On March 28th , 1937, there was a “Meeting of the Master”. A group of Okinawa Karate Teachers came together to promote and popularize Karate-do. The group wanted to organize the katas and developed new ones so beginners would have a easy time to learned Karate. Any student could go to any teacher and not have to start over they would be able to keep learning from the 12 basic kata. These kata use the same pattern as the Pinan kata that Master Itosu developed for Jr. High students.
Master Funakoshi came up with the Taikyoku shodan and nidan katas between 1939-1946, and Master Toyama added them to our Kata list along with taikyoku sandan which is the first kata of the new 12 basic kata. While being very basic, they do teach a new student how to use their body in the karate way, also to bear your weight, the way to use speed and power, to sink, move, and punch. Taikyoku means First Cause, I learned this set of katas in 1973 from Ted and Al.
PINAN-HEIAN (peace, calmness), 1902-1905
This set of five katas was developed and introduced by Master Itosu to the Jr. High school for the purpose of introducing karate to the public and for teaching a large group of students. These katas are very good at teaching a new student most of the karate moments. While Master Itous didn’t teach the Bunkai (application) it stills gives the student a good start to learning karate.
Master Itosu used Channan Dai and Sho, two older katas to make the set of five. The name comes from a Japanese term Heiwa-ante Peace and calmness…or Heian. I learned these between 1973-1974 from Odaohara Sensei.
NAIFUNCHI, TEKKI (inside fighting, surreptitious step, iron horse)
A set of three kata that has been used by karate men from Shuri for hundreds of years, probably around 1700. They were created by Master Matsumura from older katas. they have a real Chinese influence, some of the Bunkai (application) are Joint locks, grappling, Tuite techniques, and striking. As well as sinking and learning how to gather strength in towards the center. They were the first kata taught to beginners in Okinawa in the early years.
Master Funakoshi renamed them Tekki in the mid thirty’s.
I learned these in 1975 from Odaohara Sensei.
PASSAI, BASSAI (to penetrate a fortress)
This kata brings a feeling of your will to break through an enemy’s fortress. It was handed down by Master Matsumura who learned it from his teacher Master Sakugawa. Master Sakugawa was training with the Chinese Ku Shan Ku and developed this kata from techniques he had learned from him probably around 1760. One of the oldest kata, with a number of version that a lot of styles practiced. Passai sho is a newer kata that maybe came from a BO kata, it still is a hundred or so years old. I learned this in 1976 from Sensei Odaohara.
WANSHU (Chinese ambassador)
Was passed on by Kosaku Matsumora 1828-1898, a tomarite expert. Matsumora learn it from a Mr. Teruya Kisei. Master Itosu learned it from them, revised it and taught it to Master Toyama. Its know for being light and quick, and having alot of great bunkai. I learned it in 1977 from Odaohara Sensei.
SEISHAN (13) This is a 200 year old kata that came directly from China from the Fujian styles of Monk Fist and Tiger system. Master Matsumura kept it close to the original form. There is a number of versions of this kata. I learned it from Odaohara Sensei in 1977.
KUSANKU, KANKU DAI, KANKU SHO (title of a Chinese attaché)
Old kata and one of the most advanced katas of the Shuri-te. This was passed on from Sakugawa, to Matsumura, to Itosu. A pure kata in terms of a very thorough use of basics, with a large amount of Bunkai. Kanku Sho was developed by Master Itosu around 1860. I learned this from Shinohara Sensei in 1978.
JION and JITTE (Temple Sound, Ten Hands)
These two katas have a common origin from the Buddhist temple with some Chinese influence. Developed around 1890, Master Itosu didn’t make very many changes in this kata. I learned them from Master Takazawa in 1990.
CHINTO (fighting to the east) 1840-1850
The story goes that Master Matsumura befriended a Chinese seaman who was shipwrecked on Okinawa. Matsumura was taught some sort of marital art by this man. He preserved the fighting techniques into this kata, the open hand traps and lots of kicks. Master Itosu reworked the kata before teaching it to Master Toyama. One needs great balance to master this kata. I learned it from Master Takazawa in 1990.
CHINTE (Extraordinary Hands) 1830
A very different type of kata that was passed on by Itosu. The use of two finger spear hand thrusts and hammer fist techniques, along with a number of changes in direction make this a unique kata. I learned this from Yokoyama Sensei in 1992.
NISESHI (24 steps)
This kata came from Master Arakaki from the naha-te style, a Chinese based kata that Seisho Arakaki learned from a Nakaima around 1820. One of our advanced katas. I learned it from Yokoyama Sensei in 1993.
SOCHIN (Monks of Peace) 1830
Another kata from Arakaki that came from the Fujian Province. Chinese based from the Black Tiger system. I learned it from a 1936 book put out by Mr. Nakosome (a student of Toyama), it was taught and passed down by Master Mabuni, the Shito-ryu master. I added it to our curriculum in 2010.
SEIUNCHIN (calm within the storm)
This kata is a few hundred years old and came from Master Higashionna from the naha-te style. Passed down from Southern China from the Monk Fist system. This kata teaches fast hand techniques, with sinking and striking, and grabbing techniques. I learned it from Master Takazawa in 1991.
KORYU GOJUSHI (54 steps of the black tiger):
One of the oldest and most advanced kata in Shuri-te, dating back to the 17th century. Developed from the Tiger and Lion schools of kung fu, was meant to be a counter to the White Crane system. I learned it from Master Takazawa in 1993. He told me this version is one of the oldest from Master Matsumura and Itosu.
When Master Toyama went to Japan in the thirties he brought with him a score of katas, many of them obscure even back then. These kata are unique to Keishinkan. I learned them from Master Takazawa from 1975 to 1995. The list is Nanajushi, Juhachi, Matsu, Juroku.
The spirit of Karate is in the training, and that is what Kata is all about. As you can see, our katas come from both sides of Okinawa karate, the Shuri-te, and Naha-te. Our teachers wanted to make sure on getting a complete and balanced workout with our kata. A full line of self-defense techniques and the strength and endurance comes from training with kata. The forms have been handed down from teacher to student for hundreds of years. The only way to learn all it has to offer is by constant training, thousands of repetitions, and proper form. The history of our karate goes back to the start of Okinawan Karate; the history of our kata is the start of karate.
see you in the dojo