Here’s an interesting one for you, karate grew from one form, which kata is now lost.
Interestingly enough, it’s true. Here’s the story.
The original rumor is that Karate developed from the Crane style of Kung Fu. Might be true, but if you’ve seen videos of that form you’ll likely shake your head and blink a little. The crane form is a shaky sort of quivery thing, hard to imagine the movements being refined into the block and counter motions of most styles of Karate.
I first saw this form on YouTube, and the reader is invited to do a search, inspect the form – the forms, I should say, for there are many versions – and draw his own conclusion.
So, with this example that was hard to adhere to, I decided to do a little digging, and here is the story I found out, the story behind the art of Karate.
A couple of hundred years ago on the island of Okinawa, In a dismal cave located behind an old cemetery, lived a shipwrecked sailor. He was Chinese, and his name was Chiang Nan.
Living nearby, in a house, I assume, was Ankoh Itosu. Mr. Itosu, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the iconic figures of the martial arts. He studied with all the masters of the day, and he is responsible for formulating karate into a modern method.
One day Chiang met Mr. Itosu. We don’t know how, maybe Mr. Itosu befriended the shipwrecked sailor, maybe one of these martial artists was out for a walk and saw the other practicing the martial arts, and a conversation, and friendship, was struck.
Chiang Nan taught Mr. Itosu a martial art form.
Mr. Itosu worked on the form, the working name was apparently Channan, which might be a translation of the phrase ‘peaceful mind,’ or might be a translation of Chiang Nan’s name. He developed Channan into five separate kata and called them the Pinans, which means Peaceful Mind.
Later, when these forms were taught in Japan, they were called the Heians.
Thus, the five Pinans became the heart and soul, the basis for the art of Karate.
They became the main forms of an art that was the choice of the Imperial bodyguards of three different countries: Okinawa, Korea and Japan.
They are taught to children the world over as you read this.
From the Pinans are derived countless self defense techniques, endless drills, and a philosophy of self defense,
From these forms has arisen a whole zen belief system, a ‘moving zen’ philosophy.
This, as far as I know, is an accurate representation of the ‘Lost Form,’ and how Karate came to be.