Matsukaze - formerly Wankan Kata

This karate kata is from Matsumora Kosaku of Tomari in Okinawa (see Unante by Sells). The region of Tomari was a small fishing village and is located really just a number of miles from the other famous regions where karate arose in Okinawa, that is Shuri and Naha. In fact, in today's measures of distance these regions are so close together, that today Tomari is now within the district of Naha. The kata was renamed to Matsukaze from the name Wankan by Mabuni Kenwa, the founder of shito ryu. This was done during a time when referring to the Okinawan king was not in fashion, as wankan translates to "King's Crown".

It is relatively highly preserved across shito-ryu sub-styles and it is really the same kata as the wankan seen in most Shorin ryu styles with just minor variations here and there. Note that Shotokan's Wankan is a different kata which simply shares the same name of the kata as shito/shorin's Matsukaze’s.

Short Excerpt Video - Matsukaze history, kata & bunkai

My lineage inherited the
kata from Sotokawa sensei who was either exposed to it directly through Kenwa Mabuni and/or Chōjirō Tani (Sotokawa had Mabuni oversee his 3rd Dan test as an indiaction of past direct interactions). In our lineage it is one of the first "advanced" kata (non-pinan) I tend teach and is recommended for use as one option for Shodan level tests (it was in fact my own Shodan choice kata). 

Full length Video on Matsukaze Kata & Bunkai 
     (10min mpeg-4 download video)

The translation for Matsukaze as passed to me has always been ""wind in the pines" and you see various versions of this direct translation from the two kanji, "pine" & "wind". The meaning behind this translation is viewed a number of ways and some more direct examples include & may extend to more than to encapsulate the form:
  • strength but flexibility
  • clean and brisk as the air through the pines
  • the rapid side-to-side punch segments - swaying of a tree from a strong base
Beyond these literal kanji interpretations are some (but not my direct instructors) postulations that "Matsukaze" is a martial art reference particularly related to the "jugular region of the throat" (more accurately the carotid sinus). While many moves can involve throat strikes (shuto-uchi, the rapid side-to-side punch segments, potential choke from an "x-block"), I will leave the details of this translation to others.

Brief article by Jason Armstrong, 7th Dan Shito-ryu.

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