Bunkai kumite of “Sakugawa no Kon (Sho)”

Recently, earlier this year, a colleague, Mr. Y, contacted me, saying “The Bo versus Bo practice is from Sakugawa no Kon, isn’t it?” I said, “Most probably not. This is because Akamine Eisuke established a dedicated two-person drill for Sakugawa no Kon Sho. Do you know it?” He replied he had never heard about it, so I sent him the respective record by Akamine Eisuke and he said he will inquire in Okinawa. So there is a good chance this practice will be reintroduced under the radar soon.

Actually, I have never seen it being trained in almost 25 years now so the techniques might have been in disuse for decades, or may have even been discarded or forgotten I don’t know. There might be some older footage of it in private possession so it will be interesting to see if and when it will reappear in the future.

There are two parts played in he kata bunkai, called person A and person B. Both enter the stage and position themselves facing the audience and bow. Next, they turn toward each other and bow. Then, person A demonstrates the part of the kata to be shown as a bunkai towards the audience. Meanwhile, B waits quietly at the side. After A has finished showing the kata part, B positions himself opposite to A in kamae and then both perform the bunkai according to the order.

There are a total of 10 kata bunkai in the following order:

An interesting point is that this set uses techniques and combinations that are usually not considered in the context of Sakugawa no Kon Sho, are not practiced, or are not emphasized in the study of the kata. One person, Mr. Z, told me, “Oh, that one is from Chinen Shikiyanaka no Kon!” Well, it is, but it also in the kata bunkai of Sakugawa no Kon Sho as defined by Akamine, so it shouldn’t be ignored. This kata bunkai raises questions about current concepts and emphases, particular that of basics (kihon) and meanings of movements, and also in relation to how the techniques in the kata are performed. There should be a feedback loop between kata and application or so I thought.

It should also be mentioned that this is the only kata bunkai of the whole school! All other applications are simple “prearranged choreographies” (yakusoku kumite), without studying the kata and tactical concepts deeply. They are more like what is seen in village bojutsu to be honest. This shows that little to no kata bunkai were studied, practiced, and created by the previous generation and I can confirm this from my long years of experience. While some foreigners show off some self-created applications, it is surreal that the only actual kata bunkai created by the founder remained dormant for so long. Today, applications are increasingly being invented or revived. However, I would like to encourage everyone to study and consider the techniques and tactics of the original kata bunkai for Sakugawa no Kon Sho. In the end, this school traces its origin to no-one else than Sakugawa!

BTW, I first posted applications of this kata bunkai back in 2016 on Facebook. Back then, I even received a contemptuous comment by one of the members of the school in question. Maybe he will start learning kata bunkai soon? I also mentioned the Sakugawa kata bunkai in a previous post two years ago, but so far there was no public reaction.

Here’s a shorty on first technique. The tactic is to force the opponent to react by attacking high, and then to counter at the mid level.

© 2024, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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