Saturday, September 30, 2023

Deconstructing Seisan


Here's a fine demonstration of Seisan, the first kata taught in Isshinryu karate. Seisan is not unique to Isshinryu, but is an ancient form found in many systems of karate. Kata is typically practiced as a solo form, but eventually the student is taught how to deconstruct the kata itself (bunkai) and how to apply the self-defense moves within (oyo). Later upon testing, students are asked to show (with a partner) sections of various kata and their proper application. Here we see this particular kata in its entirety in a theoretical matchup versus multiple assailants. The guttural breathing you hear adds power to the technique.

The master featured in the video (the defender at the center) is Arcenio Advincula. He trained directly under the founder of Isshinryu karate, Tatsuo Shimabuku, during his US military hitch on Okinawa starting in 1958. Years ago I took a workshop given by Advincula-sensei that was attended by at least two dozen Isshinryu karate teachers and students on Long Island. One of my instructors got into a rather heated exchange with the master over a stupid technical issue that did not end well for the former. Pro tip: never argue with a Marine giving a karate demonstration.

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