The Secret Karate Techniques - Kata Bunkai - Helmut Kogel - ebook

The Secret Karate Techniques - Kata Bunkai ebook

Helmut Kogel



This book is aimed at both the experienced Karate student and those just starting up in finding their way through the theoretical and historical background of Karate and in the practice of the so-called "secret techniques". In reading the book it becomes easy to see Karate's relationship to other Asian Martial Arts systems. Its content includes Basic Techniques, Tuite (Lever) Techniques, Chin Na-Techniques (Hold and Control), Nage Waza (Throws), Shime Waza (Strangling Techniques) and Kyusho (weak points) Techniques. In this book we have tried to analyze Tuite and Kyusho Techniques from a modern anatomical point of view and to this aim have put together a new type of graphic illustration. At its hub is the Karate Kata, which contains all of the techniques mentioned above and which is invaluable for daily training once the various levels of the Bunkai (application) have been understood. The depth of these levels of understanding is layered according to the Omote (obvious interpretation) for the beginner and the Chuden Techniques (middle level) for the more advanced. The hidden, or secret, techniques open themselves up to the higher Master levels, which are described as Okuden.

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The Secret Karate Techniques


The techniques described in this book and the techniques of any martial art are dangerous. You should, therefore, train under the supervision of an expert. Please also use caution when handling or using any weapons and consult a qualified teacher. Please use restraint when practicing techniques described in this book. Neither the author nor the publishers of this book are responsible for the results of your choice to practice these techniques. Please respect the law and order of your country.

Helmut Kogel




Meyer & Meyer Sport

Original title: Kata Bunkai – Die geheimen Techniken im Karate

© 2010 Meyer & Meyer Verlag

Translated by Judy Keenan

The Secret Karate Techniques

Kata Bunkai

Helmut Kogel

Maidenhead: Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd., 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84126-961-0

All rights reserved. Except for use in a review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means now known or hereafter invented without the prior written permission of the publisher. This book may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade in any form, binding or cover other than that wich is published, without zhe prior written consent of the publisher

© 2010 by Meyer & Meyer Verlag, Aachen

Aachen, Adelaide, Auckland, Budapest, Cape Town, Graz, Indianapolis,

Maidenhead, Olten (CH), Singapore, Toronto

Member of the World

Sport Publishers’ Association (WSPA)

Printed by: B.O.S.S Druck und Medien GmbH

ISBN: 978-1-84126-289-5

E-Mail: [email protected]




Preface: What is the Essence of Karate? (Tetsuhiro Hokama)

A General Part


The Historical Development of Okinawan Karate


Understanding the Kata


The Three Levels of Karate Techniques: Omote, Chuden and Okuden


A Selection of Okinawan Masters


Fifty Years of Okinawan Karate (Tetsuhiro Hokama)


Karate as Seen by Today’s Okinawan Grand Masters


Cultural Differences in How the Human Body is Viewed


The Importance of Acupuncture in Karate


The Role of Bubishi

B Special Part


Coded Kata Techniques in Karate – Cracking the Code


Ready Position (Yoi)


Etiquette, The Bow (Re)


The Opening Movement (Iriguchi Waza)


In Jion, Jiin, Jitte


Starting Movement in Bassai Dai


Starting Movement of the Kata Enpi


Starting Movement of Kanku Dai


The Closing Movement (Degushi Waza)


Basic Techniques from Another Point of View


Withdrawal of the Fist to the Hips (Hikite)


Fist to Fist


Utilizing the Turning Movement


Chudan Attack Becomes Jodan


The Particularities of Shuto Uke


The Preparatory Hand in a Block


Turning the Front and Rear Fist


Each and Every Block is an Attack


Kousa Dachi


How Mae Geri Became Yoko Geri


Multiple Meanings of One Technique and Ground Work (Ne Waza)


Levers (Tuite, Kansetsu Waza)


Escape Techniques (Gedatsuho)


Sensitive Points (Jintai Kyusho)


Throws (Nage Waza), Foot Sweeps (Ashi Waza), Reaps (Gari Waza)


Lock and Choke (Shime Waza)


Principles in the Kata


Ju and Go (Tai no Shinshuku)


Rhythm (Waza no Kankyu)


Using the Flow of Energy


There is No Block in Karate


Touching One’s Own Body During the Kata


The Circle and the Proper Angle


The Meaning Behind a Preparatory Movement





This book has been written for all those interested in the Martial Arts and who want to look more deeply into the material behind authentic Okinawan Karate. Knowledge of the background behind Okinawa’s Martial Arts is not widespread, particularly with regard to the stimulation of vital points (Jintai Kyusho). Demonstrations for the use of single Kata sequences (Bunkai) often stagnate at the surface of the Martial Arts (Omote), yet it is important for advanced students to realize and have access to the finer points of Karate which are worth the effort and the years of intensive training needed to know them.

Whereas, in the past, secret Okinawan Karate techniques were passed on solely to a chosen few, modern media now make it possible to make contact with numerous research groups active in investigating the background and essence of Karate and, above all, its application.

During a journey to Okinawa several years ago, I became acquainted with Master Tetsuhiro Hokama (10th Dan Goju Ryu Karate, Hanshi). He challenged me to undertake a project to further investigate the medical-physiological underpinnings of Karate (vital point stimulation). He explained that, although it is common knowledge that Jintai Kyusho is effective, no one knows exactly how it functions. He was hopeful that I would be able to shed more light on the working mechanisms of Kyusho, knowing that I was a medical doctor as well as a Master of Karate.

It became obvious to me that if I was to succeed, I would have to look very closely at material about Chinese Acupuncture. This study took several years and uncovered facts which led to a significant advance in understanding Okinawan Karate. My research work was compiled into a large, but not published, compendium which was made available to Dr. T. Hokama.

To prevent the hidden knowledge held in the traditional Karate Kata from being lost, we decided to decode numerous movement sequences as far as this was possible. To this end, Master Hokama assumed responsibility for Goju Ryu Karate and I assumed responsibility for the background of the Shuri Te and Shotokan Kata. In our work together we were able to compile many details and could incorporate the preparatory work done by other international working groups (see Literature).

Among the most important pioneers in this area are: Patrick Mc Carthy, George Dillman, Evan Pantazi and his employees, as well as Erle Montaigue, Ian Abernethy and Werner Lind’s research group. The changes and modifications made over the centuries to the original movements obviously made interpretation more difficult. In this book I have tried to illustrate the relationship between the Tuite- (levers) and the Jintai Kyusho (sensitive points) techniques and modern human anatomy.

Even so, it was not possible to cover the entire spectrum of ancient knowledge as this would have overstepped the framework of a normal book and also the capabilities of one single person. We had to restrict ourselves to a few examples of Kata sequences. For those interested in expanding their knowledge and enhancing their abilities with the applications described and illustrated in this book, I recommend taking part in seminars held by various working groups. I wish the reader success and enjoyment with the book and feel certain that there are many who will now see the Martial Arts from a different point of view. Perhaps . . . this book will be a catalyst for motivating further research on the background of the Kata applications.


“Such is the way that a Master lives out his life, aware of his imperfection, never satisfied with his abilities even to his final day, neither vain nor condescending” (Quotation from Hagakure, by Tsunetomo Yamamoto).

I would not like to neglect thanking my teachers, who have accompanied me on my way in the Martial Arts, for their efforts, their patience and the most precious time spent together. They are: Hans-Dieter Rauscher, 8th Dan Shotokan Karate Hanshi, 7th Dan Iaido Kyoshi, 6th Dan Kobudo Kyoshi, 8th Antas Arnis , Ikio Higushi, 9th Dan Gimma-Ha Ryu Karate Hanshi, 7th Dan Kobudo Kyoshi, Kazuo Sakai, 10th Dan Wado Ryu Hanshi, 8th Dan Kempo Hanshi, 8th Dan Kobudo Hanshi, Professor Shizuya Sato, 10th Dan Nihon Jujutsu Hanshi, 9th Dan Judo Hanshi, Hirokatsu Kanazawa 10th Dan Shotokan Karate Hanshi and many others.

My gratitude goes out, in particular, to Tetsuhiro Hokama Dr. Dr., 10th Dan Goju Ryu Karate, Kobudo, Kyusho Hanshi, who encouraged me to examine the physiological background and consequences of Karate and its Kata. It was through him that I became acquainted with the Martial Arts as they are lived on Okinawa, the cradle of Karate. It was he who helped me to achieve deeper insight into the history of Okinawan Te.

My thanks, also, to my sons Marc (3rd Dan Karate, 1st Dan Bo Jutsu) and Lutz (3rd Dan Karate) for their help in putting this book together. To my son, Marc, and my Karate students: “Thank you for your assistance with corrective work on the manuscript.” A very large “thank you” to my wife, Elvira, for all her help in assembling the photos and to the employees of the Meyer & Meyer publishing company who have, as usual, produced an excellent layout and end product. Thanks also to Judy Keenan for the translation from German to English.


What is the Essence of Karate?

By Tetsuhiro Hokama

Karate is a defensive Martial Art which in earlier times developed on the Ryukyu Island as Te (English “Hand”). Basically, Te is an instinctive self-defense against enemy forces which threaten one’s own existence. The original form of Te is also known as Temai (English: dancing hand). Temai is essentially a form of reflex-based self-defense when under attack. This form developed further into what is known as Karate today.

The Spirit of Karate and the Way

Karate means daily training of one’s mind and body and paying attention to one’s own health. Ideally, self-defense against an attacker is carried out, unarmed, in an emergency situation, although in certain situations a Karate fighter is permitted to make use of a weapon. There is one important rule in Karate: “Neither should one be hit, nor should one cause harm to another.”

The fundamental idea is to resolve a conflict in a peaceful manner. Put another way: An enemy attack should not be worth its while in Karate. The philosophy of Karate was developed further as a means of teaching self control. In the latter part of the 1920’s Karate was renamed to “Karate-Do” (Art of the Empty Hand).

The History of Karate

It has been suggested that the art of fist fighting originated in the regions of Mesopotamia and parts of North Turkey and reached the Ryukyu Island by way of the Silk Road to India and China. There is also another theory which suggests this style of combat travelled over the seas to reach Japan by way of Indonesia and South East Asia.

Legend has it that the Indian monk, Bodhidharma (jp. Daruma), founder and the first patriarch of Zen Buddhism, arrived at the Shaolin monastery on the Songshan mountain in Henan Province around the year 526 and was also a practitioner of the Martial Arts. These basic elements of Shaolin Martial Arts continued to be developed and further spread by the monastery. Daruma is honored in Japan as the Patron of the Ryukyu School of Karate.

He wrote two Sutras, Yi-jin-jing (Transformation of the Tendons and Ligaments, Various Breathing Techniques for Improving Stamina) and Xi-sui-jing (Ablution of the Marrow to Develop Self-Discipline and Inner Strength). Bohdidharma is also supposed to have drawn up the Wu-De (Principles of the Virtues of the Martial Arts) which teaches discipline, self-control, modesty and a respect for life. Once it became obvious that those who trained according to these principles were more successful in self-defense, this then led to further development. The ancient style was gradually complemented by elements of dance and, of course, additional techniques for self-defense. There are several legends regarding the transit route of the Shaolin Martial Arts to the Ryukyu Island. One thing is certain: the teachings of Bodhiharma were to have the decisive influence on Ryukyu-Karate-Do.

The Spread of Karate to Japan’s Main Island

The first major Japanese Budo Association (Dai Nippon Butokukai) was founded in Kyoto in 1895. In the interest of establishing uniform qualifications, it was decided to set up examinations and qualification tests for three levels: the Master Certificate (Hanshi), Teacher (Kyoshi) and Apprentice (Renshi). Judo and Kendo were introduced into the curriculum of higher schools. This was a requirement to enable these traditional Martial Arts to reach a larger audience.

In its home country of Okinawa, however, Karate remained a closed book for the general public as the Martial Arts were passed down solely within the inner family circle. It was Kanryo Higaonna, a Master from Naha, who opened the first Karate Dojo in Naha in 1889 after his return from China. Anko Itosu (a Master from Shuri) began to train primary school pupils in Shuri in 1901. Karate’s existence as an Okinawan Martial Art became known on the main island of Honshu through demonstrations in schools. This was later followed by an invitation to take part in a sport demonstration organized by the Ministry of Education. Two Masters, Funakoshi and Isoma, demonstrated Okinawa’s Karate during a major show in Tokyo in 1922. The first book on Karate was released by Master Funakoshi in November of the same year. In 1924 Karate Master Funakoshi started up a working group at the Keio University with the aid of the famous Judo founder, Master Jigoro Kano, and other renowned Judo and Kendo Masters. Additional Karate study groups were also established at Tokyo University and the Takushoku University. The Main Karate Student Society (founded in 1936) helped to spread the art of Okinawan Karate to Japan’s main island. The newspapers of the day printed sensational reports about Choki Motobu, a Karate Master from Shuri, who had knocked out a foreign professional boxer in the ring. In 1927 Chojun Miyagi, Master and Founder of Goju Ryu, began giving Karate courses at universities such as the Ritsumei and the Kyoto University. Kanbun Uechi, a Master of Uechi Ryu who had just returned from China, founded a Dojo in Wakayama shi, in western Japan. Compared to Judo and Kendo, Karate was not as well-known in Japan at this stage. However its spread was aided by the elite circles reached through courses at the universities. Karate’s Kanji style of writing was changed around 1905. This was a prerequisite of the acceptance in Japan. Karate was finally recognized by the Japanese Traditional Sport Society as an official Traditional Sport/Art in 1933.

Up until 1925 the art of Karate on Okinawa was not as structured as the comparable Martial Arts of Judo or Kendo. It had neither a direction of style nor so-called “schools”. It was restricted to three different forms of Te: Shuri-Te, Naha-Te and Tomari-Te. Naha-Te was renamed Goju Ryu (School) in 1929. Shuri-Te became Kobayashi Ryu in 1933 and in 1939 the Shotokan School absorbed Shuri-Te. Handansui Ryu was changed to Kamichi Ryu in 1940. Over time other Karate Schools (Ryu-Ha) such as Shito Ryu, Sento Ryu, Wado Ryu and Kyokushin Kai Karate emerged. The origin and development of Okinawan Karate is not identical with other traditional Japanese fighting techniques, the philosophies of which are bedded in the spiritual substance of the Samurai. Okinawa’s Karate Art has not only had a major influence on traditional Japanese Martial Arts, but has also spread rapidly in the USA and around the rest of the world since 1950. Karate, which came from the small island of Okinawa, has become a movement of worldwide proportions.

Karate is not only physical but also mental training. Its exercises lead to a harmonious balance in life.

Tetsuhiro Hokama, Dr. Ph.D

10th Dan Goju-Ryu Karate, Hanshi

President of Goju-Ryu Kenshikai

Curator of the Okinawan Karate Museum, Uehara Nishihara


General Part: An Overview


The Historical Development of Okinawan Karate


Understanding the Kata


Three Levels of Techniques: Omote, Chuden and Okuden


Some important Okinawan Masters


Fifty Years of Okinawan Karate (Tetsuhiro Hokama)


Karate as Seen by Today’s Okinawan Masters


Cultural Differences in How the Human Body is Viewed


The Importance of Acupunture in Karate


The Role of Bubishi


The Historical Development of Okinawan Karate

Okinawa’s Social Structure and the Origin of its Martial Arts

For the original inhabitants of Okinawa Island the word Oki meant “sea”. Like a “cloak” (nawa), this island seemed to have been cast over the surface of the sea (Okinawa). The Chinese referred to it as Ryu Kyu (Lyu Kyu). The island itself was under the rule of the many lords of the Anji Dynasty until the end of the 11th century A.D. While a myriad of myths surround the first King, Tenson, the first “official” King was Shunten (1187). During the fourth generation of the Tamagusuku Period, three independent kingdoms emerged: Hokuzan in the north, Nanzan in the south, and the central region of Chuzan. Central rule remained in the hands of Tamagusuku. This era is known as Okinawa’s Period of Warring States. In 1337, during the Ming Dynasty, King Satto of Chuzan (from the citadel of Urasoe) sent a delegation to China as well as to neighboring countries to study their forms of martial arts with the aim of strengthening his own military forces. The kings of the northern and southern regions, however, had the same idea and did likewise. Chusan sent a delegation of 52 men to study the art of military battle, Nanzan sent eighteen and Hokuzan a group of nine. Military knowledge of other Asian countries, the art of battle with and without weapons, was integrated into the kingdom in this way and put into practical use. It has been surmised that this was perhaps the origin of the ensuing art of Karate. Several years later King Hashi of Chuzan was able to defeat the opposing kingdoms and unite the country. This increased and reinforced his military power and he then moved his seat of government to Shuri, in the vicinity of the important ports of Naha and Tomari.

Okinawa´s Shuri Castle (Exhibition Model)

Reinforcement of Shuri Castle on Okinawa

China harshly criticized Okinawa during the wars. Having united his country under one rule, King Hashi was able to negotiate agreements with China which enabled not only cultural exchange but also the exchange of commercial and military wares. This became a period of intensive commercial trade with China, Japan, South East Asia and Korea. During the rule of various lords of the Sho Dynasty, military experts occupied themselves with nothing other than martial arts. As a means of preventing rebellion among the aristocracy, a total of 38 families (Udun) with royal blood were relocated to the area surrounding the royal palace in Shuri. The Udun, the highest caste, were given roughly 3300 square meters in the western section of Shuri. A lower caste, the Uekata (Oyakata), was also awarded land by the King as a reward for their services.

Both castes were in possession of their own land and were in charge of the caste below them, the Chikudun Pechin. These, in turn, were in charge of the caste of the Satunushi Peichin. The lower class Chikudun Peichin was basically responsible for ensuring security and upholding the law. Soldiers (Bushi) in the Ryu Kyu Kingdom could be divided into five different groups. The first group, the Shuri Warriors (Shuri Bushi), was responsible for the defense of Shuri Castle. A second group, the Tomari (Tomari Bushi), was primarily there to enforce law and order. The third group (Naha Bushi) was entrusted with the protection of Chinese delegates (Sappushi) and the trading ships which were sent from Ryu Kyu to China. Yet another group, Udun Bushi, was involved in the political activities of the Regency. The fifth and remaining group was comprised of soldiers (Bushi) of the Chinese enclave near Naha, known as Kumemura. They were trusted with providing protection for and aiding Chinese immigrants.

The 36 Chinese Families in Kume

Between 1392 and 1393 Chinese settlers, primarily officials and tradesmen, were moved to Okinawa at the request of the Chinese Government. Though history books refer to: “The 36 families,” the number “36” is a symbolic number used as a Chinese figure of speech and should not be taken literally. Reference was also made to the “36 Families of Fukien” and the “hundred names from China.” The aim of Chinese settlement was to import Chinese cultural characteristics into Okinawa and thereby help the island’s inhabitants to optimally organize their daily lives according to what was then seen as the modern ideal. Obviously this was not entirely without self-interest. China had high hopes of a flourishing trade in commercial goods and also of establishing a certain political influence on the island. China also demanded payment of a toll twice a year in the form of commercial goods. The first Chinese Delegate (Sappushi) travelled to the islands of Ryu Kyu in 1404. The inhabitants of the Ryu Kyu islands are to this day grateful for having learned from China and do not regret the investment made in the past. For a very long time they readily paid their tribute to both China and to Japan. Even today China’s strong influence can be seen in Okinawa’s architecture and in its culture. The traditional Dragon Boat Race (Hatju-Sen), which still takes place every year on Okinawa, originated in the year 1400, and is very popular in the south of China. The Kumemura settlement on Okinawa is still definitely a tourist attraction worth seeing.

Reproduction of the first Chinese Settlement of the 36 Families in Kume

Monument for the 36 Families of Kumemura

An important factor for the development of what came to be Karate was that the Chinese Delegates (Sappushi) were accompanied to Okinawa by their bodyguards, who then passed on the Chinese Art of Self Defense to the inhabitants of the island. Among the 36 families there were several people of importance for Okinawa, such as Cai, Zeng, Mao, Liang, Jin, Chen, Wu, Rin and Yuan. (For more detail see Chapter 5). All of these names are strongly connected to the martial arts. Over the centuries there was assimilation of the Chinese families into Okinawa’s culture and a Chinese influence on Okinawa as well.

Furu Helin, the cave between Naha and Tomari

According to Hokama, it was the Zheng Yiyi family who brought Chinese Boxing and the secret writings of the “Bubishi” to the Ryu Kyu islands. This particular style of Chinese Boxing may possibly have been the pioneer of the Naha Te. In 1608 the Zheng family began to teach the art of combat techniques in Kume. Hokama (Yabu) Peichin was known on Okinawa as a combative arts expert in 1644. There were also strong ties with other countries such as Korea, India, the Philippines and Taiwan. The many typhoons which hit Okinawa each year brought with them a large number of shipwrecks and many survivors who made it to the island’s coast. Between Tomari and Naha was an “old cave”, Furu Helin, in which Korean shipwreck survivors sought shelter in 1456. Such survivors are also believed to have instructed Okinawa’s inhabitants in martial arts. It is believed that a total of over 1400 Chinese ships were wrecked off the coast of Okinawa. The cave mentioned above provided shelter time and time again for many shipwreck survivors, among them possibly Channan, Chinto and other known martial arts experts.

Udundi, the Secret Royal Martial Art