Three Battles/Conflicts. The name "Sanchin" reflects the kata's focus on the three key elements of mind, body, and breath, all of which are central to martial arts training. Sanchin kata is unique in that it's often practiced with a breathing pattern called "ibuki" or "ibuki-no-kokyu," where the practitioner takes short, forceful breaths while performing the movements. This breathing technique helps cultivate physical and mental strength, as well as control over one's energy and focus.
Sanchin is the foundation for all other kata, and is generally considered to be the most important kata to learn.
Attack & Destroy. Gekisai Dai Ichi is a kata that emphasizes powerful and straightforward techniques, as well as the fundamental principles of stance, balance, and coordination. It is designed to teach practitioners basic movements and principles while promoting strength, focus, and correct body mechanics.
These kata were created around 1940 by Chojun Miyagi and Nagamine Shoshin as beginners' kata, to introduce the basic forms of karate (kihon).
Gekisai Dai Ni builds upon the principles introduced in Gekisai Dai Ichi, with a focus on advancing techniques and movements. It emphasizes fluidity, precision, and balance while incorporating additional techniques and variations.
Smash and Tear Apart. Saifa kata is known for its explosive and powerful techniques, quick movements, and emphasis on close-range combat. Saifa focuses on utilizing body dynamics, hip rotation, and efficient movement to generate power in each technique.
The kata also emphasizes stance transitions, footwork, and rapid changes in direction, reflecting its practical application in close-quarters combat scenarios. It contains quick whipping motions, hammerfists, and back fist strikes.
Control/Suppress and Pull. Key aspects of Seiyunchin include tension, relaxation and circular movements. The practitioner learns to blend power and fluidity while maintaining a stable and balanced stance.
Seiyunchin is often practiced with deliberate and slow movements, allowing practitioners to internalize the principles and subtleties of the techniques. Through regular practice, students develop physical strength, mental focus, and an understanding of how to apply the techniques in self-defense situations. Kata demonstrates the use of techniques to unbalance, throw and grapple, contains close-quartered striking, sweeps, take-downs and throws.
36 Hands. Includes intricate hand techniques and flowing movements. The kata emphasizes balance, coordination, and the application of power in each movement. Through the practice of Sanseru, practitioners develop a deeper understanding of body mechanics, timing, and the practical application of techniques in a variety of scenarios. They refer to a systematic method and understanding of certain groupings of vital acupressure points. Kata teaches how to move around the opponent in close quarters fights and emphasizes the destruction of the opponent's mobility by means of kansetsu geri.
Four Directions/Gates of Conflict/Attack. It emphasizes both offensive and defensive techniques and incorporates a combination of strikes, blocks, and grappling-like movements. Key features of Shisochin include a focus on controlling an opponent's limbs and utilizing close-quarters techniques. Kata integrates powerful linear attacks (shotei zuki) and circular movements and blocks.
18 Hands. This kata features strong and forceful movements with an emphasis on power generation. Key features of Sepai include a focus on generating power from the hips and core, as well as effective use of body rotation.
This kata incorporates both the four directional movements and 45° angular attacks and implements techniques for both long distance and close quarter combat.
13 Hands. Known for its unique footwork and hand techniques, Sesan emphasizes precision and coordination.
Holding Ground. A kata that focuses on continuous circular movements and smooth transitions. Stance transitions are quick and explosive while the hands techniques are employed using "muchimi" or a heavy, sticky movement.
108 Hands. This is a longer and more complex kata that challenges practitioners with its intricate movements.
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.
Turning Palms. It focuses on circular and flowing movements, breath control, and internal energy development. Tensho is sometimes referred to as the "soft" counterpart to the "hard" Sanchin kata in Goju-ryu. Tensho can be considered the ju (soft) counterpart of the sanchin's go (hard) style.