|Chito Ryu Kata
Kata is the solo performance of a series of related movements that demonstrate various attack and defence movements. Karate kata requires mastery of a wide variety of body movements, blocks, kicks and punches in an imagined fight and kata is one of several ways to achieve that mastery. To Western minds, it may appear strange to practice alone for what is ultimately an activity between two or more people. But kata is a powerful training and teaching tool. Kata developed centuries ago as a way to remember and teach proven fighting techniques. Learning and understanding Kata is essential not only for training the body, but also for training the mind to understand how to perform each move, to act and to react in a fight.
To an open mind, Kata can teach balance, posture, timing, breathing, focus, power, distance to name just a few important concepts. Watch the performance of anyone whose has mastered a Kata, and you will be convinced that they are actually fighting against real opponents and not just shadows. To an experienced karateka, each move is a response to a real attack. What you will not see, is the infinity of follow-up moves or Bunkai for each of these movements. Some of these Bunkai are formally taught in Karate classes, particularly at the lower levels, but most are not. It is considered to be the responsibility of each student to examine the moves of a kata and to discover what they can - to ask themselves "What do these moves mean?" In most cases, for each move or group of moves in a kata, there are several possible explanations, some better than others. With study, a karateka will uncover all the possibilities of the kata - none of which are actually shown in its performance.
There are dozens of different Kata practiced in the Karate world, some with just a few simple moves, others long and complex, but each kata is meant to serve as a guide to technique, a method of physical and mental training. Kata complements the other parts of Karate training and in turn is complemented by them. Many of the Kata studied in Chito Ryu and in other styles take their movements or inspiration from animals.
There are roughly 15 katas in Chito Ryu karate.
|Shi Ho Hai | Ni Sei Shi | Rohai | Seisan | Bassai | Chinto | Tenshin | Sochin | San Shi Ryu | Ryusan | Kusanku | Sanchin | Notes
|Shi Ho hai
The first kata in the Chito Ryu curriculum and naturally its most straightforward Shi Ho Hai may have been a ceremonial kata performed at festivals or for royalty at court. The first few moves honour the four directions (or perhaps the court officials) and then takes on attackers from each side and the rear. Stances are simple and stable, meaning that there are no transitory stances - kicks and strikes are executed only after the Karateka has settled into each stance.
The name, Shi (four) Ho (direction), Hai (facing) tells much of the story of this rectilinear kata. This kata is an excellent example of the need for proper sequences of the Gan, Soku, Tanden, Ricki precepts.
Ni Sei Shi kata has two forms in Chito Ryu Karate. Both follow a linear performance line, or embusen, moving first forwards with strong blocking and punching techniques. The pace then speeds up with a short series of punches, open hand techniques and a front kick, then reversing direction to repeat these movements in the opposite direction, and returning finally to face the front witha few decisive strikes. Ni Sei Shi Dai is identical to Ni Sei Shi Sho with the exception of an additional strike to the rear during the first forward phase.
Ni Sei Shi kata makes use of Seisan dachi and Shiko dachi as well as Kosa dachi and Sanchin dachi, a sortened form of Seisan dachi.
|Rohai is another kata with two variations - the simpler Rohai Sho, and the more complex Rohai Dai. The Kanji for the name is composed of two characters, the first an obscure term for Heron, the long-legged water bird. Both versions make use of closed and open handed techniques for blockas and strikes, a variety of stances, including one that is particularly favoured in Chito Ryu karate, Shiko dachi/Sayu zuki, a double handed strike to opponents on opposite sides of the body.
|Seisan is one of the most common of katas in karate with versions practiced in virtually every style. Seisan has been translated as 'thirteen hands' or 'correct posture', depending on the intrepretation of the Kanji. Seisan is one of the longest kata in the Chito Ryu style in part because of the repetition of several sets of movements to face attackers in different directions.
|Bassai is a hard, strong Kata executed with a sense of breaking, or crushing. Sometimes called 'Passai', Bassai sho and Bassai dai are alternate versions of this popular kata. Normally learned at the blue belt level Bassai emphasises hard blocks and strikes with open hands and the ue of the hips in defence and attacks.
Chinto is a very old Kata with roots in China. The character chin, means to subdue or dominate, and to, means east (just like To-Kyo, the Eastern Capitol) speaks of the kata's Eastern (Chinese) origins.
It is said that Chinto was influenced by the movements of birds. This is evident in the kata's characteristic large arm motions and jumps. There are several quick changes of stance, posture and direction of attack, making for a very challenging kata. The feeling should be light and swift, like the motion of a bird. However, in spite of these soft, light motions, the underlying techniques, or bunkai, are fast, decisive and deadly. Chinto must be learned for Shodan level.
|Tenshin is a Shodan level kata that exposes the karateka to new forms and techniques. Noteworthy are the many quick turns and counterattacks throughout. Tenshin teaches the power of turning in executing strong blocks and quick, decisive counter attacks without moving forwards or backwards.
|Sochin is another Sho dan level kata which simulates the posture of a bull to perform blocks and quick counter attacks.
|San Shi Ryu
|San Shi Ryu reveals twisting and turning movements in dealing with multiple attackers at close range. The kata makes considerable use of open handed techniques in grabing and cutting movements.
|Kusanku is thought to have been a Chinese traveller who learned his fighting skills in China and shared his knowledge with the people of Okinawa
|Sanchin is an extremely hard kata to perform. It requires that all muscles be tensed throughout and the breath carefully timed to match the slow deliberate movements of the first half of the kata. Sanchin develops strong muscles and stances as well as good use of the breath in dealing with attackers. It is a kata that, if performed properly should take about 7 minutes to complete.
A common question plagues Karate teachers : "If we want to learn to fight, why do we train alone?" There are several answers.