Beautiful paintings that Meibukan students will appreciate.

by Ryan Gregory, November 5th, 2012

One of the main differences between Meibukan Goju-ryu and the others schools within the style (Jundokan, Shorei-kan, and Japanese Goju-ryu) is the inclusion of five additional kata that were created by the school’s founder, the late Meitoku Yagi. These kata are different from the core Goju-ryu kata in several ways, including the opening, the position of the fist in chamber (vertical rather than horizontal) and of the chambered hand in kake uke (centre rather than at side chamber), and especially in distancing (e.g., there are a lot of body shifts in Meibuken kata). They’re very interesting and challenging kata.

The first one that Meibukan students learn is Tenchi, “Heaven and Earth”. It is a rather difficult kata for a beginner, with lots of low stances and steps along a 45-degree angle. It was originally two kata that were paired with each other, meaning that the attacks of one correspond to the defences of the other and vice-versa, but it was merged into a single kata. Here it is, being performed by Meitoku Yagi’s grandson, Akihiro Yagi:

The other four Meibuken kata are based on The Four Symbols of Chinese Constellations, each represented by mythological creature and a cardinal direction: Seiryu, the blue dragon (or azure dragon) representing the East; Byakko, the white tiger representing the West; Shujaku, the red sparrow (or vermilion bird) representing the South; Genbu, the black tortoise representing the North. These kata are also paired, Seiryu with Byakko and Shujaku with Genbu. (Note that there are a few different spellings of these names).

The Four Symbols show up in various depictions, from ancient artefacts…

A tile from the Han Dynasty in China, 206 BC–220 AD.

… to cheesy toys.

Also made in China, but considerably more recently.

My favourite so far are these stunning paintings by Dutch artist Caroline Lahaise, who focuses mainly on depicting mythological creatures from a variety of cultures. You can see more of her work at DeviantArt.





Leave a comment

Your comment