Saturday 18 December 2010

The Seven Core Kata of Shotokan Karate

Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei referred to Bassai-Dai, Kanku-Dai, Empi, Jion, Jitte, Hangetsu and Gankaku as `The Seven Core Shotokan-ryu Kata’. Today I’d like to briefly (as succinctly as as possible) describe the main training objectives for each of these essential kata, as taught to me by Asai Sensei.

1. BASSAI-DAI: Hip rotation to the limit - using the spine as a pendulum.

Lightness, quickness and the integration of various rhythms of movement.

3. EMPI: Contraction and expansion of the body, and rapid direction change.

4. JION: Smooth transitions and decisive channelling of power.

5. HANGETSU: Coordination of breath, stance, movement and techniques.

6. JITTE: ‘Body mass’ hip rotation and thrust, and ankle control.

7. GANKAKU: Balance and posture – lines of power via hip alignment and technique trajectory.
These seven kata should be well learned and understood before karateka can even consider moving on to kata such as Sochin, Unsu, Chinte, Gojushiho-Sho and so forth. Always remember "in traditional karate a great Hangetsu will always be better than a very-good Unsu"! Sadly, due to too much emphasis on competition, some of these kata have been under-valued. Keeping in mind that Asai Sensei referred to them as `The Seven Core Shotokan Kata', it readily becomes obvious, that without all seven of them tightly under the belt, Shotokan karateka are missing the heart of their style.
Osu, André.

© André Bertel. New Zealand, 2010

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