De oorsprong van Wado-Ryu's Seishan

Published: November 5, 2022


is een zeer belangrijk kata in het Wado-Ryu. En, zoals Martijn Schelen het zo mooi omschreef, misschien wel het meest complexe kata in het Wado-Ryu. Hironori Otsuka Sensei leerde het kata van Gichin Funakoshi Sensei. Maar van wie leerde Funakoshi Sensei dit kata? Toen ik een aantal jaren geleden op een interview met Choshin Chibana Sensei stuitte, vielen een aantal dingen voor mij op zijn plek.

In dit interview vertelt Chibana Sensei het volgende:
“An important figure at the turn of the century was an individual named Kiyuna. It was said at that time that Kiyuna had the strength and power of Ankoh Itosu plus he was also a true expert in atemi (methods of striking the vital points). In describing Kiyuna, I will quote Yukoku Sanjin, whose real name was Taro Shimabukuro, since he was a direct student of Kiyuna:
“I received instruction from Kiyuna, who was at that time the grave keeper of the Sho family (the Okinawan royal family), from the second quarter which began in September of my first year until the mid-first quarter of my second year at the Commerce High School. Kiyuna, as I recall, would train in atemi by using old slippers made of straw and tied to trees call fukuchi-boku with the diameter of these trees ranging from 7 or 8 inches to one foot, which abundantly grew throughout Okinawa. Kiyuna often changed the punching trees since hitting only one tree would cause the tree to lose its leaves and damage the roots and also eventually kill the tree.”
Kiyuna was a gigantic figure and one could not see a person standing behind him. Kiyuna Tanmei continuously trained in the Patsai form and the Kusanku form of which he was considered an expert. He was extremely strong in all methods of atemi and fumikomi (stomp kicks with the foot sword). He was also an expert in oi-tsuki (a lunging punch), using his right side forward when the enemy used their left side forward but also changing to his left side forward when the enemy used their right side forward. Such a skill as his was far from being mastered by a small person like myself.” 
(Het hele interview lees je hier:

Pechin Kiyuna en Gichin Funakoshi
Pechin Kiyuna, ook bekend als Kiyuna Tanmei ('eervolle oude man'), was ook een van de leraren van Gichin Funakoshi, zoals je kunt lezen in zijn boek ‘Karate-Do, My way of life’ (Hoofdstuk: The teacher): “Meanwhile, I continued assiduously with my karate, under a number of teachers: Master Kiyuna, who with his bare hands could strip the bark from a living tree in a matter of moments; Master Tōono of Naha, one of the island’s best-known Confucian scholars; Master Niigaki, whose great common sense impressed me most deeply; and Master Matsumura, one of the greatest karateka, about whom I will have more to say later.”

Het viel mij al eerder op dat Hangetsu, zoals Seishan in het Shotokan heet, heel veel gelijkenissen heeft met de (Okinawaanse) Shorin-Ryu Kyudokan-versie van Seisan (zonder h). Meer dan welke andere Okinawa-vorm van Seisan ook. Hierdoor vroeg ik me al langer af of Shotokan's Hangetsu en Shorin-Ryu Kyudokan's Seisan dezelfde oorsprong hadden. Dus ben ik vervolgens in de oorsprong in Kyudokan's Seisan gedoken.

De Shorin-Ryu Kyudokan-versie van Seisan door Koyu Higa Sensei


Yuchoku Higa - grondlegger van Shorin-Ryu Kyudokan
Yuchoku Higa werd geboren op 8 februari 1910 in Okinawa. Zijn belangrijkste leraar was de eerdergenoemde Chōshin Chibana Sensei. Daarnaast was hij een leerling van o.a. Seiyei Miyahira (1894* – 1958), zoals je kunt lezen in Mark Bishop’s boek ‘Okinawan Karate – Teachers, styles and secret techniques’:

“At the same time (Yuchoku) Higa trained under Seiyei Miyahira, who, besides being well know for his powerful punch, was a calligrapher and noted musician, being well versed in several classical Okinawan instruments. Miyahira, who died in 1958 aged 64, had learned karate from Kiyuna Pechin (also Chunna Tanmei or Tiji-kun Bushi, i.e. Closed-fist Knight), who was a master of Shuri-te. Kiyuna had been a student of Sokon Matsumura and at one time had been a guard at the Tama Uden royal tombs near Shuri castle. From Seiyei Miyahira, Higa learned the Shuri-te version of the katas Seisan and Sanchin.”
(* Volgens Tetsuhiro Hokama Sensei werd Seiyei Miyahira geboren op 15 april 1895 en overleed hij op 12 september 1958.)

Yuchoku Higa leerde Seisan dus van Seiyei Miyahira Sensei. Als we ervan uitgaan dat Miyahira Sensei Seisan leerde van Kiyuna Tanmei, onderwees Kiyuna Tanmei dus Seisan. Aaangezien Shotokan’s Hangetsu, zoals ik al eerder aangaf, heel veel gelijkenissen heeft met Kyudokan's Seisan, meer dan welke andere Okinawa-versie van Seisan ook, en het feit dat Gichin Funakoshi Sensei zelf schreef dat Kiyuna Tanmei een van zijn leraren was, vind ik het heel aannemelijk dat Funakoshi Sensei Seisan ook van Kiyuna Tanmei leerde. 
NB. Er is geen geschreven bewijs dat Funakoshi Sensei Seisan van Kiyuna Tanmei leerde. Mijn gedachte is puur gebaseerd op Funakoshi Sensei's eigen schrijven in zijn boek ‘Karate-Do, My way of life’, de overeenkomsten tussen Shotokan's Hangetsu en Kyudokan's Seisan en het feit Yuchoku Higa Sensei een leerling was van Miyahara Sensei, die op zijn beurt een leerling van Kiyuna Tanmei was.

Wie was Kiyuna Tanmei?

In 2019 heb ik een uitgebreid Engelstalig artikel geschreven over Kiyuna Tanmei. Hieronder een korte outtake van dit artikel.
(Het complete artikel lees je hier:

In Patrick McCarthey's vertaling van de ‘Bubishi’ is te lezen dat Kiyuna Tanmei geboren werd in 1845 en overleed in 1920. In diverse Okinawaanse krantenartikelen is over hem geschreven. Op 25 januari 1911 (Meiji 44), werd bijvoorbeeld het volgende geschreven:

The Karate Convention of the Normal School

“Yesterday from 2 p.m. in the school’s courtyard the karate convention of the pupils of the just mentioned school commenced. Yabu Kentsū was named the instructor. First, up to 80 sets of karate were performed by the pupils. Furthermore about 4 sets of kumite were also performed. Afterwards, 5 sets of karate were demonstrated by middle school pupils as distinguished guests. Finally, [the following was demonstrated] by masters in this field of study kindly present on this day:
• Sēsan by Funakoshi Gichin
• Passai by Mr. Kiyuna
• Gojūshiho (a.k.a. Ūsēshi) by Yabu Kentsū
• Naihanchi by Mr. Itokazu”

(Bron: 'Tokuda Antei’s Memorandum' door Andreas Quast -

Kyuna Tanmei wordt vervolgens weer genoemd in een krantenartikel uit 1918, wanneer hij wederom kata Passai demonstreert:
“The annual martial arts event was held at the Okinawa Teachers College hall yesterday at 9 o’clock in the morning. This seminar included a student demonstration of Sumo and the kata of Karate in front of guests, including renowned masters Mr. Choyū Motobu, old Kiyuna, old Chinen, alias Yama-no-mē no Usumē...
… Next, were demonstrations of Mr. Choyu Motobu’s Shochin kata, old Mr. Kiyuna’s Passai, old Mr. Chinen’s bo (staff) and Yabu’s Gojūshiho kata. The seminar ended at about eleven thirty.”

(Bron: 'Masters of karate', vertaling door Naoki Motobu and Peter M. Kobos-

Journalist Yokoyama Kendo (1872 – 1943) schreef over hem nadat hij hem in levende lijve had gezien:

“By the way, when I visited the royal mausoleum of Ryūkyū (Tamaudun Royal Tombs), I saw the tomb’s guardsman, an old gentleman of noble height. At that time fellow travelers told me that during his prime this seasoned gentleman had been an unequaled expert of Tōdi (Karate). Having this man serving as a guardian of the royal mausoleum follows the same logic as if employing guards armed with swords. This gentleman had his right fist hardened hundreds of times. In other words, Tōdi (Karate) is the martial arts of the Ryūkyū’s elite troops.”

(Bron: 'How tradition really works' door Andreas Quast -

Tamaudun Royal Tombs in Shuri (Foto genomen door Olaf Steinbrecher op 22 januari 2020)


Ook Shoshin Nagamine Sensei schrijft over Kiyuna Tanmei in zijn boek 'Tales of Okinawan Great Masters':
"Having studied directly under the personal guidance of Bushi Matsumura, Itosu and his Dohai (classmate) Kiyuna Pechin were regarded as two of the master's most unique bujin. Well known among Matsumura's many students, both Itosu and Kiyuna possessed enormous ateifuwa or punching power. To better illustrate this point, there is an interesting story told by Nagamine Shoshu (a former committee member of Shuri's Protection of Cultural Assets Department) from Kinjo-cho. It goes something like this:
"In 1907, when Nagamine was about ten years old, the neighborhood of Tamaudon (the official burial place of the royal family) was the perfect spot for children to play because there were so many trees there. At that time Kiyuna Peichin was a guard at Tamaudon and meticulously patrolled the grounds with a wooden staff that had a bell attached to its end. In between his rounds he usually took a brief rest at the guardhouse where Nagamine often saw Itosu visit and enjoy a friendly chat over a cup of tea. With a passion for karate since childhood, Nagamine Shoshu first learned karate under Kiyuna. As a curious child he marvelled over watching his teacher and Itosu practice kata together. Kiyuna was taller than Itosu but not nearly as broad in the shoulders. Kiyuna and Itosu both had muscular arms and enormous tako (callouses) on their fists from relentless makiwara training.
As a lad, Nagamine Shoshu often heard tales about those two heroes. Such tales of heroism, exaggerated or not, have become an important part of Okinawa folklore and serve to teach valuable lessons about training and life in general. One such story surrounding the enormous punching power of Kiyuna was his problem with breaking the makiwara at his residence. It seemed that he could not keep a makiwara for more than a month, because as his intensity increased he would strike too hard, thus breaking the post. Finally, he tried to tying a leather zori (Japanese sandal) to a tree near the Tamaudon. However, after being struck for ten days the tree died!"

Volgens Shoshu Nagamine waren Kiyuna Tanmei en Anko Itosu dus vrienden en trainden zij samen kata. En volgens zowel Shoshin Nagamine als Gichin Funakoshi was Kiyuna Tanmei een leerling van de legendarische Sokon Matsumura Sensei.
Van veel kata wordt gezegd dat ze door Matsumura Sensei werden onderwezen, zonder dat daarvoor concreet (schriftelijk) bewijs is. Van Seisan wordt echter algemeen geaccepteerd dat het door Matsumura Sensei op Okinawa werd onderwezen, nadat hij het samen met Matsu Higa in 1828 in China leerde tijdens een diplomatieke missie. (Zij leerden het kata van de Chinees die bekend staat als Iwah.)
Dit maakt het heel aannemelijk dat Kiyuna Tanmei Seisan van Sokon Matsumura Sensei leerde. En dit zou betekenen dat de oudste bron voor Wado-Ryu's Seishan de legendarische Sokon Matsumura is.

Auteur: Olaf Steinbrecher