Kosokun shio is almost an exclusively Shito Ryu/Shukokai kata and is generally attributed to Mabuni Kenwa (the founder of Shito Ryu). This makes the kata comparatively modern (i.e. early 20th Century) but since this kata is almost certainly an amalgam of the kata Kushanku Dai and Kushanku Sho, it‘s roots are much older. We therefore, need to look at the origins of the Kushanku kata to truly understand Kosokun shio.
The Kushanku kata are attributed to ‘Tode’ Sakugawa (b.1733) who developed them in recognition and remembrance of one of his teachers – Kushanku (Also known as Kong Su Kung, Kwang Shang Fu and Guan Kui) who was a Chinese envoy sent to Okinawa around 1756. It is said that Kushanku learned the art of ch’uan Fa in China from a Shaolin Monk.
Apparently Kushanku was a specialist in ‘night fighting’ and grappling. In Okinawa during the mid 18th century (during the Satsuma occupation and the banning of bladed weapons) military combat usually occurred during the daytime but ‘self-defence’ fighting between civilians usually occurred at night. It would have been a fairly common experience to be attacked whilst walking home in the dark, perhaps beaten unconscious and robbed. Grappling techniques are ideal for dealing with an attacker in the dark when you cannot see to kick and punch.
Kushanku taught his night fighting techniques to Sakugawa, who was his student for 6 years. There is a story that Sakugawa, on route to China in a boat, was attacked by pirates at night as they approached Fuzhou harbour. The pirates' usual tactic would be to board the boat and throw everyone overboard to drown, thus escaping with the entire ship and any treasure. However, on this occasion, Sakugawa’s night fighting skills took the pirates by surprise. He was able to single-handedly defeat the pirate crew, grappling with them and throwing them all overboard!
It is not surprising then that the Kushanku katas that Sakugawa went on to develop were designed to be ‘night fighting’ kata. The opening move of the kata, where the arms draw a big circle in front of the body, is thought to represent the moon and is to remind you that this kata is teaching you how to fight in the dark.
According to Bruce Clayton in Shotokan’s secrets, the kata has three aims: (1) To avoid being caught by the enemy, (2) To locate and attack the enemy in the dark and (3) To remain in control of the enemy until he has been defeated. In other words you need to touch the enemy before you can strike them and once you’ve got hold of them you need to finish them off.
It is said that the kata should also teach the enhancement of the senses, particularly hearing and touch both of which would be particularly important in the dark.
As I said earlier Kosokun shio is an amalgam of the two Kushanku kata or at least combines many techniques from both of them. Though Kosokun shio is practised only by shito ryu stylists, Kushanku kata are practised by Isshin ryu, shotokan (where it is called Kanku Dai) and possibly other styles of shuri-te karate.
If you are familiar with Kosokun shio or the Kushanku katas then you will have noticed that they have several combinations that appear in the pinan kata series, particularly pinans shodan, yondan and godan. It is thought that Itosu created the pinan katas partly from the Kushanku katas.
Here’s a video of Kosokun Shio:
Shotokan's Secret, the hidden truth behind karate's fighting origins. by Bruce D Clayton Ph.D
To view the sky: http://www.newsfinder.org/site/readings/kushanku_to_view_the_sky/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.