About Traditional Kata

The Traditional Kata from the Shuri-Te, Naha-Te, and Tomari-Te are as follows:

Seisan – with two main streams, either Shuri Te Seisan or Naha-te Seisan. Seisan literally means 13. Japanese schools, notably Shotokan, call it Hangetsu.

Ping-An (Hei-An) – 1.2,3,4,5, katas were designed for school children in Okinawa. Ping-An means peace, tranquility, and a peaceful mind.

Naihanchi (Tekki) – 1,2,3, sideways fighting (back against the wall); fighting on home ground with surreptitious steps.

Patsai (Bassai) – to thrust asunder and breach a fortress, has four distinctive types: that of Oyadomari, Matsumura, Matsumora and Itosu. Matsumora was from Tomari. The oldest kata was Oyadomari.

Kushanku (Kanku) – named after the famous martial artist Kushanku, also called Koshokun. The Japanese call it looking at the sky. Today we have the Yara, ltosu (Dai and Sho) and the Shiho Kushanku.

Chinto (Gankaku) – fighting to the East; some claim it is a Chinese martial artist’s name. There is the Yabu, Matsumora and ltosu Chinto.

Wankan (Matsukaze) – a king’s crown; the pine tree wind.

Wanshu – the prototype of the modern Empi — the swallow kata.

Wandoh – the king’s way. The kata, Wankan and Wanshu came from China to Tomari, Okinawa.

Rohai or Lohai (Meik-yo) – the vision of a white heron or flamingo; a clear mirror. ltosu Lohai 1,2,3, and Matsumora Lohai.

Jion, jiin, jitte – temple sound, temple ground, and ten hands. These three katas are typically Tomari-Te.

Chinte (Chinti) – the winning hand; although used in many styles, it is a Tomari-Te kata.

Ananku – the light from the south. A kata used quite extensively by the Shito Ryu.

Unssu – cloud hands.

Sochin – the grand prize and fighting old man.

Niseishi (Nijushiho) – 24 steps. Neiseishi, Unssu, and Sochin belong to the Arakaki-Ha. Although all major schools now use these katas as they are very advanced, with many hidden techniques.

Useishi, Ooseishi (Gojushiho) the ultimate kata in both Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te. It is the Phoenix kata with 54 steps. The Phoenix is the legendary bird that arises out of the ashes every thousand years and eats dragons for breakfast as the legend goes..

Nipapo – 28steps. A kata used to combat the Niseishi. 

Paturen – eight steps at a time. Designed for positional and oblique attack.

Hakucho – 100 birds. A swarming attack and defense.

Aoyagi (Sirius) – green willow kata used quite extensively by the Shindo-jinen Ryu founded by Konishi.

The katas presented above came primarily from Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te.

We shall now present those that came from Naha-Te.

It should be noted that the katas, as in China, represented symbolic fighting styles of animals, birds, reptiles, mythical creatures, and deities; however, the Naha-Te katas and especially the Go-ju Ryu katas stress a Tiger and Dragon lineage.

Sanchin – three battles, three steps forward. Miyagi Chojun created this kata as one of two basic katas and his ryu. As Go-ju means hard (Go) and soft Ou), the sanchin represents the (Go) kata. It is a very difficult kata to master, using only fundamentals and not using techniques per se. It was designed to perfect coordination between mind and body, using sanchin — dachi and basic hand movements. A self-training method to tighten muscles and coordinating breathing with mini control. The emphasis is on power training and perfection of technique. It is said that it takes seven years minimum to perfect this kata.

Tensho – turning palm and change of hands–grip. The Tensho represents the ju kata, of Go-ju Ryu. It is soft and hides the fighting spirit below the surface, whereas, the Sanchin shows outward physical power. A very defensive kata using the open hand, with circular movements, blocking, trapping, and utilizing an opponent’s power against him. ) A kata designed to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness.

Gekisai – 2 and I. Attack and smash. Miyagi Chojun, after World War 11, created this kata. In the beginning, this kata was practiced only with the open hand. This kata was designed to introduce fundamental at- tacks, stances, and three basic blocks, namely, jodan, chudan and gedan

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Saifa (Motomo Yaburu) – the final breaking point, destroy; defeat, greatly, the maximum. This kata changes from fundamental to complex techniques. A proper flow. It does not begin with defense only but starts with combination techniques. It also has reverse techniques.

Seiunchin – the storm within the calm. Also known as the Tiger-Kata. Usually this kata is taught at the Ikkyu level. It is a difficult kata to master even for black belts. Until one obtains a Ni Dan, this is the main Kata to practice. The shiko-dachi is emphasized, as well as hand techniques more than leg. There are 50 techniques in this kata with at least half attacking.

Sanseiru – 36. This is the dragon kata, using very strong attacking techniques. There are 39 techniques in this kata with 36 of the Techniques in attack formations with seven kicks.

Seisan – 13. Advanced tiger techniques from Seiunchin. Although advanced from Seiunchin, it looks easier to perform. The emphasis is the open hand with 56 techniques in all, a utilization of speed and a concentration on small techniques.

Seipa (Seippa) 18 cupfuls. A dragon kata with half of the techniques of Sanseiru but an emphasis on reverse techniques and breaking.

Kururunfa – come, stop, defeat, holding your ground and stay the waves. A number 17, this kata originated in China and was modified in Okinawa. This kata is a San- Dan kata. It utilizes takedowns, breaking the arms and throwing. Before one can be a sensei, this kata must be mastered.

Shisochin – the kata of the fighting 4 monks. A number 19. Only the Goju Ryu of Miyagi Chojun uses this kata. The Naha-Te schools do not use it.

Suparempei (Pechurin) – This kata is he most advanced kata in Naha-Te. All techniques of Naha-Te are in this kata. 108 steps. This is a creation of General Yue Fei luring the Tang Dynasty and both Shuri-Te and Naha-Te used this kata. However, after Miyagi Chojun returned from Shanghai, he modified this kata without taking out the essence. The modification was only in the Directional movement. Therefore, if one should see Peichurin performed and Suparempei performed, he would see a directional difference but not a change of postures.

With the exception of the Shorinji-Ryu, not to be confused with Shorinji Kempo, practitioners of Shuri-Te do not practice Pechurin.