Pappuren kata
(also known as Happoren or Papurien).
Kanji: 八步連
1. THE ORIGINAL KATA AND ITS HISTORY
八步連
This kanji is pronounced “ba bu lien” in Chinese Mandarin and it means “8 continuous steps” (some translate it as “simultaneous”) . The reason? Well, quite obviously, because the kata itself consists of… 8 steps! Just like many other kata, that are named after the number of steps they contain. For instance:
– Gojushiho (54)
– Nijushiho (24) (also known as “Niseishi” in Shito-ryu)
– Juroku (16)
– Ippyakureihachi (or Ippyakuzerohachi), meaning 108: The other name of Suparinpei, as we call it in Shito-ryu Shukokai Union (also known as Becyurin in Chinese)
…and probably many others, that won’t come to my mind right now!
So, if a Japanese pronounces the name “ba bu lien” itself, they will probably say “Pa Pu Rien”, which is also a name the kata is known with, in the world of Karate. Papurien, or Pappuren. And because, some syllables in Japanese language can be pronounced in another way as well, depending on your accent, PA can also be HA (just like HU can also be FU). Therefore, the name HAPPOREN also exists. It simply is a different pronunciation and NOT a different kata, like some uninformed (or misinformed) people believe.
If we type the name of HAPPOREN in Japanese, we would have it typed in katakana letters, as it is a foreign word and not a Japanese one. We would then type
パープーレン (Pappuren), or
ハーポーレン (Happoren)
From a linguistic point of view, it is so fascinating to see that “BA” in Chinese, is the same kanji letter (or ideogram) used in Japanese. And this kanji also has the meaning of “8” (pronounced HAchi in Japanese – remember HACHIKO the movie and the meaning of his name?). Whether we say HA (ハ) or PA (パ) (You can see it’s the same letter, only with a tiny circle added on top of it called “handakuten” to change and distinguish the sound), the meaning is the same: 8!
This kata is a very old kata from “white crane boxing” (baihe-quan), taught to the Okinawans by Go Kenki (Wú Xiánguì) initially, the famous tea merchant from Fuzhou City, Fuijan Province, who played a significant role in the world of Karate, from a historical point of view. Go Kenki was born in 1886 and he died in 1940, in the age of 54 from pneumonia. He was considered a great Kenpo master.
Some extra information I was given about Go Kenki, from Tsutomu Kamohara sensei (9th Dan, Japan), is the following:
“While staying in the Ryukyu islands in 1926 and assisting tea business in Higashi-cho, Go Kenki was a master of the White Crane who independently worked for his company and had a great influence on the Okinawan Masters of Karate and still was running one of the great martial arts schools in Taiwan. He was teaching most of the disciples of Aniya Masayoshi freely with various training methods and two katas, especially the “hands of cranes” like each other in the form that Chojun Miyagi sensei likes. They promised to work hard with Taiwanese good will with Japan through fists. It seems that the hand of cranes should be Pappuren Kata. Tani Chojiro most probably learned it from Miyagi Chojun sensei and Mabuni Kenwa sensei. Yamada Haruyoshi sensei learned it from Tani Chojiro sensei“.
It is interesting that if we do a proper research about this kata, we will find many Chinese kung fu practicioners performing this kata.
Use copy/paste and try searching this on YouTube: 八步連
It will open doors to you on many Chinese martial artists, performing this kata!
Some interesting videos I found, just a few, I list here:
1.
2.
In any case, we can always see that this kata gives an emphasis in breathing techniques. Here is also a very interesting version of it, performed by McCarthy sensei in Kyoto, back in 1988:
From what I understand, there are so many variations of the kata! If you compare the Chinese versions, with the version of McCarthy sensei, the one of Shito-ryu Shukokai Union, all of them seem quite different. So, the kata has evolved in various different versions. However, the common thing for them all is the vital part of the name: It consists of 8 steps, just like its name indicates!
The flow of the kata is very beautiful, with beautiful artistic moves, reminding of its simbling kata, “Hakucho” (or else known as “Hakutsuru” or “Hakkaku” in Japanese or “Baihe” in standard Chinese or “Hofwa” in Okinawan). In Ryuei ryu, we find the same kata under the name “Paiho“.
So, “Paiho”, “Baihe” in Chinese, “Hakutsuru” or “Hakkaku” in Japanese, it all means the same thing: White Crane!
The rest simbling katas of the Ryuei Ryu family are Pachu (meaning “to swirl a ball”), Anan (named after a city with the same name), Paiku (meaning “White Tiger”) and Heiku (meaning “Black Tiger”). Most of these katas will also be posted on our website very soon (they have already been shot, we are just working on video editing).
2. PAPPUREN IN SHOTOKAN?
Although it sounds weird, yes, Pappuren is also taught in some Shotokan schools, like the one of Kousaku Yokota sensei, who promotes Asai Shotokan. Asai added Crane to Shotokan due to his studies in China. “Not your typical Shotokan” as my friend Ed Smith said…
3. PAPPUREN KATA IN SHITO-RYU SHUKOKAI UNION
As you will see from Kamohara sensei’s video on YouTube, our version does NOT have 16 steps, we are simply used to perform it south and north, in 2 directions, as it is a small kata. I believe it was Yamada sensei who did this, if my memory isn’t wrong. You can see the video itself on the top of this page.
4. ANOTHER VERSION?
There are already so many different versions of this kata, as we have seen so far.
However, somewhere down the line, WKF (The World Karate Federation), YouTube, “the internetz” and the modernization of karate have played a significant role in losing the line and just copying whatever we see online.
Some people today even learn from YouTube and take what they see for granted (even teach it too, sometimes!). I tend to believe this is wrong, if one wants to practice traditional karate. However, if that’s not what they’re after, then, why not? It would be totally acceptable! It depends on what you’re looking for. Karate evolves, one way or another. As far as my karate is concerned, I prefer it to evolve, based on traditional foundations, according to what real masters believe and teach. Truth be told, not everyone has access to a genuine karate master to teach them, so, we have to respect that too, of course!
However, there is a COMPLETELY different kata that has also become a “fashion” in modern WKF and it bares the same exact name. This kata, has nothing absolutely to do with the original line of Pappuren/Happoren. From what I had previously heard, it was believed by some that it is a made-up version, either by someone unknown, or, by some Okinawan master. It was a common thing amongst Okinawan masters to show half a kata or a completely different thing that would come up to their mind at the moment, when westerners (Americans, in the earlier times after WWII) would ask them to show them some kata. It COULD be the case that this “modern” and completely different version that we see in WKF, is one of these cases. Of course again, I could be wrong! 🙂
After searching more though, I realised that the truth is a bit different. This kata first appeared in 2007 from the national team of Japan, when Miss Hiromi Inagaki performed it and ever since, it became a sensation. Ms Inagaki learned it from Hashimoto sensei (Note: Tadashi Hashimoto sensei (9th Dan) was from Taiwan shorin Kempo and later moved to Okinawa to train Nahate. He was invited by late Hayashi sensei to join his organization).
99% (if not almost 100%) of practitioners of this kata today, have learned it off YouTube, as Hashimoto sensei was the source (and it is highly unlikely that they’ve learned it from him, except only a handful of them).
According to my information, Ms Inagaki at the time lost from Rika Usami, however, it was enough to create a sensation at the time with this kata.
I am not sure what the role of this kata is, what its history is or why is it even called Pappuren, when it certainly does not consist of 8 steps (I counted at least 38 with a rough look). I can also find no reference on it before 2007. The only reference I have in my hands (thanks to my friend Boon Heng Lee) is a Japanese magazine cover. You can find it here:
And somewhere here, I will close my small article about Pappuren kata. I hope you enjoyed all the information given. If you have any extra information about it (or objections/corrections) and want to contribute to this article, please feel free to send me an email using the contact form of our website and I will be glad to add your information, along with credit to your name of course!
Special thanks for all the valuable information goes to the following senseis (listed in alphabetical order):
KAMOHARA, Tsutomu
LEE, Boon Heng
McCARTHY, Patrick
SMITH, Ed
References:
1. Bubishi: The Classic Manual of Combat
ISBN: 1462918530, 9781462918539
2. Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org

Kind regards,

Dimitris Petrakis, 4th Dan

General Secretary / International Liaison Officer
Shito-ryu Shukokai Union
World governing body for Yamada-ha Shito-ryu Shukokai Karatedo

山田派糸東流修交会空手道世界連合

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