Translated by Andreas Quast


Passai is a Kata found in Shuri-te and in Tomari-te. The kanji notation has not been handed down, but as I have introduced previously, it seems that the word for lion dance in the languages of Fujian and Quanzhou provinces is composed of the characters 拍獅. In the language of Fuzhou (Fujian) this is pronounced "pa sai", and in the language of Quanzhou it is pronounced "phah sai". If so, Passai would have been transmitted from Fujian Province to Okinawa.


The problem is the lineage of Transmission Passai in Okinawa, i.e. whether Passai was first introduced to Shuri, or to Tomari.


Shuri’s Passai includes Passai Dai (Itosu no Passai) and Tawada no Passai. Passai Dai is a modification of Itosu sensei, which uses a lot of Yoko-uke.




Tawada no Passai is a Kata handed down to Chibana Chōshin sensei by Tawada Shinboku, who was a disciple of Matsumura Sōkon (Note), and therefore it has recently also been called Matsumura no Passai. But even if Tawada Shinboku was a disciple of Matsumura sensei, is Tawada no Passai really a Passai of Matsumura sensei? At least from the testimony of his personal disciples, it cannot be confirmed as a fact that Matsumura sensei taught Passai. By the way, Chibana sensei himself called it Passai Dai. This Kata makes extensive use of Age-uke and Ura-uchi.



Next, as regards Passai from Tomari, there are Oyadomari no Passai and Iha no Passai (Matsubayashi-ryū). By the way, and as has previously been stated, Shitō-ryū's Tomari Bassai was learned from Nagamine Shōshin sensei on Okinawa, by Shitū-ryū karateka during the post-war era. Nagamine sensei learned this version of Passai from Iha Kōtatsu.




Although these two Kata have different performing lines (enbusen), they share the point of using the so-called "haimen nukite (reverse spearhand)" with the palm facing up.


So, is Passai older in Shuri or is it older in Tomari? Actually, Asato Ankō gave a hint about this.


The Genres (Kata) of Karate

If you count them all together, there are certainly dozens of species, but you can not learn them all. There is also no need to learn so many. If you choose 5 to 6 from those, that's enough. To strengthen the body, "Naihanchi" and "Seisan" are suitable. The interception of a Bo is limited to "Passai". To generate speed, "Kunsankun" is good. "Jitte" clearly distinguishes between the upper, middle and lower levels. As regards practical application, "Seisan" and Tomari no "Passai" are extremely effective. (Ryūkyū Shinpō, January 18, 1914).


Asato here talks about the Kata of Naihanchi, Sēsan, Passai, Kūsankū, and Jitte, but in case of Passai he specifically describes it as Tomari no Passai.


In other words, as seen by Asato, who belonged to the Shuri shizoku, Passai was understood as a Kata from Tomari. Therefore, Passai was transmitted from Fujian Province to Tomari, and from there it would have been further transmitted to Shuri and so each of the variations of the Kata were born.


Shuri's Passai also includes "Motobu Udun no Passai", which was handed down by Motobu Chōmei, the oldest son of Motobu Chōyū. While this Passai is similar to the other Passai of Shuri, it is also similar to Tomari no Passai in that it uses the "haimen nukite (reverse spearhand)". Therefore, I think that this is a Passai of old-style Shuri-te in existence prior to the modifications made by Itosu sensei.



By the way, considering that the kanji notation of Passai was not transmitted to Okinawa, I think there was possibly a Chinese person who drifted to Okinawa and who was a civilian who was good at Chinese Kenpo but was not good at reading and writing Kanji, and who initiated Passai to the Tomari Shizoku to thank them for taking care of him?


As for the presence or absence of a kanji notation in Kata names, please refer to the article "Did a Kanji Notation Exist for Karate Kata?"  At that time the literacy rate of China was extremely low, especially the literacy rate of civilians, so it would not be strange if Chinese martial artists did not know the Kanji of a Kata (Taolu).



Note: This, after all, is also an oral tradition and there is no historical evidence to prove that Tawada was really a disciple of Matsumura.