Kata are sequential, pre-determined defense, attack, and counterattack forms used against multiple opponents. In addition to giving students practice in techniques, kata develops speed, breath control, balance, calm mind, rhythm, mushin, and coordination. Until this century, kata was considered the only and ideal method of karate training.
To grasp the meaning of kata, the true essence of Karate, one must be involved in one of the martial arts. The layman cannot hope to grasp the state of mind of an individual performing a kata. To him, the kata is only a series of movements that look like a form of dance. However, these beautiful and graceful movements are in reality far more than just a series of blocks, punches, kicks, and stances. One of the major aims of the karate student is to be able to perform all of the kata accurately.
The student repeats the kata many times in each class, placing emphasis on posture, balance, speed and coordination. Great emphasis is laid on increasing the student’s vigor, heart, mind, and soul. The teaching is usually conducted in a group, but individual performance of the kata is continually revised by the instructor. Gradually, the student’s character, attitude and intentions are unmistakably revealed to their instructor. Only then can the instructor help the student to acquire the mental power to overcome his own weakness and recognize the vanity and false ego which lies within him. This can be accomplished only by constant practice of the seemingly simple moves of kata.
Karate begins and ends with kata. People who say they cannot use kata techniques in self-defense or kumite either do not know their kata, or their kata form is not correct.
OPEN HAND KATA
Seisan: From Shorin Ryu. Emphasizes a straight-forward stance, seiken tzuki blocking, the mae geri, and rapid technique.
Seiunchin: From Goju Ryu. Emphasizes a strong, low stance in which the heels are shoulder-width apart and the feet are pointed out on a 45° angle. It also stresses reinforced blocks and punches, breath control, and powerful techniques.
Naihanchin: From Shorin Ryu. It is known for its “toe-inward” stance (uchi hachiji dachi). Designed for fighting with one’s back against a wall or on a ledge. Most movements are performed in a lateral direction.
Wansu: From Shorin Ryu. It is referred to as the “dumping form” because of the throw it contains. The technical term for this throw is kata garuma.
Chinto: From Shorin Ryu.. It derives its name from Master Chinto. This kata emphasizes pivots and fighting on angles. Chinto is one of the most difficult kata to perform while maintaining good balance.
Kusanku: From Shorin Ryu. It derives its name from Master Kushanku. Designed for fighting under conditions with limited light, and teaches evasive techniques.
Sunsu: This is the kata that Master Shimabuku personally developed, and bears his nickname. It is the longest and most difficult kata to perform.
Sanchin: from Goju Ryu. It emphasizes strong technique and breath control. The names means “three battles”, and refers to the control of mind, body, and breath during the performance of the kata.
WEAPONS KATA (Kobudo)