Article by Emanuel Giordano
Passed down in the Shorinji-ryu Kenkokan of the Kudaka (Hisataka) family, it was learned by Hisataka Kori, a pupil of Kyan sensei. The school is based in mainland Japan, and this has caused a “Japaneseization” of the same, whose kata are visibly choreographed and altered. However, it is possible to recognize the sequence and techniques of the various kata, including the Passai (Bassai). This version is distinguished by the technique that replaces the kake-uke / saguri-te used to advance three times, namely a double uke-waza (jodan-uke and gedan-barai). In this kata there is also a first horizontal morote-tsuki, followed by two vertical morote-tsuki (also known as yama-tsuki). As mentioned above, nuki-te are performed chudan and with the arm extended, as in the Seibukan Shorin-ryu. The same version is present in the Kyan no Passai which Mutsu Mizuho and Miki Jisaburo learned from the master Kyan during their trip to Okinawa, and which they described in Kenpo gaisetsu (1930).
The version featured in Kenpo gaisetsu, however, is slightly different from that of Shorinji-ryu Kenkokan. In this case the differences are:
1- in the use of the horizontal nuki-te (palm up) instead of the vertical one, although performed with the arm almost extended.
2- in the presence of three horizontal morote-tsuki (and not one horizontal and two vertical).
3- the final kake-uke / saguri-te are reversed. In Kenpo gaisetsu they are performed in this order: technique performed in the left diagonal direction, left movement, technique performed in the right diagonal direction, right movement. In the Shorinji-ryu Kenkokan version, the order is reversed.
This form was passed down to Shimabukuro (Shimabuku) Taro, who in turn taught it to Uema Joki (Shubukan Shorin-ryu), Ishikawa Seitoku (Ryubukan Shorin-ryu) and, probably, Nagamine Shoshin (Matsubayashi-ryu), that who was also his pupil. Of the three versions it is the most similar to the Oyadomari no Passai of the lineage of Oshiro Chojo sensei (later handed down to Kinjo Hiroshi), from which, however, it is distinguished by some characteristics, including (but not limited to) the vertical (and not horizontal) morote-tsuki. In this version the nuki-te are performed as in the aforementioned Oyadomari no Passai, and also the technique that is performed by advancing three times is the same, ie a gedan-barai performed with the "not engaged" hand placed in front of the chest. However, in a video (https://youtu.be/Hq8lsGObanU) by a Western member of the Shubukan school, the kata is performed with nuki-te like those performed by the Seibukan Shorin-ryu and the Kudaka family. This version, in the Shubukan school is called Oyadomari no Passai, exactly like the homonymous kata of the lineage of Oshiro Chojo sensei, while Passai (or Tomari Passai) in Matsubayashi-ryu.
This version is what can be defined as the Oyadomari no Passai of the Kyan sensei - Shimabukuro sensei lineage, not to be confused with that of the Oshiro sensei - Kinjo sensei lineage.
The version presented by Seko Masaru in the book “Passai, Bassai, Bassai and Bassai” (1982, Japan Karate-do Federation) is instead a hybrid between this version and version 3, and is called Kyan no Passai.
From what emerged from this brief research, Kyan sensei taught at least three main versions of the kata Passai, changing some techniques over the years. Knowing that he learned the kata Passai by studying with Oyadomari sensei, information which is confirmed by the technical analysis of the kata, and having available an Oyadomari no Passai kata belonging to a different and independent lineage, it is possible to perform a technical comparison between the two versions, namely that of the Oyadomari - Kyan - Shimabukuro Taro lineage and that of the Oyadomari - Oshiro - Kinjo Hiroshi lineage. Apart from some small differences already mentioned (different morote-tsuki, missing gedan juji-uke, etc.), the two kata are the same, which suggests that VERSION 1 is the oldest of the three, prior to 1930 (publication date of Kenpo gaisetsu, where we find VERSION 2). However, it is good to remember that, according to what was written by Murakami Katsumi, Shimabukuro Taro attended several teachers including, for a short period, Oshiro Chojo sensei. If there were not the aforementioned differences, which however small they are distinctive of the two forms, this information could instill reasonable doubt. This version, as already mentioned, was handed down by Shimabukuro Taro, and is practiced today in Matsubayashi-ryu, Shubukan Shorin-ryu school, Ryubukan Shorin-ryu school and Bunbukan Shorin-ryu school.
Although there is not a big difference in age between Hisataka Kori and Shimabukuro Zenryo, there are data that make us understand that VERSION 2 predates the VERSION 3 discussed in the previous article. Shimabukuro Zenryo began studying with Kyan sensei in 1932, while Hisataka had already been his student for some time. Suffice it to say that the two, in the company of Kuwae Ryosei, were at the Butokuden in Taipei in 1930 for a performance. Furthermore, in 1930 the famous Kenpo gaisetsu was published, where VERSION 2 also appears. It is therefore evident that this version was already practiced before 1930. Technically it does not differ much from VERSION 1, and the biggest difference is given by the technique that characterizes it, namely the double uke-waza gedan + jodan, which replaces the gedan-barai of VERSION 1. Other noteworthy differences are the horizontal morote-tsuki, also present in the Oyadomari no Passai by Oshiro sensei (but not in that by Kyan sensei), as well as the nuki-te performed with the arm more stretched (and placed in a vertical position in the Hisataka / Kudaka version) than that of VERSION 1. It is also good to remember how the position of the arms in the double uke-waza is identical to that of the Sochin kata of the Hisataka, Funakoshi lineages and, according to some schools (but there is no written evidence on this), of Motobu Choyu lineage. Today this version is only practiced in the Shorinji-ryu Kenkokan of the Kudaka / Hisataka family, although their Karate is now very altered and "Japaneseized".
VERSION 3, therefore, is the most recent. This version is characterized by an initial technique different from that of other Passai (see previous article), by the vertical nuki-te performed with the outstretched arm (technique later modified by Nakazato Joen of the Shorinji-ryu school), by the disappearance of the double uke-waza (here replaced by three kake-uke / saguri-te) and minor details. Having already analyzed it in the previous article, I will not go into further detail. I would just like to add that by viewing old videos from the Shorinji-ryu school, it is possible to see how the nuki-te was not inverted as it is today, although it was not performed with the vertical hand either. Probably if it were possible to access older footage, it would be very likely to notice a vertical nuki-te like that of the Seibukan Shorin-ryu. This version is practiced today in the Seibukan Shorin-ryu and Shorinji-ryu schools.
Kyan sensei therefore did what other masters of the time did, namely he modified, adapted and changed his Karate according to his own experience and needs. It is evident that this does not detract from the master's luster, nor does it detract from the various versions of his kata.