Authentic Okinawa Goju Ryu Kata
These are the original forms that were passed down to Grandmaster Kanryo Higaonna by Grand Master Ryu ryuko during his 14 years in Fukien Province China. For the exception of Gekisai dai Ichi, Gekisai dai Ni, and Tensho. The three forms just mentioned were created by Grand Master Chojun Miyagi.
The forms were in turn, passed to Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi. Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi then passed the forms to his protege Master An'ichi Miyagi. Master Morio Higaonna then learned all of katas in their original form from Master An'ichi Miyagi, his life long teacher.
GekiSai Dai Ichi and Dai Ni Kata
Attack and Destroy #1 and #2
The Geki Sai Kata were formulated by Chojun Miyagi Sensei in 1940 as a form of physical exercise for high school children and to help popularize Goju Ryu among the public of Okinawa. In 1948, after WWII, Miyagi Sensei began to teach the GekiSai Kata in depth as a regular part of Goju-Ryu in his own dojo. Until this time, Sanchin was the first Kata taught in Goju Ryu. Sanchin Kata is a physically and mentally demanding Kata that requires a great deal of time and patience to learn and perform properly. The GekiSai Kata however are easier to learn and perform. They contain dynamic techniques which are more attractive to young people. These Kata contain the same kanji found in Saifa. This would suggest that even though these Kata were designed primarily as a form of exercise, Miyagi Sensei included his understanding of combat as part of their makeup.
Sanchin translates as "3 Battles" or "3 Conflicts". This has many meanings. First it refers to the struggle to control the body under physical fatigue. With fatigue the mind begins to lose focus and thus the spirit begins to diminish as well. Therefore Sanchin develops discipline, determination, focus, perseverance and other mental attributes. The Chinese refer to this as Shen (spirit), Shin (mind) and Li (body). Another possible interpretation refers to the "Three Burners" of the body as described in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). One of two "heishu " Kata of Goju-Ryu, Sanchin is probably the most misunderstood Kata in all of Karate. In contrast, it is probably the single most valuable training exercise in Goju-Ryu. Like the other Kata of Goju Ryu, Sanchin ( Sam Chien in Chinese) can be found in several Chinese arts, particularly the southern styles including four styles of Crane Boxing, Dragon Boxing, Tiger Boxing, Lion Boxing, Dog or Ground Boxing, and Shaolin Monk Fist. Sanchin has such aspects as deep diaphragmatic breathing found in many internal arts. As well as external attributes like mechanical alignment and muscular strength. Because many martial artists have little or no understanding of the true history and nature of the Chinese arts from which Okinawan Goju Ryu has its roots, Sanchin has become little more than an isometric form performed with dangerous tension and improper breathing techniques. The original Sanchin that Higaonna Sensei learned from Ryu RyuKo (1852-1930) was performed with open hands and with less emphasis on muscle contraction and "energetic" breathing. With the changes brought about by Emperor Meiji (Meiji Restoration Period 1888-1912), Higaonna Sensei changed the open hands to closed fists as the martial meaning was no longer emphasized. Later Miyagi Sensei would again alter the Kata in pattern alone.
Goju sanchin - IF PROPERLY DONE - does not involve isometric (same position) but rather isokinetic (same speed) exercise. One does not do Valsalva (breath holding), but rather slow, measured breath release. It is the exact type of breathing that one should do in the weight room, with the amount of resistance to the breath being proportional to the weight being pushed. Breath restriction on inhale gives the yin (lowered pressure) to the yang of the restricted exhale (raised pressure). And if one doesn't "breath hold" on an isometric exercise, then that too can be safe.
Saifa is the first of the classical combative Kata taught in Goju Ryu. Goju Ryu Kata origins come from the Martial Arts taught in the Fuzhou area of Southern China, largely Crane and Xingyi/Baqua as well as other internal and external martial arts. Kanryo Higaonna Sensei was taught this Kata, along with the other Kata of Goju-Ryu, while he studied in China from 1864-1878 under the direction of Ryu RyuKo ( Xie Zhong Xiang in Chinese) and others. These Kata and martial strategies would become the basis of the the quan-fa of Higaonna Sensei, which later Miyagi Sensei would call Goju Ryu. From an understanding of the grappling and striking techniques of this Kata, Saifa can be interpreted to mean grabbing and tearing of tissue in close-quartered combat.
The name Seiyunchin implies the use of techniques to off balance, throw and grapple. It is this understanding that imparts the original intentions of the Kata of Naha-te before the sport alignment of modern Karate. Seiyunchin contains close-quartered striking, sweeps, takedowns and throws. Though the Kata itself is void of kicks, many practitioners make the grave mistake by missing the opportunity to apply any leg technique. Though almost invisible to the untrained eye, the subtleness of "ashi barai" and "suri ashi" can represent footsweeps, parries and traps.
Shisochin translates as "Four Gates" or "Four Directions of Conflict". To leave it at that discounts a truer understanding. The third kanji is the same found in Sanchin and Seiyunchin, which translates as "battle" or "conflict". This lends to a deeper definition of its meaning. The idea of four directions can come from the performance of the four shotei in four directions. It can also represent the four elements represented in Chinese medicine (Acupuncture is one) of Wood, Fire, Metal and Water with man representing Earth. Since this was the science and culture of that period in China when Higaonna and Miyagi both studied in Fuzhou, it would be a great oversight to discount this aspect as a very probable explanation of the Kata's name and martial intent.
Sanseiru is unique as Miyagi Sensei studied this Kata under a direct student of Ryu RyuKo during his studies in Fuzhou, China beginning in 1916. Sanseiru, from its numerical designation, would seem to have its roots in Buddhism. This is not to infer that there is a religious connection or implication with this Kata or Karate, but simply that Buddhism was a part of the culture of the people of that time. It should also be noted that numbers had a very important role in the language of the more ancient Chinese before the invention of kanji. A more realistic explanation of this and the other numerically named Kata is that they refer to a systematic method and understanding of certain groupings of vital acupressure points. It is this science that the Martial Arts was based upon and developed. Feng Yiquan, who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1522-67) developed this particular method of using variations of "36" forbidden points to defeat his opponents. Other disciples of Feng created other quan's expanding the number to 72 and ultimately 108. Sanseiru is found in the following styles of Chinese Boxing: Crane, Tiger, and Dog fist.
The reference to "18" in naming this Kata has a couple of interpretations. Like Sanseru, there is a suggested connection to Buddhist philosophy. Another insinuates "18 guards for the King". Although there is very little information on Ryu Ryuko, it has been said through oral tradition, that he was a personal bodyguard of someone in the royal family when he was young. The most apparent and most meaningful in the naming of Sepai is again from the Martial Arts development and the use of attacking pressure points. 18 is one half of 36! Suggesting that an alternative set offensive and defensive techniques and strategies are present within the movements. Sepai is found in Monk Boxing.
Kururunfa epitomizes the ideals of Go-"hard and Ju-"soft". Stance transitions are quick and explosive while the hands techniques are employed using "muchimi" or a heavy, sticky movement. As in the other kata of Goju Ryu, it is quite evident that grappling and close-quartered fighting is the favored fighting style. The same kanji is found in Saifa. Again, this would suggest a strong emphasis on grappling. Where most other styles' Kata concentrate on "block/punch", it is obvious from the unique techniques that this is not the case with Goju-Ryu. This is truly a unique system!
Sesan, Sanseiru and Sepai all share the kanji . This may well be a Chinese dialect of the Okinawan term "te" or "fighting hand", referring to life-protection techniques. To better understand these Kata requires a more defined understanding of the language and culture of the people from which these Kata originated. Sesan is believed to be the oldest of all Okinawan Goju-Ryu Kata. There is a version of Seisan practiced in the Shorin schools, but in comparison, the Goju-Ryu version is longer and much more complex. Sesan is practiced in the following styles of Chinese Boxing: Dragon, Lion and Monk Fist.
Suparinpei is the most advanced Kata in Goju-Ryu. It contains the greatest number of techniques and variations. Suparinpei is deceptive in that it appears simple in execution but when combined with transitions and changing tempos, it is only surpassed by Sanchin in technical difficulty and understanding. Once again, the number "108" is suggested to have origins in Buddhism and can represent the "108 sins of man." On the Chinese New Year, temple bells are rung 108 times to "drive away the evils of man". It is believed these named associations with Buddhism is based upon the lack of factual knowledge of the true nature of these quan. Secondly, with the cultural changes that took place in China during and after the Boxing Rebellion (1900) and the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), little emphasis was placed on learning such complex arts. Most who learned the fighting arts after this time, did so as a means of exercise, recreation or artistic performance. In addition, the widespread use of firearms reduced the need and effectiveness for hand-to-hand combat as a means to civil defense. Suparinpei is found in the following styles of Chinese Boxing: Dragon, Tiger and Monk Fist boxing.
To smash and tear to pieces; To pulverize
To Control, Suppress, and Pull
Four Gates; Four directions of conflict