This kata is a combination of the Pinan katas. It was named after a Chinese official named Kushanku who supposedly taught it to Tode Sakugawa in Shuri, Okinawa in 1762. This kata is one of the oldest that can be traced in the records, and it has more similarity to the Northern Shaolin Chinese system than other Karate katas.

It is said to be the kata that Gichin Funakoshi used when he would demonstrate the “new art of karate”. Funakoshi changed its name in Shotokan to Kanku Dai because of the first movement of this kata. Kanku means “to look to the sky”. Other names for this kata are Kosokun, Kwanku, and Kushanku.

In Wado Ryu we learn Kusanku Dai (Dai = “big”). Other styles learn additional variations including Kusanku Sho (Sho = “small”) and Shiho Kusanku (Shiho = “four directions”).

Otsuka said of Kusanku, “One must be reminded that this kata moves swiftly and in all directions. Every single movement must be correct and quickly executed. This kata places the shifting of the body as its main objective.”

One theory on the origin of this kata suggests that Tode Sakugawa did not study directly with Kushanku but rather learned the principles from Chatan Yara who was Sakugawa’s teacher’s teacher. Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura (Sakugawa’s senior student) taught only one Kusanku kata, Yara Kusanku. This title would seem to indicate a link with Chatan Yara.


1. Begin in ready stance (Shizentai/Yoi). Yoi of Kushanku is a little different from that of the Pinan Katas. Firstly your feet are slightly wider apart. Open your left foot then your right foot for the wider stance. Bring your left hand over your right hand at the same time. Palms facing towards you.

2/3. Keeping your hands together raise your arms above your head, Palms now facing your opponent. Then bringing both arms down in a large circular motion slowly and calmly. The hands should finish where they started at the beginning of the Kata, only palms outward facing and finger tips meeting.

4. Step out with your left foot and have left Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform left Haishuuke ( over hand block) Jodan. Your right arm is in protection form across your chest, open hand palm upward facing.

5. Bring your left foot back to its original position and then step out to the opposite direction to have right Mahanmi no Nekoashi, and perform right Haishuuke Jodan.

6. Bring back your right foot to Shizen Hontai (normal natural stance). Pull your right arm down whilst making a fist to rest at your right hip. Rotate your left wrist and make a fist, Palm downward facing. The left hand should come to rest just above the right in preparation for the next move.

7. Without changing your stance, perform left Gedan Barai (lower block) in front of you.

8. Without altering stance again perform right Chokuzuki Chudan (straight punch to the midsection).

9. Step out with your left foot to obtain Gyakuzuki Tsukkomi stance. At the same time Perform right Sotouke Jodan. Make sure to twist your body to the left to avoid an opponents attack, but also to power the Sotouke (outer block).

10. Move your right foot back in to the original Shizen Hontai ( normal natural stance), and perform left Chokuzuki Chudan (straight punch to midsection).

11. Step out with your right and have Gyakuzuki Tsukkomi stance, and perform left Sotouke Jodan.

12. The next attack will come from behind. Bring your left foot in to the right but ensuring the center of the body stays at the same point The left arm drops to the left hip. Look to your right.

13. Perform right Sotouke Jodan (outer block), and right Maegeri Chudan (front kick to midsection), towards your right at the same time.

13. Return your right foot to where it last had floor contact. Then step out with your left into Mahanmi no Nekoashi stance. Perform left Shutouke Jodan (knife hand block).

14. Take one step forward into right Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform Shutouke.

15. Step forward again into left Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform left Shutouke.

16. Take last step forward in this direction for now, into right Junzukidachi (forward stance), and perform right Tate Nukite Chudan (vertical spearhand to midsection).KIAI!

17. Mawatte Turn 180 degrees to the left into left Gyakuzuki Tsukkomi stance. As you turn bring your left forearm up to shield your face, palm open and facing outwards. At the same time your right arm sweeps across your body and you block with your palm. Fingers point towards the opponent.

18. With the hands remaining in place, perform right Maegeri.

19. Turning your body to the left, drop your body down. Perform left Gedan Barai and Jodan uke with the right arm.

20. Perform Jujiuke Gedan (X-block), in preparation for next movement.

21. Stand up quickly by drawing back the left foot into Shizen Hontai. Perform left hammerfist across the body.

22. Turn to the left 90 degrees by sliding your left foot across an perform left Gyakuzuki Tsukkomi stance. The same movement as No.17 of this Kata. Performing the sweeping block across the body with your right hand and the open hand head block with the left.

23. Maegeri Chudan kick as No.18.

24. Same as No.19 Dropping the body and double blocking.

25. Same as No.20. Performing X-block in prep for next part.

26. Same as No.21. Retract front leg and standing quickly to give the acceleration for the hammerfist.

27. Draw your left foot to your right and have Heisokudachi (closed toes stance). Same as in Pinan Yodan.

28. Perform Gedan Barai and left Maegeri to your left at the same time.

29. Have left Gyakuzuki stance. Perform right Yoko Enpi (sideward elbow strike).

30. Draw back the right foot and to return to Heisokudachi.

31. Perform right Gedan Barai and right Maegeri to your right side at the same time.

32. Perform left Yoko Enpi with right Gyakuzuki stance.

33. Turn to the left 180 degrees and have left Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform left Shutouke Jodan.

34. Step out with the right foot 45 degrees and have right Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform right Shutouke.

35. Turn 135 degrees to the right and have right Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform right Shutouke.

36.Step out with the left foot 45 degrees and have left Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform left Shutouke.

37. Turn 45 degrees to the left by opening your left foot to have left Gyakuzuki Tsukkomi stance. Perform the same blocks as in No.22. Tenohirauke. Open forehead block with the left arm and sweeping open hand Gedan block across the body.

38. Perform right Maegeri Chudan.

39. Step out with the right foot and have right Gyakunekoashi (reverse cat stance). Perform right Uraken (back-fist) Jodan while your left hand performs Otoshiuke ( downward block). Same movement as in Pinan Yodan.

40.Slide back with your left foot and the right, and have right Junzukidachi. Perform right Sotouke Jodan.

41/42. Perform left punch and then right punch (Renzuki). Both punches should be accelerated by the body twisting.

43. Turn 180 degrees to the left on your left foot. Raise your knee (prepare for kicking), make Nukite (spear-hand ) with your left and fist with your right. Both hands meet just above the right knee.

44. Drop your body and land on the floor with your right foot and two hands. Suppose an attack comes towards you, you drop your body as low as possible to avoid it. Keep your weight on your feet, not your hands, so that you can better be prepared to stand up whenever necessary.

45. Stand quickly and turn to the left 180 degrees and have left Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform left Shutouke Jodan.

46. Take one step forward and have right Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform right Shutouke Jodan.

47. Turn 270 degrees to the left, and have Nekoashi. Perform left Sotouke Jodan. Turning and block should be synchronized in the same direction. The stance must be front viewing.

48. Perform right Chokuzuki Chudan. Same as the start of Pinan Godan.

49. Turn 180 degrees to the right and have right Nekoashi. Perform right Sotouke Jodan.

50/51. Perform left and right Chokuzuki Chudan. Using the body twisting to accelerate the two fast each punch.

52. Perform right Sotouke Jodan and right Maegeri to your right at the same time.

53. Draw back your right foot and then step out with the left and have left Mahanmi no Nekoashi. Perform left Shutouke.

54. Perform left Shotei Otoshiuke (palm-hand downward block). Drop your body down a bit so that the downward block should be accelerated.

55. Take one step forward with your right foot and have right Junzukidachi. Perform right Tate Nukite (vertical spear-hand), while your left hand is kept in Osaeuke (press-block) form.

56. Turn 180 degrees to the left and have Shikoashi stance.

57. Perform left Yoko Tettsuiuchi (sideward hammerfist punch) Chudan. Suppose someone has hold of your right hand. Keep your right hand where it is and turn to the left. At the last minute you release yourself from the hold and strike with the opposite hand.

58. Glide forward in Shikoashi. Perform right Tate Uraken (vertical back-fist). Slide in and have left Gyakuzuki stance. Perform right Yoko Enpi (sideward elbow punch) No.57,58,59 are used in combination.

59. Open your body to the right and have Shizen Hontai. Perform left Sotouke Jodan and right Gedan Barai at the same time. Use the energy from the opening of the body for the acceleration of the blocks. Turn 180 degrees to the left on your right foot...

60. And have Shikoashi stance. Perform left Sukuiuke (scooping block) and right Sotouke Jodan at the same time. Turn sharply as if avoiding the opponents attack and at the last minute perform the blocks. Turning must be used for acceleration. No.59 & 60 are used in combination.

61. Drop the body low and perform right Sukuiuke. This would generally be used against a front kick.

62. Straightening up quickly perform rising Jujiuke (X-block) Jodan. Turn to the left 270 degrees on your right foot....

63. Into right Junzukidachi.

64. Perform Tettsui Otoshiuke (hammer downward block) with both hands.

65. Perform flying front kick off the right leg. At the moment of landing, have right Junzukidachi. Perform right Tate Uraken Jodan. KIAI!

66,67,68. Turn 270 degrees to the right. Perform hand sweeping with both hands. Do not bend your body. Bend at the knees and keep the back straight

69. You finish this movement in wider Shizen Hontai stance and both hands in Sotouke Jodan form.

70. Remain in your last stance until "Yamei" is called by the Sensei. Once called end Kata by stepping slightly to the left with the left foot and drawing the right slowly after it. Drop both fists into the ready position. Pause, then revert to attention stance.

View Kushanku Video

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