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Thread: Help finding kata translation

  1. #1

    Help finding kata translation

    I don't know if this is possible, but I am trying to find any translation of a description of katas. I understand that they are not always written down, when they are they are kept within the Ryu and then are unlikely to be translated! I am interested in seeing how the information was written down , to get an idea of how the information was to be passed on. I know that any description would in fact be an aid to memory rather than a "how to", but my interest is in how that information was conveyed

    As such I am not necessarily looking for a full description of a whole syllabus one Kata would be fine.
    Oh and one last thing. Ideally I'd like to see how the oldest traditions did this, so from those that trace their founding to the 15th or early 16th Centuries!

    I know it quite a b ig thing to ask, but any information and help would be gratefully received.
    Many Thanks
    Jonathan Waller
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  2. #2
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    There are many examples but I am unsure if there are translations. This appears to have bee written by Yagyu Jubei (1607-1650) : http://www.flickr.com/photos/rekishi.../3533294053/#/

    Another example here (unsure of what it is):
    http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~mukei/h4.jpg
    http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~mukei/h5.jpg

    The Heiho Okugisho was translated, written in the mid 16th, and republished (and perhaps modified or enhanced) in 1804. It is very eclectic, more about strategy than pure techniques, and not the work of a single Ryu ha, but interesting nonetheless. Translated by Obata Toshishiro sensei, and out of print right now, the copies for sale are very expensive.

    This one is interesting, it is Chinese, but was heavily inspired by Japanese techniques, and follows a format sometimes encountered in Japanese works (in a very general way).
    http://www.chineselongsword.com/translation.shtml

    The truth is you will find dozens of different styles of writing. Some documents will be so cryptic you wouldn't even know what to make of them. Others are a simple enumeration of the kata names. While some are very detailed with elaborated pictures.

    Unfortunately very few have been translated. Many are in the possession of Ryu ha, but also museums and archives. Ryu ha and researchers have few reasons to translate, and even less so to publish them.

  3. #3
    Thanks for that. Yes thats why I thought it may be a tricky one!

    I am aware that there are going to be many ways of writing them down, as there were in Europe.
    I have always been struck by many similarities between the the older Ryu and the medieval arts of Europe, so I was interested to compare how they recorded the actual information of the kata and techniques, the use of images etc is not dissimilar, but it would be interesting to read the words. I know that reading a translation will mean that something is lost but it would be nice anyway!
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  4. #4
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    The Life-giving Sword, a translation of Yagyu Munenori's Heiho Kadensho by William Scott Wilson also contains pictures and translations of the scrolls of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu as an appendix. They are short descriptions of the kata of that school and might be exactly what you're looking for.
    A. Junnila

  5. #5
    Thanks I will check that out.
    Best
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by A. Junnila View Post
    The Life-giving Sword, a translation of Yagyu Munenori's Heiho Kadensho by William Scott Wilson also contains pictures and translations of the scrolls of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu as an appendix. They are short descriptions of the kata of that school and might be exactly what you're looking for.
    The translations, however, are not very good, both because it can difficult to know what a kata description is describing if you don't already know the kata, it can be difficult to translate a kata description if you don't already know the kata, and the kata description itself uses certain terminology and code-words so that only practitioners can really understand it. The pictures don't help because they are mainly "snapshots" of a particular point in the kata, often drawn in such a way that certain key points, like footwork or hand placement, are hidden.

  7. #7
    OK though in some ways that is the point of my comparison, one often find that the medieval European sources are cryptic as well, as they are not how to manuals but reminder of things that you have already done.

    I looked at the descriptions at the end of the book, and they read like the European versions in many ways.

    Does anyone know if any of those kata described in that book have been recorded or put up on online? I will search but if anyone can send me a link it would be great.
    again I don't want to recreate the movements but I am interested in how the information was recorded and now what was written compares to what the actual kata looks like.

    Thanks
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  8. #8
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    A youtube search of "Yagyu Shinkage-ryu" will yield many hits showing Sangaku and Kuka. Unfortunately, the descriptions in "Life Giving Sword" are of the Edo style, which has largely died out, while those on youtube are of the Owari style. There are some members of this forum who practice a still surviving form of the Edo style, but I'm not sure if they still do the kumitachi described. If they do, it is not online to the best of my knowledge, though I hope I am wrong!

  9. #9
    Ok I will look at those and bear that in mind.

    Well if anyone can direct me to other translated kata and then any video of them in use I'd be grateful, thanks
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    A youtube search of "Yagyu Shinkage-ryu" will yield many hits showing Sangaku and Kuka. Unfortunately, the descriptions in "Life Giving Sword" are of the Edo style, which has largely died out, while those on youtube are of the Owari style. There are some members of this forum who practice a still surviving form of the Edo style, but I'm not sure if they still do the kumitachi described. If they do, it is not online to the best of my knowledge, though I hope I am wrong!
    Howdy! In Edo Yagyu we still practice the Sangaku, Kuka, etc. However having observed the Owari Yagyu's sets I can say ours are a bit different. As I understood it Yagyu Hyogonosuke kept the Owari largely intact from what Yagyu Sekishusai did, whereas the Edo branch was altered by Yagyu Munenori and his son Jubei according to their own experiences (not to mention the adjustments of their successors through the centuries). As far as the Shinkage Ryu Heiho Mokuroku that's at the back of the "Life Giving Sword" translation of the Heiho Kadensho, I'd read that the accompanying descriptions were added a century or so later by a member of the Shinkage Ryu at the request of the descendents of the Noh actor Sekishusai gave it to. I have no idea which branch the guy came from, but when I read it it didn't sound exactly like what we in Edo Yagyu do in this day and age.

    There is some video of our headmaster and another senior doing kata from our style, but it's not the Sangaku.
    "That's why, if you're not ready to put your life on the line, never make an enemy out of someone."
    - Zhang Ren Zhong

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