The "Last Move" Rule

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The "Last Move" Rule

Postby HanshiClayton » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:01 am

Reference, "Last Move" Rule, "Master Teruyuki Okazaki 9th Dan," Shotokan Karate Magazine, issue 91, April 2007, page 8.

It is a well-known fact that all Shotokan katas begin and end at the same position. In fact, we can diagnose problems with a student's basic principles by their distance and direction from the starting point when they end their kata.

This is useful but it is artificial. The original katas didn't start and end at the same point. According to master Teruyuki Okazaki (9th dan), Funakoshi and Nakayama edited the Shotokan katas to achieve this effect. Why? It provided an easy way to judge the student's performance in tournaments.

    Originally when kata were performed you did not return to the starting position, but finished some way away from it, but in a tournament you had to return to your same starting position or you would lose a point. Sensei Nakayama asked Sensei Funakoshi, "What shall we do?" Master Funakoshi said, "Change -- but don't change the original meaning or principle of the kata!" Master Nakayama stayed with Master Funakoshi for one week at his house studying the kata, which is when the changes were made to the kata to bring you back to the starting position. -- Okazaki

The last one or two (or few) moves in each Shotokan kata have been added, or altered, to achieve this effect. This gives us another rule of thumb in matching applications to kata clusters:

    Last Move Rule: The last move of the kata may have no logical explanation. If you can't find a good application for that move, you may ignore it.

Anyone who has tried to figure out the last few moves of Chinte kata will be grateful for this rule.

Last bumped by HanshiClayton on Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:01 am.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
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