Category Archives: Kata

Video: Kata Sochin

Kata Sochin is a very popular Kata found in many styles of Karate. In Shorinjiryu the kata is practiced at a senior black belt level of Sandan (3rd) dan and above. The kata emphasizes strong stances and center of gravity with purposeful steps. In this respect the kata can be classified within the Goho (hard) category of Katas. The kata is formed around a cross with the practitioner moving between cardinal points or directions of the compass with strong blocks followed by strong combinations of punches and kicks. In this respect the kata prepares the defender for multiple attacks from many different sides. The kata makes particular use of the horse stance which makes it a favorite for kata competition.

An advanced form of the kata includes energy point focus (not shown here) emphasizing the Juho (soft) elements. The Juho form should only be studied once the Goho form is perfected.


Video: Kata Koshiki Bassai

Kata Koshiki Bassai is the original form of the more commonly known name of Kata Bassai. Most styles of Karate practice a modified form of the Kata known as Bassai-Dai. However, for Shorinjiryu the Koshiki form of the Kata is the standard form to be practiced. The kata is typically taught at the Ni-kyu or Ichi-kyu level (brown belt) and is considered an intermediate level kata from a difficulty persepctive. Bassai it its various forms is known and practiced in most karate styles and as such it is also considered a foundational kata. Since it is well-known across various styles of karatedo it is a useful kata to demonstrate within open competition formats.

Below one can see the application (known as “Bunkai”) of Kata Koshiki Bassai. The Bunkai is performed by Shihans Riley, King and Chaffey in competition at the occasion of the Canadian World Koshiki Competition held in London, Ontario in the summer of 2017.

Video: Kata Happiken

Kata Happiken is considered an intermediate level kata typically taught to green belt and brown belt practitioners. The kata was developed by Hanshi Hisataka specifically to assist North American karateka when he was in the United States circa 1964 through 1967. Hanshi Hisataka believed that the geometry and movements of Happiken were more suited to the western mind than those of other katas available at this level.

The kata name literally means “to use the fist like a monkey in 8 directions”. The kata is geared to close fighting situations as it uses a great many elbow strikes and emphasizes strong postures and stances.

Video: Kata Saisan

Like Sanchin Kata, Seisan kata is aimed at developing footwork, strong stances, ki, and breath control. It is also an isometric body building form of exercise, however, the techniques displayed in Seisan are more advanced than in Sanchin. Its stances are wider and the postures are “half face front” (hanmai, body diagonal to the front). Seisan kata has its originan in Shorinjiryu Kempo and was transformed by Kaiso Masayoshi Hisataka.

The first half of the Kata consists of strong stances, slow motions, and powerful techniques, while the second half emphasizes fast body motions and techniques. Kata Saisan is considered an advanced kata usually taught at the Sho-dan to San-dan levels.

Video: Kata Nijushiho-Dai

The original name of this kata is “Niseishi” kata meaning “Twenty-four movements”. It was developed by Okinawan karate Masters and was designed both for empty-hand and weapon fighting. It has since been adapted by Shinan Kori Hisataka in Kenkokan Karatedo.

In fact, there are not twenty-four movements in Nijushiho. There is a second hidden meaning to this name. Nijushiho stresses combinations of two techniques and 24 could be interpreted as 2 and 4, implying that 2-techniques combinations are worth twice as much (4). This kind of double understanding was quite frequently used in naming kata.

In this kata one faces two opponents and learns diagonal and circular motions both to create an opening in the opponent’s guard and to evade his attacks. It emphasizes rapid foot movements such as neko ashi dachi and kosa ashi and flexible stances (cat stance).

Below may see the same kata as performed by So Shihan Masayuki Kukan Hisataka at the age of 78 in March 2019.

Video: Kata Koshiki Naihanchin

This kata describes its intent, purpose, and meaning in its name, which literally means “fighting in a narrow space.” there are various versions of this kata and the prefix Koshiki indicates that this particular version is thought to be an original or ancient version.

The meaning of the name is twofold. Firstly, it has a mental or psychological meaning suggesting that one must overcome the self to become a better person. Secondly, on a physical level, naihanchin implies a situation of fighting in a confined area between two or more attackers. For example, the situation faced in this kata has been variously interpreted as being on a narrow bridge, road, or with your back against a wall or precipice. These two meanings summarize the true purpose of karate and budo: self-defense and self-improvement.

As mentioned, there are several forms of Naihanchin in modern karatedo, such as Koshiki Naihanchin, Kudaka no naihanchin, and others. These forms differ in terms of the actual techniques and sequences employed, but it should be remembered that the underlying principles, meanings, and teachings are consistent.

Koshiki Naihanchin is among the oldest kata, having originally been developed on Kudaka Island. In turn the kata evolved into its modern form in Okinawa, having been handed down from Tode Sakugawa to Sokon Matsumura and then to Ankoh Asato and Chotoku Kyan, and finally to Kaiso Kori Hisataka. Naihanchin is condisered to be representative of Shuri-te Shorinjiryu, or Karate developed in the area of Shuri city. It is interesting to note that the famous Master Choki Motobu, in his pursuit of karatedo, is thought to have only learnt two kata, naihanchin and bassai. this shows that a true understanding of kata can only be gained from proper and deep study, and that such a deep level of understanding of but a handful of kata can lead to a complete understanding of karatedo.

There are several primary teaching and strategies to be gained from the study of naihanchin. Firstly, this kata is a practical example of the saying “there is no first attack in karate.” Although naihanchin’s opening move can be interpreted as an attack, it is designed to seize the initiaitve against seceral attackers and is thus a form of defense. Thus, the true meaning of the saying means that karate should not be used for provocation or to cause conflict, but to defend oneself in the best possible way if attacked. In this way, naihanchin emphasizes how to stand, in which posture, guard, and attitude, to best defend oneself from attack from any angle. In other words, it teaches you how to protect your back in the most strategic way.

Secondly, naihanchin teaches one to train for the worst possible scenario, such as standing in a small boat, on a slippery log, on sand, mud, ice, snow, or with your back to a precipice. By mentally putting yourself in such situations a proper understanding of balance, posture and stance can be learnt practically and strategically. This form of training is regarded as being superior in many ways, namely mentally, psychologically, and of course physically.

Thirdly, naihanchin emphasizes opening the eyes to the front and to the back; that is the development of the “third eye” that is able to see all four corners and in all eight directions.

For the above reasons, naihanchin, in one form or another, was tradtitionally the first kata taught in karatedo and this remains the case to this day in Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo. Kaiso Kori Hisataka modified koshiki naihanchin slightly to cover the full range of basic techniques by adding the front punch (shomen zuki) and the front kick (shomen geri) sequences. In this way a truly complete form of the original kata was created. At the beginner level koshiki naihanchin is taught to tenth and ninth kyu (white belt) students. Students of intermediate and advanced levels should continue to practice this kata, developing applications suitable for their level of skill.


Video Kata Kudaka No Naihanchin

Kata Naihanchin (Kudaka no naihanchin or Naihanchin-Dai) is a fundamental kata within the Shorinjiryu system. Both adults and children learn Kata Naihanchin typically as their first kata. Kata Naihanchin focuses on sideways fighting with strong stances and the execution of strong kicks and punches. The kata is typically performed with both a right and left side.

Naihanchin means “sideways fighting” or “fighting within” because in this kata one fights against opponents on both sides. It is one of the oldest kata in karate. In China, it was the most outstanding kata of Shorinji Kempo and since then has been transmitted from Master to Master, from China to Okinawa. In recent times was been adapted by Kaiso Kori Hisataka and is now taught in Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo. Below you may see an older video version of So Shihan Masayuki Kukan Hisataka performing the Kata.

Naihanchin kata is the only kata which does not start with a defensive technique but with a surprise attack aimed at taking the lead in a fight and breaking away from the attackers. Nevertheless, this can also be interpreted as being an overall defensive move. This kata teaches one how to fight in a narrow space, such as a hall or bridge, with opponents on each side. Thus naihanchin kata is performed in two phases, to the right side first, and then to the left, the second phase being a mirror image of the first phase.

Naihanchin kata emphasizes lateral stances (naihanchin and sotobiraki jogotai stances) and the basic techniques useful in sideways fighting. It also teaches the combining of techniques into sequences of attacks, counterattacks, blocks and pauses, etc. This develops a feeling for the rythum of fighting. Naihanchin kata is recommended for 10th to 7th kyu students.