This is the fourth and final post of the series covering Shito Ryu kata that are of Goju Ryu origin.
Like other kata, there are some differences between Goju Ryu and Shito Ryu versions.
Even within the Shito Ryu style, there are still minor variations in the same kata between Shito Ryu schools.
However, it does not mean that one version is right and another is wrong or one version is better than another.
In the old days, karate masters would modify kata to suit their students and hence students under the same instructor may perform the same kata differently.
However, during this time, karate was only taught to a few selective and dedicated students through family connections.
When karate is introduced to the mass (school students and the general public), it is impossible to modify kata to suit individual students.
Given the large number of students in the public setting, it is also necessary to set standards for grading purposes so students are required to perform a kata in exactly the same way as they have been taught by their instructors.
Below are the Goju Ryu kata that are part of the Shito Ryu curriculum.
These demonstrations are for reference purposes only, please follow the instructions of your instructor.
- Gekisai Dai Ichi
- Gekisai Dai Ni
- Matsumara Seisan
Gekisai Dai Ichi (撃砕第一)
Geki means “to attack”. Sai means “to smash, break, crush”. Ichi means “first”. Gekisai Dai Ichi, therefore, means “to attack and destroy number one“.
Before the creation of Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni, new students of Goju Ryu karate were taught Sanchin for years before being introduced to other katas.
Realizing that Sanchin was a difficult kata for beginners and wanting to introduce a more basic karate form to a wider audience, Chojun Miyagi Sensei created Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni in 1940.
They are also a means to strengthen and prepare students physically for future rigorous training.
Some Shito Ryu schools include Gekisai Dai Ichi in their curriculum as a beginner kata.
The Shito Ryu version is largely the same as the Goju Ryu version.
Gekisai Dai Ni (撃砕第二)
Gekisai Dai Ni means “to attack and destroy number two”.
The first part of Gekisai Dai Ni is identical to the first part of Gekisai Dai Ichi.
The second half of Gekisai Dai Ni introduces open hand techniques (mawashi uke and tora guchi) and neko ashi dachi stance which are common in many Goju Ryu kata.
As mentioned above, Gekisai Dai Ni is also a beginner kata and is often taught after Gekisai Dai Ichi.
As with Gekisai Dai Ichi, the Shito Ryu version of Gekisai Dai Ni is largely the same as the Goju Ryu version.
Saifa means “smash and tear” or “pound and pulverize”.
This kata is thought to have originated from white crane kung fu and was brought to Okinawa by Master Kanryo Higaonna who was the teacher of Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju Ryu.
Saifa introduces some advanced techniques, including tearing one from an attacker’s grip and countering with a heavy back fist, hammer fist and circular striking techniques.
Although Saifa is a short kata, it is not an easy kata to master.
There are several translations of “seienchin” including “to control and pull”, “lull in the storm”, “calm in the storm”, and “conquer and subdue”.
This kata is called Seyiunchin in the Goju Ryu style.
Seienchin clearly demonstrates Goju Ryu principles with a combination of fast and powerful techniques and soft and flowing techniques.
There are also many close-quarter fighting techniques typical of Goju Ryu style.
The low Shiko dachi stance is also a prominent feature of this kata in addition to other stances such as Sanchin dachi, Neko ashi dachi and Renoji dachi.
Seienchin is an advanced kata and it has been chosen by many competitors to perform at competitions.
Shisochin means ‘to destroy in four directions‘ or ‘four directional battle‘. The name reflects the four palm-heel strikes at the beginning of the kata.
Another interpretation of ‘four directions’ is that it represents the four elements: Wood, Fire, Metal and Water with man representing Earth.
Shisochin is said to have been introduced in Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna after his trip to Fujian, China when he learned the kata from master Ryu Ryu Ko.
There’s also a claim that the kata was already taught by master Seisho Arakaki (1840–1918) who was another influential Okinawan karate master even before Kanryu Higaonna went to China.
Shisochin is a strong symmetrical kata.
Shisochin has many kaishu waza (open hand techniques) such as nukite tsuki (spear hand) and teisho uchi (palm strike).
It also includes blocks, circular movements, and powerful linear attacks.
Shisochin is a favorite kata of many students and it is a popular kata choice for competing in tournaments.
Sanseiru (also called Sanseru) means “36 hands” and there are different arguments as to what the name of the kata means.
Some sources say 36 represents 6×6. The first 6 are eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and spirit. The second 6 are color, voice, smell, taste, touch, and justice.
Other sources say the name refers to a systematic method of certain groupings of vital acupressure points.
Sanseiru teaches close-in techniques, complex punching combinations, defense against multiple attacks, joint attacks, and fast and explosive movements.
Seipai means “18 hands”.
Like Sanseiru, there are a couple of interpretations of the meaning of the kata name.
One is the attack of 18 pressure points with 18 being half of 36 meaning one set of attacks and defenses from the techniques in the Sanseiru kata.
The other interpretation is 18 is 6×3. Six represents color, voice, smell, taste, touch, and justice as in Sanseiru. Three represents good, bad and peace.
Seipai involves both 45-degree attacks and four directional movements constituting both long-range and close-range combat techniques.
The kata contains many techniques that their meanings are not apparent until one learns its bunkai.
Kururunfa means “to hold on long and then strike suddenly”.
Kururunfa techniques are based on the Chinese praying mantis style. The kata is another great example of ‘Go’ and ‘Ju’ technique combinations.
Kururunfa is an advanced kata. It includes open hand techniques, evasive taisabaki techniques, joint-breaking techniques, grappling, and sticky-hand movements.
Seisan or Sesan means “13 hands” or “13 movements”.
Seisan is thought to be the oldest of all Okinawan Goju-Ryu Kata and is practiced in many other martial arts styles.
In Shotokan, this kata is called Hangetsu (meaning “half moon”).
This kata has many advanced powerful techniques including fast and powerful techniques, techniques performed under full tension and techniques for close-quarter fighting such as close punches and low kicks.
The kata is usually reserved for advanced blackbelts, third dan, or above.
Matsumura Seisan is a version of the Seisan kata created by master Sokon Matsumura.
Suparinpei means “108 hands”, ‘108 movements‘ or “108 steps”.
The number 108 is thought to be made up of 36 x 3, combining 36 elements of Sanseiru kata and the number 3 representing past, present, and future.
Suparinpei has Chinese White Crane origin and was brought to Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna who learned it from Master Ryu Ryu Ko.
This is the longest and most advanced kata of the Goju Ryu style. It is said to contain all the techniques from all Goju Ryu kata and has many hidden elements.
Superinpei is the last kata in the Gojo Ryu curriculum and is one of the hardest kata to learn and master.
Its technical difficulty is perhaps only surpassed by Sanchin and Tensho kata.
Sanchin means “three battles” or “three conflicts” which some people refer to as the battle to unify the mind, body and spirit.
Sanchin kata has a Southern Chinese origin and was brought to Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna.
There are two versions of the Sanchin kata.
One version with two turns is the original version taught by Kanryo Higaonna and practiced in the Shito Ryu style and other styles.
Another version with no turn is the version created by Chojun Miyagi and appears to be practiced only in the Goju Ryu style.
Sanchin is the most important kata of the Goju Ryu style and is also the core kata in other styles such as Shito Ryu, Uechi Ryu, and Kyokushin.
It has the simplest techniques of all the katas but is the most difficult to master.
The whole kata is performed in Sanchin dachi stance which is a high and practical stance, looking simple but very difficult to get right.
In this kata, all muscles are tensed throughout while techniques are performed coordinating with breathing. It requires total mental concentration and coordination of the mind and body.
Having a correct sanchin dachi stance and full body tension, the practitioner can withstand strong hits to the shoulders, arms, backs, legs and groins from an opponent.
In Goju Ryu and some other styles, a practice called shime is often used to check if the practitioner has the correct posture and tension.
In shime testing, an instructor will check by striking various body parts, pushing, and checking the muscle tones of the performer.
Tensho means “flowing hands” or “turning hands”.
Tensho was created by Chojun Miyagi in 1921 as a soft and circular version of the Sanchin kata.
This kata combines both hard dynamic movements with deep breathing and soft flowing hand movements.
As with the Sanchin kata, the entire Tensho kata is performed in the Sanchin dachi stance.
However, the tension required while performing this kata is slightly less than that required in the Sanchin kata.
If you find this post helpful, please consider sharing this post and our site with those who might be interested, we will be very grateful.
Please also check out our library of other karate articles which is updated regularly.
Please check out other posts in the Shito Ryu kata series below:
A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 1)
A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 2)
A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 3)
A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 4)
Other posts you may be interested in:
Choki Motobu’s Wisdom in “My Art and Skill of Karate”
How to Systematically Improve Your Karate Sparring
What Is the Philosophy of Karate? – Karate Philosophy
The Intended Meaning of Karate Ni Sente Nashi
Karate – Its Ancient Origin and Evolving History
How to Do Seiza Properly in Karate?
A Comprehensive Guide to Karate Etiquette
International Hayashi-Ha Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Federation
The origins of Goju-Ryu kata: Shisochin kata
Karate Elgacela – Shito Ryu kata
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