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Kata (Japanese : 形 , or more traditionally, 型; lit. "form") is a Japanese word describing detailed patterns of movements practiced either solo or in pairs. Karate kata are executed as a specified series of a variety of moves, with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form. The kata is not intended as a literal depiction of a mock fight, but as a display of transition and flow from one posture and movement to another, teaching the student proper form and position, and encouraging them to visualise different scenarios for the use of each motion and technique. Karateka "read" a kata in order to explain the imagined events, a practice known as bunkai . There are various kata, each with many minor variations.
Traditionally, kata are taught in stages. Previously learned kata are repeated to show better technique or power as a student acquires knowledge and experience. It is common for students testing to repeat every kata they have learned but at an improved level of quality.
The various styles of karate study different kata, or variations of a common core. Some kata may therefore be known by two names, one in Japanese, the other in Okinawan or Chinese. This is because Gichin Funakoshi, and others, renamed many kata to help Karate spread throughout Japan.
Kata originated from the practice of paired attack and defence drills by ancient Chinese martial artists. However, as the numbers of attacks and defences being practised increased the difficulty of remembering all of the drills also increased. An additional problem with the drills was the requirement for a partner to be present for all practice. Kata/forms were created as solo forms containing the concatenated sequences of movements of the defensive portions of the drills. The initial forms being simply strings of movements, sets of rules were created to allow the creation of kata which could fit comfortably within training spaces.
The number 108 has mythological significance in Dharmic religions. This number also figures prominently in the symbolism associated with Karate, particularly the Goju-ryū discipline. The ultimate Gōjū-ryū kata, Suparinpei, literally translates to 108. Suparinpei is the Chinese pronunciation of the number 108, while gojushi of Gojūshiho is the Japanese pronunciation of the number 54. The other Gōjū-ryū kata, Sanseru (meaning "36") and Seipai ("18") are factors of the number 108.
Other Buddhist symbols within Karate include the term karate itself, the character kara can also be read as ku, which originates from sunya, positioning at the beginning of kata resembles the hand position of zazen, and custom of the bow upon entering and leaving the dojo and meeting the sensei, as is done in Buddhist temples and Zen dojo.
Some kata and/or styles are not included here, due but not limited to popularity and common usage for kata, and recognition (or not) of styles by the various governing bodies.
|Gojūshiho/Useishi (some: dai and sho versions)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Kusanku/Kanku/Bokanku (some: dai and sho versions)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Naihanchi/Tekki (some: series of 3)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Some||Yes||Yes|
|Bassai/Passai (some: dai and sho versions)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Some||Yes||Yes||Some|
|Pinan/Heian (series of 5)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Some|
|Taikyoku/Kihon (some: series of 3 or more)||Some||Yes||Some||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ten No Kata||Yes||Some||Some|
Karate (空手) is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom. It developed from the indigenous Ryukyuan martial arts under the influence of Kung Fu, particularly Fujian White Crane. Karate is now predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open-hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands and palm-heel strikes. Historically, and in some modern styles, grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints and vital-point strikes are also taught. A karate practitioner is called a karateka (空手家).
Shotokan is a style of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin Funakoshi was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularizing "karate do" through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.
Gōjū-ryū (剛柔流), Japanese for "hard-soft style", is one of the main traditional Okinawan styles of karate, featuring a combination of hard and soft techniques. Both principles, hard and soft, come from the famous martial arts book used by Okinawan masters during the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bubishi. Gō, which means hard, refers to closed hand techniques or straight linear attacks; jū, which means soft, refers to open hand techniques and circular movements. Gōjū-ryū incorporates both circular and linear movements into its curriculum, combining hard striking attacks such as kicks and close hand punches with softer open hand circular techniques for attacking, blocking, and controlling the opponent, including joint locks, grappling, takedowns, and throws.
Wadō-ryū (和道流) is one of the four major karate styles and was founded by Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982). The style itself places emphasis on not just striking, but tai sabaki, joint locks and throws. It has its origins within Tomari-te karate, but also gains influence from Shito-Ryu and Shotokan, however it was massively influenced by JiuJitsu, which explains the emphasis on concepts such as tai sabaki, noru and nagashi sabaki.
Kyokushin (極真) is a full-contact martial art, school of Karate originating from Japan. It is a style of stand-up fighting and is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training.
Isshin-Ryū is a style of Okinawan karate founded by Tatsuo Shimabuku in 1956. Isshin-Ryū karate is largely a synthesis of Shorin-ryū karate, Gojū-ryū karate, and kobudō. The name means, literally, "one heart method". In 1989 there were 336 branches of Isshin-ryū throughout the world, most of which were concentrated in the United States.
Shōrin-ryū (少林流) is one of the major modern Okinawan martial arts and is one of the oldest styles of karate. It was named by Choshin Chibana in 1933, but the system itself is much older. The characters 少林, meaning "small" and "forest" respectively and pronounced "shōrin" in Japanese, are also used in the Chinese and Japanese words for Shaolin. "Ryū" means "school". Shōrin-ryū combines elements of the traditional Okinawan fighting styles of Shuri-te.
Bunkai (分解), literally meaning "analysis" or "disassembly", "is a term used in Japanese martial arts referring to process of analysing kata and extracting fighting techniques from the movements of a 'form' (kata). The extracted fighting techniques are called Oyo."
Chōjun Miyagi was an Okinawan martial artist who founded the Gōjū-ryū school of karate by blending Okinawan and Chinese influences.
The karate kataSeisan (十三) literally means '13'. Some people refer to the kata as '13 Hands', '13 Fists', '13 Techniques', '13 Steps' or even '13 killing positions'; however, these names have no historical basis.
Kenwa Mabuni was one of the first karateka to teach karate in mainland Japan and is credited as developing the style known as Shitō-ryū. Originally, he chose the name Hanko-ryu, literally "half-hard style", to imply that the style used both hard and soft techniques. Finally, Mabuni chose Shito-ryu, the first characters of the names Itosu and Higaonna, his two primary teachers.
Shorin-ryu Seibukan, also known as Sukunaihayashi, is one of the many Okinawan Shorin-ryu styles of karate.
The table contains a comparison of karate styles. Some of the distinguishing features are listed, such as lineage, general form of stances, the balance of hard and soft techniques, and the number and names of kata forms.
Shinpan Gusukuma, also known as Shinpan Shiroma by the Japanese, was an Okinawan martial artist who studied Shōrin-ryū karate as a student of Ankō Itosu. Gusukuma also trained under Higaonna Kanryō in the Naha-te style. Gusukuma went on to establish Shitō-ryū with Kenwa Mabuni.
Tōon-ryū is a style of Okinawan Karate founded by Juhatsu Kyoda.
Okinawan martial arts refers to the martial arts, such as karate, tegumi and Okinawan kobudō, which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island. Due to its central location, Okinawa was influenced by various cultures with a long history of trade and cultural exchange, including Japan, China and Southeast Asia, that greatly influenced the development of martial arts on Okinawa.
Fukyugata is the name of kata practiced in many styles of Okinawan karate, particularly Matsubayashi-ryu. There are two Fukyugata. Shoshin Nagamine (Matsubayashi-ryu) created Fukyugata Ichi and Chojun Miyagi (Goju-ryu) created Fukyugata Ni, or Gekisai Ichi. They were developed as beginner kata because the more traditional kata were too difficult for beginners.
Seikichi Toguchi was the founder of Shorei-kan karate.
Masaji Taira is a leading teacher of Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate Do, and head of the Okinawa Gojuryu Kenkyu Kai. His teacher was Eiichi Miyazato, a student of Chojun Miyagi and the founder of the Okinawan Jundokan dojo. Taira's karate is that of his teacher and the Jundokan, with the addition of his novel approach to the application of the kata.
Kaisai no genri (解裁の原理) is a theory and set of rules of thumb which were used by Gōjū-ryū karate masters to extract the primary fighting applications (Oyo) encoded into karate kata by the creators. These rules were historically kept secret and passed on to the most senior students of a school only near the death of the head of the organisation. Without such a rule set describing how kata are constructed, the likelihood of deciphering the original combative meaning of the movements in the kata is very low.