Gojushiho Every Day

Neurologists and psychologists suggest that the human brain is designed to pick up on patterns. This tendency helps us make sense of the space around us, and the world in general. It’s also how we arrive at many superstitions and decisions. I buy what the psychologists are selling there. In fact, I like noticing when this phenomena is at work in my own life.

One great benefit of Okinawa Kenpo as a style is the diversity of kata that we have available. It allows me to see core karate concepts expressed in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, there simply is not enough time in the day to explore them all adequately. I’ve been thinking lately that it would be nice if I selected one to focus on, and really put my full self into it.

And thus, the pattern recognition gears began to turn…

Event #1 – Explanations

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of leading a few black belt students through the kata Gojushiho during a class. As we practiced the physical form of the kata, I also did my best to field questions regarding the specifics of technique and the causes behind them. I realized that although my answers were adequate, they were hardly exceptional. This concerned me.

Event #2 – Destinations

About 2-3 weeks ago I attended a training seminar by Kyoshi Bill Hayes. Amongst the myriad of things to learn there, I saw on one of his charts that he simply had written:

“Gojushiho – Chinesized”

I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant. Unfortunately the matter left my mind shortly as I tried to stay in the moment and retain what Hayes Sensei was presently talking about. I also forgot to ask him about it before the end of the day. I didn’t kick myself for my negligence until later.

Event #3 – Questionations

On my facebook group for ikigaiway, I have a few videos posted of myself doing material. They are basically there just to reassure members that I’m not completely full of it (although I mostly am). One of the videos posted is Gojushiho kata (here):

A kind member commented on the video and asked me about the form’s history. I relayed to him this:

“I’d like to give you a short answer now, and then a longer answer in an article format. So, as of right now: This kata was given to me by Bruce Heilman of Okinawa Kenpo (9th dan). He was taught it by Seikichi Odo, the top student of Shigeru Nakamura and non-familial successor to Okinawa Kenpo. Our style has two different Gojushiho kata, ichi and ni. Ni (the one shown here), was given to Odo by Seike Toma, who in turn was given it by Chotoku Kyan (some say indirectly). If you trace both Gojushiho kata’s back far enough, you arrive at Bushi Matsumura of the Shuri-te.”

* * *

This series of events was enough to spur me into a complete commitment to the kata. Prior to this Gojushiho was already one of my ‘favorites’ and I had given it adequate attention. But I decided adequate was no longer adequate.

The Goal

My goal now is to pursue the kata as deeply as possible. I intend to explore history, movements, bunkai, tichiki, and overall significance. One way I’m going to do that is by performing the kata at least once a day. This constant repetition will keep it both in my conscious and subconscious mind, and help lead me to more significant discoveries. You probably won’t hear about this topic again for awhile, but don’t worry – I intend to bring it back in a much fuller format once I think it’s appropriate.

Do you have a Gojushiho kata in your system? If so feel free to include your personal thoughts on it here in the comments section.

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