The Kyokushin Kata
KYOKUSHIN KATA DVD
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What is kata? Definition is usually something like, prescribed sequence of steps, strikes, and blocks combined in such a manner as to allow us to practise them with a view to achieving all of balance, speed, power, precision, and grace of execution. There is more to kata than that. This has been dealt with extensively elsewhere.
The range of Kyokushin kata is as diverse as the martial arts background of the style's founder, Mas Oyama. The kata learnt early on in our training regimen also reflects the Mas Oyama's earlier training and, similarly, his later training is evident in our senior kata.
Thus, the early kata are mostly based on Shotokan (Taikyoku and Pinan) and Chinese Kempo (Yantsu) and the later, more flamboyant and impressive kata are derived from Goju Ryu. This differs from some styles, especially the sport styles, which often teach these Goju Ryu based kata early on in their training to allow their practitioners to compete more effectively in kata competitions.

Practice and Exercise Kata

These are not proper kata per se, and are mostly used to teach basics. The Kyokushin practise kata are simple in principle, but can be made as complex as the instructor chooses to make them. They are intended to provide practice for balance, coordination, and technique. Ju Kata (Ten step kata) or Star Pattern. This is a very basic pattern, using only half the steps of the normal starting kata i.e. Taikyoku sono ichi. It is an exercise in balance, and the simplest variation of it involves one stance (zenkutsu dachi-ZKD) and one block (mae gedan barai - MGB) repeated ten times. However, any combination of stances and techniques can be used, and the simplicity of the pattern itself can soon be overtaken by the complexity of the sequences used.

Kihon kata sono ni

This kata serves a very different purpose and with 40 steps actually doubles the number of steps
taken relative to the Taikyoku kata. This kata is an exercise in stances, where each of the four most basic moving stances (zenkutsu dachi, kokutsu dachi, sanchin dachi, and kiba dachi) and a corresponding punch of some sort are repeated along the same H or I shape that constitutes the
basic Taikyoku kata. This kata is less subject to variation, but some instructors can be quite inventive e.g. using these techniques but following the Taikyoku kata stepping sequence!

Under the IFK training regimen, there exists also a 24 step sequence where one moves forward,
turns, and moves in the opposite direction, and then back again in a particular sequence. The
difficulty here is that it varies between one and two steps depending on the position in the count, and there in lies the difficulty. Again, techniques can be varied, but the basic combinations are ZKD and MGB, and ZKD and chudan gyaku-zuki.

Northern Kata -


The Kyokushin kata can be roughly divided up by their origins, and this group is principally
influenced by the Gichin Funakoshi's Shotokan which in turn derived from the Shorin-ryu (the Okinawan version of Shaolin Kempo). This in turn originated from the northern regions of China, where the firm and open terrain permitted the use of long, powerful stances and lots of kicks and jumps. Blocks and strikes could be hard and straight, and accuracy is emphasized.
1.Taykyoku Sono Ichi, Ni, San
2.Tsokugi Taykyoku Sono Ichi, Ni, San
3.Pinan Sono Ichi, Ni, San, Shi, and Go
(Also known as Heian Shodan, Nidan etc... in other karate styles, these were originally created by Anko Itosu as simplified versions of the more advanced Chinese based kata, including Kanku, and were again modified slightly by Funakoshi. They are performed in ura for dan gradings in the IFK
and the IKO(1). In Kyokushin, one of the main differences appears to be that we try to end up,
more or less, on the same spot from which we started. Other styles do not necessarily do that.)

4.Yantsu
5.Tsuki No
6.Sushiho
7.Kanku dai .

Southern Kata
1.Sanchin
2.Gekisai Dai
3.Gekisai Sho
4.Tensho
5.Saifa
6.Seinchin
7.Garyu
8.Seipai .
Kyokushin Katas and their Meaning

Taikyoku is literally translated as "grand ultimate", and in Chinese, the kanji characters are pronounced Tai Chi.  The word Taikyoku can also mean overview or the whole point – seeing the whole rather than focusing on the individual parts, and keeping an open mind or beginner's mind.  The beginner's mind is what is strived for during training and in life.  The beginner's mind does not hold prejudice and does not cling to a narrow view.  The beginner's mind is open to endless possibilities. That's why a practitioner should never think that as soon as it ascends in the latter or more complex katas the first and most basic ones loose importance, therefore, keep an open mind.
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Taikyoku sono ichi, ni, as well as Sokugi (kicking) Taikyoku sono ichi are required for 10th Kyu.
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Taikyoku sono san, as well as Sokugi Taikyoku sono ni, san are required for 9th Kyu.
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Taikyoku sono ichi, ni, san, and Sokugi Taikyoku sono ichi, ni, san, and yon in Ura are required for 3rd Kyu.

Piñan is the Okinawan pronunciation of the kanji characters for peace and relaxation (pronounced Heian in Japanese).  Though the physical moves of kata involve techniques used for fighting, the purpose of kata is to develop a calm, peaceful mind and harmony between the mind and body.
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Piñan sono ichi, ni, are required for 8th Kyu.
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Piñan sono san, is required for 6th Kyu.
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Piñan sono yon is required for 5th Kyu.
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Piñan sono go is required for 4th Kyu.
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Piñan sono ichi, ni, san, shi, and go in Ura are required for 2nd Kyu.


Sanchin is known as the oldest kata in Karate-do. Literally means "three battles" or "three conflicts", and it can also be translated as "three points" or "three phases".  Certain legends attribute the creation of Sanchin to Bodhidharma in the early sixth century.  Sanchin kata seeks to develop three set of elements at the same time:

    – The mind, body and the techniques,
    – The internal organs, circulation and the nervous system, and
    – The three ki, located in:
          – the top of the head (tento),
          – the diaphragm (hara), and
          – the lower abdomen (tan den).

Sanchin is an isometric kata where each move is performed in a state of complete tension, accompanied by powerful, deep breathing (ibuki) that originates in the lower abdomen (tan den).  The practice of Sanchin kata not only leads to the strengthening of the body, but it also aims at the development of the inner power (ki) and the coordination of mind and body. It also emphasizes on basic footwork, hand techniques as well as basic blocking techniques.
- Sanchin no Kata is required for 7th Kyu.

Gekisai means conquer and occupy.  The name is derived from the characters Geki, meaning attack or conquer, and Sai, meaning fortress or stronghold.  The word Gekisai can also mean demolish, destroy.  Dai means "large" and sho means "small". In this case it is used to differentiate the katas with out using the numbering system. These katas teach strength through fluidity of motion, mobility and the utilization of various techniques.  Flexibility of attack and response will always be superior to rigid and inflexible strength.
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Gekisa-dai is required for 4th Kyu.
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Gekisa-sho is required for 1st Kyu.

Yansu is derived from the characters Yan, meaning safe, and Su, meaning three.  The name is attributed to that of a Chinese military attaché to Okinawa in the 19th Century.  The word yansu also means to keep pure, striving to maintain the purity of principles and ideals rather than compromising for vainly objectives.
- Yansu is required for 6th Kyu.

Tsuki no as its name implies, is a punching kata.  The word Tsuki can also mean fortune and luck.  Good fortune and luck does not come by waiting.  In every punch we perform in this kata, we should imagine that a barrier of some kind (it could be a recognized weakness or bad habit, etc.) is being broken down.  Strong, persistent effort directed to overcome any type of problems will bring good fortune and success.
- Tsuki no kata is required for 5th Kyu.

Tensho means rolling or fluid hand, literally translated as "rotating palms".  Tensho is the soft and circular (yin) counterpart to the hard and linear (yang) Sanchin kata.  Not only was Tensho one of Mas Oyama's favorite kata, he considered it to be the most indispensable of the advanced kata:

Tensho is a basic illustration of the definition of Karate, derived from Chinese kempo, as a technique of circles based on points.
Tensho should be a prime object of practice because, as a psychological and theoretical support behind karate training and as a central element in basic karate formal exercises, it has permeated the techniques, the blocks and the thrusts, and is intimately connected with the very life of karate.
A man who has practiced Tensho kata a number of thousands of times and has a firm grasp of its theory can not only take any attack, but can also turn the advantage in any attack, and will always be able to defend himself perfectly.
- Tensho Kata is required for 4th Kyu.

Saifa or Saiha means destruction, smashing or tearing.  It can also mean great weave. In this kara we can say that no matter how large the problem/challenge encountered is, with patience, determination and perseverance (Osu) one can rise above and overcome it, or break through.
- Saifa is required for 1st Kyu.

Kanku, also known as the rising sun kata or sky gazing.  Literally translated, Kan means "view/proper observance", and Ku means "universe", "air", "emptiness" or "void" (the same character as Kara in karate).  The first move of the kata is the formation of a triangle with the hands above the head, through which one gazes at the universe and rising sun.  This triangle has an even more profound meaning, since we internally invoque three extremly powerful energies: "Peace", "Love" and "Freedom". The significance of the kata is that no matter what the severity of the problem/challenge is being faced, every single new day is another unique opportunity to overcome it. Not only that particular challenge but everything in our lives. The universe is waiting.  Nothing is so terrible that it affects the basic reality of existence. So, basically as long as you are able to rise your hands and see this magnificent start nurturing us selfishly (with our without the usage of our hands), we are still blessed with opportunity to succed.
- Kanku is required for Sandan.

Seienchin means conqueror and subdue over a distance, or attack the rebellious outpost.  In feudal Japan, Samurai warriors would often go on expeditions lasting many months, and they needed to maintain their strength and spirit over long periods of time. That is why t his kata is long and slow. Many of its techniques are performed from kiba dachi (horseback stance).  So it is known for the legs to become very tired while performing this kata, therefore, a strong spirit is needed to persevere, keeping up a strong spirit.
- Seienchin is required for Shodan.

Sushiho means 54 steps.  Sushiho is derived from the words Useshi, the Okinawan pronunciation of the kanji characters for 54 (pronounced Go Ju Shi in Japanese), and Ho, meaning walk or step. Other karate styles call this advanced kata Gojushiho. This kata, symbolically speaking, serves as a tool to remind us of the impact the steps we take in our daily lives has on our destiny. The steps we took in the past are linked to those we are taking today, which as a result will have an effect in those taken in the future. So we can say, that the achievements of today are a consequence of steps taken (hard work) in the near or far past. Also, this kata reminds us of our roots, family, teachers or those who also, taking their own steps in live contributed to where you are today.
- Sushiho is required for Yondan.

Garyu means reclining dragon.  Japanese philosophy says that a great man who remains in obscurity is called a Garyu.  A dragon is
all-powerful, but a reclining dragon chooses not to show his power for mere vanity, but unless it is really necessary. In the same way, a true karateka does not brag about or show off his abilities; he/she never forgets the true virtue of humility.
- Garyu is required for Shodan.

Seipai is the Okinawan pronunciation of the kanji characters for 18 (pronounced Ju Hachi in Japanese).  In other karate styles, this kata is sometimes called Seipaite, or eighteen hands.  The number 18 is derived from the Buddhist concept of 6 x 3, where six represents color, voice, taste, smell, touch and justice and three represents good, bad and peace.
- Seipai is required for Nidan.