Toguchi Sekichi & the Shoreikan Curriculum

Vancouver, BC, Goju, Shoreikan, Toguchi Sekichi, Lessons
Toguchi Sekichi

I’m sure I will get a lot of hate emails for saying this – let loose the dogs of war – but I am not a fan of the Shoreikan unified kata-kumite curriculum as developed by the late Toguchi Seikichi sensei. I am sure he went to great pains and effort to create it, but I find quite a lot of it redundant and the applications too superficial.

I think there are a some good drills and applications in the kiso and bunkai kumite, but in general they over-emphasize linear motion and a block-punch response that is not effective, or is a core concept of Nahate tactics.
Geki-sai Dai-chi Bunkai Kumite – Tokyo Shoreikan Hombu Dojo

I think the main benefit of them is that they are easy to teach when faced with large groups of students, and provide a rudimentary concept of technique, power, timing, and contact in a controlled setting. I suppose an imaginative person would be able to take the various kumite and run with them, but I am not that person. Repetitive punches, kicks and the occasional joint lock or throw is fine for beginning students, but not enough for more experienced students.
Geiki-sai Dai-ichi Kaisai Kumite – Tokyo Shoreikan Hombu Dojo

I mention this last point because more than a few of Toguchi’s Okinawan students abandoned or modified his syllabus such as: Shinjo Masanobu (Shobukan), Kanei Katsuyoshi (Jinbukan), Toyama Zenshu (Shinjikan), Kuba Yoshio (Kenpokai), Sakai Ryugo (Ryushinkaikan) and others. In fact I can’t think of anyone on Okinawa who still teaches pure Shoreikan Goju-ryu, but I’m sure someone will correct me.
While we are on the subject of Toguchi , I would not recommend the Japanese language book written by Mr. Toshio Tamano (one of Toguchi sensei’s students who currently teaches in Europe). He has some very different, and I feel, misleading ideas about kata application, which I could not, nor would want to attempt.
The only interesting little tidbit in Mr. Tamano’s book is a discussion of Miyagi Chojun’s cryptic reference to the year 1828 and the founding of Nahate. In the book he mentions that the Chinese envoys (Sapposhi) came to Okinawa in 1838, so he argues that Nahate most likely did not develop from the Sapposhi visit as it is ten years after the date Miyagi specified. He instead argues that the year 1828 represents the year a system of Chuan’fa was introduced by some Chinese merchants into Kume village. His argument is interesting given that Kume was the “Chinatown” of Naha, but unfortunately it is just speculation and he has no supporting evidence (much like most Okinawan karate research). Still, it is something else to bear in mind.
Good training.