Great article detailing the Matsuyama Koen theory as to why lots of Karate Kata have similar themes/templates/bunkai and are related.
Please find enclosed an interview I did with Sweden’s Jesse Enkamp, for his “Karate by Jesse” website, and posted here with his expressed permission.
Jesse Enkamp (JE): To properly understand the Matsuyama Koen theory, I guess a quick history lesson is in its place. So, for those who don’t know, could you – judging from your many years of extensive Karate research in Southeast Asia (Okinawa, Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand etc) – very briefly explain how and when Karate started to unfold in the Ryukyu Kingdom (what we today call Okinawa)? Who were the principal (yet pretty unknown) old-school pioneers, what did they practice, and what were their influences/impact?
Patick McCarthy (PM): I’ll try my best to answer your question, however, if you don’t mind I’d like to take a moment to outline the Matsuyama Koen Theory [MKT] for the readers who may not be familiar with it.
In addition to what is commonly known about the history of our art, I believe the following five points are too often neglected:
#1. The old expression, “Karate is Kata – Kata is Karate,” remains as true today as it was for the pioneers who originally expressed it generations ago.
#2. The historical origins of Kata [型/形 – Mandarin-Chinese = Xing] rest soundly in Chinese Quanfa [拳法 – Japanese = Kenpo]; and arguably the Shaolin Monastery.
#3. Local Okinawan enthusiasts clearly understood that [Fujian] China was, “the desired place,” one received the best instruction in Quanfa during their old Ryukyu Kingdom Period.
#4. Those young men most passionate about Quanfa, but unable to travel to China and study at its source, learned directly under local authorities in Kume Village [久米村]; a district regarded as the center of Chinese community in Naha.
#5. The empty-handed [and one-against-one] acts of physical violence, against which prescribed self-defence responses are geared [i.e., lessons culminated in Kata], are common amidst human behaviour and not limited by culture, race, gender or time.