kata is a pattern of movements, containing blocks, hand strikes and kickes arranged in a practical sequence. The movements in Kata alow the student to practice alone and to perfect his or her techniques. That is, to perfect the basic elements of Karate - the Hand Strike, the block and the Kick. Kata has evolved through centuries of practice and combat experience by the old Masters. Sequential Kata techniques are not intended to replace the spontaneous counter attack required in actual combat. Combat is too unpredictable to be reduced to a pre - arranged counter strategy that the pre - arrange counter movements offer.

The practitioner will notice that one of the key feature of Kata and the one symbolizing the peaceful nature of Karate as an art and way of life, is the fact that every Kata begins with a defensive technique. In Karate, there is no first attack. Every kata begins with a defensive movement which exemplifies this spirit. Not only is there no first attack, but the best defense is to avoid the fight altogether. That is why it is said that Karate is the art of wise men.

Today, it is impossible to trace, with any scientific degree of certainty, the exact development of Kata. We do know that tha Chinese Masters, in addition to their actual combat experience, studied the combat techniques and movements in the fighting between animals. The Old Masters combat experience and the fighting techniques of animals have been incorporated into the Kata by adopting the general sense and mvement of particular animal.

Kata is what distinguishes Karate from mere kickboxing. Kata is a measurable expression of the discipline of Karate.There can be no Karate without Kata. Indeed, there is no "Art" without Kata. The spirit of Karate is discovered in the Kata, in it's movements and in it's expressions of Techniques. It is usually discovered when the student is quietly practices Kata alone. To practice the Kata correctly, every movement must be repeated over and over again. Only through constant repetition can the techniques become reflex action.

Goju Ryu Kata :

Almost all of the Goju Ryu Kata were handed down to Chojun Miyagi from Master Higashionna. Master Higashionna had studied and trained for many years under the Chinese Master Ryu Ryu Ko in Fukein Province, China. Today, we know that the followinf Kata were handed down to Higashionna from Ryu Ryu Ko :


Sanchin Ichi

(Miyagi Sanchin)

Sanchin Ichi translates as "3 Battles One" or "3 Conflicts One". This kata was developed by Miyagi Chojun O'Sensei because he perceived Sanchin Ni, the original Sanchin kata he learned from Higaonna Sensei, was too long for beginners. As stated above, Sanchin Ni was determined to be too difficult for beginners to perform, therefore Sanchin Ichi was developed, leaving Sanchin Ni to be taught at a brown and black belt level. Brown and Black belts should do their own personal training using Sanchin Ichi and Sanchin Ni. Sanchin Ichi has all the same movements as Sanchin Ni but is shorter and no turns hence making it a little easier.

The Sanchin kata are the basis of the Goju-Ryu Karate system. All other kata are based on the Sanchin forms. The principals of the Goju-Ryu Karate are all encompassed within these kata. The Grand Masters in Okinawa have explained that in the olden days Goju-Ryu or Nata-te karateka would learn the Sanchin Kata and only one other Kata, based on that persons body type, therefore you would only two katas. Today we are very lucky to be able to learn the whole system, however we must remember Sanchin Kata was and still is an very important kata.



(Crush and Tear or Smash and Tear)

Saifa kata introduces tai sabaki (body evasion) and open handed palm-heel blocks and strikes (haito uchi). It mixes swift, light stances (neko ashi dachi & sagi ashi dachi) with solid, grounding stances (shiko dachi). Saifa contains a vast number of techniques like hammer fist strike (tettsui uchi), back fist (ura uchi), morote tsuki (double fist punch), ashi barai (foot sweep), haito uchi (ridge hand strike) etc, etc.



(To Travel Far and Conquer or To Attack and Pull into Battle)

Seiunchin is a long and strength-sapping kata. It contains pulling and gripping techniques, throws, hidden techniques and requires a strong upper and lower body, good breath control and lots of stamina. There are NO kicks in this kata!! This kata is most performed at tournaments throughout the world. The techniques are well suited for practical, close-in fighting.


(Four Direction Battle)

Again like seiunchin kata, close range techniques are used throughout this kata. Rapid whipping techniques are blended in with those requiring 'muchimi'. Joint locks and breaks are a feature of Shisochin kata. You can see the Chinese influence in this kata as there are only four (4) closed hand techniques in this kata with all the rest open hand techniques. Hanshi Miyazato would do Shisochin Kata quite often at demonstrations. Much practice is required to master this kata especially to get the focus Hanshi Miyazato had.


(Thirty Six Hands)

The techniques in this kata seem basic, direct and hard, however there are some unique and advanced, close-in techniques. Joint and knee locks and kicks, low front kicks while moving forward and blocking after turning are techniques that require lots of practice. Slow movements evolve into fast, explosive ones. A feature of this kata is use of koken  (top of wrist) at the end of the kata. This last movement (morote koken uke in shikodachi) is an often misunderstood movement with an array of close-in applications.


(Thirteen Hands)

The opening three Sanchin dachi steps with the morote chudan uke (double middle level block) and chudan gyaku tsuki (reverse stomach punch) appears to be similar to that as in Sanseru kata, BUT, in performance and application they are NOT! This is a powerful, fighting kata with many superb close-in fighting techniques.



(Eighteen Hands)

Circular, whipping movements and body evasion (taisabaki), dropping your body to rise up and push your opponent off balance and faints are all found within this kata. There are, as in ALL the other kata, many hidden techniques and movements. Certain hand techniques require a unique use of certain part of the hand eg, performing the gedan furi uchi after swiveling 90 degrees requires the hand to be shaped like it would when one knocks on a door.


(Forever Crushing and Breaking)

Again the use of taisabaki, joint locking and breaking techniques are prominent within this quick and fast kata. Many open handed techniques could either be interpreted as a joint lock or a block, and depending on the circumstances could be used as both. The use of the hips to aid some hand techniques enhances both the power and effect of the technique.


(One Hundred and Eight Hands)

The longest of all the Goju Ryu kata, Suparinpei is said to contain all the techniques from all the Goju Ryu kata. Quick blocking and simultaneous striking are found all over this kata. Just like in a fight, you have to pace yourself and your breathing to end off this kata strongly. This kata is also known by it's original name, Pichurin.

The original creators of these kata were unknown. Although there is a good chance to believe that the are invented by Master Ryu Ryu Ko.

Master Chojun Miyagi invented three new Kata :



Gekisai Dai Ichi

(Rip and Tear I or Turning Disadvantage into Advantage I)

This kata was developed and introduced in the 1940's by Miyagi Chojun O'Sensei. It's intention was to popularize Karate-Doh to the general public and help establish a curriculum for school children. It contains powerful, basic movements that are quite easy to interpret and learn, however many of the techniques have multiple applications. Most the movements are done with a closed fist and with full power.


Gekisai Dai Ni

(Rip and Tear II or Turning Disadvantage into Advantage II)

The format of this kata is very similar to Gekisai dai Ichi, however some advanced techniques and timing are included. Kake uke (open hand hooking block), mawashi uke (circular block) and neko ashi dachi (cat foot stance) are the additional techniques in the kata. In Gekisai dai Ichi full power and speed was utilized however, in Gekisai dai Ni the concept of 'muchimi' (a heavy, sticking but flowing action) is introduced in the kake and mawashi uke's. 'Muchimi' requires stances with a lower centre of gravity, hence neko ashi dachi!


(Revolution of the Wrist or Revolution of the Heavens or Turning Hands)

Tensho kata was created by Miyagi Chojun O'Sensei. Tensho literally means 'turning hands'. This is the 'JU' (softness) of Goju and Miyagi O'Sensei developed this kata from the 'Rokkishu' kata of the Fukian White Crane System. The hand movements and breathing require a high level of co-ordination.


It is believed that Geiksai Dai Ich and Dai Ni were developed in order to popularite Karate among young people of Okinawa. These two Kata are somewhat easy to learn but at the same time they do provide the basis for the more advanced techniques in the advanced traditional Goju Ryu Kata.

Many of the Kata names are Chinese numbers symbolizing Buddhist concepts. for example, Kata Sanseru, written in Chinese characters, is the number 36, symbolically it is calculated from the formula 6 X 6 . The first six represents eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and spirit. The second symbolizes colour, voice, taste, smell, touch and justice. The Kata sepai is symbolized by number 18. It is calculated from 6 X 3. The six here are the second six of Kata Sanseru. The Three represnets good, bad and peace.

Master Higashionna developed Sanchin but, later Master Miyagi made small adjustment and improved it. Miyagi's Sanchin although preserving the s\essence of Higashionna's Sanchin, it's performance requires a different use of muscles, leading to a more symmetrical muscle development. This is important for optimum use of the body, and especially in the prevention of injury to the back and other areas.