Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A brief history of Chinto

If I had a favourite kata, Chinto would not be it.  I really like it, but the spinning jump gets me, especially since one of my Senseis decided to tell me that I could throw a Mawari-ushiro-tobi-geri in there as part of the bunkai.  Now, when I get to that part of the kata, I'm thinking "Mawari-ushiro-tobi-geri", but what actually happens is most definitely not a possible mawari-ushiro-tobi-geri, and now I am never happy with the jump.

There are two root versions of modern-day Chinto; Shuri-te (Matsumura Sokon Sensei) and Tomari-te (Matsumora Kosaku Sensei). Whether these two versions originated from the same source is yet to be determined, but there are a large number of similarities between the two katas, which would hint at the idea of a single source.

The most common base story behind this kata can be found all over the internet, but I figured I might as well post it here as well, because the same story can never be told too many times (or in too many different ways) on the Internet.

According to legend, Chinto is named after a Chinese sailor, sometimes referred to as Annan, whose ship crashed on the Okinawan coast. To survive, Chinto stole from the crops of the local people. Matsumura Sōkon, chief bodyguard to the Okinawan king, was sent to defeat Chinto. In the ensuing fight, however, Matsumura found himself equally matched by the stranger, and consequently sought to learn his techniques. The kata is said to be the embodiment of the techniques learned from Chinto.

I find it hard to believe that the chief martial arts instructor and royal bodyguard to the King would be sent to take care of a thief hiding in the countryside.  My theory is that Chinto (which, by the way, roughly translates to "Fighter from the East" or "Fighting to the East", and I'm pretty sure is not the correct name of the person, although the name Chintou has been thrown around a bit as a possible name, but that's a pretty big coincidence) was part of a trade envoy who stayed on Okinawa for a period of time and taught gung-fu to a select group of locals, which included Matsumura Sokon and Matsumora Kosaku.  Chinto is also often referred to as Annan in some of the history I found, but I'm wondering if Annan is actually a reference to An Nanxiang, which is a village along the southern border of Fujian Province, and is often referred to as Annan. It's possible that the name of the gung-fu master and the name of the place where the gung-fu master was from were mixed in the passing down of the legend.

That's my theory.  Remember.  It's a theory.  Be nice.

Chitose Sensei derived Chito-ryu Chinto from the Chinto kata taught to him by Chotoku Kyan Sensei, who in turned learned Chinto from Matsumora Kosaku.  Chotoku's Chinto is almost exactly the same as Matsumora Kosaku's Chinto, except that Matsumora's Chinto has an east / west embusen, and Chotoku's Chinto has a north-west / south-east embusen.  Matsumura's Chinto has a typical north / south embusen.  Chitose Sensei's Chinto is a stripped down version of Chotoku's Chinto (with a few added extras), but with a north / south embusen.  The Shotokan kata Gankaku (Crane on a Rock) is derived from Matsumura's Chinto.

Clear?  Thought so.

Here is a great video of a karateka performing Chotoku's Chinto.

See the similarities to Chito-ryu Chinto?  If not, then let's take a look at Chito-ryu Chinto for comparison.

I find it very interesting that the Chinto Kata, with respect to Chito-ryu, is said to be from shuri-te, despite the evidence to the contrary.  Chotoku Kyan Sensei was from Shuri, but Shuri is not the birthplace of this kata.  Neither is Tomari, for that matter :)

References (for further enjoyment)

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