Mitsusuke Harada – Master of Shotokai
Mitsusuke Harada – Master of Shotokai
Interview by John Cheetham
(перевод на русский)
Q. Sensei, what do you feel are the main technical differences between Shotokai and the Shotokan that is practised today?
А. I do feel that it is not so different, as Shotokai`s Karate is based from Shotokan. It is only that Shotokai`s practise has been more strongly influenced by Yoshitaka Funakoshi Sensei than Gichin Funakoshi Sensei.
(i) STANCE – Zenkutsu-dachi. We in Shotokai use FUDO-DACHI which was (…) by KIBA-DACHI. In this stance when stepping forward with Oi-zuki, Age-uke, etc. then it is a straight step. Not as the step in HANGETSU or SANCHIN Katas as used in some Shotokan groups (in and out).
(ii) DEFENCE – Age-uke, Gedan Barai must be done with the use of the wrists, with a flick-like action, similar to the wrist action used with the SAI and NUNCHAKU.
(iii) SHUTO-UKE – as in the spear-hand, requires the four fingers to be extended fully with the thumb straight, touching the side of the hand – not pending the thumb, meaning the hand must be opened perfectly.
(iv) IRIMI – this is a special practice we do in Shotokai which is like avoiding or passing continuously against a partner, with the body at 45%, not square, giving limited target area.
Q. Which Kata are practised in Shotokai and how do they differ from Shotokan?
A. Originally, Shotokan`s designated Karate Katas, which Gichin Funakoshi O-Sensei showed and taught us, are as follows: -
TAIKYOKU SHODAN, NIDAN, SANDAN;
HEIAN SHODAN, NIDAN, SANDAN, YODAN and GODAN;
TEKKI SHODAN, NIDAN, SANDAN;
BASSAI (DAI), KANKU (DAI), JION, JUTTE, HANGETSU, ENPI and GANKAKU.
These katas are practised, especially TAIKYO KU which Funakoshi Sensei created – it is the most important kata for us – and after learning those the next ones are: -
KANKU (SHO), MEIKYO, JEIN, SOCHIN, NIJU SHIHO, GOJU SHIHO, SANCHIN, TEN-NO KATAS and IAI`S KATA (one uses self-imagination like that of Kendo sword drawing).
We also practise special BO (KON) NO KATAS, MATSUKAZE (Shotokai`s designated Bo-no Kata), SAKUGAWA, SHUSHI and SUEYOSHI.
Our Katas differ from Shotokan as we do them slowly with a relaxed body and correct form.
Originally, the Katas were Karate`s gymnastics, and their purpose was to study correct form. Gichin Funakoshi Sensei explained each Kata`s purpose and meaning, with each University having their own interpretation and the Katas were done like shadow boxing. Obviously over a period of time ideas varied from the original purpose and meaning that Funakoshi Sensei set out for the Katas.
My idea of Kata is firstly how to move with a relaxed body and apply correct form and posture. This is important for the correct expansion and contraction of the muscles, without this the form and its application is meaningless.
Kata is not just shadow-boxing, in fact it`s about using one`s physique, form and posture correctly, which activate the use of our muscles which is our body`s biomechanics, this gives Kata its real meaning and purpose.
Q. Can you please tell us the various forms of Kumite which you practice and teach in the Shotokai style?
A. The Shotokan practice usually followed a format of Kata-Kihon-Kumite, usually it was the Gohon Kumite form we practiced followed by Sambon Kumite.
However, the University`s practice was emphasising more of a physical practice which was mainly Sambon or Gohon Kumite and after Jiyu Ippon Kumite and finally Jiyu Kumite.
My Shotokai group also practice the same as the University groups did.
Q. What are your views on Competition Kumite and also Competition Kata?
A. My personal view on competition is that I have nothing against it as every sport has competition.
However, in Karate it`s the competition system I cannot accept. In most fighting sports one can clearly find out the winner/loser for example in boxing and a knockdown. It is clear between the fighters and also secondly spectators what the result is.
In Karate it`s a third party who judges the result – which means that it is too much metaphysical.
In competition one does not touch, so a technique executed to win and is judged that if it made contact it would be effective. But how can one say if one does not touch “win or lose” and consider if contact was made and the opponent moved away to absorb the attack, how effective would the attack be really! I suppose it`s almost like playing football without a ball!
The competition situation is far from reality and one would respond differently if one`s life depended upon it. Many competition techniques are not effective in reality and training for just winning in competition removes the Karateka from real karate practice and reality.
In Competition Kata then it`s a matter of what part are the judges really looking for, is it SHADOW BOXING or the PHYSICAL/BIOMECHANICAL aspects of Kata.
So once again, I am interested in competition, but personally I don`t want to join.
Q. How much contact did you have with Master Funakoshi`s son, Yoshitaka? Could you tell us about him?
A. When I was a boy in 1943 and I joined SHOTOKAN and practiced 3-4 times a week. Funakoshi himself never attended at this time, it was HIRONISHI who took the practices, and sometimes in the evening YOSHITAKA came to teach but it was not very often due to his ill health.
As a young boy, my impression of Yoshitaka was that his personality was certainly different because when he attended the dojo atmosphere changed completely. With Yoshitaka`s practice, form was not so important, it was a matter of using all one`s energy in the practice. Quite different to that of HIRONISHI`S practice which emphasized FORM.
It seemed to me that when I joined University that the practice was a little different to that of Hironishi`s. Then OKUYAMA came and strongly influenced our group which came from Yoshitaka, although we did not realize this at the time.
Q. Do you still contact with other Shotokai Senseis like Oshima? Do they teach the same way today as yourself?
A. Master Egami has been dead for about nine years. As for Oshima, I have had no contact with him for over ten years, so I have no idea what he is doing now, just that it seems tome our ideas are different and that our practice is not the same.
Q. I have noticed in old photo`s, etc., that Master Gichin Funakoshi basic stances were quite hugh, whereas Yoshitaka`s were much deeper and longer, can you expand on this for us?
A. Funakoshi was a very short person, so if he adopted lower stances he would be even shorter. My personal opinion is that Funakoshi`s practice was basically “form” so low posture and gravity was not so important.
However, Yoshitaka`s practice was more for real physical fighting so low posture and gravity with strong legs were important, (…) as it is for the Sumo wrestlers.
Q. Would you say that it was Yoshitaka who was the biggest influence on the Shotokan practiced today, or was it perhaps Master Nakayama and the J.K.A. seniors?
A. Before the war most people knew Yoshitaka Sensei and practiced with him, but on the other hand not so many people really knew Yoshitaka`s technical level. Therefore I believe Nakayama and the J.K.A. had hardly any influence at all.
In 1948 when I practiced at Waseda University, our main influence came from OKUYAMA who was influenced by Yoshitaka Sensei. Master Okuyama and the senior J.K.A. instructors always argued and had different opinions. At that time I did not know much about this, but when I met Mr. Egami, he explained that Yoshitaka was the influence at Waseda which influenced Egami, Okuyama and Harada.
At Nakayama`s University, which was Takushoku University, the main influence inside the university was Yoshitaka which followed a line of influence to FUKUI, MIYATA and MORIHANA, this was the only line of influence. However, Morihana was dead and Myata never joined the J.K.A., so that`s why the J.K.A. and Nakayama had no influence at all.
Originally, there was no Kihon just Kata, but with Kihon was created then the step from HANGETSU was used, why I am not sure. Yoshitaka`s came from TEKKI (KIBA-DACHI posture which they said was FUDO-DACHI), this posture is the one I adopt.
I do remember when I practiced and saw Gichin Funakoshi`s posture it was completely different to that of the J.K.A.
Q. Finally, Sensei Harada, I know that all Shotokan Karate Magazine readers would like to know what you think, as a “direct” student of Master Funakoshi, how he would feel about the development of the Karate practiced today which in fact carries his pen-name, “Shoto”.
A. If Funakoshi Sensei was watching present day Karate maybe he would say it`s not Karate. He published Karate Do Kyohan and his preface to the second edition and commented that even after the war Karate was becoming unrecognizable to when he first introduced it, and such changes were only natural, due to Karate`s expansion, but he looked on with some remorse.
That was then and now over thirty years later, with even great growth and the many various schools of Karate, then he would probably be very saddened at what he saw.
(Shotokan Karate Magazine would like to thank HARADA Sensei for this most interesting interview and also Miss M. Kellett and Denis Ansell for their kind help and assistance, EDITOR)
NOTE – SENSEI HARADA is the most seniorJapanese Shotokai instructor in Europe and a U.K. resident for over twenty years. Sensei Harada was born in Manchuria on 16.11.28. He came to Britain on 19.11.63. The Karate-Do Shotokai was originally formed in the U.K. in 1966.