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Sunsu スンスウ

     This kata was created by Shimabuku Tatsuo, although it is still unclear as to exactly when he created it. It is often described as a combination of techniques and principles from the other seven Isshinryu karate kata. However, there are elements of other kata as well, such as Useishi (Gojushiho) and Passai that Shimabuku is thought to have learned under Kyan.

There is also one sequence that appears as if it came out of Pinan Sandan. However, Shimabuku's teachers appear not to have taught the Pinan kata, so we are faced with the problem of where he learned them. However, looking at the timeframe in which Shimabuku was active, it becomes clear that he could have learned the Pinan just about anywhere, or even just taken the technique via observing the Pinan kata being performed.

There seems to be some confusion as to what the name Sunsu means. It has been stated that it means either "strong man" (Uezu, et al, 1982) or "son of old man" (Advincula, 1998). However, a recent newspaper article from Okinawa tells us a different story:

"It is said that when Shimabuku performed Sanchin kata, he appeared so solid that even a great wave would not budge him, like the large salt rocks at the beach, and his students nicknamed him "Shimabuku Sun nu Su" (Master of the Salt) out of respect." (sic, Ryukyu Shinpo-sha, 1999, p.9)

Another possibility is that Sunsu may be named after a family dance of the Shimabuku family (Advincula, 1999).

No matter what the meaning, it is safe to say that Sunsu kata represents the culmination of Shimabuku's understanding of the principles of the defensive traditions, and was, along with Isshinryu, his unique contribution to the classical art of Okinawa karatedo.

*from The Kata of Okinawa Isshinryu Karate-do: An Informal Discussion on their Possible Origins by Joe Swift


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