Karate Kata

The History And Origins Of Modern Day Kata

This is intended only as a coarse outline of the movements, positions and techniques of this kata. The details (including timing, muscle actions, direction of the eyes, fine descriptions of transition movements, etc.) of any kata would be nearly impossible to learn from any written source. Further, applications for each technique vary from organization to organization, and in fact from dojo to dojo. It would, therefore be unrealistic to attempt to learn any kata from written materials, or even from a video source (though video would give more subtle clues to performance details). The only practical method for learning kata is under the guidance and critique of an experienced instructor.

History of Karate is often traced using the history of the Kata. Today’s Kata were created by masters of old after years of research, training and experience in hand to hand combat. The art of Karate is perpetuated by the continued practice and teaching of Kata. The Kata that we practice today has evolved through the master’s commitment to improving and refining the Kata that were taught to them.

The true meaning of and spirit of Karate are found in the Kata and only through continuous practice of the Kata will we be open to understanding them. We should NEVER change or simplify the Kata to suit our own needs as we would forever lose the true meaning and spirit of Karate-Do.

Practice should be broken down to isolate various sections of the Kata. These must be repeated over and over again, so that the movements are contained within your physical realm and become a reflex action. Kata practice will instill coordination, timing, balance, breath control and awareness. Performing Kata is excellent practice for defense against single or multiple opponent, not that the sequence of attacks will be the same as the Kata, but it gives you a sense of awareness all around you.

Kata practice is a lifetime of dedication under the guidance of a knowledgeable and authentic teacher. Always be prepared and open to watching as many people as possible practicing kata – no matter what style of Karate-do it is. If it the same kata that you practice then yours or theirs should be similar, however if you continue to find that the way you practice your version is distinctly different from the wide variety that you have watched then you should endeavor to find out if you are practicing the kata correctly or differently. Remember, that differently may not be wrong, but wrong IS wrong!

When referring to the origin of a kata the names Gojo-ryu, Shorin-ryu and Shito-ryu may be used. Naha-te developed into Gojo-ryu (the hard and soft school) which is how it is still known today whilst Shuri-te and Tomari-te merged, in the late nineteenth century, under one name Shorin-ryu (flexible pine school). It is from Shorin-ryu that Shotokan Karate, one of the most widely practiced styles today, has developed. Shito-ryu is a combination of the three ancient arts of Naha-te., Shuri-te and Tomari-te.

The same kata may be known by a number of different names. Most will have an original Okinawan name and a corresponding Japanese name. Some may also have Chinese names.

The Japanese names were given to the kata by Sensei Funakoshi in the early 1900s for political reasons when karate was introduced to Japan. These names being more acceptable to the Japanese.

The two traditional schools of karate on Okinawa developed separately and in secret due to the oppressive practices of the Japanese who ruled there. Thus, two different methods of fighting and training were used in each. The kata of the Shorin school emphasized light flexible movements, while those of the Shorei School used strong powerful movements.

Sensei Funakoshi in his book Karate do Kyohan makes mention of this change of names :

The names of the kata have come down to us by word of mouth. Names in use in the past included Pinan, Seishan, Naifanchi, Wanshu, Chinto and the like, many of which had ambiguous meanings and have led to frequent mistakes in instruction. Since karate is a Japanese martial art, there is no apparent reason for retaining these unfamiliar and in some cases unclear names of Chinese origin simply because of earlier usage. I have therefore changed those names I considered to be unsuitable after considering the figurative nature of the old masters’ descriptions of the kata and my own study of them.

All of the katas that are named with numbers (Niseishi(24), Seisan(13), Sanshiru (36) and kata from other styles, Suparempai(108), Nipaipo(28), Seipai (18), Gojushiho (54) etc.) were practiced in China and passed to Okinawa in the 19th century and earlier. Historians debate the significance of numbers as kata names. There are several theories, the simplest being that the number was the number of movements in the kata when it was created. Others think that in ancient China, a charting system was created numbering the vital points on the human body and sets of movements were created to attack these points (see Patrick McCarthy’s “Bubishi”). As with most cultural phenomenon in China, there is a definite Buddhist influence on some kata names. In Buddhism, the number 108 has great significance, specifically referring to the 108 defilements . This is reflected with the kata as many of the kata names are factors of 108, i.e. Gojushiho (54), Sanshiru (36), Seipai (18).


WKF Shitei Kata List

Bassai Dai – Known in Okinawa as Passai. Means “To storm a fortress, to storm a castle, to penetrate a fortress. The kata now comes in two forms, Bassai Dai and Bassai Sho. Dai being the major version and Sho the lesser or minor version. There are however many variations. The original was Bassai Dai and is said to have been developed by Matsumura Sokon. Bassai Sho was created in more recent times by Master Itotsu. The exact origins of Bassai Dai are unknown. The oldest known version originated in the mid 1800’s in Nishihara village on the east side of Shuri. The original kanji (and original meaning) could easily have been lost over the last 150 years. The kata was practiced by Shuri-te and there is some evidence to suggest it was practiced by Tomari-te. Practiced by : Shotokan, Shito-ryu. Bassai by Wado Ryu.

Chinto – Traditionally, “Chinto” translates as “fighting to the east”, which could be interpreted from these characters, i.e. quelling a disturbance to the east. Chinto is a Shuri-te and Tomari-te lineage kata and found in many current styles, including Shotokan as well as many Shorin Ryu schools. Shotokan refer to this kata as Gankaku, which means Crane on a rock due to the one legged stance which resembles the sight of a crane poised on a rock about to strike out at its prey. The originator of the kata is believed to be the Chinese sailor and combat art expert Chinto to whose name the kata was dedicated. Practiced by : Wado-ryu and Shito-ryu. Gankaku by Shotokan

Gojushiho – (Useishi – 54 steps of the Black Tiger, Ouseishi, or Hotaku). Meaning: Gojushiho means 54 moves. The principle is that each step you take is linked to the next step. Your past is linked to your present, your present is linked to your future. In the same way, the modern is inextricably connected to the traditional. Sensei Funakoshi referred to the kata as Hotaku for its resemblance to a woodpecker hitting the bark of a tree with its sharp beak. The kata come in two forms, Gojushiho-Dai and Gojushiho-Sho, Dai being the major version and Sho the lesser or minor version. The kata is believed to have developed through Shuri-te and taught to Sensei Funakoshi by Master Itosu. Sensei Kenwa Mabuni the creator of Shito Ryu, perfected the kata and called it Useshi. Practiced by : Shito-ryu. Gojushiho Dai and Gojushiho Sho by Shotokan

Jion – Sensei Funakoshi in Karate-do Kyohan indicates that the kata was named after a Buddhist saint of the same name. Ji is the abbreviation of the Sanskrit word JIHI meaning compassion or benevolence. The origins of JION are uncertain but it is believed to be connected with the Jion-Je temple in China, where it is known that the practice of martial arts was encouraged, a theory strengthened by the salutation at the start and finish. Of the 15 kata which Funakoshi Gichin selected as the basis of his Shotokan karate, and published in Karate-do Kyohan, only Jion and Jutte (10 hands) have kept their original names. In keeping with its Buddhist connotations, this kata should be performed calmly, precisely and strongly. A useful kata in the practice of defense against both armed and unarmed opponents, demanding precisely aimed and focused blocks and counters. The kata is also known to have been practiced equally by Shuri-te and Tomari-te. Practiced by : Shotokan, Shito-ryu and Wado-ryu.

Kururunfa – I have seen translations of “seventeen”, or in another meaning “stops of the center”. ‘Knock down and contain using punches’ is perhaps the most important meaning for Kududunfuwa or ‘Kururunfa’. But it is sometimes translated with ‘Destroy with old techniques’ or ‘Silence before the storm’. You’ll find a lot of neko-dachi (cat-stance) and open hand techniques in this kata. Kata of the Okinawan Shorei schools. Practiced by: Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu.

Kushanku (Kanku Dai) – Previously known as Kosokun,, Kanku, Kushanku, Kwanku and Shankyu. Okinawan Shorin kata, designated after the name of their Chinese deliverer. Kwanku means ‘to view the heavens’ and Kanku means ‘to view the sky’, ‘watching the sky’ or ‘to look at the sky’. The kata now comes in two forms, Kanku Dai and Kanku Sho. Dai being the major version and Sho the lesser or minor version. The original Kushanku relates to Kanku Dai. Kanku Sho was created in more recent times by Master Itosu. The kata originates from Shuri-te and it is believed that the Chinese Military Attaché to Okinawa, Kume Mura Kong-Shang (Kushanku to the Okinawans) taught the kata under the name Kwanku to his students Tode Sakagawa and Yari. This kata was a favorite of Sensei Funakoshi who would often use it to demonstrate the art of karate. Practiced by : Wado-ryu. Kanku-Dai by Shotokan. Kosokun-Dai by Shito-ryu.

Kosokun Sho (Kanku Sho) – Practiced by Shito-ryu. Kanku Sho by Shotokan.

Niseishi (Nijushiho) – Nijushiho means 24 moves or 24 steps. The exact origins of the kata are unknown. It is known to have been practiced by Tomari-te. In its varied application of tension and relaxation, and immediate transition from slow application of Kime to rapid execution of consecutive techniques, it shares some of the characteristics of Unsu. The kata affords practice in various grasping and countering techniques, and employs much use of elbow and open hand locks and counters, and demonstrates the use of distraction to gain advantage. Sensei Kanazawa states that the various parts of the kata are similar to Unsu and may have been created by Ankichi Aragaki like Sochin. Sensei Nakayama tells of being taught this kata by Kenwa Mabuni the founder of the Shito-ryu karate school. Practiced by: Shito Ryu and Wado Ryu. Nijushiho by Shotokan.

Nipaipo – (Nipipo, Neipai, Nipapo) 28 steps. Originally a Chinese Kata. Practiced by: Shito-ryu.

Rohai (Meikyo) – (Meikyo – “Vision of a white heron”. An Okinawan Tomari-Te (making it a Shorin kata) kata with three original versions; Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan.). Japanese renamed as: Mirror of the soul, or Cleaning a mirror. Continuous rhythm in technique, stability & accuracy. Acute concentration and a positive determination to overcome the adversary. Agile motions of turning from attacks. The kata is known to have been practiced by both Tomari-te and Shuri-te. Practiced by: Wado-ryu and Shito-ryu. Meikyo by Shotokan.

Saifa – – Saifuwa or ‘Saifa’ is one of the classic kata in Goju-Ryu Karate-dõ. It is is of Chinese origin, brought back to Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna. Saifuwa means ‘destroying blows’ or ‘smash and tare’. A specific technique performed in Saifuwa, is a jodan mae-geri (kick to the head) while standing on one leg. Practiced by Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu.

Sanchin – Sanchin can be split in ‘San’ and ‘Chin’. ‘San’ point to the three points or three phases, a reference to the fact that sanchin seeks to develop three elements at a time. 1. The mind, the body, and the techniques. 2. The internal organs, the blood circulation, and the nervous system. 3. And the three ki located in – The top of the head (tento), – the diaphram (hara), – the lower abdomen (tanden). Sanchin is an isometric kata where each motion is performed in a state of complete tension accompanied by powerful, deep breathing. It teaches basic footwork, basic hand techniques and basic blocking techniques. ‘Chin’ means to do battle. Sanchin is a common Okinawan karate kata found in styles from the Naha-te lineage (Goju Ryu, Uechi Ryu, Shito Ryu, Isshin Ryu etc…). It has its origins in Fukien China and was passed several times to Okinawa by notable tote masters, including Higaonna Kanryo and Aragaki Seisho. Practiced by: Goju-ryu, and Shito-ryu.

Seienchin – (Seiunchin) means to grab and pull in battle. It could also be interpreted as control, suppress and pull or bring out of balance in battle or Peace in the storm. Characteristic in this kata are the breathing and slow movements when using a muchimi (sticky hands, grab the wrists and pull) technique. The kata also contains a escape-technique, which is similar to the one found in Shisochin. Seiunchin kata was developed in China and brought to Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna Sensei in the late 1800’s. Seiunchin’s origin lies in the internal system of Wu-shu, Hsing-I. An advanced kata, Seiunchin works on the shiko dachi and incorporates strikes such as the backfist and elbow. Seiunchin is a unique kata because only hand techniques are used. Seiunchin is considered to be one of the two training kata of Goju-ryu. Dai Sensei Meitoku Yagi feels that the two training kata of Goju-ryu (Seisan and Seiunchin), must be studied thoroughly in order to understand Goju-ryu. A Shorei kata. Practiced by: Shito-ryu. Seiyunchin by Goju-ryu.

Seipai – Sepai or Eighteen Hands (3×6) refers to good, bad and peace for the number 3 and touch, color, taste, smell, voice and justice for the number 6. This kata introduces the student to new elements, not found in other kata. A Shorei kata. Practiced by: Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu.

Seisan – The original Chinese kanji for Seisan, means thirteen (13 techniques, not 13 movements). In most (if not all) other styles that practice Seisan, this is the kanji representation. Not only is it practiced in multiple Okinawan styles of karate (both Naha-te and Shuri-te lineages), it continues to be practiced in China by several schools of gungfu (Arhat or Monk Fist boxing, Lion Fist boxing and Tiger Fist boxing). Brought from China to Okinawa by “Bushi” Matsumura. Also known as “NIJUSAN TE” (Thirteen hands). Teaches how to get inside opponents attack while developing strong foundation. When surrounded, attack by moving ahead. A Shorei kata. Itosu Yastsune brought it to Japan and later renamed its meaning to half moon. Practiced by: Goju-ryi, and Shito-ryu.

Seishan (Hangetsu) – Formerly known as Seisan, or Seishan. Named Hengetsu because of the circular movements when moving between stances. Hengetsu meaning crescent or half moon. Seishan means 41 movements. Hengetsu is one of the oldest kata. Also practiced by Wado-ryu under its original Okinawan name Seishan. Hengetsu is an inner kata, where you can develop inner strength and flow of energy. In Okinawan karate this is called the stone technique making your body not soft but hard like a stone. The kata is also referred to as Stone in a stream. When performing the kata it is very much like fighting your way up a mountain stream fighting against the current. The kata requires that you tense your body from the inside out allowing the energy to flow through the body to the arm or fist. Hengetsu originates from Naha-te. Practiced by : Wado Ryu. Hangetsu by Shotokan.

Shiho Kosokun – Practiced by Shito-ryu.

Shisochin – – Shisochin means Attack from four directions or Four Fighting Apes. It is of Chinese origin, taught to Kanryo Higaonna by Ryu Ryuku. Important in this kata is flexible turning and one’s defense. A lot of escape and push techniques are used with emphasis on the hip movement. An interesting detail is the use of nukites in the opening. This is much like the original Sanchin kata. A Shorei kata. Practiced by: Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu.

Superimpei – Supadinpe or ‘Suparinpei’ is once again a symbolic reference to Buddhist thought. This kata means ‘108’. 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 X 3. The number 36 is symbolically calculated from the formula 6 X 6. The first six represents eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and spirit. The second six symbolizes colour, voice, taste, smell, touch, and justice. The number 3 symbolizes past, present and future. Suparimpei is the longest kata in the Goju Ryu system. With it’s many changes from Go (hard) to Ju (soft) this kata is particularly difficult to perform. A Shorei kata. Pacticed by: Goju-ryu and Wado-ryu.

Unshu (Unsu “Cloud Hands”) – Separating or parting of the clouds. Sensei Kanazawa makes reference to the kata belonging to the Niigaki style. The opening technique symbolizing the parting of the clouds with the hands. Funakoshi Sensei’s calligraphy ‘Hatsuun Jin Do’ (Parting the clouds, seeking the way’ may well have relevance to this movement. The kata seems to move from urgency to serene calmness. Though not always visible to the naked eye, clouds undergo incessant transformations. So, too, does this kata whose name means “hands like the clouds”, implying that the hands sweep away the opponent’s moves like clouds sweep across the sky. In response to the moves of adversaries, there are high and low jumps, slides, feints and provocations, using all parts of the body as weapons and developing, especially, lightness and quickness, timing, rhthym and strategic skills. It is a very old form. Its origin is unknown. Along with the Nijushiho form, it was borrowed from the Shito-Ryu system of Kenwa Mabuni by Gichin Funakoshi and was incorporated into Shotokan karate. Unsu is known to have been practiced by Tomari-te. Practiced by: Shito-Ryu. Unsu by Shotokan and Wado Ryu

Wanshu (Enpi) – Previously known as Wanshu. Means “Flight of swallow. The kata was practiced by Master Itosu and is believed to originate from Shuri-te. Practiced by Shito-ryu and Wado-ryu. Enpi by Shotokan.


Additional Names and Interpretations

Ananko – The exact origin of Ananku is unknown, but it is believed that Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945) brought back this form to the Tomari region from Taiwan in the year 1895. Ananku means peace or safety from the south. The kata was developed as part of the Tomari-Te system and during the 1900’s, was further passed on by Shoshin Nagamine (born 1907) and the Matsubayashi Ryu style. The kata emphasizes both offensive and defensive moves from a deep forward leaning stance (front leg bent). Strong punches and double-punches occur throughout the form.

Aoyagi – (Aoyanagi) meadows.

Channan – Old kata of the Matsumura school.

Chinte – (Japanese derivative from the Chintei). Previously known as Shoin. Chinte means Strange hand, Chinese hand or Incredible hands. The word Chin may relate to a Chinese technique for attacking the vital points. Therefore the kata could be described as the technique for attacking the vital points. The connection with China is further strengthened by its name Chinese hands. This name may have been given to the kata following its import into Okinawa from China. Sensei Funakoshi referred to the kata as Shoin but it is not known where he obtained this name.

Chintei – (Chinte) Chinese kata. In Japan defined as rare hand.

Fukyu Kata – Okinawan kata of newer date, which was developed by the Masters Miyagi and Gnawing Amines for beginners.

Gekisai Ichi – The kata Gekisai Ichi and Gekisai Ni were introduced in the 1940’s by Dai Sensei Chojun Miyagi. Gekisai means ‘Search and Destroy’. Ichi and Ni are Japanese for ‘one’ and ‘two’.

Gekisai Ni – The kata were intended to make the Martial Arts more accessible for people to learn. Gekisai Ichi and Gekisai Ni belong to the so called Kaisho kata. These types of kata are what you might call ‘relaxed’, because after each technique (given with maximum tension) there is relaxation. This relaxation allows a swift execution of the next technique.

Hakutsuru – White Crane. Kata from the Quan company style of the same name. Some Goju Ryu schools, specifically those in the line of Higa Seiko (a student of Higashionna Kanryo and later Miyagi Chojun) practiced a kata they call “Hakutsuru” (some Japanese pronounce this Hakaku, in either case, it means “White Crane”) which contains the “cut, front kick, slide forward, x-block, back to square stance, ridge hand strike, repeat” sequence. It seems that Seiko Higa obtained this Hakaku kata from Gokenki (1886-1940), the Chinese tea merchant who taught White Crane gungfu in Okinawa from 1912/13 until his death. Higa Seiko, Gokenki and O-Sensei were all involved in an organization to study karate called the “Ryukyu Tode Kenkyukai” (Okinawan Tote research club) that was loosely active from 1918 to about 1927.

Ji’in – Previously known as Shokyo (temple soil). Meaning: Ji is the abbreviation of the Sanskrit word JIHI meaning compassion or benevolence. The kata is also believed to be named after a Buddhist saint of the same name. Thought to be a kata from Tomari-te although the kata is also known to have been practiced by Shuri-te. The kata is believed to have originated from China. This is re-inforced by the Chinese salutation Jiai no kamae at the start and finish of the kata. Sensei Funakoshi referred to the kata as Shokyo. Practiced by Shotokan.

Jitte – (Jite, Jutte – temple hand) Previously known as Jutte. Jutte means ten hands or ten techniques and implies that once mastered one is effective as ten men. Ji is the abbreviation of the Sanskrit word JIHI meaning compassion or benevolence. A Jitte is also a hand weapon used in Okinawan martial arts. Jitte has also been referred to as temple hands. Thought to be a kata from Tomari-te although the kata is also known to have been practiced by Shuri-te. The salutation at the start and finish of the kata suggests Chinese origins and like Jion may have been practiced at the Jion-Je temple. This is reinforced by reference to the name meaning temple hands. Practiced by : Shotokan, Wado Ryu and Shito Ryu.

Jutte Sometimes the romanization of the characters is Jitte.

Juroku – (Jyuroku) Shito Ryu kata created by Kenwa Mabuni.

Kihon – Okinawan kata for beinners with influences from Gekisai, Taikyoku and Fukyu.

Myjo – Shito Ryu kata created by Kenwa Mabuni.

Nanshu – Hand from the south. A Chinese kata of southern styles.

Papuren – (Happoren, Paipuren eight steps at the same time). An Okinawan Shorei kata.

Pinan (Heian) 1 – 5 – Peaceful mind. Also known as ‘Calm Mind’, ‘Way of Peace’, ‘Great Peace’ and ‘Way of Peace’. The Heian kata were created by Master Itosu in the early 1900s. It is believed that Master Itosu created the Heian kata from another kata he had learned from a Chinese karate exponent living in Okinawa. This kata was called ‘Chiang nan’ and became known as ‘Channan’. Elements of the five Heian kata also resemble parts of the kata Kanku Dai, Tekki Shodan and Bassai Dai and it is possible that Sensei Itosu created them from these which would have been too difficult to teach to beginners. There are five Heian kata, Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan and Godan. Shodan being the easiest and Godan the hardest. The kata Heian Nidan was originally the first of the series. Sensei Funakoshi realising that this kata was much harder than Heian Shodan changed the order in which they are taught to the current order. Sensei Funakoshi in his book Karate do Kyohan states that once the five Heian kata have been mastered one can be confident that he is able to defend himself competently in most situations. Sensei Funakoshi was responsible for changing the names of the kata from Pinan to Heian in the early 1900s to facilitate the introduction of karate from Okinawa to Japan. Practiced by Shotokan, Wado Ryu and Shito Ryu.

Ryuho – Course kites. Chinese kata of unknown origin.

Ryushu – The hand kites.

Saiha – Meaning big wave, stands for the principle that no matter how large the problem that faces you, with determination and a strong bushido spririt you can break through.

Sanseru – Sansedu, Sanseiru, or Sanseru means thirty six (hands). In Buddhism the number 36 is composed out of two groups of 6. The first group consists out of spirit, body, ears, eyes, nose and tongue. The second group consists of touch, color, taste, smell, voice and justice. An Okinawan Shorei kata.

Sesan – The Sesan kata consists of fast, powerful movements, interlaced with techniques with muchimi. Like Sepai, Suparinpe and Sansedu, Sesan too is part of the ‘number-series’ of Buddhism. Sesan means ‘Thirteen’ (hands). Thirteen is also the Chinese number for luck and prosperity.

Shihohai – translates as “salute to four sides” and is a kata that is unique to Chito-Ryu and other styles that derive from the teachings of O-Sensei (Tsuruoka-do, Yoshukai). The kata was performed at formal ceremonies and the salute to four sides was of great significance. The kata was taught to O-Sensei by an Okinawan gungfu master named Aragaki Seisho (Aragaki Ou, or Aragaki Maya 1840-1918/20) who learned and trained in Fukien in southern China.

Shihogeri – Foot techniques in four directions. Okinawan kata, based on Hiroshi Kinjo on the basis of Seisan.

Shihotsuke – Fist techniques in four directions. Okinawan kata, based on the basis of Seisan.

Shinpa – Kata of unknown origin, today experienced in Shito Ryu.

Shoshin – Kata of the mouse (ME) from Kojo Ryu.

Sochin – (Hakko – the large winner). Means “Old man fighting” and “Preserve the Peace”. It is from the Tomari-te region. This is a kata which was originally developed as the way an old man fights using strategy rather than brute force. It was created by Arakaki Seisho in the 1880s. There are two very distinct variations. Arakaki Sochin which was developed by Arakaki Seisho in the 1880s and Shotokan Sochin which was develped by Gichen Funakoshi in the 1920-30s.

Sushiho – Japanese kata of newer date, based of Oyama Masutatsu from the Kyokushinkai

Taikyoku (Shotokan) – Means “First Cause”. Kata system of Shotokan Ryu, originally consisting of 6 kata for the exercise of the primary school. “Kata of the universe”. The Taikyoku kata come in three forms, Shodan, Nidan and Sandan. The three kata were created by Sensei Funakoshi. (Henri Plee developed three more in honor of Sensei Funakoshi). Sensei Funakoshi speaks of the kata in his book Karate-do Kyohan as follows : If they are practiced regularly, they will result in an even development of the body and in a sound ability to bear the body correctly. Moreover, the student who has gained proficiency in basic techniques and understands the essence of the Taikyoku kata will appreciate the real meaning of the maxim, “In karate, there is no advantage in the first attack”. It is for this reason I have given them the name Taikyoku.

Tekki (Naihanchi) 1 – 3 – Previously known as Naihanchi or Naifanchi. Means “Horse Riding” or “Iron Horse”. The kata is now practiced in three forms, Tekki Shodan, Nidan and Sandan. The original kata being Shodan and it is that kata that Naihanchi relates. It was Sensei Funakoshi who renamed the kata Tekki which he did when introducing the art to Japan from Okinawa. Naihanchi is known to have been practiced since ancient times by Naha-te and Shuri-te, being influenced by Master Itosu. Sensei Kanazawa makes reference to the kata belonging to the Shuri-te style. Practiced by : Shotokan, Wado Ryu and Shito Ryu.

Ten NO Kata – Two piece kata (Omote and Ura), to the exercise of the fundamental Kumite.

Tenchi – Kata of the ape from Kojo Ryu.

Tensho – (rotating palm) (Tenshiyo) (may also be known as Tenshin – body change) This is a Goju style kata. Chojun Miyagi Sensei invented Tensho in his later years, based on his studies of a Chinese exercise call “Rokkishu”. For Miyagi, and his older students, Tensho was a way to practice the concepts similar to Sanchin kata, but in a more relaxed state, with less emphasis on body hardening, but equal emphasis on deep breathing. Like Sanchin, Tensho stimulates internal organs, blood circulation and the nerve system.

Tsuki No Kata – Means forune and luck. Good fortune does not come simply by waiting. Each time we punch in this kata, we should imagine that we are breaking down some barrier.. Strong, persistent effort directed at our problems will bring us good fortune.

Wankan – Previously known as Shiofu, Hito, Okan and Matsukase. Means “King’s Crown or Crown of a King“. The katas origin is through Matsumora to Tomari-te. It has been adopted by both Shotokan and Shito-ryu although there is a great difference between the two versions. Practiced by : Shotokan, Wado Ryu and Shito-ryu.

Yansu – Means keep pure, striving to maintain the purity of your principles and ideals, rather than compromising for the expedient.


List of the originators of known Kata

1. Aragaki Kamadeuchu Sensei (1840-1918)

Arahaki Seisan
Koryu Unshu

2. Funakoshi Giko Sensei ( ? – 1944)
Sochin (Shotokan)
Wankan (Shotokan)

3. Funakoshi Gichin Sensei (1868-1957)

4. Higaonna Kanryo Sensei (1845-1916)
Suparinpei (Peichurin)
Higaonna Sanshin (turn)

5. Miyagi Chojun Sensei (1888-1953)
Gekisai dai ichi
Gekisai dai ni
Miyagi Sanchin

6. Itosu Yasutsune Sensei(1830-1915)
Pinan (Heian) 1 – 5
Tekki (Naihanchi) 1 – 3
Empi (Itosu-Wanshu)
Bassai Dai
Bassai Sho
Kushanku (Kanku Dai)
Shiho Kosokun


7. Bushi Matsumura Sensei (1796-1889)

8. Mabuni Kenwa Sensei (1899-1952)

Kihon Kata dai ichi – yon

9. Sakugawa (1733-1815)


10. Kyan Chotoku (1870-1945)


11. Matsumora Kosaku Sensei (1829-1898)
Tomari Bassai
Tomari Chinto

12. Aragaki Kamadeuchu (1840-1918)
Koryu Unshu

13. Go Ken Ki ( – 1940)

14. Naikaima (1819-1879)