DESCRIPTION ABOUT KATA
A kata is a pattern of movements which contains a series of logical and practical attacking and blocking techniques. In each kata there are certain set or predetermined movements which the karate-student can practice alone, without a partner. These kata have been created by previous masters after many years of research, training, and actual combat experience. The true meaning and spirit of karate are embedded in the kata and only by the practice of kata can we come to understand them. For this reason, if we change or simplify the kata either to accomodate the beginner of for tournament purposes, then we also will have lost the true meaning and spirit of karate! In karate there is no first attack. Every kata begins with a defensive movement, which exemplifies this spirit. Not only is there no first attack, but the best defense is to avoid the fight altogether. That is why it is said that karate is the art of a wise man.
Almost all of the Okinawa Goju Ryu Kata were handed down from Higaonna Kanryo Sensei (teacher of Goju Ryu founder Chojun Miyagi Sensei) who had studied and trained for many years under Ryu Ryuko Sensei in Fukien Province, China.
The following kata were handed down by Kanryo Higaonna Sensei from Ryu Ryuko Sensei : Sanchin – Saifa – Seiunchin – Shisochin – Sanseru – Sepai – Kururunfa – Sesan and Suparinpei. The original creators of these kata are unknown…
Many of the kata names are Chinese numbers symbolizing certain Buddhist concepts. For example, Suparinpei (the number 108 in Chinese) has a special significance in Buddhism. It is believed that man has 108 evil passions, and so in Buddhist temples on December 31st, at the stroke of midnight, a bell is rung 108 times to drive away those spirits. The number 108 in Suparinpei is calculated from 36×3. The symbolism of the number 36 is given in the explanation of Sanseru which follows. The number 3 symbolizes-past-present,and-future.
The purpose for developing kata also varied with the times and with the people who developed them. For example, in China over 1600 years ago kata was developed and practiced for the purpose of self-defense, whereas the Buddhist monks would practice kata for the purpose of strengthening the spirit as well as the body.
The true meaning and spirit of karate are embedded in the kata and only by the practice of kata can we come to understand them. For this reason, if we change or simplify the kata either to accommodate the beginner or for tournament purposes, then we also will have lost the true meaning and spirit of karate.
In karate there is no first attack. Every kata begins with a defensive movement, which exemplifies this spirit. Not only is there no first attack, but the best defense is to avoid the fight altogether. That is why it is said that karate is the art of a wise man.
To practice the kata correctly every movement must be repeated over and over again. Only through constant repetition can the techniques become reflex action. Fortunately to that end, an important aspect of kata is that it can be practiced alone, anytime and anywhere. When kata is performed by a well-trained person, its dynamic power and beauty of movement become almost aesthetic in quality.
OKINAWA GOJU RYU KATAS
“It should be known that the secret principles of Goju-Ryu exist within the kata.”
Master Chojun Miyagi – Founder of Goju-Ryu
In Goju-Ryu Karate-Do there are three types of Kata :
- Heishugata (closed hand Kata),
- Kaishugata (open hand Kata)
- Kihongata (basic Kata).
Heishugata is where the entire body is kept at a constant level of tension. Sanchin and Tensho Kata are both examples of Heishugata.
Kaishugata is where the level of tension of the body varies throughout the Kata. All Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kata, except Sanchin and Tensho Katas, are Kaishugata.
As well as being a Heishugata, Sanchin Kata is also categorized in Goju-Ryu Karate-Do as a Kihongata because it is considered to be the fundamental or basic Kata of Goju-Ryu Karate-Do.
Most of the Kata of Goju-Ryu Karate-Do originated in China and were brought to Okinawa in 1881 by Master Kanryo Higaonna. These Kata are Sanchin, Saifa, Seiyunchin, Shisochin, Sanseru, Sepai, Kururunfa, Sesan and Suparinpei. Other Kata originated in Okinawa.
Master Chojun Miyagi created Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni Kata. He also developed a version of Sanchin Kata and created the Kata Tensho which he developed from a Chinese Kata called Rokkishu.
Kata is the most important part of a Karate practitioner’s training. It develops strength, cardio, flexibility, speed, power, coordination, Kokyu-Ho (inhale/exhale breathing method), self-defence skills through Bunkai (analysis), Qigong (practice of internal and external universal energy), discipline, focused mind, confidence, memorization skills, how to pay attention to detail, perseverance, a hard work ethic, etc. However the ultimate aim of Kata is the unity of the body, mind, and spirit.