Kata - Eastpoint Karate Club

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The translations of these Kanji reads "to attack and smash". The Gekisai-Kata were first introduced into Goju-Ryu by Miyagi Sensei for giving starters in this martial art a first insight. They were developed around 1944. This kata is called Shinsei in Shito-Ryu and Fukyu Kata Ni in Matsubayashi-Ryu.
The Geki Sai Kata were formulated by Chojun Miyagi Sensei in 1940 as a form of physical exercise for high school boys and to help popularize Goju-Ryu among the public of Okinawa.  In 1948, after WWII, Miyagi Sensei began to teach the Geki Sai Kata in depth as a regular part of Goju-Ryu in his own dojo.  Until this time, Sanchin was the first Kata taught in Goju-Ryu.  Sanchin Kata is physically and mentally a demanding Kata and requires a great deal of time and patience to learn and perform properly.  The Geki Sai Kata however are easier to learn and perform, and contain dynamic techniques which are more attractive to young people.  These Kata contain the same kanji found in Saifa.  This would suggest that even though these Kata were designed primarily as a form of exercise, Miyagi Sensei included his understanding of combat as part of their makeup.  


See Gekisai ichi. Begins to incorporate tai-sabaki and softer blocking patterns.


Saifa means "the final breaking point". Saifa helps promote whipping power generated by movement of the hips switching between soft and hard movements of the arms. Saifa also helps develop tai-sabaki and balance. Taught as the first Heishu kata in many Goju-Ryu schools.
Saifa is the first of the classical combative Kata taught in Goju-Ryu.  Goju-Ryu's Kata origins come from the martial arts taught in the Fuzhou area of southern China, largely Crane and Xingyi/Baqua as well as other internal and external martial arts.  Kanryo Higaonna Sensei was taught this Kata, along with the other Kata of Goju-Ryu, while he studied in China from 1863-1881 under the direction of RuRuKo (Xie Zhongxiang in Chinese) and others.  These Kata and martial strategies would become the basis of the the quanfa of Higaonna Sensei, which later Miyagi Sensei would call Goju-Ryu.  From an understanding of the grappling and striking techniques of this Kata, Saifa can be interpreted to mean grabbing and tearing of tissue in close-quartered combat.


Many translations exist for the name of this kata, but "the storm within the calm" seems the most appropriate. This demanding forms contains no kicks, and the majority of the hand techniques are performed in shiko-dachi. Mentioned as one the 2 training kata of Goju-Ryu (along with Seisan) by Meitoku Yagi, Seiunchin is taught as the brown-belt kata in many modern Goju-Ryu organizations.
The name Seiyunchin implies the use of techniques to off balance, throw and grapple.  It is this understanding that imparts the original intentions of the Kata of Naha-te before the sport alignment of modern Karate.  Seiyunchin contains close-quartered striking, sweeps, take-downs and throws.  Though the Kata itself is void of kicks, many practitioners make the grave mistake by missing the opportunity to apply any leg technique.  Though almost invisible to the untrained eye, the subtleness of "ashi barai" and "suri ashi" can represent foot sweeps, parries and traps.


Shisounchin means "the kata of the 4 fighting monks"
Shisochin also translates as "Four Gates" or "Four Directions of Conflict".  To leave it at that discounts a truer understanding.  Some kanji is the same found in Sanchin and Seiyunchin, which translates as "battle" or "conflict".  This lends to a deeper definition of its meaning.  The idea of four directions can come from the performance of the four shotei in four directions.  It can also represent the four elements represented in Chinese medicine (Acupuncture is one) of Wood, Fire, Metal and Water with man representing Earth.  Since this was the science and culture of that period in China when Higaonna and Miyagi both studied in Fuzhou, it would be a great oversight to discount this aspect as a very probable explanation of the Kata's name and martial intent.


Sanseru means "36". It is believed that this kata was taught in the Kume section of Okinawa and taught by Aragaki Seisho before Kanryo Higashionna made his trip to China. Several Fujian Quanfa styles practice a kata with this name, for instance, Kanbum Uechi brought back the Fujian Tiger Quanfa version back to Okinawa. Ryuei-Ryu also practices Sanseru, their kata being very similar to the Goju-Ryu version. Considering that Nakaima Kenko and Miyagi Chojun were good friends, I believe it more likely that one borrowed from the other than the likelihood that both descended from the same "Ryuruko".


Sepai translated means "cupful" The reference to "18" in naming this Kata has a couple of interpretations.  Like Sanseru, there is suggested a connection to Buddhist philosophy.  Another insinuates "18 guards for the King".  The most apparent and most meaningful in the naming of Sepai is again from the martial arts development and the use of attacking pressure points.  18 is one half of 36 suggesting that perhaps an alternative set of attacks and defenses of preferred techniques and strategies from the original Sanseru 36. Sepai is found in Monk Boxing.   


Kata with the name "13" are practiced by many Okinawan (both Shuri and Naha) styles, as well as Fujian Quanfa styles. Believed to be one of the oldest kata on Okinawa, this kata seems to stress fundamental stepping, punching, and kicking techniques. Called one of Goju-Ryu two training kata by Meitoku Yagi, this kata begins like Sanchin, contains techniques aimed at dominating the opponent's centerline, and contains several low kicks. Strangely, many current Goju-Ryu organizations include this near the end of the curriculum.
Seisan, Sanseru and Sepai all share the kanji .   This may well be a Chinese dialect of the Okinawan term "te" or "fighting hand", referring to life-protection techniques.  To better understand these Kata requires a more defined understanding of the language and culture of the people from which these Kata originated.
Seisan is believed to be the oldest of all Okinawan Goju-Ryu Kata.  There is a version of Seisan practiced in the Shorin schools, but in comparison, the Goju-Ryu version is longer and much more complex.  
Seisan is practiced in the following styles of Chinese Boxing: Dragon, Lion and Monk Fist


Translated Means "come,stop,deflect,hold your ground and stay the waves
Kururunfa epitomizes the ideals of Go-"hard and Ju-"soft".  Stance transitions are quick and explosive while the hands techniques are employed using "muchimi" or a heavy, sticky movement.  As in the other kata of Goju-Ryu, it is quite evident that grappling and close-quartered fighting is the favored fighting style.  The same kanji is found in Saifa. Again, this would suggest a strong emphasis on grappling. Where most other styles' Kata concentrate on "block/punch", it is obvious from the unique techniques that this is not the case with Goju-Ryu.  


Suparinpei kata also known as "Pechurin"

Suparinpei is the most advanced Kata in Goju-Ryu.  It contains the greatest number of techniques and variations.  Suparinpei is deceptive in that it appears simple in execution but when combined with transitions and changing tempos, it is only surpassed by Sanchin in technical difficulty and understanding.
Once again, the number "108" is suggested to have origins in Buddhism and can represent the "108 sins of man". On the Chinese New Year, temple bells are rung 108 times to "drive away the evils of man".
It is believed these named associations with Buddhism is based upon the lack of factual knowledge of the true nature of these quan.
Secondly, with the cutural changes that took place in China during and after the Boxing Rebellion (1900) and the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), little emphasis was placed on learning such complex arts. Most who learned the fighting arts after this time, did so as a means of exercise, recreation or artistic performance.  In additon, the wide-spread use of firearms reduced the need and effectiveness for hand-to-hand combat as a means to civil defense.
Suparinpei is found in the following styles of Chinese Boxing: Dragon, Tiger and Monk Fist.

Sanchin & Sanchin Ni

Sanchin means "Three battles 3 steps forward". The underlying principle is the battle between mind, soul and body. Trough hard training and steady practicing the three of them should be united. Originally this kata was taught by Sensei Higashionna with open hands (as it is still practiced in Uechi Ryu). Higashionna later changed this to clenched fists.
One of two "heishu " Kata of Goju-Ryu, Sanchin is probably the most misunderstood Kata in all of Karate.  In contrast, it is probably the single most valuable training exercise in Goju-Ryu.  Like the other Kata of Goju-Ryu, Sanchin  can be found in several Chinese arts (San Jan), particularly the southern styles including four styles of Crane Boxing, Dragon Boxing, Tiger Boxing, Lion Boxing, Dog or Ground Boxing and Monk Fist.  Sanchin has such aspects as deep, diaphragmatic breathing found in many internal arts as well as external attributes like mechanical alignment and muscular strength.  Because many martial artists have little or no understanding of the true history and nature of the Chinese arts from which Okinawan Goju-Ryu has its roots, Sanchin has become little more than an isometric form performed with dangerous tension and improper breathing techniques.
The original Sanchin that Higaonna Sensei learned from RuRuKo (1852-1930) was performed with open hands and with less emphasis on muscle contraction and "energetic" breathing.   With the changes brought about by Emperor Meiji (Meiji Restoration Period 1888-1912), Higaonna Sensei changed the open hands to closed fists as the martial meaning was no longer emphasized.  Later Miyagi Sensei would again alter the Kata in pattern alone.  
Sanchin translates as "3 Battles" or "3 Conflicts".  This has many meanings.  First it refers to the struggle to control the body under physical fatigue.  With fatigue the mind begins to lose focus and thus the spirit begins to diminish as well.  Therefore Sanchin develops discipline, determination, focus, perseverance and other mental attributes.   The Chinese refer to this as Shen (spirit), Shin (mind) and Li (body).  Another possible interpretation refers to the "Three Burners" of the body as decribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine


Tensho means "Rotating palms and change of hands". This breathing kata was developed by Miyagi sensei from the Rokkishu kata from Chinese white crane style. Rokkishu, "6 Hands", denotes the different hand positions in this kata. Tensho combines movement with softness
The second "heishu" kata in Goju-Ryu, Tensho is derived from the Chinese form "Rokkishu".  Unlike Sanchin, which is almost identical to its Chinese counterpart, Tensho is uniquely Okinawan.  From his understanding of the Kata of Goju-Ryu and the "nature of man", Miyagi Sensei developed Tensho to further complete his Goju-Ryu where Sanchin left off.  Tensho has many of the same principles of Sanchin but goes further to include more intricate concepts of the techniques of Goju-Ryu.  These concepts expressly come alive in  kakie, which in advanced training, breathes life into the bunkai of the Kata of Goju-Ryu.
The term "heishu" translates as "closed".  As with every aspect of Okinawan Karate, there is more than one definition.  First, "heishu" can refer to muscle contraction and "ibuki" style breathing unique to Sanchin and Tensho.  Secondly, it can imply the restriction and specific direction of energies within the energy pathways of the body, both superficial and deep.  The other 10 Kata are referred to as "kaishu" or "open", as they are free of constant muscle contraction and breathing is "normal".

Kata can be defined as a series of prearranged defensive and offensive movements manipulating the body as a tool for survival under circumstances of one or more attackers.
We have found that through research and probing, there are many different systems Goju Ryu as well as Karate-Do and yet from Dojo to Dojo they are different, they all seemed to be in search of the same end result, some type of enlightenment. In the highest form of understanding we can translate Kata as 'Zen in motion' in contrast to 'zazen' or sitting meditation. An understanding that requires depth in philosophy, an imagination of opponents and situations uncommon and mastery of basics within your own particular style.
There are multiple key elements of kata. Some can be represented as:
1. Rhythm & Timing; All kata no matter what Ryu-ha or Kai-ha must have a certain rhythm. That being slow part slow, fast part fast. Those watching as well as the performer must be able to differentiate the difference in speed and purpose.  
2. Balance;  
3. Power, Balance and strength;  
4. Grace ;
5. Breathing control;
6. Simplicity - Complexity;
7. Visualization of technique - Focus;
8. Embusen;
9. Zanshin;
Fukyugata: "Fukyu" means promotional; something to be spread or shared. "Gata" is an alternate pronunciation of "kata", the letter "k" changes to "g" when the character is preceded by another word or term, or form. Fukyugata therefore, may be thought of as a basic, promotional kata. In many Goju Ryu Dojo this may include Taikyoku Kata however it should be noted that Taikyoku are not true kata however preliminary excercises to Kihon Kata such as Kihon is preliminary to Kihon Ido.
Kihongata: basic, fundamental formal exercises.  Sanchin, Gekisai dai ichi and Gekisai dai ni are kihon kata that serve as practices for cultivating a strong physique while encouraging martial way spirit.  In some Goju Ryu organizations - Sanchin is a Kihongata where as Gekisai dai ichi and dai ni are Fukyugata. Students learn to regulate their breathing while coordinating it with the use of their power in correct posture.  Note: In 1940, Miyagi Chojun Bushi formulated the Gekisai kata which he included in the kihon curriculum.  Also Tensho kata is now categorized under Heishu kata (closed hand formal exercise).
Kaishugata: open hand formal exercises. Suitably interwoven, each kata combines both offensive and defensive techniques in various parameters that we observe while practicing.  Therefore, it is through practicing these movements and understanding their purpose that we are brought closer to understanding the relationship between body and mind. In doing so, the principles of toki and musubi can be cultivated. Note: After Miyagi Chojun taught Sanchin kata he usually chose a kata for each student depending on the student's body type and had him or her practice that particular kata until they mastered it.
Rhythm & Timing; All kata no matter what Ryu-ha or Kai-ha must have a certain rhythm. That being slow part slow, fast part fast. Those watching as well as the performer must be able to differentiate the difference in speed and purpose.  
Power, Balance and strength; Every performance and performer has their own emphasis to some extent on power
Breathing control; When practicing Kihon you were taught to generally inhale when blocking and exhale when striking, just as in Sanchin Kata. Breathing in Kata should be measured by the action or motion being executed. Short movements (even those with full motion) have a short breath. Long movements, even done quickly, receive a longer breath. Breathing, especially when executed in longer Kata as Seiunchin and Superinpei, is necessary to maintain your strength and power, shifting your body and controlling muscles and of course proper Kiai must incorporate breathing.
Simplicity - Complexity;
Visualization of technique - Focus;
Miyagi Chojun introduced a modern point of view into conventional meditation and health program and developed Junbi Undo, or preparation exercise which was produced for improving your health, and Hojo Undo, or supplementary exercise which is practiced with equipment from an early stage of school's development. He developed rational system of training. Junbi Undo and Hojo Undo are still actively used without any changes.

The basic Kata Sanchin, Kaishu, or open hand Kata Gekisai 1 and 2, Heishu, or closed hand Kata Tensho, authentic Kata of Kanryo Higaona Sensei such as Saifa, Seiyunchin, Shisochin, Sanseiru, Seipai, Kururunfa, Seisan and Suparinpei are instructed. In November, 1974 - 4 basic Kata Sanchin, Tensho, Saifa and Seiyunchin were decided and standardized by the JKF Goju Kai. In 1980 - The rest of 8 Kata (Gekisai 1 and 2, Shisochin, Sanseiru, Seisan, Seipai, Kururunfa and Suparinpei) were decided.

It is said that Sanchin is the basic Kata of Goju-ryu to study "Ki, Soku and Tai" which are necessary factors of martial arts, and this is a basic Kata for training to learn right breathing and posture for massive attack and defense techniques. The founder Chojun Miyagi studied Rokkish from Chinese boxing Nan-ha Shorin-ken Hakkaku-ken and developed Tensho as Heishu Kata. Tensho aims to study "Ki, Soku and Tai" as same as Sanchin and several Uke techniques and attacking techniques by Shotei are featuring.
• Bunkai & Oyo
Bunkai is the term used to describe the actual application of the techniques practised in the kata. Oyo is the term for applications that also come from the kata, but are not necessarily duplicated purely as they are within the embusan of the form.
Without a clear understanding of the applications of a kata, it is merely a sequence of movements with no meaning. In order to fully appreciate the teachings of a particular form, the bunkai / oyo must be analyzed and understood. Many elements and levels of technique are to be found upon careful study and instruction. It has been said that the kata are the encyclopedia of technique for a style. Bunkai / oyo is the understanding of that information.

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