These are some brief descriptions of the karate kata we practice
This is the base kata of Goju Ryu. It teaches concentration, proper
breathing, stance, stepping, muscular tension for attack and defense,
eye direction, basic techniques, and builds a proper "karate
body". Its name means "three battles", and there
are numerous explanations for it- body, mind and spirit; heaven,
earth, and the underworld, and so on. While it is usually done
with a set number of steps, it is still Sanchin no matter how
many steps one does forward or back; the movements and their proper
execution are sanchin. One important part of training this kata
is working with a partner and doing testing- shime- of proper
form and tension. This consists of slapping, hitting, and pushing
the person doing the kata, in ways that teach and test the form.
Supposedly, the kata Higashionna brought back from China was done
with open hands, and either Higashiona or Miyagi closed the hand.
It is also said he changed the breathing after one of his visits
to China: the version of the kata done in Toon Ryu, the
system of Juhatsu Kyoda, Miyagis senior under Higashionna,
is also done with closed hands, but the breathing is different.
The same kata is done in Shito Ryu and Isshin Ryu, and a nearly
identical version, done more quickly and with open hands, is done
in Uechi Ryu. Versions are also done in Okinawa Kempo, and some
Shorin Ryu schools.
This is a complementary kata to Sanchin. It was designed by Miyagi
in the 1920s or 30s, and is supposed to be the complementary "soft"
form to Sanchins hardness. The name means "rotating
palms" or "controlling with the palms", and the
kata is short and appears simple. It also emphasizes breathing
and posture, but focuses on soft power. Some have argued that
Tensho is based on the six vital hands (Rokkishu) of the Bubishi,
but examining the document reveals that there is little correlation
between the two. Some people have said that Miyagis friend
Mabuni Kenwa assisted in the creation of this kata.
This kata was created by Miyagi Chojun, with the help of Nagamine
Shoshin ( a Shorin Ryu master) in the 1930s. It is usually called
Gekisai dai ni, and has an accompanying form gekisai dai
ichi- that is virtually identical. There are a number of purported
reasons for its creation, and there is no clear evidence to support
any of them more than the others. However, it was created at the
same time that Miyagi sensei was getting involved in the development
of all-Okinawan kata for the promotion of a generic Okinawan karate,
on the model of Judo or Kendo, on the Japanese mainland. A version
that may be an earlier iteration, with a number of differences,
is preserved in some Goju schools associated with Izumigawa Kanki.
The kata is fairly simple, and includes the only jodan age uke
in the Goju kata. Its name means "to attack and tear".
A similar form is taught in some Shorin schools as "Fukyu
kata dai ni".
This kata is usually the first classical kata taught in most Goju
schools. Standard oral history says that it is one of the kata
that Higashionna brought back from China, though some researchers
have hypothesized that the kata was actually designed by Miyagi.
It is also said that the kata, with its one legged stance, sweeping
arm movements, and emphasis on balance, is representative of Crane
techniques. Other researchers have argued it resembles Lion boxing.
The katas name means "to grab and tear". It is
practiced only in Goju schools, and Shito Ryu (whose founder,
Mabuni Kenwa, was a student of Higashionnas for a short
time, and a friend of Miyagis).
This kata is also said to be one brought from China. It is the
only Goju kata with no kicks, and includes a number of grappling
and seizing techniques. The name means "to fight by pulling
and controlling". Versions of this kata are also taught in
Isshin Ryu (whose founder was a student of Miyagi), Shito Ryu,
and Ryuei Ryu.
This kata is also unique to Goju Ryu and Shito Ryu. Its
name means "fighting in four directions", and is said
to have been brought back from China by Higashionna. The kata
does a number of its techniques in 4 directions, and includes
a number of takedowns, lock releases, and strong hip motions.
This katas name means "eighteen" or "eighteen
hands", though the characters are not pronounced in standard
Japanese, or the Okinawan language- the pronunciation may be a
modification of the Fujianese pronunciation. Exactly what is meant
by the numerology of many of the Okinawan kata is not clear. Some
people say that the number refers to the number of techniques
in the kata, the number of direction changes, or the number of
steps. The character "te", which is usually written
after the number, means hand but can refer to hands, feet, techniques,
or steps, among other things, in the Okinawan martial vernacular.
The kata includes a good deal of circular motion, rising and sinking
motion, and locks and throws. Versions of it are also practiced
in Shito Ryu and Ryuei Ryu.
This kata is one of the four kata that are common to Goju and
Toon Ryu- the schools of Higashionnas only two pupils
to continue teaching. Some researchers say these four- sanchin,
sesan, sanseru, and suparinpe or pechurin- are the only kata Higashionna
taught, but there is no definitive evidence for this. The katas
name means "36 hands", and it emphasizes linear attacks
and forward motion, how to enter and occupy an opponents
space. Again, there are many theories as to the meaning of the
name- number of techniques, symbolic reference to certain written
characters, and so on, but no definitive explaination.
There are a number of variations of the kata in different Goju
schools, with the version taught in the Higa lineage (Shodokan)
being the most different. Versions of it are also taught in Shito
Ryu, Ryuei ryu, whose version is almost identical to the Higa
version, and Toon Ryu, whose version resembles the Higa
version a bit but includes no mae geri and is shorter. Uechi Ryu
also does a kata with the same name, but it is quite different.
This katas name means "thirteen hands". This kata
is common to almost all karate styles in Okinawa. Very similar
versions are done in Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu, Toon Ryu, and
Uechi Ryu. However, the other versions in the various Shorin systems,
Ryuei Ryu, Okinaw Kempo, and so on, also all bear a strong resemblance
to each other and suggest that they are all versions of the same
The Goju version emphasizes strong koshi, or lower back, power.
Some schools consider it a beginner kata, and teach it after sanchin
or saifa. The kata also has strong connections to Sanchin, expanding
on the material in that kata.
This kata is also said to have been brought from China by Higashionna.
There is also a reference to a "Hanashiro no Kururunfa"
in an early Japanese work on karate, suggesting the kata may have
existed in Okinawa in other lineages. The only other school that
currently teaches it is Shito Ryu. The katas name can be
translated as "to hold in place and crush", and it includes
a number of trapping and seizing techniques, some releases, and
a good deal of sabaki, or body shifting. Some writers have said
the kata represents mantis techniques.
On Okinawa this kata is also occasionally called Pechurin, but
pronounced either way the name means "one hundred and eight
(hands)". Like most of the numbered kata, the number 108
has significance in a number of Asian belief systems, and this
may be the origin and meaning of the name. It is considered the
highest kata in the system, and is the longest. Shito Ryu also
teaches this kata. Toon Ryu also teaches a Pechurin, the
name of which translates as "100 continuous steps".
The kata is very similar to Suparinpe, but not identical. Supposedly
Uechi Ryu also included a Suparinpe, but the founder of the system,
Uechi Kanbun, did not get to learn it from his teacher in China.
This kata was taught to Kimo sensei by Kina Seiko. It was taught
to Kina by Kyoda Juhatsu (though it is not taught in Toon
Ryu), and Matayoshi sensei said that when he was a boy it was
a Tomari form. The kata emphasizes quick motion and uke-tsuki.
The name is written in kana, not kanji, and so if there was a
meaning it is not discernable from the characters. There are kata
called Sochin in Shito Ryu and various other systems, some stemming
from one of Higashionnas teachers Aragaki Seisho, but they
do not resemble this kata at all.
This kata is also sometimes called Hakaku or Hakutsuru. It is
a white crane form taught by Matayoshi Shinpo, and comes from
either the Kingai Ryu or Gokenkis white crane kenpo. There
are a number of similar forms taught in Okinawa, most stemming
from Gokenki: Ryuei Ryus Paiho, Gojukenshas Kakufa,
and so on. The basics of this form- the stepping, postures, breathing,
and stances- are all slightly different from Goju Ryu.
This kata is the base kata for the Shuri-te systems. We occasionally
practice it as a limited means of insight into these systems.
Like sanchin it appears to be a very simple kata, containing a
limited amount of movement and only a few techniques. The name
is written in kana, and so if there is a meaning it is not discernable
from the characters.
Gekiha, Kakuha, Hakutsuru no mai
These forms were created by Toguchi Seikichi in the 1950s. He
wrote that they were a continuation of Miyagis quest to
create a set of universal kata for Okinawan karate. They are part
of a 10 kata sequence that is taught in his school, the Shoreikan.
There are 2 Fukyu (dissemination) kata, 3 Gekisai (smash and tear)-
the first two of which were created by Miyagi working with Shoshin
Nagamine, 2 Gekiha (tear and rip), 2 Kakuha (a stork tearing),
and Hakutsuru no mai (white crane). In Kodokan, we sometimes practice
the last two gekisai, the second gekiha, and the first kakuha.