The essence of Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karatedo is found in its kata. Goju-Ryu kata when performed properly, demonstrates the essential ingredients required to continuously generate fast, powerful and effective techniques. Apart from teaching the overt techniques, kata essentially teaches the use of body mechanics and breathing techniques which would enhance the speed and power behind the techniques; it requires the practitioner to assume the correct posture and maintain his balance in dynamic movement during its execution; and therefore through repetitive training it conditions the practitioner into the physical and mental state of being required for the execution of powerful and effective techniques. Kata training should never be done in isolation, but accompanied by supplementary exercises, such as Junbi Undo and Hojo Undo, Kakie, Bunkai training, as well as kumite or irikumi.
Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate kata may be divided into 3 categories: Hookiyugata or Basic Kata; Heishu Kata or Closed-Hand kata; Kaishu Kata or Open-Hand Kata. Hookiyugata are beginners’ introductory kata created by Chojun Miyagi Sensei. Heishu Kata refers to the Sanchin Kata and the Tensho Kata. Kaishu Kata include Saifa, Seiyunchin, Sanseru, Shisochin, Seipai, Kururunfa, Seisan and Suparimpei.
In the early years, beginners were expected to train exclusively in Heishu Kata until they have achieved a basic level of physical proficiency. Heishu Kata and its complementary Hojo Undo training were designed to condition the practitioner’s physical strength, stamina, stability and focus (Kime) in a manner which is relevant to the execution of karate techniques. Kaishu Kata which involves the use of one’s body in a dynamic situation and includes karate attack and defense techniques, tactics and strategies, are taught after the student has progressed in his mastery of Heishu Kata.
A karate student would therefore have to spend a considerable time in demanding physical training from the Heishu Kata syllabus, before he is taught attack and defense karate techniques from the Kaishu Kata syllabus. When karate was taught in schools, this approach to teaching karate meant that some school students would have been exposed more to the physical training rather than to karate training before they graduate and leave school. Between 1936 and 1940 Chojun Miyagi Sensei selectively adapted the parts of the Kaishu Kata syllabus to create the Gekisai-Dai-Ichi and Gekisai-Dai-Ni kata. These are Hookiyu-gata, literally meaning “introductory kata” or “basic kata”. His concept was to allow beginners to experience karate technique training in conjunction with the physical training regime related to Heishu Kata training. Hence, the techniques which Chojun Miyagi Sensei chose to incorporate into the two Gekisai kata demonstrate some of the most essential principles and concepts within the Goju-Ryu system and understanding these kata is now considered to be a vital step towards understanding the entire Goju-Ryu system.
The Kobukan follows this approach to teaching Goju-Ryu karate whereby Hookiyu-Kata is taught in conjunction with Heishu Kata and physical training, and Kaishu kata is gradually introduced into the syllabus only when the student has achieved the necessary level of proficiency. The following is an approximation the IOGKF-CHina Kobukan’s Kata syllabus, the exact schedule and sequence of kata taught to our students may vary according to circumstances :