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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Toyama Seiko Sensei - SANDAIRYU

Edited by Bill for appearance

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bushi no te isshinryu


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:54 pm 
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He enjoyed his kata and has a way of doing it that is simply his. A pleasure to watch.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:40 pm 
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CANDANeh wrote:
He enjoyed his kata and has a way of doing it that is simply his. A pleasure to watch.

This reminds me a bit of a speech given to me by the father of a beautiful woman I knew for many years. She was stunning and sweet, and a great individual until tragedy struck her life. Her mother was an artist who sold her work at The Greenbrier's artist colony. Her father was an enigmatic character who drifted from job to job, but was professionally at his best as a salesman.

The speech he gave me at the end of dinner was the advantage of being old. He told me he couldn't wait. By his account... when you're an adult, you're bound by the rules of society. But when you're very young and very old, you have license to do almost anything you want to do without much in the way of consequences. I witnessed that in practice with my father - an accomplished man who had 8 kids and a marriage of 52 years before my mom passed away. In his last few years he thought nothing of pinching the booties of women I hired to keep an eye on him and tend to him when he stayed with me. God love him, and may his soul rest in peace.

Indeed what you see in this performance of Sanseiryu is form which transcends substance. Don't get me wrong; the substance is mostly there. But layered on top of it all is an artistic expression of the years of training he obviously endured, and the spirit of the dragon within. He's toying with us, and enjoying himself along the way. He actually drops his hands in places during the kata, as if taunting his imaginary opponent. And it's fun to watch.

Furthermore... I hope I look that good and can move that well when I'm that age. Therein I believe lies the raison d'etre of this demonstration. As Clint Eastwood once said in the movie Magnum Force, "A man's got to know his limitations." Toyama Sensei works within those age-related limitations, and yet still mocks us with his ability to be what most of us never will be at that age. And I say good for him!

All that said...

What I also find interesting is not what he does and emphasizes in this kata, but also what he chooses NOT to do. For instance...

  • In 0:59 to 1:01, he chooses to do the driving (jousting?) front elbow while charging into a leaning zenkutsu dachi rather than a kiba dachi. Understand that both work just fine. But I've had Okinawan teachers preach against the leaning zenkutsu in that specific sequence because it's so difficult to keep from overextending your center while also charging. And they would be right... except Toyama Sensei shows that he can do it.

    And wouldn't you know... after doing some unique kinds of whole-body training the last few years, I found myself accidentally jumping into my leaning zenkutsu in Seisan kata. My reaction was an after-the-fact 'Where in the hell did that come from?' Well... it can spontaneously emerge when good training allows you to get away with it. My first reaction when I did it was remembering that I had seen Toyama Sensei do this in another clip of his Seisan. Suddenly I realized we had been walking similar paths. It frankly felt pretty good. 8)
    ...
  • In the sequence from 1:06 to 1:12 he does those moves not like the way I do mine, which by the way I like and I'm keeping. Rather he instead does those moves like a similar sequence in Seichin kata. I always wondered where the hell that came from, and imagined it was an amalgam of several classic Uechi moves (the sequence from 0:19 to 0:21 coupled with the sequence from 1:06 to 1:12). But Toyama Sensei does the move like that Seichin variant, discarding other possibilities which a more "vanilla" sequence shows.
    ...
  • Absent in his kata are some transition movements. These transitions both tie sequences together and add dimension to the base movements. He wouldn't be alone in not expressing those in his kata. My tendency to investigate this domain perhaps comes from Tomoyose Ryuko's influence on me. But his sequences look just fine without them. It's as if he doesn't care, and knows his form has plenty without the transitions.

Anyhow... a pleasure to watch and to contemplate.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:48 pm 
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Master Toyama was a video inspiration to me. When I first saw a video of him, with only my Shorin Ryu background some months before beginning my training in Uechi-Ryu, I thought his performance weird-looking. After studying Uechi Ryu for awhile, however, I guess my thinking changed in some profound way, and while his performance is heavily stylized, of course, I saw and sensed more. For awhile after his passing, in his honor, I would open my right hand, posting as he did, after the forward-facing elbow-backfist-shoken before proceeding to the last elbow strike. I liked it. I stopped doing it somewhere along the way, probably because the elbow-backfist-shoken sequence is in several kata, and it was never my intention to post like that in all of them, only in Sanseiryu. Maybe I'll put it back...

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:00 pm 
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mhosea wrote:
while his performance is heavily stylized, of course

I've had time to reflect on this a bit. I've seen the "stylized" performances of Kanbun's kata, going back to some unusual demonstrations at the 33rd anniversary celebration of his passing.

For instance... the "shoulder roll" bit seems very peacock-like and superfluous to a stand-up sport fighter. But then do some of the traditional jar training work that frankly few practicing Uechika perform - mostly due to a practical lack of proper equipment. (Those damn jars can be expensive, they break way too easily, and it's difficult to find someone who makes them for more than a few months at a time.) What you'll find is that the effort it takes to keep the shoulders properly in their sockets will develop the traps and shoulders in ways that make the "shoulder roll" and cat-like raised back an almost instinctive feat.

Then consider that more than a few Uechika have taken what is contemporary Uechi Ryu and mixed it with jujutsu, BJJ, or aikido. The striking aspect of Kanei's style combined with the grabbing and grappling aspect of the "traditional" grappling styles is such a perfect match that one wonders if it wasn't meant to be that way.

And then... people like me who have spent time doing a little research and talking with folks like Patrick McCarthy begin to wonder if maybe contemporary Uechi Ryu is half of Kanbun's style. In other words, that hunched-over grappler is very much the yin to the yang that is contemporary Uechi Ryu. It was all meant to be the same style in a way that tegumi and other grappling methods can easily be found in other very old Okinawan kata.

So in some respects I agree with you and see where perhaps the simpler style of Kanei was meant to strip Kanbun's method down to bare essentials. And then there are days when I think perhaps Kanei threw the baby out with the bath water.

It's at least fun to contemplate while watching Toyama Sensei perform to the raucous music. 8)

- Bill


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:51 pm 
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Would be interesting to watch Toyama sensei perform sanchin. His performance with the "raucous music" is like a rose blooming in the sunlight...is his sanchin the rose unopened? Will every rose bloom exactly the same for every master? By "master" I mean someone who can inspire "experts" to rethink what they are very good at. Personally I`m pleased that the only style available to me in 1976 was Uechi-ryu. Is it the best style anyone can study? No. Is it the most consistent? Again no as so much has changed and will continue to do so. In order to master the Uechi style I believe one must understand what Einstein meant by "Imagination is more important than knowledge"

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:32 am 
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I have seen Toyama Sensei perform Sanchin.. It is not on video tape (as far as I know).. The closest way to describe it is Gushi Sensei's Old Style(Koryu) Sanchin on Youtube..

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:53 am 
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Stevie B wrote:
I have seen Toyama Sensei perform Sanchin.. It is not on video tape (as far as I know).. The closest way to describe it is Gushi Sensei's Old Style(Koryu) Sanchin on Youtube..

This is Gushi Shinyu doing Sanchin. It's relatively "clean". By that I mean it's absent the showy shoulder rolling. You do however see a lot of core muscle dynamic tension.

Shinyu Gushi performs Sanchin

There is a Sanchin performance similar to the Toyama style Sanseiryu done at Uechi Kanbun's 33rd Anniversary celebration. There's a very young and "buff" man doing the demonstration. I doubt anyone has transferred and loaded the video. Maybe some day.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:09 pm 
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No Bill... This one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz9_hL5mmWI

Only Toyama Sensei didn't make much sound..
He also seemed a bit more upright..

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:34 pm 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
So in some respects I agree with you


I wasn't really trying to encapsulate a point of view by my choice of words there, just acknowledging that it looks somewhat different from what the "mainstream" is doing. I think you may be on to something. Like all men, Kanei lived in a certain time, a historical context, and the choices he made were made within it. Matsubayashi Ryu seems to have evolved in similar fashion during about the same time frame.

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