Wanikan-Ryu Karate, a style born for sailors (second part)


The concept that distinguishes a traditional karate from a modern one is actually a somewhat improper concept as the so-called "traditional karate" has also been modernized and has considerably developed the fighting techniques, while remaining very tied to the old ones. traditions. The main difference, however, lies in the fact that "modern karate" consists of karate aimed at sporting competitions and which could easily be called "sports karate".

In fact, such karate has developed in a sport strongly influenced both by the numerous types of encounters (inter-style, i.e. between the different styles of karate, against other types of martial arts or different types of combat disciplines), and by the possibility of hitting an opponent (controlled strike, semi-contact, full contact). Furthermore, by the constraints imposed by the organizations (fighting with or without protection, with gloves or with bare hands…) and by the various rules depending on the tournament or championship (restrictions, prohibited actions, prohibited techniques…).

In addition, new forms of combat sports have developed, such as MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), also often called “gabion fighting” (Cage Fighting), or “Extreme Combat” (Ultimate fighting) or “No-holds-barred combat” (No Holds Barred – NHB), who have incorporated techniques from various oriental martial arts, including karate, or even from other different disciplines of full contact combat. Following these new contexts, in a certain number of karate schools there have been great separations from traditional forms of training in favor of other types of training considered more pragmatic and immediate to achieve results faster.

For these reasons it should not be surprised if the new emerging styles of karate, or fighting systems, do not place emphasis on the practice of ancient and traditional forms of training, such as kata, also in light of the fact that many fighting arts/systems, however highly effective, do not include i kata in their training programs.

Incidentally, i kata they are a purely Far Eastern training reality and in western combat disciplines they do not exist. All of the above, without absolutely doubting the enormous value that i kata in terms of developing concentration, hitting control, breathing, rhythm, speed, balance, strength and power.

For the sake of completeness, in Japan there had already been a form of "mixed martial arts" for a long time, solely for sporting purposes, called Sogo Kakutogi, where it was intended to "hit, land and strike again an opponent" (defined "utsu-taosu-utsu") just like now in MMA (defined "ground and pound").

I have premised the above, in order to introduce another method for classifying karate (but also other forms of martial arts, of course), namely the one called "by purpose", or what is the purpose for which it is practiced. This type of classification, attributable to an unidentified Japanese karate master, should not be taken as a tautology (ie "true by definition") but as the result of a perspicacious and appropriate consideration.

Karate can therefore be classified by "types of use", or by purpose (I), regardless of the style practiced or the school of origin and can be roughly divided into the following categories (some aspects of which are sometimes partially overlapping):

Koryu karate - all styles of karate that follow an ancient "martial tradition", better known as Do, a discipline/art/path that tends to an inner improvement and a spiritual, ethical and moral development through an assiduous, rigorous and rigid practice of the fighting arts;

Senjo karate o Gunji karate: from Senjo (the battlefield) or from Gunji-teki (military); any expression of karate whose purpose is to be employed in warfare, in any combat situation, in any operating environment, and in any weather condition;

Keisatsu karate: from Keisatsu (Police); any expression of karate where "the use of force" is necessary, both in "police operations" in the strict sense and in operations of the so-called "law enforcement" (Law Enforcement). Generally the techniques are strongly integrated with Judo or Ju-Jitsu techniques;

Goshin jitsu karate: any form of karate substantially oriented towards the so-called "personal defense";

I feel karate/Combat karate: from Sat down (combat/battle), any application of karate oriented towards the development of a "real and full contact" form of combat without making a distinction between styles or schools of origin ("freestyle real combat"). The Combat karate it should not be confused with “Karate Combat”, which is the brand name of an organization (one among many) that promotes international martial arts tournaments and championships at a professional level (freestyle and full contact);

Jissen karate/Kakuto karate: types of sports karate often practiced with various types of protection. Some schools require the use of various protections, vests and helmets with integrated visors (Bogu-karate).

We can now finally talk about the style called “Wanikan-Ryu”

This style, certainly belonging to the "Senjo-karate" type (but also to the "Sento-karate") was created for use by sailors, marines (amphibious units) and special forces operators. Its modern guise was actually born specifically for the amphibious departments, in fact Wani in Japanese it means "alligator", an animal that, internationally, in the military world represents the "Amphibious Forces".

Il Wanikan Ryu draws its origins fromIkadazumo Shinden Ryu, an ancient "military method" for fighting on boats and boats, and has been expanded with "full contact" karate techniques and mixed martial arts techniques, while maintaining the various requirements required to be considered "military": express constantly and at all times a high level of lethality, provide for truly effective and fully applicable techniques in different operational contexts, with different armament and equipment arrangements as well as the applicability in particular conditions such as poor visibility, movement on slippery or uneven surfaces, the mobility in confined spaces or in unfavorable weather conditions.

In particular, this style, also providing for the offensive use of white weapons, can be considered a real "combat system" which can find useful application in all those military operations in which a "melee" combat action can develop ” (boarding operations, maritime interdiction, maritime security, anti-piracy and anti-terrorism).

Japanese samurai boarding Mongol ships in 1281. Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞), c.1293

Such a style has a unique kata "modular", i.e. from a basic module various modules of progressive difficulty and his own are added enbusen (the layout on the ground of imaginary lines on which a kata) is dimensionally reduced for two reasons: it does not require large spaces to be executed (and is therefore particularly suitable and easily executable in the confined spaces of a ship) and, in execution, one often passes through kiting (the start and end point of a kata) so that you can connect the various modules of progressive difficulty without the need for more execution space.

Contrary to what generally happens, the execution of the kata it does not have a predominant part for the belt passage as much as the kumite (the fight). This is justified by the fact that the operational forces, especially if engaged in a mission, do not always have all the time available to devote to training or necessary to deepen a kata, however this does not absolutely preclude the care of the peculiar aspects of a katai.e. the development of concentration, strength, balance, muscle contraction, striking control, breathing, rhythm, speed of movement and striking power. Ultimately it is a fairly innovative style that can be practiced on board different types of ships capable of guaranteeing the minimum space necessary for its practice ... always "sea permitting".

Marco Bandioli

Read: "Wanikan-Ryu Karate, a style born for sailors (first part)"

Admiral MMI (ris) Marco Bandioli has to his credit long periods of embarkation in which he participated in naval, amphibious and maritime security operations, both in national and multinational and/or NATO contexts. He commanded three naval units in full operational activity and was also employed in the joint forces as well as in the staff reporting directly to the Minister of Defence. He has written an "Amphibious warfare" manual for use by the Naval Academy and an operational manual for the anti-terrorist defense of ports for the IBN publishing house. Furthermore, he is the author of numerous articles, both at a strategic and tactical level, for various sector magazines, both institutional and of normal dissemination. As a 5th Dan black belt in karate, and specialist in military combat techniques, he periodically writes articles for an international martial arts organization.

Photo: web

(article originally published on https://www.ocean4future.org)