Friday, 6 November 2009

Annanku - 'Light from the South'

The kata Annanku (often spelt Ananku or even Annunko) represents a fairly pivotal point in the Shukokai karate style that I am following. It is the first more senior kata learned after the pinan katas (at 4th kyu) and is generally the first kata learned once you move into the senior class. It is also the first kata that starts in a completely different way to the pinan katas, is much longer in duration and introduces some new and more complicated moves. Learning Annanku therefore feels like an important step to students so I wanted to find out more about where this kata had come from.

Annanku means 'Light from the South' or 'Peace from the South'. Its origins are a bit shrouded in mystery. There are two stories of how this kata came to Okinawa - both revolve around the renowned karate master Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945). The first speculates that he either learned the kata from the Taiwanese who visited Okinawa, or brought it back with him following a martial arts exchange visit in 1927. Taiwan is south of Okinawa so perhaps he was taught it as a 'gift' from Taiwan, hence the name.

The second story suggests that Kyan Sensei was actually the creator of this kata or learned it from his father in which case the kata is comparatively modern (Early 20th century) compared to other kata. This theory is based on the fact that the techniques in Annanku kata are pure "Okinawan". There are no known Chinese forms that resemble Annanku. The original Annanku by Kyan Sensei contained techniques from Siesan, Passai and Wanshu kata. Annanku therefore seems to be more a mixture of Tomari-te and Shuri-te, rather than Taiwan/Chinese martial arts.

Kyan Sensei taught three different versions and variations of Annanku after his return to Okinawa from Taiwan in 1927. There are two or three versions being practised today, the matsubayashi ryu form is uniquely different compared to the shito ryu/shukokai version. In fact the Matsubayashi Ryu Ananku was created by Nagamine Sensei as a way to honour Chotoku Kyan.
The kata is characterised by many lunging stances using zenkutsu dachi for both defensive and offensive movements. It also uses many oi zuki punches and uchi uke blocks. It is also unusual in the first few moves forming a 'X' shaped embusen.

Here is a video of the shito-ryu/shukokai version of Annunko:


Rig said...

Hi Sue, Annanku is the 3rd KYU kata in our system and my all time favorite kata, but that didn't stop me forgetting it a few weeks ago when teaching it to a few newly graded 3rd KYU's (I did eventually remember it after going through it)

Thanks for all the interesting articles and research you put into everyone of your posts.

Sue C said...

Thanks Rig - Annanku is one of my favourites too.


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