I hope everything is great with you and the family.
You are right there are a lot of hits but not many opinions shared, so I thought I would throw mine out there for what it is worth (if anything at all
First of all this is one of those topics that can never resolved because we have no film of Uechi Kanbun performing anything. However, I think you have opened a topic that should make for a great discussion if people choose to take part.
Which is why I am making that choice, I offer only my opinion here and make no claims to being right – just the way I see it.
Because there is no film of Uechi Kanbun Sensei we are left to look at what we have and for myself over here in Canada that is restricted to a few pieces of older films (now on video) and commentaries either recorded or heard in person from a very few older Okinawan masters.
I say this up front to be clear that I have do not the exposure or the experience that Mark has, so I can only draw my conclusions from the little that I have to go on.
I believe the performance of Kata has changed.
The little footage and commentary I have support this belief, at least in my opinion.
For example the part of that Wakayama historical clip referred to in another post that intrigues me the most is not the drastic differences in the Kata but rather one small segment.
There is a part where a man in a suit coat is obviously discussing mythologies of performance with a young Tomoyose Sensei.
The move they are discussing is the turn Wauke hammer fist in Seisan.
The man in the suit coat performs it in the manner I would term “old” style. He does the move AS he transitions his footwork and combines the Wauke hammer fist. He “lands” on the strike
Young Tomoyose Sensei performs it in the manner I would term “new” style. He pivots, then steps, then Wauke, then strikes. All separate pieces.
These two differences are my first major specific points where I see changes.
The moves in old style were performed in the transitions not turn or step THEN perform the movement.
To me this is the manner you move and strike in a fight using the force of the body movement to enhance the strike.
To me it works better so that is what I attempt to do.
Another example is the step elbow strike. There is much more force when you land on the elbow strike rather than step then strike. This method I have seen in some earlier footage of Uechi Kata.
The other major difference is also indicated by commentary where things used to be one move. The enhanced body mechanics of the Wauke and strike combine (yin and yang – the body mechanics not the chi stuff
The next two major differences are the speed and timing of the Kata today and the size of the movements.
Learning anything requires you beginning by slowing things down, breaking them down into pieces and making the movements bigger. However at some point you speed up, put everything back together and reduce the size of the movements.
In an interview with Mabuni Sensei Uechi Kanbun Sensei commented that the forms of his Chuan Fa style were done” quick”. The “quick” has gone from many performances of Kata. This is also support by stories of his Siesan Kata being so fast no one was sure if he had a kick on his Seisan Step back or not.
In viewing some older films of Kata you can see how the Wuake is performed smaller and more compact rather than the larger version that prevails today.
The next major differences I would comment on come from recorded commentary and comments at a seminar by an older Uechi Master. The positioning has changed. The Sanchin position has opened up and many “stances” are no longer compact fighting versions but more for “pictures” as one older master described the stances of today.
I also see in clips that the kata don’t stop and start but drive through to the end in a “flow.” I believe that in a fight you don’t stop either therefore that is what I attempt to do in kata as well.
I can see from the very limited exposure to film and commentary very distinct changes have taken place.
I can speculate of the causes for these changes but not the point of this thread.
Marcus commented on the loosenss and the smooth flow of Uechi Kanei Sensei's Kata that we don't see often today -- changes.
The specific changes from old style to new that I conclude are:
1. Moves used to be done in the transitions or as we moved and not step then movement.
2. The Wauke and the strikes used to be one move not separated.
3. The movements were tighter and compact.
4. The forms used to be done quick.
5. The form of the stance was more compact and less open (more applicable to fighting than “show”).
6. The Kata don’t stop and start.
Is it right?
Is it what Uechi Kanbun did?
Absolutely no idea.
Does it work for me?
So, great question Mark, sorry I don’t have any insights for you and I definitely have no answers for you.
I can only say I find what I call the “old” methodologies more effective but I cannot speak to what others might find, prefer or conclude.
So as I said at the start there is no footage of Uechi Kanbun performing his Chuan Fa, so I make no claim that the “old” style I surmise here is his method or that I in anyway do (or am attempting to do) things as he did them.
I don’t know.
Good topic to discuss.
All the best, Mark.