The Five Pinan kata


The Five Traditional Pinan Kata


The Five Heiwa kata




Bassai Dai


Tomari Bassai



Seisan Traditional



















Naifanshi shodan, nidan & sandan


The list for BSKA kata is extensive as is typical with Shitoryu due to the origins of the style. Some of the kata are shown in the grading requirements and a list is provided below (not exhaustive).


Kata, for the karateka, is the most effective way of practicing techniques in context and developing a continuous and meaningful flow. Also it helps iron out poor co-ordination between combinations by showing you that your moves are awkward, something many would be martial artists are not aware of prior to training. Whilst kata practice is taught as a solo activity, the karateka should be imagining his opponents and reacting and taking control.


The bunkai (interpretation) for any kata can be described at various levels depending on the understanding of the karateka. But this is not the only way of defining bunkai as it is good for the student to keep in mind the many techniques that could apply to any given situation be they basic or advanced. (Remember from the philosophy page that ‘basic’ describes what we learn first, not that it is restricted to beginners).


It sometimes helps to think of the techniques we see in a kata as being cameo appearances of much more detailed and practical applications. In a way we have to do a bit of ‘reverse engineering’ to discover the meaning of the techniques. In doing this we get to understand the kata more thoroughly, but not only that, our subconscious remembers the technique applications (bunkai) for us and they should then just pop out when needed. Each kata generally deals with a specific idea or thread and is a learning package in itself, to be combined with all the other training. If you can imagine that you devised your own kata and then practiced it every day for 3 hours for half your life. As you get older you leave out all the detail and just show the framework. In your mind you know all the detail and also you may not want all who watch you to know what you are doing. Much of the kata we have today in the West is like this. You could say we have been given the kit but not the instructions. We have to do that bit ourselves and for good reason. Apart from that mentioned earlier, one reason is it ensures that only dedicated students get to know. This is another reason to stay with good instructors as they will show you the way to decipher kata. If a student flits from one club to another in the hope of picking up all the best bits from each, he is mistaken. He will only gain the flower and leave the nut.


A word on style.

Some martial artists like to say that to be a good fighter a person should not work to a system or style, that kata and the like are boxes that confine us to limited resource. They then go on to show you how to punch this way and kick that way, to take down and arm lock and what works best in this or that situation. This approach is confusing.. A structured teaching programme which is designed by years of experience (some kata date back to the 1600’s and beyond) gives you the tools and how best to use them and enables your body by training and conditioning (preparation for use, not to be confused with brain washing), to use them effectively.

An important thing to bear in mind is that eventually the student should forget how he learnt, or how to do a technique, rather that the technique and application should become second nature.