When Sakamoto-Sensei came to Canada in 2000, he did a demonstration and for the first time I got to see the koryu kata being performed. These are old style or ancient kata once performed in Okinawa and often with Chinese roots. I was really impressed by his performance. I had never seen anyone move like that before. It changed what I wanted to get from my karate training. It put an image in my head that I knew I wanted to attain, though I didn't know how to get to it.
Matt Mannerow performing Tensho kata.
It was also made clear to me that I couldn't be taught this technique. I had to find my own way to it.
I'm just in the beginning stages of trying to learn the koryu technique. I know that my understanding and kata will evolve with time; I am only taking my first baby steps. The koryu technique is not hidden; it exists in the kihon and kata available to everyone, if you know how to look for it. You cannot reach it by training alone; you have to bring the right understanding to bear.
Sakamoto-Sensei has said that you have to train in Sanchin kata every day to reach the higher technique. Later he amended this and said you also need to train in Nihanchi, Seisan and Neiseishi every day – the combination of these three kata are found in every other kata you do. He has also said to me if you understand Kusanku and Ryushan then Tensho kata is easy.
The way I see it, to reach higher techniques takes constant training of the mind, body and spirit. These things combined with the right feeling lead to a natural evolution of technique. This technique will be unique to me, since my understanding is different than my teachers'.