Goju-Ryu Karate Katas

Goju-Ryu Karate Katas

Saifa Kata being taught by Chojuan Miyagi

Katas (sometimes referred to as Shadow Boxing) are an integral part of Karate and many other martial arts, where they are also sometimes called forms or patterns. The martial artist follows a particular sequence of movements that include the attack and defense against one or several imaginary attackers. Practicing Kata is a good way of exercising the pure form of techniques.

Many Katas also contain secret or hidden Karate techniques that are not obvious to the unsuspecting bystander (and often not even to the student performing the Kata). Katas are a means of maintaining the true form of an original style, and its tradition from master to student, who may then in the future teach his own students.

The meaning and application of techniques found in Kata is called Bunkai.

As the student progresses through the ranks (click here for the Goju-Ryu Karate belt system), more and more Katas and the techniques contained therein (see Bunkai) are mastered. Thus, Katas are also an important aspect of the grading procedure, where student undergo an examination process that culminates in the award of a belt whose colour indicates the achieved skill level of a student.

Katas are the blueprints for certain styles, but it is natural and often cannot be avoided that individual masters or schools change Katas, or the order of the Kata, or other aspects of the Kata to better fit with their understanding of “their” style.  Historically, many sports styles of Karate have intentionally modified some Katas to be better suited in the context of tournaments.

Apart from documentation in books (which then is also open to interpretation by the reader), the knowledge of Katas is traditionally transferred person-to-person, and are bound to change slightly over the generations. This is another reason why exponents of particular styles tend to stress their “direct lineage” (click here for the main instructors of Traditional Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do), which basically implies that they have learned it from the grand master or even founder of a style, and thus their interpretation of Kata and other aspects of their style is undiluted and preserves all aspects of the style, including Kata, in the way it was meant to be.

The Katas of Traditional Okinawan Guju-Ryu Karate-Do

Gekisai Dai IchiBasic kata No 1
Gekisai Dai NiBasic kata No 2
SaifaMonkey kata
SeiyunchinTiger kata
ShisoshinDragon kata
Sanseru36 Techniques
Sepai18 stances
KururunfaPraying mantis
SesanSnake 13 masters
Suparinpei108 Positions (Master Kata)
SanchinThree battles (Breathing Kata)
TenshoRotating palms (Breathing Kata)