The dictionary of Karate

All martial arts have been taught through a series of training patterns. I am not only talking about traditional styles such as Karate-Do and Tae Kwon Do but soft styles like Aikido as well. Wing Chun and Judo also have a series of training patterns which are prevalent in almost every martial arts curriculum. In Karate the patterns are called Kata. In Kata the techniques of martial arts are translated and encrypted. Martial arts teachers use these set patterns or dances to train their students more effectively. In a period of tense struggle and intense conflict Karate was outlawed in Japan. The ruling class using force controlled the population, mainly farmers. If anyone was found training in martial arts the entire family was killed and the friends of the family tortured. It was impossible to write down and record techniques and tactics. Kata became a perfect and effective means of passing on techniques, fundamentals, and even prepare the student. Trainings were done secretly and katas a good way to pass on instructions. Both Gogen Yamaguchi the founder of Gojo-Ryu and Sensei Miyagi of Shotokan were complete supporters of Kata and their formulation. Eventually teachers developed katas exclusively; Great Sensei adapted the Kata so as to contain the style, philosophy and the methods of battle. Many katas contain hidden meanings. In feudal Japan it was quite popular for one school master to go to another and challenge its sensei. Because of this, kata became guarded and transformed. Katas were sometimes arranged with hidden meanings and only taught to senior students who had proven their loyalty. There are many hundreds of different kata in karate alone. Many sensei of today feel katas are obsolete. Many students feel that kata has little value in today’s urban conflicts. I completely disagree. All great sensei of every martial art have studied and practiced kata relentlessly. Everything in an art is revealed through kata. Many students learn kata and move on to the next. In ancient time katas were practiced for years before new katas were introduced. Kata should not be overlooked as a training necessity. Kata not only conditions the body for battle but trains the reflexes and mind as well. There are many great books that deal with Kata.

Kata Names:

TAIKYO KYU – First Cause

HEIAN SHODAN – Peaceful Mind First Level

HEIAN NIDAN – Peaceful Mind Second Level

HEIAN SANDAN – Peaceful Mind Third Level

HEIAN YONDAN – Peaceful Mind Forth Level

HEIAN GODAN – Peaceful Mind Fifth Level

From Heian Ante meaning peace and calmness, taken from the city of Heian

TEKKI SHODAN – Horse Riding First Level

TEKKI NIDAN – Horse Riding Second Level

TEKKI SANDAN – Horse Riding Third Level

BASSAI DAI – To penetrate a fortress Major

BASSAI SHO – To penetrate a fortress Minor

KANKU DAI – Viewing the Sky Major

KANKU SHO – Viewing the Sky Minor

HANGETSU – Half Moon

EMPI – Flying Swallow

GANKAKU – Crane on a rock

JITTE – Ten Hands (sometimes spelt as JUTTE)

JI-ON – From the temple of Jion

JI-IN – Temple grounds

CHINTE – Strange Hands

MEIKYO – Polished Mirror

NIJUSHIHO – Twenty Four Steps

SOCHIN – Immovable in the face of danger

WANKAN – A proper name, King’s Crown.

UNSU – Hands in The Cloud

GOJUSHIHO SHO – Fifty Four Steps Minor

GOJUSHIHO DAI – Fifty Four Steps Major