Kata are sequences of pre-arranged movements and techniques. The true meaning and spirit of karate exist within the kata.
These kata are performed in a semi-relaxed and ready state with speed and focus as techniques are executed.
- Gekisai dai-ichi (first “attack and smash” kata)
- Gekisai dai-ni (second “attack and smash” kata). Both of the Gekisai kata were created by Chojun Miyagi as a gentler introduction to kata.
- Saifa (tear and destroy). Traditional kata of chinese origin brought to Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna. This kata is thought to have been derived from white crane boxing style in China.
- Seiyunchin (to control and pull in battle). Derivative of a very old chinese kata probably originally from the Hsing-I system.
- Shisochin (four directional battle). Taught to Kanryo Higaonna by Ryuryu Ko. One of Chojun Miyagi’s favourite kata in his later years.
- Sanseru (thirty six hands). Thirty six representing 6×6, the first six being eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and spirit and the second six, colour, voice, smell, taste, touch and justice.
- Sepai (eighteen hands). Based upon crane techniques. Eighteen being 6×3 (colour, voice, smell, taste, touch and justice as in sanseru) and 3 representing good, bad and peace.
- Kururunfa (to destroy with ancient mantis techniques). Taught to Kanryo Higaonna by Ryoryu Ko from China. Its origins are unknown.
- Sesan (thirteen hands). The basic form of this kata contains 8 defensive and 5 attacking techniques. Thirteen is also a number representing good luck and prosperity in chinese numerology. Sesan is thought to be one of the oldest kata.
- Suparunpei (108 hands). 6x6x3, combining the elements represented in the meanings of sanseru and sepai. 108 also has special significance in buddhist beliefs from where the kata originated.
These kata are performed while under constant tension.
- Sanchin (three battles) – the fundamental kata of Goju Ryu. The form generally practised is a variation of Kanryo Higaonna’s kata that Chojun Miyagi chose to balance movements.
- Tensho (turning or flowing hands). Created by Chojun Miyagi, and is derived from a softer chinese form of sanchin.
The kata in Goju Ryu are taught in the order above, although both kaishugata and heishugata are learned simultaneously.
Of the kaishugata, a student will normally learn only up to shisochin until after their black belt grading.
For thorough details of these kata, we recommend the books and videos listed in the reference section.