Watch: Bushinkai Kata in action

Bushinkai Karate has kata much like other styles (Shotokan, Wado Ryu etc) and in terms of performing the kata the outward appearance is very similar. However in Bushinkai the performance of the kata is just one level. The forms are deconstructing for posture and power generation, the applications are examined for anything from throws and chokes to weapons techniques and each group of kata are treated as a style in their own right.

The first kata is Heian Shodan (Pinan Nidan) which began life in Okinawa as a form called Channan and therefore may come from the Chinese method Chang Chuan (longfist).

Here I am performing the kata. I am not a gifted kata performer, nor do I have any interest in competition. These are not polished videos and were done consecutively in one take. But they give some indication of the forms.

After the form has been learned empty handed we can then use a weapon like the Jo:

Or we can use the Sai:

Of course it is also essential to look at the bunkai-oyo:

gedan barai (after a throw)

gedan barai (after a throw)

The next form is Heian Nidan (Pinan Shodan) which, again was once part of the Channan group:

Again, this form can be done with a range of weapons. Here I use Nunchaku:

Once again we must look beyond what just appears to be punches, kicks and blocks:

Osae uke, Nukite rethought

Osae uke, Nukite rethought

The next form is Heian Sandan. This was probably a later addition to the Shotokan canon in around 1900. It may also be derived from older Chinese Pakua exercises.

Again, Sandan has a wealth of hidden applications:

Hey that funny punch in Heian Sandan isn't a punch!

Hey that funny punch in Heian Sandan isn’t a punch!

Heian Yondan has similarities with Heian Nidan and the later Kanku Dai:

It is a versatile form that we perform with any number of weapons including, Dip Dao, Tanto and Tonfa:


Heian Godan is another form that was probably only integrated in about 1900:

We often perform Heian Godan with a Bo but it also has a range of empty handed applications.

Simon and Kicki teaching locks

Block and hook punch looked at from another angle

After analysis of the Heian kata, at around purple belt we begin to look at a whole new system, Naihanchi. Better known as the kata Tekki Shodan. This is far from my best performance of this kata, so please be gentle with me…

Tekki includes strikes that we may expect to find in Chinese systems like Hsing-I and it has very close-range explosive power.


The author performing Pao Chuan

Pao Chuan, a strike used in Tekki

Bunkai for Naihanchi

The returning wave kick is worthy of serious analysis

As a companion to Tekki we begin to learn our two man flow drills which starts to help to use the closer in softer methods:

Use drills to build reactions

Use drills to build reactions

Another form of this ilk is Gekisai (sometimes called Fukyugata or Chokyu kata) which was a joint effort between Matsubayashi Ryu head Shoshin Nagamine and Goju Ryu head Chojun Miyagi. The pace of this form is somewhere between Shotokan and Tai Chi (hence Goju Ryu is hard and soft).

We then move on to Bassai Dai, a powerful kata which I estimate dates back to around 1828:

This is followed by Kanku Dai (Kushanku) the very cornerstone of our style which may date back as far as about 1750:

Again Kanku Dai can be performed with various weapons and we also explore its relationship with the Chinese martial arts as well as its practical applications:

Opening move of kushanku with added "Danish kiss"

Opening move of kushanku

The next kata to be studied before black belt is Empi (Wansu). I have learnt about six versions of this form and I suppose the way I perform it now is simply my way, drawn from the way I have been taught. This could be the oldest kata extant in Okinawa being introduced in the 1680s:

Empi is related to Chinese arts like Hsing-I but also to the Wutang sword:

Empi has movements in common with the Chinese sword...

Empi has movements in common with the Chinese sword…

This concludes our Bushinkai kata syllabus a basic overview from white belt to 1st Dan.


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