certain movements were put together or follow one another. There is no in-depth information as to why stepping is used in the kata and there is no explanation of why certain stances are used.
Instead of looking at a series of movements as part of a larger technique, the individual movements are broken down and looked at as though independent, unrelated and random. There is one point in the kata where one steps while both arms move simultaneously and one lifts one's knee. In the book, one partner does a block with one arm, then the other partner does a block with the other, then the other partner switches back and does a kick, as though these movements are unrelated. It misses the wider point of why these moves are all done together. One common interpretation is that the four movements work in conjunction as a larger technique. One is simultaneously moving to avoid an attack while trapping with one hand and using the other to pull one's opponent into a strike with the knee...not as a series of unrelated movements.
The significance of stepping in the kata is almost completely ignored. On the contrary, the book states that the stepping was just put there for symmetry and so that the kata returns to its starting point at the end. No use of the angles in the kata, or the avoidance inherent in the stepping is mentioned. All techniques are treated as though one is facing one's opponent straight on which leaves out some of the most effective parts of the tecnique. One technique demonstrated has one doing an overhead strike against one's opponent while facing them head on. One would never do this in a defensive situation as it simply would not work. If, however, one does the technique after moving beside or even around one's opponent to avoid their strike while grabbing them and then striking to the side or back of the head, the technique works perfectly. This is exactly how the movement goes in the kata, but this stepping is completely ignored in the book.
Lastly, there is no explanation of why certain stances are used or why one uses certain positions. There is one point in the kata where one does a hammer strike about a foot from the ground while one is in a long stance. The application in the book instead has the two opponents standing straight up with one doing the strike to the side of the head about six feet off of the ground. If one examines why it was put in the kata, the techniques leading up to this point have one throwing ones opponent and putting their head directly in position to do the strike down low. However, as movements are treated as unrelated, and no examination of the usage of stances is given, this is not shown.
To start using kata and actually training their techniques, this book is very useful and many schools may find it eye opening. However, for those who have been training kata technique who were hoping for a deeper understanding it comes across as very incomplete
Some pages of this book could not be understood without many years of practice in traditional karate. This in not for beginners. Kaisai theory sprang a new martial art, Kaisai Do by Master Toshio Tamano who followed and developed main ideas of his Master Toguchi. Shorei-Kan Kaisai Do is not only a martial arts, it is a way of life for body and mind wellness