Article by Emanuel Giordano
As already known, Funakoshi sensei made several changes to Karate which he imported to "mainland" Japan. Over the years, positions, kata, techniques and principles were changed, with the double attempt to make the Okinawan martial art simpler and more attractive by the Japanese, and to make Karate assimilate to Japanese Budo. Obviously this is a simplification of a more complex issue, but it gives a good idea. Having made several books, articles and videos over the years, it is quite simple to analyze the changes that were made to his Karate, as we have already seen with several articles, including the one related to the Naihanchi (Tekki) kata.
As can be seen from his first book, Ryukyu Kenpo Tode (1922), Funakoshi imported into Tokyo a Karate composed mostly of the kata taught by Itosu sensei, in particular those that were taught at the Shihan Chugakko of Okinawa. It is no coincidence that we find the five Pinan, three Naihanchi, Passai dai, Kusanku-dai, Chinto, Jitte, Jion, Seisan and Wanshu (the last two, in fact, were most likely learned from other sources). However, compared to what we know today about the kata taught at the aforementioned school, the Gojushiho is missing. Also, in comparison to the kata curriculum handed down by Itosu sensei, several forms are missing! Focusing only on the kata handed down later by Chibana sensei and other students of the famous master, in fact, the kata Passai sho and Kusanku sho are missing, which were subsequently imported most likely from Kenwa Mabuni sensei's Karate. Although this topic will be deepened in the future, it was necessary to make this premise to create the right comparison between Funakoshi's Karate and that of the other students of Itosu sensei.
UKIASHI-DACHI (to learn more click here)
There is a position in Shorin-ryu which is called both ukiashi-dachi and nekoashi-dachi (not to be confused with nekoashi-dachi Goju-ryu / Shito-ryu).
The stance is slightly longer and higher than that of the Shito-ryu, the feet form a more open angle (approximately 90°), and the hips are also more free to move. Furthermore, the position is more dynamic and less static, as thanks to the use of the legs and the variation of the center of gravity, it allows you to change your distance from the opponent without necessarily having to move your feet (video). Another big difference is the position of the front heel, which is much lower than the Goju-ryu / Shito-ryu nekoashi-dachi. Initially it is taught to keep it raised 2-3 cm from the ground, but over time this space is also reduced to a few millimeters. In some cases, the position can quickly turn into a "shiko-dachi", completely lowering the front foot, flexing the legs slightly more and distributing the weight 50% on both feet (instead of 70% behind and 30% in front). Someone will have already noticed that it is almost identical to two positions that Funakoshi shows in Rentan Goshin Tode-jutsu (1925): kokutsu-shisei (which does not exist in Shorin-ryu) and neko-ashi. To deepen the study of the positions, principles and techniques used in Shorin-ryu: "Shorin-ryu Karate: The legacy of the bodyguards of the king of Okinawa".