Chinte, an introduction
ChinteKata is a unique Kata that has a lot of great self defense applications and can be used to work some specific self defense drills. The use of techniques that are not always used in regular classes and should really be looked at closely when a student is seeking to improve their ability to defend themselves.
This Kata is almost always proposed to be a female Kata and I often run into this ignorance when talking to younger Shodans and juniors. No Kata in the Shotokan Syllabus should be looked at as being only male or female in nature and none should be secluded to one specific gender.
As with most of the Katas I have read a lot of misguided information about the history of this Kata and others. The truth may not be as interesting as the stories that come with the Kata, but they do allow some insight into the Kata itself. I often suggest this Kata to those that want to gain some insight into a real self-defense situation and how to handle themselves in said situation.
History of Chinte
The name Chinte means Unique or unusual hand, but another interpretation is 'calmness or quelling'. Chinte is a unique Kata to Shuri Te passed on to Itosu from Matsumrua prior to any changes to the Kata it was taught to the shuri castle guards as a defense against Yari (spear) attacks. The guards used bamboo armor on their forearms to help with defense. Thus another common interpretation to the Kata was 'bamboo arms'.
The mood of the Kata begins in calmness and builds intensity and return to calmness. This Kata also displays many religions connotations linked to Buddhism. Such as the opening hand postures which links back to the Buddhist monastery the Shaolin Temple.
At some point it was noted that the use of the unique strikes and the powerful use of the stance made this on ideal Kata for people who were not extremely strong as it presents alternative Self defense ides to effetely counter a stronger fighter, such as eye pokes and the Nakadaka-Ken to the small bones of the hand. At some point some one mislabeled the Kata a ladies Kata. This is an incorrect labeling. Many well-respected female competitors have chosen to use this Kata because of its elegance and flow and the Kata became incorrectly known as a female Kata. Interestingly Ueki Sensei and many other male instructors count this Kata as their favorite to compete with and often suggest its use to learn unique aspects of self-defense to students.
The opening hand movements suggest a link to the Wu-Tang style kung fu. Having said that the idea of an off shoot of Shaolin having any impact on a style of martial art primarily influenced by Shaolin southern styles is slim. The Wu-Tang temple was situation near Korea in a very dangerous area. On would think that the Japanese did not have much contact with this temple. And that monks from this Temple would not have taught Okinawan instructors traveling to Southern Fujian province to learn martial skills.
Because of its unique look and feel from Shotokans more orthodox Kata, Chinte had not been used much by JKA students. One exponent of Karate says 'Chinte is a brutal Kata whose applications show a obvious intent to harm the attacker beyond repair'. Granted his English was not great, but you get the general idea. Chinte perhaps best shows the Chinese roots of the Kata. Most Kata appear to have been engineered to start and end at the same spot. They smoothly start off work threw and then end in the same spot. Chinte appears to have its original end not in the same spot as it started.
One more false notion is a story that the Kata was created by a nun to help with Self-defense after watching a crane and a snake fight. She then passed the style on to princes who challenged all suitors with this knowledge and said that if they could not beat her they would not marry her. She beat them all soundly till one man beat her and she married him and merged the styles. The problem with this common story is that it is the creation story for wing Chun kung fu and not a single form or Kata. Not only does Wing Chuns history not apply to the single form of Chinte but Wing Chun had no influence on Shotokan or Okinawan Karate development at all.
Gichin Funakoshi tried to change the name of this Kata to Shion, but it did not take as many of his later name changes did not. The Kata focuses on close combat, proper use of the body for maximum effectiveness and employees deflections and uses the idea of techniques used to over come brute force!
Takeshi Naito feels it should be linked to Sochin training as a nice contrast in training. Opposing a power based Kata with a sophisticated and technical Kata helps to develop the mind and body of the practitioners. Chinte has its own hidden power development however. In the sharp movements from Fudo dachi to Zenkutsu dachi one can see the hips are used to their maximum and the body dynamics are employed and brought to maximum power.
Chinte offers some very Chinese ideas in a very Okinawan/Japanese Kata. The linear movements used to create power and speed are mixed in with circular moves that will help redirect force on an attack.
One of the greatest debates about this Kata happens to be the last three moves of the Kata. The practitioner finishes the last Tate Zuki and stands up. Then the student hops back, sometimes on an angle, to reach the start of the Embussen.... normally three hops in total. I have ready many explanations for this hop action and some Bunkai has been made to explain these hops. From what I gather from interviewing different masters, reading the texts, looking at other versions of this Kata in other styles, it boils down to Shotokans almost obsessive need for uniformity and this translates as the Kata needing the hops to stop at the same spot.
Despite the strange jumps at the end, Chinte still houses a tone of training ideas and a unique variety of hand techniques aimed at vulnerable points on the body. Over the years Chinte has fallen out of favor with many students, more than likely because of its being associated with being a ladies Kata. But the truth is that a student will find many lessons in Chinte that they can use to improve their Karate overall. And the improvements in Self defense options is worth the students time training in this Kata.
Chinte is often thought of as a Girls Kata, but truthfully it is filled with interesting movements and good training drills for self defense. Its history suggests much more than a “ladies” Kata to be used by women only. In fact the Kata itself is a hard Kata that takes a great deal of time to master and a long time to understand and implement.
The Kata Chinte should be a staple of training for those that want to learn self defense and how to use pinpoint accurate strikes to vital spots to stop a fighter from attacking them. I can recall learning this Kata for a summer camp that Saeki Sensei had for us in Ottawa. I had not done this Kata in some time and when asked to show the Kata I was critiques and told that I was not committing to the movements with determination. I was not sure what Saeki Sensei meant until he demonstrated the Kata on me.
The movements were fast and I can say from experience that they worked and the pressure point strikes make my arms numb and I could not hang on to Saeki Sensei no matter how hard I tried.
One other instructor that really showed me how to perform this Kata was Dell Phillips out of Saskatchewan. His techniques and interpretation was smooth and the timing was perfect, he tripped me to the floor with the arm techniques countering my kicks and his ability to time my attack was perfect. The Kata came alive and as a “attacker” I can tell you that this Kata works very well as a teaching tool.
My only advice for anyone training in this Kata is to take your time, practice the Kata and don’t leave any training time out. Work on using the Kata and enjoy the movements knowing they will work for you.