Unsu (雲手), literally "cloud hands", is the most advanced kata found in the Shotokan, Shito-Ryu and karate styles and is generally taught to karateka at the 3rd to 4th Dan. It contains many intricate hand techniques, such as the ippon-nukite (one finger strike) in the opening sequence. Unsu also contains a 360-degree spinning double-kick with a double-leg take down at the same time, landing on the floor face-down before continuing.Because of this, it is a very common kata in tournaments and seen as method of testing the competitors knowledge, spirit and skill.
Per Bruce Clayton in his book, 'Shotokan's Secret', Unsu was created by Seisho Arakaki sometime around 1860-1870. Arakaki was a Japanese and Chinese language interpreter to the Shuri court, and a master of monk fist and white crane styles. It is somewhat a condensation of other katas (e.g., Bassai, Kanku, Jion, Empi, Jitte and Gankaku), hence it is essential to have mastered these before practicing Unsu.
The movement, Unsu, or hands in the cloud, is used to sweep away the hands of the opponent and is said to signify the gathering clouds in a thunderstorm.
Masatoshi Nakayama suggests in 'the Best Karate' volume containing Unsu, that the name derives from the constant transformations, expansions, contractions, shifting, etc. of the body as the Kata is performed, just as clouds constantly change and transform. It consists of 48 moves.
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.
Wankan (王冠) is a kata practiced in many styles of Karate. Not much is known about the history of this kata. It originates from the Tomari-te school and in modern karate is practiced in Shorin-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shotokan, Genseiryu and Matsubayashi-ryu.
Chinte (珍手) is a kata practiced in Shotokan. It is a very old kata originating from China. Its mixture of standard movements and rarely seen techniques, vestiges of ancient forms, give this kata a special appeal. Particularly dynamic, with its alternating strong and slow passages, Chinte is unique also in the presence of a number of circular techniques, despite the preference in Shotokan karate for linear movements. It is a kata of close-distance self-defense techniques. The somewhat peculiar closing movements allude to the absorption of the power of the waves by the sand, which is a symbol of the return to tranquility after the violent storm.
Ji'in, Jion, and Jitte form a group of kata used in Shotokan and other karate styles, beginning with the same characteristic kamae of the left hand covering the right, which apparently has roots in ancient Chinese boxing. Their origin is thought to be from the Tomari-te school, however Hirokazu Kanazawa speculates that the Jion kata were devised in the Jionji 慈恩寺, the Jion temple, where martial arts were famously practiced. From there, Kanazawa believes the Jion kata were spread into the Tomari region.
Gojūshiho is a kata practiced in karate. Gojushiho was developed by Sokon Matsumura, one of the key founders of Okinawan martial arts and named it "Uesheishi", which literally means 54 methods in Chinese. In some styles of karate, there are two versions of this kata - Gojūshiho Shō and Gojūshiho Dai. An advantage of the two versions of the kata is to better master the difficult techniques presented therein, but not without facing some confusion, for many sequences are the same and others only slightly different. The embusen of both Gojūshiho Shō and Gojūshiho Dai are nearly identical. Gojūshiho Shō begins straight off with a wide variety of advanced techniques and, as such, is highly recommended for study. Gojūshiho Dai consists of many advanced open-handed techniques and attacks to the collar-bone.
Sōchin (壯鎭) is a kata practiced in several styles of karate. It may have derived from Dragon style kung fu, and was taught in the Naha-te school in Okinawa by Seisho Arakaki. It was then passed down to Shitō-ryū. Later, a variation of it was introduced into the Shotokan style by Gichin Funakoshi's son, Yoshitaka. Some branches of Tang Soo Do have added it to their curriculum under the name "Sojin".
Nijūshiho or NiseishiNandan sho (二十四歩) is an advanced kata practiced in Shotokan, Shitō-ryū, Chito-ryu, Ryūei-ryū Shuri-ryū and Wadō-ryū karate.
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."
Wanshū is the name of several katas in many systems of karate, including Isshin-Ryu, Shotokan, Wadō-ryū, and others.
Kūshankū also called Kūsankū (クーサンクー) or Kankū-dai (観空大), is an open hand karate kata that is studied by many practitioners of Okinawan Karate, specifically styles related to Shuri-te. In many styles, such as Shotokan, there are two versions of the kata: Kūsankū-shō and Kūsankū-dai. The name Kūsankū or Kōsōkun (公相君) is used in Okinawan systems of karate, and refers to Kūsankū, a Chinese diplomat from Fukien who traveled to Okinawa in the 1700s. In Japanese systems of karate, the kata has been known as Kankū ever since it was renamed in the 1930s by Funakoshi Gichin. This kata is also practiced in Tang Soo Do as Kong Sang Koon (공상군) in Korean according to the hangul rendering of the hanja 公相君. Most schools of Tang Soo Do only practice the "Dai" version a handful do practice both the latter and "Sho" versions.
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.
Chitō-ryū (千唐流) is a style of karate founded by Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, (1898-1984). The name of the style translates as: chi (千) - 1,000; tō (唐) - China; ryū (流) - style, school, "1,000 year old Chinese style." The character tō (唐) refers to the Tang Dynasty of China. The style was officially founded in 1946.
Chintō (鎮東) is an advanced kata practiced in many styles of karate. According to legend, it is named after a stranded Chinese sailor, sometimes referred to as Annan, whose ship crashed on the Okinawan coast. To survive, Chintō kept stealing from the crops of the local people. Matsumura Sōkon, a Karate master and chief bodyguard to the Ryūkyūan king, was sent to defeat Chintō. In the ensuing fight, however, Matsumura found himself equally matched by the stranger, and consequently sought to learn his techniques.
Rōhai (鷺牌) meaning “vision of a white heron” or “vision of a white crane” is a family of kata practiced in some styles of karate. The kata originated from the Tomari-te school of Okinawan martial arts. It was called Matsumora Rōhai, after Kosaku Matsumora, who was presumably its inventor. Ankō Itosu later took this kata and developed three kata from it: Rōhai shodan, Rōhai nidan, and Rōhai sandan. In Shorin-ryū and Matsubayashi-ryū this kata introduces Gedan Shotei Ate and Ippon Ashi Dachi. It contains a sequence of Tomoe Zuki exactly the same as the one in Bassai, although the ending of the sequence chains into Hangetsu Geri/Uke.
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.
Arakaki Seishō was a prominent Okinawan martial arts master who influenced the development of several major karate styles. He was known by many other names, including Aragaki Tsuji Pechin Seisho.
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.