Superempi speculation

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Superempi speculation

Postby gmattson » Mon Sep 21, 1998 1:14 pm

Received the following email from Ron Shively. Thought your forum would be a good place to discuss his theories.
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Sir: After watching your video, I contacted some other chinese stylists I knew who possibly gave me some insight into what I was watching. After watching other goju ryu katas, I was able to see that Miyagi used his
version of suparempai as the "mother" kata for his other forms such as geksai, tensho,
etc.

As a chinese stylist I know that traditional T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Pa-kua ch'ang,hsing-I ch'uan and some older forms of southern shaloin are interlinkable. That is the forms are able to be performed continually as a continious
drill format. Also, that there are several sub forms/katas that are derived from the
longer versions. The sub katas are also linkable as shorter, continuous drills.

Is it possible that the suparempai form that is considered "lost" isn't actually lost, but is really nothing more than the combined katas of sanchin, seisan, and sanseiru together in different amounts? That possibly it isn't really lost. that we were given 3 different pieces to a puzzle and that the
"lost" kata and/or mother kata to the system exists when all three are combined in some format? That all that is really needed is to put the pieces together in proper order?

Alot of chinese instructors use this approach over direct explanation. The same way that striking and grappling are taught separately. Many of them are waiting to see just who is smart enough to put the pieces together.

Thanks again for your prompt service

Ron Shively
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Superempi speculation

Postby Bill Glasheen » Mon Sep 21, 1998 7:33 pm

Ron and I had a bit of a private e-mail chat about this earlier today. I'll share my own views.

First, we need to consider that the Fuzhou Supraempei that I have been practicing and teaching 1) may not be the supraempei that Kanbun allegedly saw a century ago, and 2) if it is, it probably is a bit different from what he saw as forms are quite volatile and personalized in this Fuzhou school.

That being said, I would have to say that this final form is more "progressive" rather than "cumulative". For instance, take the jump from sanchin to seisan. What a leap! If it weren't for the fact that someone probably tacked those three sanchin strikes on in the beginning as an afterthought (long vs short seisan), you might have a difficult time believing they were from the same system. Only when you consider that seisan is a literal manifestation of the general principles of sanchin do you realize the link. The same can be said for sanseiryu vs sanchin. But you certainly wouldn't think of sanseiryu showing you everything that seisan has and then some. It has its own way of expressing sanchin principles.

Such is the supraempei. There are techniques in this Fuzhou supraempei that are not in seisan and sanseiryu. And the reverse is true. However, you see themes running through the forms. This supraempei shows a much more developed understanding of the use of tiger and crane hand. It emphasizes vertical motion where sanseiryu only hints at it. It has triple outside block/thrusts (vs triple inside ones in seisan). It shows a more advanced knee strike (actually a double knee after the grab). It has the sokuto geri (previously only in the forms that Kanei added).
But....the movement is oddly unique - almost a step back from that shown in sanseiryu. And sometimes you get the impression that the choreographer had too much caffeine that day - almost overkill in many directions.

So I would say progression, yes. Linked, yes. Cumulative? This form really doesn't stand on its own. Seisan and Sanseiryu have unique, rich stories to tell even with this "other" form on the table.

Bill
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Superempi speculation

Postby Rick Wilson » Tue Sep 22, 1998 6:33 am

Interesting note, because I once heard that Kanbun Uechi Sensei looked at Supraempei and decided it was just Sanchin and Sanserui mixed together, so why bother. I'm afraid I can't remember the source of the comment right now.

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Superempi speculation

Postby Scott Danziger » Tue Sep 22, 1998 10:50 pm

Sensei,
Speaking of which, has anybody heard from sensei Breyette and how his studies under Toyama Sensei are going? I'm not only curious but fascinated as well.

Scott
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Superempi speculation

Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Sep 22, 1998 11:07 pm

Scott

There is a very, very long story behind this. Suffice it to say that Sensei Breyette and Toyama sensei mutually agreed that he should engage in less internet and more dojo practice. If you need to know more, there are those who could fill you in privately.

I wish the best for both of them and hope to meet them both when I next visit Okinawa.

Bill
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Superempi speculation

Postby Bill Glasheen » Wed Sep 23, 1998 5:38 am

Rick

We need to be careful about hearsay. Sometimes an individual will make a comment off the cuff, and others will take it and propagate it as fact. If you find that source, tace it back.

My own source for Kanbun suggesting that he saw a supraempei comes from Gordi who heard it directly (in the last year) from Toyama sensei. As you may know, Toyama studied directly under Uechi Kanbun.

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Superempi speculation

Postby Scott Danziger » Wed Sep 23, 1998 11:41 am

Sensei,
Thanks. I don't want to seem "nosey" nor bother anybody about it. I remember Sensei Breyette mentioning a possible book. Obviously Toyama sensei is the last living link to Kanbun. One can only imagine the stories this man has plus his own insights and perspectives of Uechi ryu. To me, so far down the chain, it's mind boggling. I'm also curious about what his views are of Uechi ryu today concerning the politics and how some groups are trying to bridge any gaps. More importantly, Is the Uechi he teaches dramatically different or similar than the Uechi you guys (seniors) teach.

When you visit Okinawa, do you plan to video tape and take pictures? Maybe a video interview along with demonstrations of kata, technique?

Scott
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Superempi speculation

Postby Bill Glasheen » Wed Sep 23, 1998 2:53 pm

Scott

I can tell you what I know. My understanding is that Sensei Toyama is basically apolitical. Good for him!

There must be videos floating around of Sensei Toyama doing kata at demonstrations. I have seen still pictures of him before .Perhaps someone can speak up. However I'm almost certain that there is no material where he is the focus of attention. My understanding is that he is a quiet, unassuming man who humbly practices and teaches. This sounds like a lot of Uechika that I know on this side of the ocean.

If we stop off at Okinawa and I have the opportunity to visit sensei Toyama and there are no political logistical issues....I'll be happy to film away.

Bill
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Superempi speculation

Postby Bill Glasheen » Thu Sep 24, 1998 9:54 pm

Uh Oh.....

I have a question for Sensei Mattson.

There is a fellow on the "33rd anniversary of Kanbun's death" tape that does a very muscular sanchin. In it he "rolls" his shoulders forward before doing the kata and then "rolls" them back after he is done. I have played with this and find I can do it. I happen to have the shoulders and trapezius muscles necessary to do this display. However....for the life of me I can't figure out why you would *want* to do this other than for an external display. Initially I was impressed; the more karate I learn, the more I find this display to be somewhat superficial and frankly impractical and limiting. It's great if you expect your attackers to beat on the top of your shoulders. Other than that....

My question to Mr. Mattson (and anyone else who might know) is....who is the guy on the 33rd anniversary tape doing this?

Bill
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Superempi speculation

Postby gmattson » Thu Sep 24, 1998 10:20 pm

Interesting you should ask. I was in the audience sitting with Tomoyose sensei and Kanei Uechi sensei during another demonstration where this gentleman was performing his kata as Sensei Toyoma does his. The gentleman was from Japan and would attend and demonstrate at many Okinawa festivities and demonstrations. I have a picture of him somewhere, which I'll try to find. Just as there are many variations of Uechi-ryu today, there also were different "schools" of thought back then. Because this gentleman's performance was so different than the Okinawan version I was familiar with, I asked Uechi Sensei (through Tomoyose) what he thought of the version we were witnessing. Uechi Sensei strongly disapproved of the teacher's interpretation of the kata, saying his father did not teach it that way.

Uechi sensei at the same time did say the gentleman studied directly from his father and now (60's) had a dojo in Japan.

Please don't read anything negative into my statement. Bill asked and I answered. When Tomoyose sensei and I visited Japan and saw how his father was teaching the style, I was also shocked and asked "why the major difference?" Again, my teacher was at a loss for an answer, but strongly defended the way Uechi, Kanei taught the system.
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Note: after posting this message I remembered the gentleman's name. . . Furio, or something like this. He was a very high rank way back then, probably of equal status to Uechi sensei. (just speculating here) Anyone out there know anything about him?

[This message has been edited by gmattson (edited 09-24-98).]
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