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Passai Night

At training last night, my second and third sons attended, as did another adult yudansha (black belt holder). Because the class was small, I got to spend the entire class working with the yudansha on the Passai kata (my sons taught the other students).

What a pleasure!

I honestly feel that Passai is the most beautiful kata in our curriculum. We practice the Tomari version of Passai. I have learned about three slightly different versions of the kata -- all beautiful.

If I could only practice three kata, I am sure that Passai would be one, Naihanchi Shodan would be another, and the third would either be Chinto, Kusanku, or Fukyugata Ichi... I'm not too sure about that third kata. But Passai would be one of the kata for sure.

When I practice a kata, I ask myself what the creator of the kata was thinking -- what was he trying to preserve and teach. I did the same thing in school. Instead of just answering the questions on tests, I asked myself what the tester was thinking -- what was it that he wanted the students to know and thus answer.

What was the creator of Passai (at least our Tomari Passai) thinking? What did he want to preserved. What techniques did he want the students to know? How did he want the students to move? What was his sense of direction and changing directions? What was his muti-level approach (usually at least three levels of applications for each movement)? What was his approach to transitions?

Here is my answer to these questions -- the creator of Passai was "way out there", way beyond my level in Karate. He was a real artist! Practicing Passai is like catching glimpses of genius. Even if we cannot perform the kata correctly, just trying makes us better.

Think about the kata. If you could, would you change even one movement? Would you change the techniques or change the order of the techniques? Does anything feel out of place? To me, the kata is perfect. I would not change anything.

Our own Kishaba Juku approach to the kata, and all kata for that matter, is for each movement to be core (koshi) driven. To perform the whole kata in this manner is a challenging thing of beauty.

And this may be a strange thing to say -- I feel happy when I perform Passai. I always have. It does not feel dark or heavy. Chinto does not make me feel happy -- that kata makes me wince. Naihanchi does not make me feel happy -- that kata makes me feel rooted and powerful (like a metal whip). Fukyugata Ichi does not make me feel happy -- it makes me feel precise (like origami). Kusanku does not make me feel happy -- it makes me feel like I am on a tour (going here and there). But Passai makes me feel happy.

So being able to work on Passai all last night was a real pleasure! I'm still happy.


Charles C. Goodin