Bunkai and Storytime with Hanshi Perry


Hanshi Perry and I after class

Last night was Hanshi Doug Perry’s visit to our dojo, and he taught a kobudo class, followed by a karate class. I didn’t attend the kobudo session, but I was very eager to get into the karate session. In the class, we focused on oyo bunkai (personal applications of kata) for a couple Pinan kata, Gojushiho, Passai, Kusanku, Hakutsuru, and a kata that Hanshi Perry knows that I have never heard of or seen before.

Hanshi Perry explaining an application for Pinan Yondan

Since we only had a little over an hour, we went through things quite fast, but I noticed that most of the things he taught were things that he had gone over in his seminar last year. This class was very much a refresher course, with two or three extras. Obviously, in that amount of time we could not go through an application for every movement in every kata I listed above. What Hanshi Perry chose to do, for the most part, was teach concepts that could be applied to similar movements across the different kata. Hakutsuru was a bit of an exception, since its movements are quite dissimilar from the other kata we practiced bunkai for.

Hanshi Perry demonstrating part of Hakutsuru

If I had to say that there was something I did not like about the class, it was something completely unrelated to Hanshi Perry and his teaching–it was the partnering. Just like the seminar last year, all of the black belts immediately partnered with each other, leaving all of the mudansha (students ranked under black belt) to partner with each other. All but one other brown belt in the class were 14 years old or younger, and they all partnered with each other for the most part. I had really been hoping to work with an adult martial artist with as much (or preferably, more) experience as me, so that I could really dive into the material. I ended up partnered with an adult orange belt and helped him through a lot of the techniques, which is fine because I do love teaching and I have no problem working with less experienced people–it just wasn’t what I was hoping to do in this particular class.

Hanshi Perry clarifying a technique by demonstrating it on me

To be fair, I suppose it could be my wrinkled, creased, sweat-stained (but CLEAN!) uniform that turns off the higher ranks. As you can see from the photos, everyone else seems to have ironed their gi before coming to class, while I simply pulled mine out of the dryer. I suppose it may give a bad impression of me–that I don’t care for my uniform properly–but I see them as extra-durable workout clothes, so I suppose I am a bit of a heretic.  That said, it didn’t stop Hanshi Perry from helping me during class, or answering my questions, so I must not be too terrible.

Hanshi Perry answering my question about Takemyoshi Sensei

At the end of class, I asked Hanshi Perry about his training with Takemyoshi Sensei (possibly Takamayoshi–that is how it is pronounced, but I always see it spelled the other way) in Okinawa. I have been very curious about that ever since I heard about it, because the Takemyoshi family has their own style of karate, and they do not teach it outside of the family. In fact, there is really no information about them online at all. While I didn’t get the chance to ask follow-up questions to fully satisfy my desire for knowledge on this topic, I did get some insight into it.

Hanshi Perry explaining his time with Takemyoshi Sensei
According to Hanshi Perry, he met a member of the Takemyoshi family while he was stationed in Okinawa. The man that he met was not much older than him, and was actually the nephew of the man who was the head of the family style (the “official” Takemyoshi Sensei, who was quite old at the time) whom he never got the chance to meet. They started training together in a field and the first day they trained together, Takemyoshi asked if he knew what the movements of Naihanchi were for, and proceeded to demonstrate a technique that threw Hanshi Perry out into the field and onto his back. This started a training partnership that lasted for some time (he didn’t specify exactly how long) and in that time, Hanshi Perry learned at least Rokishu, Hakutsuru, a nuntebo kata, and a tekko kata, all of which came from the Takemyoshi family system.
Everyone who attended class, minus Brent and Tiffany
Overall, I very much enjoyed training with Hanshi Perry–he has a great wealth of knowledge, his level of skill and fitness is still very high at the age of 76, and he is very good at making learning fun while cramming massive amounts of information into your brain. Hopefully the next time I see him I will get the chance to ask a few more questions about the development of the Takemyoshi family system, as well as some questions about kata concepts. I also hope that I’ll get to work with more experienced karateka the next time around so I can really explore the techniques and concepts he teaches. This August, he will be hosting a karate camp again (for the past year or two he hasn’t done one, although he had done one every year for quite a long time before that) and it would be a great opportunity, but I don’t know that I can afford to go. I already have the Shorinkan Camp in Winterhaven this November to try and go to, so I rather doubt I’ll be able to do both–I may not even have the chance to do one.
For more photos from Hanshi Perry’s visit, click here.

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Noah

About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.