The International Karate Kobudo Union held the 2018 IKKU Winter Camp from Jan 12-14, 2018. The event was set in Historic Carrollton, GA and hosted by Shihan Dai Billie Robinson, Chief Instructor of Robinson Karate Dojo and Yoga Center. There was a great turnout with approximately 35 attendees for the event. Participants gathered from across the Eastern U.S., including attendees from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Maine. The IKKU – International Karate Kobudo Union was represented with participants from 7 affiliated Dojos.
If you have an old soul or the knack for vintage, then this camp was probably just the one for you. From a peek back into the Pinan Series and a dive into Naifauchi series you’ll get plenty of new insights into some of the vintage kata that you only thought you knew.
Pinan (平安) Kata
Soke Ruiz spent some time early Saturday morning teaching some of the Pinan Series of Kata. If you have not been a part of his Pinan Series of Classes then you really have missed a real treat. The Pinan Series Bunkai is where you see Soke Ruiz in his most rawest Karate form, which is the essence of Kotosu-Ha Shito-Ha. Considering Soke likely first began learning these kata early in his development it’s fairly safe to say that there is not too many kata that he has known longer than Pinan Shodan.
Hanshi-Sei Ruiz focused on Pinan Shodan and Godan for this short session. As the group worked the Kata on the floor, tweaks were made to both kata by Soke Ruiz, as he worked the floor. Additionally, Soke taught several of his Key Bunkai from both Shodan and Godan Kata to the group. Soke demonstrated each bunkai flawlessly as the attendees watched on in preparation for their own hands-on session.
There are 5 Pinan Kata created by Anko Itosu (1830 -1915). Itosu used these Kata as the basics to teach his elementary school class. Later Funakoshi helped to Standardize and Formalize the Kata for all students in the Okinawan School System. The Japanese to English translation of Pinan is Peaceful Mind. Supposedly the thought is that having known all these Pinan Kata and Bunkai, a pupil should have sufficient knowledge, skill, and confidence leading to a peaceful mind in a combative situation.
As far as can be accounted for the Pinan Series can very likely trace its roots back to a lost kata named “Chiang Nan”. The form became known as “Channing”, an Okinawan/Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation. It is said that Itosu changed the katas name from Chaing-Nan to Pinan as he found ‘Chaing’ too difficult to pronounce.
Pinan in the Elementary School System
As karate history and accounts go, most have not been written down over time, especially from the pre-1900 era. And when it comes to Kata origins the same can be true. The Pinan Series of Kata, which in all essence of the coined term “Modern Traditional Karate” is even shrouded in historical stories and legends of how the kata came to be and was further developed. And just think, the Pinan Series of Kata have only existed for approximately 110 years and we already have discrepancies in our records. As you think about the birth of karate from out of the shadows of secrecy and into the public eye, it began during this time period with Itosu tactically navigating his way through the political and school systems. The development of the Pinan Series in the elementary school was between 1902-1907 and at the end of this point, Pinan Shodan – Godan had been developed.
What? Shocked at what you are reading? Yes, that’s right. And you thought all our kata were hundreds if not thousands of years old? Guess again. The Pinan Series of Kata has only been in existence since approx 1902-1907, which puts them at approximately 110 years old. A common story of belief states that there was a shipwrecked Chinese Man staying locally in the Okinawan Tomari region. and he taught Itosu at some point in time in the 1800’s. Add Karate knowledge to Itosu’s skill set and you have the makings of “The Beginning”. Don’t forget that Itosu worked in the Education System, so he was armed with Karate knowledge and a fuel to teach and expand the pupil base.
Because of the supposed length of the kata and the fact that Itosu had the desire to implement Karate into an Elementary School Program he had a couple of challenges to overcome, besides the obvious political nature. He and his students would be under the highest level of scrutiny. The main training kata he wanted to use was too long. He needed enough standardized material and resources to last for several years. His students would be young which meant his traditional training methods would have to be altered. A new standardized system would be needed. Itosu was able to achieve this from the years 1902-1907.
So instead of trying to teach just one long kata to a group of elementary school students, Itsou decided to take a new approach. He went through the painstaking process of dividing the kata up into sections and then integrating some of his other teachings into the recipe. What resulted is 5 completely different kata that would belong to the same family of katas named the Pinan Series or Peaceful Mind as it’s become more commonly known. Now 110+ years later and this series is still taught to traditional karate students from all over the world.
Karate in the Okinawan School System
By the year 1908 Itosu wrote a letter to the Prefectural education department that outlined his views on karate. Itosu asked the board to please allow for karate to be taught into the curriculum of all Okinawan schools. Itosu was awarded his request and karate became part of the education of all Okinawan children. Finally, karate had a glimpse from out of the shadows, and like the shot heard from around the world, Okinawan children had instant access to karate.
This spark would become the inspiration that would drive masters like Motobu, Funakoshi, and Mabuni to the mainland Japan in the 1920’s, to start the spread of Karate around the world. The Pinan Series would be honed, standardized and tested as Karate began its journey from out of the shadows. Later when Funakoshi took the Pinan Kata to Japan he then renamed it to Heian which was translated as “Peaceful and Safe”.
Naifanchi (ナイファンチ) Kata
Sideways Fighting Kata
Whether you call it Naifaunchi, Naifanchi, Naifunchun, Naihuanchi, Naihanchi, Tekki, Tetti, or Tetki, it all boils down to just a couple of major tactics. And Yes, Sideways fighting is one of them since the Kata is set up for an onslaught of 45 degree angled attackers. This kata is named after the direction in which attackers are charging from – ” Sideways Fighting”. A practitioner will spend all of their time during the kata, either in a Shiko Dachi or either being transitioned from or into a Shiko Dachi. Either way you look at it, this kata is all about Shiko-Dachi, 45-degree angled attacks and strategically placing your back against a wall.
This series of kata also has a shrouded history. Some speculate that “The Kata” was originally one long kata. At some point, over time the kata may have been modified and or broken apart into 3 complete kata forming Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan. There is also some confusion as to the originator of this kata. Some say Matsumura could be the originator. Most scholars seem to agree that Choki Motobu took a huge part in the development of Nidan and Sandan Katas as one of his books has a focus on Naifanchi.
Other stories have Gichin Funakoshi, changing the name of the kata to Tekki over time, which is said to be Japanese. Naifuanchi typically links back to the Chinese roots and Naihaunchi links back to the Okinawan roots. No matter what you call it, Naifanchi Kata is known throughout the world in the traditional karate circles.
During our time with Hanshi-Sei Ruiz, he focused on Naifanchi Shodan and Nidan for this short session. As the group worked the Kata, tweaks were made to both katas by Soke Ruiz, as he walked the floor. Additionally, Soke taught several of his Key Bunkai Sequences from both Shodan and Nidan Kata to the group. Soke demonstrated each bunkai flawlessly and with ease. The participants were then guided through the bunkai with Soke watching over and giving tutelage where needed. Occasionally an alternate or optional Bunkai would be provided just for fun.
Camp came and went in a blink of an eye. For some, only 1-2 day participation could only be allocated because of other commitments. For those that attended, they received a blink back in time from some old Soke Ruiz Karate days. In addition, they received Master level tutelage on some of the foundational kata of Shito-Ryu Karate-Do as a whole. For those did not have the opportunity to attend then please note that you were missed and we hope to see you next year. And for all potential attendees, the Annual Camps are generally the largest IKKU events of the year, so be sure to put be placeholders on your calendar for our 2019 events.
We want to make sure all our friends make it out to our events so please help spread the news. Remember, great friendships are forged and folded like a katana being prepared for its future master.
Keep working hard in the dojo and we look forward to seeing you on the floor soon. OSU!
Additional IKKU Information
For a full listing of upcoming scheduled sessions please visit our Events Page. Here we showcase our upcoming Clinics, Camps and other opportunities for engagement with the IKKU.
For information about joining the IKKU – International Karate Kobudo Union then please visit our IKKU Registration Page. We welcome new members to our organization and have 6-8 scheduled events each year. This will allow you direct access to Soke Joseph Ruiz, founder of the IKKU and other High Dan Instructors.