Kyokushin Kata (Patterns)

Literally translated, Kata means "shape which cuts the ground" although we normally call our Kata Patterns or forms.

A Kata is a sequence of blocks, kicks and punches from one or more stances, involving movement forward, backward and to the sides. The number of movements and their sequence are very specific.  The balance between offensive and defensive techniques, the stances used and the direction and flow of movement all serve to give each Kata its distinctive character.

Through the practice of Kata, the traditional techniques used for fighting are learned.  Balance, coordination, breathing and concentration are also developed.  Done properly, Kata are an excellent physical exercise and a very effective form of total mind and body conditioning. Kata embodies the idea of Ren ma, or "always polishing" with diligent practice, the moves of the Kata become further refined and perfected.  The attention to detail that is necessary to perfect a Kata cultivates self discipline.

Through concentration, dedication and practice, a higher level of learning may be achieved, where the Kata is so ingrained in the subconscious mind that no conscious attention is needed. This is what the Zen masters call Mushin, or "no mind." The conscious, rational thought practice is not used at all,  what was once memorized is now spontaneous.

Mas Oyama said we should "think of karate as a language; the Kihon (basics) can be thought of as the letters of the alphabet, the Kata (forms) will be the equivalent of words and sentences, and the kumite (fighting) will be analogous to conversations."  Oyama believed that it was better to master just one Kata than to only half-learn many.
Mas Oyama also emphasised the three fundamental principles of Kata:

  - Waza no Kankyu: The Tempo (fast - slow) of the Techniques.  The tempo of the Kata varies, some techniques are performed quickly, while others are done more slowly.

 - Chikara no Kyojaku: The Force (strong - weak) of the Power.  The power of a technique derives from the proper balance between strength and relaxation.

  - Iki no Chosei: The Control (regulation) of Breathing.

The practice of traditional Kata is also a way for the Karate-ka to pay respect to the origins and history of Kyokushin Karate and the martial arts in general.

Origins & Timings

Kyokushin Kata are often categorized as "Northern Kata" or "Southern Kata," based upon their origin and development.

The Northern Kata are similar to those found in Shotokan Karate, since they were developed from Mas Oyamas training under Gichin Funakoshi.  Master Funakoshi in turn derived these Kata from northern Chinese Kempo and Shorin Ryu, the Okinawan karate style based on Chinese Shaolin (i.e. "Shorin") Kempo.  Northern parts of China with the firm flat terrain allowed these Kata to utilise long, powerful stances and strong blocks and strikes.  

The Northern Kata include:

  • Taikyoku Sono Ichi, Ni and San - Timing: 20 to 23secs.
  • Pinan Sono Ichi, Ni, San, Yon and Go - Timing: 20 to 25secs, 30 to 33secs, 20 to 25secs, 30 to 33secs and 30 to 33secs.
  • Yansu - Timing: 1min 2secs to 1min 5secs.
  • Tsuki no Kata - Timing: 36 to 39secs.
  • Kanku Dai - Timing: 1min 40secs to 1min 45secs.
  • Sushiho - Timing: 1min 15secs to 1min 20secs.
The Southern Kata were developed from Mas Oyamas study of the Okinawan karate style of Goju Ryu under So Nei Chu, which in turn were derived from southern Chinese Kempo. Southern parts of China with the mountains, hills and rough terrain allowed these Kata to utilise strong legs and shorter stances. The movements in these Kata are more circular and flamboyant than those in the Northern Kata.  

The Southern Kata include:

  • Sanchin no Kata - Timing: 2min 14secs to 2min 17secs (with Kiai: 19 to 22secs.
  • Gekisai Dai and Sho - Timing: 47 to 50 seconds and 48 to 52 seconds (respectively).
  • Tensho - Timing: 2min 19secs to 2min 23 secs (with Kiai: 24 to 28secs).
  • Saifa - Timing: 43 to 46secs.
  • Seienchin - Timing: 1min 24secs to 1min 27secs.
  • Garyu - Timing: 38 to 41secs.
  • Seipai - Timing: 46 to 49secs.

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