Kata is a method to teach the principles and process of movement. Every movement in kata has a meaning. In kata, you never do something without a reason.

Every movement in kata is made to be practiced without an opponent. However, it is essential to imagine actual opponents. The movement is not separate but continuous. The movement is related to each other. Every movement has its specific objective and principle. This can be dropping, rising, rotating and positioning the body, to name a few examples.

Kata has three layers of levels of operation. Omote, ura and henka. Omote is the surface. The true meaning of kata lies in ura, which is below the surface, hidden from the casual observer. The omote holds the keys of how to use and move the body effeciently, according to the principles of Wado. These keys reveal themselves after intense study and guidance under a good instructor. When the true essence – ura – of the kata is ingrained through intensive, serious and dedicated training, infinity shows itself in variations of movement using the same principles. This is called henka.

A kata should be alive, not dead. Imagining the opponent is essential. To use a kata efficiently is not an easy task. Limit yourself to logic explanations (attacks or scenario if you like) when imagining the situation while you perform kata. There is no need to imagine any other then simple generic attacks, because you are not actually learning how to defend from jodanzuki for example. UIltimately, kata is learning about how to fight using your body in an efficient – Wado – manner. Ikita kata and inen should not be missing from kata, so you have to imagine opponents to show a posture of attack. Otherwise, kata becomes an empty Shell and omote will be the only thing that you are doing.

There is an old saying that one kata must be studied for 3 years: “Kata hitotsu sannen”. The idea behind this saying is that it is considered more important to study some kata into depth, instead of knowing just the surface of many kata. The purpose of kata is to master the techniques and principles from kata and being able to apply the principles  in any situation. In other words, kata (principles) should become part of your body. All the above is mainly about kata that is performed by one man, but in essence this is the same for ‘two men’ kata as well. In the old days, karate (from Okinawa) did not have kata to be practised by two men. Curriculum from Koryu (old styles from Japan) contained kata that where – almost exclusively - to be practised by two men. This is called kumite or kumite gata.

A technique should be effective. A technique is only effective when it is fully completed and filled with spirit. Half work, hesitation or rush render a technique ineffective. Therefore, for the sake of method and its objective, in series there are pauses. The duration of these pauses vary, depending on the objective and the logic of the series. There is no need however, to wait for a long time.

In kata, you are able to focus entirely on the development of (how to use) your own body. To an extent, this might be an advantage over kumite gata. However, kumite gata is considered indispensable due to the presence of an opponent. 

Practising with an opponent adds the awareness of an opponnent, ma-ai (distance compared to your opponents position) and timing. Not to mention pressure being applied by the opponent. It is much easier to execute kata relaxed compared to kumite gata, where the opponent actually attacks decisively with spirit. Kata is like striking air, while kumite gata is like a makiwara.

In kata, the process of movement should address to the objective of movement. Training of posture, balance, technique, effort, timing, alertness and principles that are useful in a fight, is the original purpose of kata. Kata must therefore live. A dead kata is like a folkdance and thus useless. Imagination of the opponents and the techniques is essential. It is more important to do a living and functional kata, then showing a beautiful pattern to a public without any meaning below the surface. In that case, it’s like an easter bunny, always a pity that the inside is hollow.

Kata is to develop a strong character that can live in harmony and peace. As the character of “Bu” 武 suggest, violence has to be stopped. This idea is expressed through “karate ni sente nashi”. Karate has no first attack (or actually no first move/initiative). This points to the physical, but to the mental/verbal attack as well. As a symbol, every kata starts with uke waza. Uke waza however, is to attack. The point is not be be aggressive, but to strive for (inner) peace through the practise of kata.

There are six principles of kata

ikita kata:                         
A kata should be alive.

Practise with full effort and spirit.

chikara no kyo jaku:       
There has to be a variation in the use of power.

waza no kankyu:             
Timing of (internal) movement must have variations.

ki soko no donto:            
Breath correctly and naturally.

Always maintain balance.

Style Origins

The katas trained in Karate can generally be classified based on the city or region of Okinawa that they came from:

• Shuri-te – From the Shuri area. Shuri used to be the capital of Okinawa, and it was the home of the King and the aristocracy.

• Naha-te – From the Naha area. Naha is a port on the eastern coast of Okinawa (nearest to China). It was the center of the business and trade industries.

• Tomari-te – From the Tomari area. Tomari is a farming village on the northern end of Okinawa.

Generally speaking, Naha-te is a powerful and heavy karate while Shuri-te and Tomari-te are light and quick. These styles developed independently because of the distinct social classes in each region and because of geographic factors that made travel between the regions difficult.

Eventually, the Tomari-te style merged with the Shuri-te style because they had so many similarities. After this merger the combined Shuri-te/Tomari-te style became known as Shorin Ryu. The Naha-te style became known as Shorei Ryu. Gichin Funakoshi always used the terms Shorei Ryu and Shorin Ryu when he described the styles of Okinawan Karate and when he classified katas.

Wado Ryu Karate is most closely associated with the Shorin Ryu/Shuri-te style because Hironori Otsuka trained under Gichin Funakoshi, who was from the Shuri region.

Basic Katas
Ippon 1-14
Third Basic
First Basic
Omoto Kata
Second Basic
Teisu No Waza

Meaning of each wado-ryu Karate Kata

Pinan/HeianNidan Pinan translates as 'Peace of Mind'. The Pinan Kata were composed in 1907 by Anko Itosu. They are thought to have been composed from parts of Kushanku, a much larger kata. These kata were originally intended as beginner kata for use in Okinawan High School physical education programmes in the first part of this century. They are sometimes called the Heian kata, since the same ideograms can be read differently in Japanese.
Pinan/Heian Shodan
Pinan/Heian Sandan
Pinan/Heian Yondan
Pinan/Heian Godan

Kushanku  Ku shan ku can be roughly translated into 'Sky viewing' . This Kata was adapted and developed by Okinawan Masters, having been originally brought to Okinawa in 1762 by a Chinese envoy named Kushanku. Reputed to be the most advanced and difficult of all the Okinawan kata, it is said to require more than a decade of painstaking practice to master. Gichin Funakoshi called this Kata Kanku Dai (Kan=observe, Dai=big) because of the first movement of the Kata (making a circle with both hands) observing the world.
Naihanchi The name may be translated as 'Battle in a narrow place' for example on the narrow paths between rice fields. Naifanchi Kata is the only Kata where all the activity takes place in a straight line. The stance is also important, being the first of the so-called inner circular stances (both feet turned slightly inward). These stances are developed through Chinto and Seishan Kata
Chinto A literal translation of Chinto is 'Fighting to the East' Chinto was probably a Chinese military attaché, posted to the island of Okinawa at the same time as Kushanku The technique first introduced in this Kata is the 'sagiashi' or crane stance - seen later in Wanshu and Rohai Kata.
Seishan     Seishan may be translated as 'Crescent Moon'. Seishan Kata features 'dynamic tension' in its first half, the second half is performed at normal speed.
Wanshu The name can be roughly translated to 'flying swallow'. It was probably brought to Okinawa in 1683 by a Chinese envoy of the same name.
Bassai The meaning of this Kata is literally 'to storm a fortress'. The origins of this Kata are unknown.
Rohai   The literal translation of this Kata is 'White crane' This Kata has an unusual start. It also shares a fair amount of its content with Bassai (the three 'mountain' punch grab techniques) and with Wanshu (the last two moves with slight alteration).
Jion   Jion means 'Buddhist Temple'. Jion is a relatively long Kata, although it is simple in form. Note that the grouping of techniques into three's first seen in Pinan Nidan is still evident here.
Jitte Jitte translates to 'Ten hands' perhaps indicating that anyone who masters this Kata can be said to have the spirit of five men.          Jitte Kata is the only Wado-ryu Kata not to feature kiai.
Niseishi       The literal translation of this Kata is 'Twenty four steps' Most Kata are performed in an arrangement which takes you up and down or side to side. You should note that this Kata is effectively conducted in three directions to the points of a triangle
Suparinpe This is supposedly the 'lost' kata of traditional Wado-ryu. It is not trained at DKC YET



1. Kushanku
2. Naihanchi
3. Seishan
4. Chinto
5. Bassai
6. Niseishi
7. Rohai
8. Wanshu
9. Jion
10. Jitte

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