Article by Emanuel Giordano

In a recently published article, the Matsumora no Passai kata handed down by Yara Choi sensei (1915 - 2014) was analyzed. Yara sensei, a native of Okinawa, lived and taught Karate in the city of Osaka, in "mainland" Japan. According to the oral tradition, Yara sensei learned the kata from Kuba Chojin sensei, who in turn would have learned it from Iha Kotatsu sensei, who learned it from Matsumora Kosaku sensei.
Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, there is no written source that confirms that this kata was practiced by the aforementioned masters, however, by crossing some data, it is possible to state that it is plausible that this kata was handed down by Iha Kotatsu sensei. 
After reading the article, in fact, I examined the photographic sequence of the Matsumora no Passai kata technique by technique, a sequence present in the book published by the Nihon Karate-do Rengokai (Japan Karate-do Federation) in 1982, and I compared it with another Passai that is attributable to Iha sensei, that of the Okinawan school Gohakukai (剛泊会). For those unfamiliar with the school in question, Gohakukai was founded by Tokashiki Iken sensei, who studied "Tomari-te" with Nakasone Seiyu sensei (in turn a student of Iha Kotatsu sensei), and Goju-ryu with Fukuchi Seiko sensei. Gohakukai is in fact an acronym for Goju-ryu Tomari-te Karate-do Kyokai (剛 Go stands for Goju-ryu, 泊 Haku is an alternative pronunciation of Tomari). Focusing on the Tomari-te part of this school, it has evidently been influenced by Goju-ryu, so much so that the use of the body, and the appearance of some open hand techniques, have sometimes modified the kata. An example is the Naihanchi kata, which is practiced with open hands following a modification made by Nakasone sensei, as stated by Tokashiki sensei in an old documentary.
Returning to the kata Passai, an enormous similarity emerged from the comparison, although there are some minor differences, probably attributable to changes made over time within the two different schools (something very common in the past and, albeit to a lesser extent, still practiced). Although these versions of the kata Passai are in turn similar to the Oyadomari no Passai, they are characterized by some peculiarities that distinguish them from it. For example, the technique used to advance three times before kicking, or the absence of uke-waza in the tsuki sequence performed in naname-zenkutsudachi.
It is my opinion that it is plausible (but, obviously, not certain) to think that these two versions of the kata are two different interpretations of the Passai handed down by Iha Kotatsu sensei, as both deriving from his teachings, and since there are no contacts between the two schools. If someone has different information regarding this last point, he can contact me.
The images are taken from the aforementioned book and a Gohakukai school video.
  • "Shorin-ryu Karate: kata 2" (here)
  • "Shorin-ryu Karate: kata" (here)
  • "Shorin-ryu Karate: The legacy of the bodyguards of the king of Okinawa" (here)
  • "The legend of the masters of Okinawan Karate: Biographies, curiosities and mysteries"  (here)