Saturday, 16 January 2010

The three Meikyo kata

The kata section of today's practice was dedicated to the three Meikyo kata. I was very rusty on Meikyo-sandan (and still are) so it ended up being both an enjoyable and technically challenging session. Appropriately, the kihon and kumite trained, all came from the Meikyo series.
Background: Meikyo ('Polished Mirror') came from various forms of Rohai, and was apparently adapted by Master Gichin Funakoshi and/or his son Gigo. Not being a karate historian, I can't say much more than this. However one point, which I do know, is that Meikyo was Masatoshi Nakayama Sensei's favourite kata in his latter years.

Meikyo kata in standard Shotokan: It is true that in standard JKA (Japan Karate Association) Shotokan, there is only one Meikyo kata. However, Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei introduced two more versions; Meikyo-nidan and Meikyo-sandan. Sadly I received very little information about these kata in the historical sense, but heard directly from Asai Sensei that he used Meikyo-nidan and Meikyo-sandan as a means to bridge the gap from the standard Shotokan kata, to other formal exercises. After successfully doing this, Asai Sensei, at least for the most part, discontinued teaching them.

The bridge to the koten kata: Like most people, in the early 1990's when Asai Sensei first started teaching Meikyo-nidan and Meikyo-sandan, I was blown away. "Advanced Shotokan kata only known by the Japanese?" As you can see, immediately the bridge was made... Asai Sensei was so very wise, knowing that we were all closed minded to anything, outside of 'traditional Shotokan'. So he spoon fed the additional two Meikyo kata, which resulted in everyone being open, and very enthusiastic to learn his more kumite based koten kata.

Especially Meikyo-nidan, but also Meikyo-sandan, were the kata which Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei used to open people's minds (beyond 'standard JKA Shotokan'). Therefore, and regardless of whether you practice them or not, they mark an important time in the history of Asai style karate.
{Please note: Only the first photograph in this article comes from one of the Meikyo kata (movement 48 of Meikyo-sandan). The other three photos come from the koten kata, Kakuyoku-shodan and Kakuyoku-nidan}.

© André Bertel, Japan (2010).

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