My Promise to the Master by Hanshi Frank Grant
From the Preface:
It’s a daunting task to take the teachings of a lifetime and put them on paper. My Sensei, Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine, was passionate about developing and sharing the most effective, efficient and scientifically–sound system of karate possible. His book, The Essence of Okinawan Karate–Do, provided, in addition to many other things, a definitive blueprint of all 18 Matsubayashi–Ryu kata. It is the “go–to” book for learning the proper sequence of the techniques. However, there was only so much that he wished to share in his book. By design, he did not provide the high–level, intricate details of how to leverage certain moves of a kata into the most effective and powerful method of delivering lethal energy into an opponent. That knowledge required many years of training and practice under the direction of the Master. I traveled five times to Okinawa to train with the Master. I also sponsored and co–sponsored three visits to the U.S. by the Master and his advanced black belts including his son, Takayoshi Nagamine. Many of my top students received promotions directly under the Master and also traveled to his dojo to train and learn. Our connection to the Master is extensive.
There are many levels of karate. During my first six–month training visit I asked the Master, “When do you know it all?” His response was “How long is infinity?” One advances in rank, skills and knowledge; building on the lessons and insights learned previously. The techniques that I teach my Shodans and Nidans would be totally lost on someone of an intermediate rank. At the same time, those black belts are not yet in a position to absorb the techniques I teach my Sandans and above. The Master helped me achieve very high levels of knowledge, but more importantly, he taught me how to continue to gain more from our techniques while remaining true to the kata he assembled and molded for us. The Master personally taught me details to techniques that he purposely did not put in his book because he knew that the majority of the readers may not comprehend. As part of my promise to the Master to take Matsubayashi–Ryu to the Next Step, I am sharing many of those details with you. For that reason, you may notice that, from time to time, the photos of a certain move in a kata may not look exactly like the same move in the Master’s book. That is the difference between the basic and the advanced way of executing the technique. It’s still the same move. Those little nuances are directly related to the training I received from the Master. Be assured that any differences you perceive come from the Master himself and are included to help you reach the next level in your training.
I want to be clear. It’s not my place or intent to change the kata. My mission is to provide you in–depth details about techniques the Master wanted his more advanced students to understand. At the same time, the Master encouraged me to look for my own enhancements. There were many times when I would show the Master a way to improve the performance slightly in a move, technique or teaching method. That’s when he was most excited. His eyes would light up and he’d say in his broken English, “Yes, Mr. Frank. You do. You do!” There were 20–some years since the Master’s book was first published that he worked with me and my top students. That’s a lot of refinements, enhancements, advanced interpretation and knowledge that the Master shared with us that could not be described in his book. My book is an extension of Master Nagamine’s vision for Matsubayashi–Ryu. It’s in that spirit I offer this book to you.