Meanings of Kata & Videos

(NB: Each Kata shown has been linked to a video, as a training tool, but each group varies and you should always consult your instructor.)
Taikyoku Creator Gichin Funakoshi, is literally translated as "grand ultimate", we call this Kata "Wide View", and in Chinese, the kanji characters are pronounced Tai Chi. The word Taikyoku can also mean overview or the whole point; seeing the whole rather than focusing on the individual parts, and keeping an open mind or beginners mind. The beginners mind is what is strived for during training and in life. The beginners mind does not hold prejudice and does not cling to a narrow view point. Thus in training we have many variations on these Kata of course most Shodan would have practiced these Kata using different hand techniques or even by kicking sometimes called Tsokugi. Also, performing Kata in Ura by spinning on the forward moving techniques they are sometimes even performed backwards as a further test of coordination. The beginners mind must always have an open view.
Pinan Creator Itosu Anko, is the Okinawan pronunciation of the Kanji characters for peace and relaxation, we call this Kata "Safe and Secure", pronounced Heian in Japanese this pronunciation is used in other styles such as Shotokan. Though the physical moves of Kata involve techniques used for fighting, the purpose of Kata is to develop a calm, peaceful mind and harmony between the mind, body and spirit. These Kata are also performed in Ura.
Sanchin Developed by Chojun Miyagi from the ancient Saam Chien Quan, literally means "three wars" or "three conflicts". It is the principal Kata in certain Okinawan karate styles, such as Goju Ryu and Uechi Ryu, and it is likely one of the oldest Kata. Up to 1500 years old. Certain legends attribute the original creation of Sanchin to Bodhidharma (Dharma) a Shaolin monk in the early fifth century, from the possibly from the form 18 hands, appearing around the year 530, known as the father of Kung-fu and in turn, Martial Arts. Sanchin Kata seeks to develop three elements at the same time:
  • The mind, body and the techniques,
  • The internal organs, circulation and the nervous system, and
  • The three Ki located in the top of the head (Tento), the diaphragm (Hara), and the lower abdomen (Tanden).
Sanchin is an isometric Kata where each move is performed in a state of complete tension, accompanied by powerful, deep forced tension breathing (Ibuki) that originates in the lower abdomen (Tanden) although the Kata can be performed with or without Ibuki, we can also perform Sanchin with Nogare and slow calm quiet breath or the Kata may be performed fast with Kiai (shout) on each technique. The practice of Sanchin not only leads to the strengthening of the body, but to the development of the inner power (Ki) and the coordination of mind, body and spirit.
Gekisai-Dai / Sho Creator Chojun Miyagi, means conquer and occupy. The name is derived from the characters Geki, meaning attack or conquer, and Sai, meaning fortress or stronghold (literally translated as "closed", "shut" or "covered"). The word Gekisai can also mean demolish or destroy. The Kata teach strength through fluidity of motion, mobility and the utilization of various techniques. Flexibility of attack and response will always be superior to rigid and inflexible brute strength. We perform both Gekisai-dai and Gekisai-sho. Dai means big and Sho means small, this is just another method of labelling Kata as an alternative to using numbers.


Shoshinsha-No-Kata - (Tsuyoi-Kakuto style only) - This Kata meaning basic fighting Kata, does not form part of the Kyokushin syllabus, but is included in the Tsuyoi-Kakuto syllabus (ONLY). The Kata comes from the Ashihara (Kyokushin derivative) style, the Kata has been included for good development of foot movement in striking & throwing techniques as a foundation of the basic concepts of Kakuto fighting styles.

Yansu or Yantsu. This Kata means keep pure and is derived from the characters Yan, meaning safe, and Su, meaning three. Perhaps referring to the 3 directional shape of the Kata. The number 3 an important number in Buddhist teachings. One of Mas Oyamas Favourite Kata stating that this Kata shows us the route of all technique. Striving to maintain the purity of your principles and ideals, rather than compromising for inappropriate actions.
Tsuki-No-Kata Created by Seigo Tada, a student of Chojun Miyagi. Tadashi Nakamura introduced it into Kyokushin from his Goju-Ryu training, to develop strength & strong stances. The kata invokes fortune and luck, by its very name is a punching Kata (there is only one kick and just a few blocks in the entire Kata). Good fortune and luck does not come by waiting. For every punch in this Kata, envision that a personal barrier is being broken down. Strong, persistent effort directed at problems will bring good fortune, simply persevere.
Tensho Developed by Chojun Miyagi for the older Rokkishu form, means rolling or fluid hand, literally translated as "rotating palms". Tensho is the soft and circular (yin) counterpart to the hard and linear (yang) Sanchin Kata. Not only was Tensho one of Mas Oyamas favourite Kata, stating that this Kata is the route of Karate power, he considered it to be the most indispensable of the advanced Kata:

  • Tensho is a basic illustration of the definition of Karate, derived from Chinese Kempo, as a technique of circles based on points.
  • Tensho should be a prime object of practice because, as a psychological and theoretical support behind karate training and as a central element in basic karate formal exercises, it has permeated the techniques, the blocks and the thrusts, and is intimately connected with the very life of Karate.
  • A man who has practiced Tensho Kata a number of thousands of times and has a firm grasp of its theory can not only take any attack, but can also turn the advantage in any attack, and will always be able to defend himself perfectly.
Saiha or Saifa. Kata passed down to Chojun Miyagi by Higashionna Kanryo, possibly invented or developed by his master Ryuryu Ko (Xie Zhongxiang) founder of Whooping Crane Kung-Fu, an ancestor to Karate, means extreme destruction, smashing or tearing. The word Saifa can also mean great wave, the Tsunami, the source of the IFK logo. No matter how large a problem is encountered, with patience, determination and perseverance (Osu) one can rise above and overcome it, or smash through and get beyond it with a strong bushido spirit.
Kanku-Dai Creator Bushi Matsumura, means sky gazing the Kata is known as the rising sun. Literally translated, Kan means "view", and Ku means "universe", "air", "emptiness" or "void" (note: Ku in Kudo is the same character as Kara in Karate). Ku, taken from the Buddhist Sutra: Shiki Soku ze Ku, Ku Soku ze Shiki, meaning; Form Becomes Emptiness, Emptiness Becomes Form. This is a central philosophy behind the changing of the name from To-De to Karate. 

The first move of the Kata is the formation of an opening with the hands above the head, through which one gazes at the universe and rising sun. They then break apart. Form becomes emptiness. As the hand move in a circle they then re-join. Emptiness becomes form. The significance is that no matter what problems are faced, each day is new and the universe is waiting. Nothing is so terrible that it affects the basic reality of existence. This is the source of the Kanku Kyokushin logo.
Seienchin Passed down to Chojun Miyagi by Higashionna Kanryo, possibly invented or developed by his master Ryuryu Ko (Xie Zhongxiang) founder of Whooping Crane Kung-Fu, an ancestor to Karate, means conqueror and subdue over a distance, or attack the rebellious outpost. The Kata often titled; the calm before the storm. The kanji specifically translate as; to trap in battle, or seize control in war.

This becomes the point in which karate ka begins to train in the grappling and throwing techniques, all too often ignored in modern Karate practices, but very much part of the original forms. It is likely to have developed from the ancient Xingyi (or Hsing-I) Quan, these explosive forms allow for counterattacking and trapping movements, favoured by Shaolin and spear wielding generals.

Warriors would often go on expeditions lasting many months, and they needed to maintain their strength and spirit over a long period of time. This Kata is long and slow, with many techniques performed from Kiba Dachi (horse stance). The legs usually become very tired in this Kata, and a strong spirit is needed to persevere, instead of giving up.
Garyu Creator Probably Mas Oyama himself, means reclining dragon. In Japanese philosophy, a great person who remains in obscurity is called a Garyu. A dragon is all-powerful, but a reclining dragon chooses not to display their power until it is needed. Likewise, a true Karate-ka does not brag about or show off their abilities. They must never forget the true virtue of humility. As Oyamas first of his eleven mottoes teaches us: The Martial Arts way begins and ends with courtesy.
Seipai Passed down to Chojun Miyagi by Higashionna Kanryo, possibly invented or developed by his master Ryuryu Ko (Xie Zhongxiang) founder of Whooping Crane Kung-Fu, an ancestor to Karate, Seipai is the Okinawan pronunciation of the kanji characters for 18 (pronounced Ju Hachi in Japanese). In other karate styles, this Kata is sometimes called Seipaite, or eighteen hands. The number 18 is derived from the Buddhist concept of 6 x 3, where six represents colour, voice, taste, smell, touch and justice and three represents good, bad and peace.
Sushiho The modern form attributed to Bushi Matsumura. Although the origin of the kata is likely to be much older and linked to the Chinese arts. The most advanced of the Kyokushin Kata, meaning 54 steps. Sushiho is derived from the word Useshi, (The original name) the Okinawan pronunciation of the kanji characters for 54 (pronounced Go Ju Shi in Japanese), and Ho, meaning walk or step. Other karate styles like Shotokan call this advanced Kata Gojushiho.

A possibility for the name stems from the Buddhist significance of 54 & 108, derived from the association that in Buddhist arts 108 steps may be seen as the pathway to enlightenment. Many Buddhist temples have 108 steps, Japa prayer beads have 108 beads & at the end of the year in Japan a bell is chimed 108 times marking the new year, representing the 108 earthly temptations to overcome.

In martial arts it is said there are 108 vital points in the body. The 108 connection featuring heavily in Goju forms. Thus, Sushiho (54 steps) is based on the notion that mastery of the Kata brings you halfway there. Even at this ultimate level within Kyokushin we not finished but are constantly in the pursuit of martial & personal perfection.
The names and meanings of our Kata are important and should not be forgotten or ignored. Every time a Kata is performed we recite the name of the Kata at this moment we should try focus our minds on the principles and knowledge that inspired its creation.

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