The word Kata means “shape” or “form”. The kanji for Kata 型 is composed of the following characters:
形 Katachi meaning “Shape”
刈 Kai meaning “Cut”
土 Tsuchi meaning “Earth” or “Soil”
Literally translated, kata means “shape which cuts the ground”.
The Kata as we know and practice in Kyokushin Karate trace their origin back to the island of Okinawa. Okinawa is one of a chain of islands that are collectively known as the Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa lies 885km (550 miles) east of mainland China, approximately halfway between China and Japan.
Here is the list of kyokushin katas:
- Taikyoku Sono Ichi
- Taikyoku Sono Ni
- Taikyoku Sono San
- Sokugi Taikyoku Sono Ichi - One of the "Kicking" Taikyoku katas
- Sokugi Taikyoku Sono Ni - One of the "Kicking" Taikyoku katas
- Sokugi Taikyoku Sono San - One of the "Kicking" Taikyoku katas
- Pinan Sono Ichi
- Pinan Sono Ni
- Pinan Sono San
- Pinan Sono Yon
- Pinan Sono Go
- Gekisai Dai
- Tsuki No Kata
- Saiha or Saifa
- Kanku Dai or Kanku
- Gekisai Sho
- Taikyoku Sono Ichi Ura
- Taikyoku Sono Ni Ura
- Taikyoku Sono San Ura
- Pinan Sono Ichi Ura
- Pinan Sono Ni Ura
- Pinan Sono San Ura
- Bo Kata Ichi
- Bo Kata Ni
- Bo Kata San
- Bo Kata Yon
- Bo Kata Go
- Bo Kata Roku
- Bo Kata Shichi or Nana
The founder of Kyokushin, Masutatsu ‘Mas’ Oyama was skilled in both major styles born from the two areas of Okinawa. Shotokan (Shuri-te), which he was a 4th Dan Black Belt under Funakoshi, and Goju-ryu (Naha-te), which he obtained a 7th Dan Black Belt under Gogen Yamaguchi.
Mas Oyama, when creating his own stye, incorporated kata from both of the traditions. Hence why the large number of kata found in Kyokushin.
Mas Oyama also emphasized the three fundamental principles of kata:
技の緩急 Waza no Kankyū The Relative Tempo of Techniques: The tempo of the kata varies – some techniques are performed quickly, while others are done more slowly.
力の強弱 Chikara no Kyōjaku The Relative Force of Power: The power of a technique derives from the proper balance between strength and relaxation.
息の調整 Iki no Chōsei The Control of Breathing: The correct timing (inhaling and exhaling) and force of the breaths (Kiai 気合, Ibuki 息吹 or Nogare 逃れ) are essential for proper techniques.