Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Let's Talk About Seishan (시싼 / 十三)

Whether your style calls it Seishan, Seisan, or Hangetsu, you probably have seen or performed some variation of the form.  In my particular style of Tang Soo Do, the form is reserved for more Senior ranking practitioners.   In other styles, it may be an intermediate form taught near the Black Belt level.  In some other styles, such as Isshin-Ryu, Seisan is actually the first form taught to students.  Indeed, the form is not a difficult one to execute.  On the surface, it is a relatively short and simple pattern of repeating sequences. A Tang Soo Do orange belt would not find any of the techniques particularly challenging.  Gup students reading this, I am sorry to disappoint you, but there are no secret moves waiting for you in this form.

IsshinRyu Seisan.  A beginner kata (performed by a very advanced practitioner!)

In an age of XMA, Hyper, and a focus on "new" it's easy to overlook the multitudes of lessons that a basic technique can teach.  Seishan, in itself, is a fighting style.  Everything you need for a well rounded karate student is found in this one form, and it harkens back to a time when instructors only taught 2-3 forms at most. After learning over 50 forms (and forgetting a good number of them due to lack of practice) I'm trying to avoid the "inch deep, mile wide" approach.

I recently had the chance to read a very interesting book that had been sitting on my shelf for some time.  "Five Years, One Kata" by Bill Burgar details the author's intimate study of Gojushiho/Ohshipsabo over the course of five years.  Taking a form and devoting time to delve into each movement and the lessons to be learned.  This is what inspired me to take on my own current form, and dive in.

To be super clear... I'm not at this level of understanding of Seishan; not by a long shot.  Plenty of people have been working with this form since before I was born, much less practicing. I'm still just dipping my feet into the pool, so to speak.  But I've got a plan for moving forward and I wish to share that and my progress along the way.

Here's what I'm starting with: WTSDA Seishan.

Seishan, as performed at 2017 Region 2 Championship

Again, to be super clear, I like this form as we do it.  I'm not advocating for changing the standard hyung.  A standard exists to lay groundwork from which to transmit information, and it's a starting point and springboard for the student who wishes to embody the concept of Shuhari. Shuhari is explained in Aikido thusly:

"It is known that, when we learn or train in something, we pass through the stages of shuha, and ri. These stages are explained as follows. In shu, we repeat the forms and discipline ourselves so that our bodies absorb the forms that our forebears created. We remain faithful to these forms with no deviation. Next, in the stage of ha, once we have disciplined ourselves to acquire the forms and movements, we make innovations. In this process the forms may be broken and discarded. Finally, in ri, we completely depart from the forms, open the door to creative technique, and arrive in a place where we act in accordance with what our heart/mind desires, unhindered while not overstepping laws."
With that in mind, here we go!

No comments: