ANANKU KATA

The composer of Ananku is unknown, and the history is comparatively short. Chotoku Kyan either learned the kata from a Taiwanese who visited Okinawa, or Kyan brought it back with him following a journey to Taiwan. The term “ko” or “ku” means elder, and Patrick McCarthy has suggested that this form may refer to an elder or teacher of Kyan named Anan. It is interesting that practitioners from different schools can practice the same kata, and even claim the same origination of the form, yet the movements and performance may be virtually unrecognizable to each other. We know Ananku genealogically comes down to us through Chotoku Kyan. However, the Matsubayashi-ryu version is unique compared to other versions with the same name.

Ananaku is distinguished by its emphasis on theĀ developmentĀ of offensive and defensive skills in the forward stance. Ananku is the only kata in the Matsubayashi-ryu curriculum in which the practitioner moves backwards to block in the forward stance.

Another important skill practitioners develop by practicing Ananku is the ability to move forward in a front stance while maintaining a consistent height throughout. If the practitioner’s height changes, speed is severely compromised. Moreover, the practitioner becomes vulnerable to attack from the opponent. Practitioners of other styles of karate, particularly the Japanese styles like Shotokan, learn this skill early on in the kata curriculum. In Okinawan Shorin-ryu styles, however, variations of the natural stance are used far more commonly. Therefore, practitioners of Shorin-ryu styles tend to learn to move forward in the natural stance and from a natural stance to a front stance and vice-versa. In Matsubayashi-ryu, developing movement in a front stance comes after learning kata like Fukyukata, Pinan, and Naihanchi. Sensei Ota thinks that learning this way of moving is good training and learning to cover greater distance is a very useful skill, but it does not have as much relevance for self-defense.

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