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 Post subject: Superempi
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 4:30 am 
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Location: Weymouth, MA US of A
Hi Bill,

Lately, as a hobby project, I've been trying to convert my plethora of video onto CD, In the process, I've ran across footage of you performing Superempi at the 2001 Summer Camp (the same year as your 7th Dan Test and the year Mr. Tomoyose attended). If I end up figuring out how to convert the video reliably, I'll send you a video clip. Anyway....

As I watch that 2 minute kata performance of yours, I notice a few things that, in my mind, make me believe that this may not be The Lost Kata of Uechi-RyuTM. For example:

  • This is the only kata where there are overt and definitive steps backwards.
  • This is the only kata where there are attacks to the side (eg. the three elbow strikes while sliding to the right)
  • There isn't a Sanchin strike in the entire kata. I know that there are Sanchin arm positions in certain spots, but there isn't an arm strike.
  • The kicks: There are more kicks, and of varied types, than in the other kata. Sanseiryu has one front kick in it, but Superempi has lots of kicks, and not just front kicks. There are sokuto-geri, stomps, high front kick and front kicks with the rear foot.

Now, there are some elements that do seem to support it's possible position in the Uechi Pantheon

  • Kakushken strikes. I haven't seen these in any other martial arts I've seen (but then again, I haven't seen too many...)
  • The use of other weapons, practiced only in hojo-undo that appear no where else in The Big Three, but in the 5 "made-up" kata, like the wrist strikes, roundhouse punches (albeit with shokens), shuto and the aforementioned sokuto-geri.


Now, there is no doubt to me that this kata shares many of the same fighting concepts in certain Uechi kata, like the use of shokens and other pointy-ended weapons, the wa-uke circle thingy and the low, penetrating kicks. However, to me it seems such a radical departure from the other Uechi kata that I have real tough time thinking a brother-brother relationship exists. Maybe a cousin-cousin relationship.

Now, don't get me wrong, I really do want to believe that this kata is it. It looks like a fun one to do, and has some cool stuff in it (like grabbing some dude's head and cracking it on your knee and not to mention the chi-chi puppies) and maybe one of these years I'll get to learning it. But its differences appear to outweight it's similarities.

Now I don't really want to start a debate as to whether it is or it isn't, but unless there is something deeper I'm missing, I'd really like more evidence.

Politely wondering,
Gene


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 3:12 pm 
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Gene

You're all over this, and your feelings are the EXACT same as mine.

The Fuzhou Suparinpei (yi bai lin ba bu) has amazing similarities.

The Fuzhou Suparinpei has the flavor of something else. But then... if all you had ever done was sanchin and seisan and someone showed you sanseiryu, what would you think?

We see movements in this form not in the Big Three TM but in the Other Five SM. Examples include the wrist movements, the "Uechi side kick", etc.

We see echoes of the Big Three TM kata with seisan knee strikes, shokens, etc.

More important is some contemporary information from Simon Lailey. Simon saw quite a bit of variability from person to person in the practice of this form. Thus at least with this group of people, the idea of a rigid, fixed kata was anathema to their practice of martial arts. But then... maybe that's the way it was when Kanbun was there. Hmm... In any case, what we see now is a snapshot in time, and likely was quite a bit different from what Kanbun would have seen if this particular suparinpei is the one Toyama sensei refers to.

In any case, my recommendation is to take the Nike approach. Just do it - and enjoy it. It's rich with content and application.

- Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 3:38 pm 
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Gene

A few comments...

I have chosen to do this form in cycles, like I do many of my other forms. In other words, I don't practice it all the time like I do The Big Three TM forms. I come to it on a periodic basis the way I do my various kobudo forms. By rotating material like this, it remains fresh and yields new information each time I drop it and then pick it back up again.

Another important thing to mention about the Fuzhou Suparinpei is not the content, but the way it is performed. This form has built in conditioning elements. There are various points in the form where one is performing arm and even body conditioning movements. Also, there are repeated plyometric movements in the form. When I first started teaching it, I was doing 4 one-hour sessions for each day of the camp, and extra work on the side. It just about killed me. Plyometric work is something that is traditionally done intensively for an hour, but then only a few times a week max. But doing that work helps to develop explosive power in the legs that can be used for many martial movements. Sanseiryu only briefly touches on these kinds of vertical movements with the shoken scoops. Suparinpei is full of them, and is quite the athletic endeavor.

FWIW.

- Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 10:39 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 6:01 am
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Location: worcester, ma
"Now I don't really want to start a debate as to whether it is or it isn't, but unless there is something deeper I'm missing, I'd really like more evidence. "

lol .. i know you didn't want a debate but that would be a boring and short post.
i do agree with most of your statements however i have seen tremendous variations and deviations in kata. even within the japanese mindset of "don't change kata". Funikoshi's kata is a far cry from the ones done today. those changes only happened with in the last 50 years or so. imagine the changes that would take place over 100 years with free reign to do what ever you want to it. not to mention the fact that our own kata is not done the same as Kanbun's kata. for proof take a look at kata by Shinyu Gushi, Jim Maloney, Gary koury and Walter Mattson. all are still reconizable as uechi kata but as they teach 2 students and they tell 2 friends and they tell 2 friends yatta yatta... you get the point.
so my point.......... could it be "THE KATA"? yes,, could be, despite first glance and appearance.

Hoshin
~~~~~~


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 Post subject: One other variable
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 10:51 pm 
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We learned this kata from a goju practitioner, who, I am sure, performed and taught it with a goju flavor. When I asked Bill to learn it, I also asked him to get rid of the obvious goju influences and "uechisize" the kata.

(Goju circle moves are much closer to the body than Uechi cirlce moves) ... as an example.

When Simon returned to China a year after he initially learned the kata, his teacher had already made many changes in the way he performed and taught it.

In old China methods, they do not practice "ritual" forms.

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GEM
"Do or do not. there is no try!"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2003 3:30 pm 
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Just a question that ha probaly already been brought up before, but I'll post because I haven't yet :D

What if all of the "bridging Kata's" are really just Suparinpei broken up? It's hard for me to belive that Uechi Kanbum did not pass along this to Uechi Kanei who may have broken it up into pieces due to it's long length, a swell as use of other "weapons and techniuqes that are not found in the origanl 3 that were taught.

Has anyone ever seen Uechi Kanbum or Kanei practivcing this kata?

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"Thinking is a lost art"


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 Post subject: Re: One other variable
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2003 4:11 pm 
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gmattson wrote:
We learned this kata from a goju practitioner, who, I am sure, performed and taught it with a goju flavor. When I asked Bill to learn it, I also asked him to get rid of the obvious goju influences and "uechisize" the kata.

(Goju circle moves are much closer to the body than Uechi cirlce moves) ... as an example.


Very true. I had the honor and pleasure of watching Glasheen-Sensei demonstrate this kata at the 2001 Summerfest. I noticed that it contained elements of both Goju-ryu Suparempei and Karurunfa... AND moves that aren't in either. Suparempei is "One Hundred and Eight Hands" (or techniques or moves... depending on who you talk to...) and Karurunfa is "Draw and Break" (or Draw and Suddenly Break or Draw in and Break... depending on who you talk to...) If you look at Goju-ryu Suparempei, you will see that it doesn't really have 108 moves or what-have-you. (I wasn't counting... I wonder how many techniques/moves are in Glasheen-Sensei's version... Hmmmmm...) Anyway, I was taught a single rather long form called "Suparempei" and later found out that in the official Goju-ryu circles what I had learned was two different forms called Karurunfa and Suparempei. I've been told that because of the length, it was split. As I said, I saw elements of both forms in what Glasheen-Sensei demonstrated, but there were other things in the form Glasheen-sensei performed that are not in the version I learned... and there are things I learned that aren't in the form Glasheen-Sensei demonstrated. Enough of that...

One thing that I can say about the Goju-ryu Suparempei (long or short form) that may be of interest to this discussion... is that there are techniques/moves in it that are not found in other Goju-ryu kata. There are things that a Goju-ryu practitioner would do as part of a kata for the very first time when learning Suparempei... And so it is with the Uechi-ryu Suparempei! So... you see things that you have never seen done in a Uechi-ryu kata before and wonder if this can truly be a Uechi-ryu (lineage) kata. I would point out that Suparempei (Goju-ryu version... short or long version... Uechi-ryu lineage version... what-have-you) is an advanced kata. I was taught it as the last and most advanced kata. And since I don't think I will ever master Sanchin or Gekisai or any of the other kata, I feel completely confident in saying that working the rest of my life will not gain me mastery of Suparempei's advanced techniques. With that in mind, I think that Glasheen-Sensei's recommendation is bang-on... Just do it... and enjoy it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2003 4:14 pm 
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Quote:
Has anyone ever seen Uechi Kanbum or Kanei practivcing this kata?

No. Toyama sensei is the only person that talks much about Kanbun's knowledge of a form called Suparinpei. I don't have direct quotes so I won't attempt to paraphrase. But I gather that he never really showed it or taught it in total.
Quote:
What if all of the "bridging Kata's" are really just Suparinpei broken up? It's hard for me to belive that Uechi Kanbum did not pass along this to Uechi Kanei who may have broken it up into pieces due to it's long length, a swell as use of other "weapons and techniuqes that are not found in the origanl 3 that were taught.

I've now had about 6 years to digest this Fuzhou Suparinpei, and over 25 years to digest and dissect the total Uechi system of kata. What I can tell you is that your hypothesis is a very interesting one. However there's enough evidence out there about the origin of the 5 bridge kata for a reasonable person to say that Fuzhou Suparinpei only contributed in a small way to them (if it indeed did at all).

First of all, Uechi Kanei did not choreograph all the 5 bridge kata. They were the work of several men, and most probably would not have seen Kanbun do the Suparinpei that he allegedly saw (and MAYBE practiced) in China.

Second... If you study the 5 bridge kata long enough, you'll see that they are ALMOST entirely made up of pieces and parts of The Big Three TM kata. My take on the 5 bridge kata is that they were a "reshuffling" of the material to show there was nothing sacred about the sequencing in Seisan and Sanseiryu. They were intended to take certain difficult movements (such as "hawk chases sparrow") and have the student isolate them and do them on both sides. That's the kind of thing that a person SHOULD be doing when studying kata, but darned few teachers train them that way and darned few students have the knowledge and discipline to break a kata apart and put it back together again.

However... There are a handful of moves in the 5 bridge kata that seem to come from nowhere. What of this sokuto geri in Kanshiwa kata? What's this wrist movement business in Kanchin? Then when you look at this contemporary Fuzhou Suparinpei and see those movements there - along with some other Uechi classics - it does make you wonder.

Perhaps what is more fascinating here is the fact that there are directions taken in the contemporary Fuzhou Suparinpei (such as the yoko geri, side stepping, athletic kicking movements) that classic Uechi ryu never touches. And yet... many of these movements are seen in martial arts elsewhere - including in contemporary Uechi practitioners. What's up with that? Did Kanbun decide he wanted to limit the scope of the material he was exposed to when he passed his system on? That's an interesting thought.

- Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2003 7:38 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2003 2:26 pm
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Location: Michigan
Thank you for your insight!

Another interesting note that ties in with this is movements that are in Techniuqe execrciszes, but not in "kata" or not presented to applied in kata as practicied in techniuqe. It's a Brain Snack

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