Goju Ryu Kata

剛 柔 流

Goju Ryu Karate has 12 core kata in its standard curriculum: gekisai (dai ichi and dai ni), saifa, seiunchin, seisan, seipai, shisochin, sanseiru, kururunfa, sanchin, tensho, and suparinpei. Kata is the essence and foundation of karate and it represents the accumulation of more than 1000 years of knowledge. Formed by numerous masters throughout the ages through dedicated training and research, the kata are like a map to guide us, and as such should never be changed or tampered with.  Almost all of the kata have a corresponding bunkai oyo, a prearranged two-person fighting drill. These drills help the student to understand the applications of the kata, establish proper rhythm / flow, to practice constant attack / defense, and to safely practice dangerous moves on a partner

Gekisai  撃 砕

Gekisai  means "attack and destroy". These kata were created around 1940 by Chojun Miyagi as beginners' kata, to introduce the basic forms of karate (kihon) to middle school students in Okinawa, to help bring about the standardization of karate, and to teach a basic set of techniques for self-defense. Gekisai kata were strongly influenced by the Shuri-te techniques that Master Miyagi learned from Master Anko Itosu. Students first learn gekisai dai ichi and then gekisai dai ni. The main difference between dai ichi and dai ni is that dai ni introduces open handed techniques and neko ashi dachi (cats foot stance).

Saifa  砕 破

Saifa means "smash and tear", it has its origins in China, and was brought to Okinawa by Higaonna. It contains quick whipping motions, hammerfists, and back fist strikes; it particularly emphasizes moving off-line from an opponent's main force, while simultaneously closing distance and exploding through them.

Sanchin  三 戦

Sanchin means "three battles". This kata is a sort of moving meditation, whose purpose is to unify the mind, body and spirit. The techniques are performed very slowly so that the student masters precise movements, breathing, stance / posture, internal strength, and stability of both mind and body. Sanchin is the foundation for all other kata, and is generally considered to be the most important kata to master. When new students came to Miyagi, he would often train them for three to five years before introducing them to sanchin. He would make them train very hard, and many of them quit before learning sanchin. Those that remained would focus almost exclusively on sanchin for two to three years. Miyagi's sanchin training was very harsh, and students would often leave practice with bruises from him checking their stance.

Tensho  転 掌

Tensho means "rotating palms". Like sanchin, tensho is a form of moving meditation; tensho combines hard dynamic tension with soft flowing hand movements, and concentrates strength in the tanden. Tensho can be considered the ju (soft) counterpart of the sanchin's go (hard) style

Seiunchin  制 引 戦

Seiunchin means "attack, conquer, suppress" (also sometimes referred to as "to control and pull into battle"): Seiunchin kata demonstrates the use of techniques to unbalance, throw and grapple, contains close-quartered striking, sweeps, take-downs and throws.

Shisochin 四 向 戦

Shisōchin means "to destroy in four directions" or "fight in four directions". It integrates powerful linear attacks and circular movements and blocks. It is said to have been the favorite kata of Chojun Miyagi.

Sanseiru  三 十 六

Sanseirū means "36 Hands".  The kata teaches how to move around the opponent in close quarters fights, and emphasizes the destruction of the opponent's mobility by means of kanzetsu geri.

Seipai  十八

Seipai means "18 Hands". Seipai incorporates both the four directional movements and 45° angular attacks and implements techniques for both long distance and close quarter combat

Seisan  十三

Seisan mean "13 Hands". Seisan is thought to be one of the oldest kata that is widely practiced among other Naha-te schools.

Kururunfa  久 留 頓 破

Kururunfa means "holding on long and striking suddenly". Its techniques are based on the Chinese Praying Mantis style.

Suparinpei  壱 百 零 八

Suparinpei means "108 Hands". Also known as Pechurin, it is the most advanced Goju Ryu kata. Initially it had three levels to master (Go, Chu, and Jo), later Miyagi left only one, the highest, "Jo" level.

Gogen Yamaguchi Hanshi's system of Goju Ryu (commonly called the Goju Kai) also includes in its sylabus the Taikyoku Kata. These were a series of kata first developed by Gichin Funakoshi's Shotokan system and adapted by Yamaguchi to suit the techniques of Goju Ryu.

Gichin Funakoshi Sensei named the set of kata developed by his son Yoshitaka “Gigo” Funakoshi Sensei  "Taikyoku". In his book "Karate-do Kyohan" Funakoshi explains the development of the kata and why he named them Taikyoku, which translates as “First Cause”. He wrote: “Because of its simplicity, the kata is easily learned by beginners. Nevertheless, as its name implies, this form is of the most profound character and one to which, upon mastery of the art of karate, an expert will return to select it as the ultimate training kata

The Chinese kanji used for the name Taikyoku (太極) are pronounced as "Tai Chi" in Chinese (as in the internal martial art of the same name) , which translated as "Grand Ultimate".

Taikyoku Jodan  太極上段 

"First cause upper level"

Taikyoku Chudan  太極中段

 "First cause middle level"

Taikyoku Gedan  太極下段

 "First cause lower level"

Taikyoku Kake Uke 太極 掛け 受け

 "First cause hooking block"

Taikyoku Mawashi Uke  太極 回し受け

"First cause, roundhouse block"

At the East London Goju Ryu Karate Club, kata from other systems form part of the syllabus; these are as follows:  

Happoren  八 歩 連

Happoren means "8 step sequence". This is a White Crane Form, believed to be the forerunner of the kata's Sanchin and Tensho )which is eveident in the moves found in all three forms). Happoren was taught to Jim McEvoy Sensei by Patrick McCarthy Hanshi when he was a guest instructor at Chris Rowen Shihan's Curtain Road Dojo in the 1990's.

Hamahiga no Tonfa  浜 比 嘉 の トンファー

Hamahiga no Tonfa means “Tonfa of Hamahiga”. According to Okinawan mythology Hamahiga Island on the east coast of Okinawa, north of Katsuren peninsula is the place where Okinawan civilization was born. So, in the same way that karate “styles” used to be known by the areas they were practiced (Naha Te and Shuri Te for example), this kata can be said to have originated in the area from where it takes its name. This popular weapons kata comes from the syllabus of the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai, the kobudo (old martial ways) system founded by Shinken Taira and passed down to Eisuke Akamine, the teacher Chris Rowen Shihan trained under in Okinawa