Ryukyu Kempo Kata's
About Ryukyu Kempo original kata, Ryukyu Kempo is a generic term for Ancient Okinawa Fist
Way. The term was purposely used by Oyata Sensei to illustrate the commonalities between all
Okinawan Karate. Prior to the founding of the different styles of Ryukyu Karatedo all of karate
was merely separated by the three major styles. Naha-Te, Shuri-Te and Tomari-te.
When Oyata Sensei began teaching in the U.S. he only taught 12 basic kata. Naihanchi Shodan,
Naihanchi Nidan and Naihanchi Sandan, Tomari Seisan, the five (5) Pinan kata , Passai,
Kusanku and Niseishi.
When he studied with Nakamura Sensei he learned and practiced Wanshu, Sanchin, Seiuchin,
Chinto and Gojushiho. These additional kata were never implemented into the Zenkoku Ryukyu
Kempo Karate Kobudo Rengo Kai. The reason that he felt that the development of strong karate
technique could be produced by focusing on fewer kata with a greater study dedicated to the
acquiring body motion and strict, deliberate hand movement. The emphasis for instruction was
not to learn the kata but to develop the skill that kata created. Knowing 50 kata can be
impressive but acquisition of skill was the ultimate goal. Our guiding principle # 8 explains...."
In the past a single kata was studied for three years. A long time ago a particular master
analyzed a single kata for over 10 years. Do not think you have mastered a kata and become
proud of your success. Pride can lead to hurt your achievement in virtue and technique thus
pride can be like a poison to the world".
Karate in it of itself has many kata.. It is not what kata you perform or practice but the way or
behavior that you practice it in. The habits that are created by repetitious practice manifest the
skills that you will bring to the battlefield. It does not’t matter what kata it is, it is the effect that
the kata creates. The term Ryukyu Kempo encompasses all of the three original styles of Tode.
The 12 basic kata that Oyata Sensei used to develop his organization were to be considered to
be generic karate without the prejudice or discrimination that eventually separated the original
As different organizations began to branch out the division of karatedo created a change in
original kata. Each individual Master taught the kata motion so it would emphasize his own
concept of the kata meaning. This individualization created prejudice among the different
groups of practitioners. By revealing the kata in its most basic form (without prejudice) Oyata
Sensei aspired to reveal the multitude of possible techniques that a single movement might be
used for. A punch can be used as a block and a block can be used as a punch. A kick can be
used as a block etc etc. etc... The bunkai or breaking down of kata motion can be applied in
many different ways dependent on the target and or the position of the opponent. It makes the
study of kata more complex as opposed to practicing a set way which greatly reduces the value
of the kata.
The 12 basic kata we teach in the Alliance curriculum are a step by step deliberate practice of
exact and precise hand and foot positioning. It is a tool to remove any prejudice or
preconceived idea of purpose. It is the ABC's of karate training. After the ABC's are mastered
the next goal would be to learn how to put the letters in random order to create words. After
words are learned then and only then can you make sentences. After sentences, paragraphs then
stories. The problem with karate today is that many people have learned their ABC's but have
not yet learned to make words out of them. Although there are many kata all Ryukyu Kata use
the same letters and the same alphabet. To learn and practice every kata would steal from the
need to focus on the perfection of kata movement.
The kuzushi kata we practice is a method of using the same alphabet in cursive handwriting as
opposed to printing. The term kuzushi refers to off balance which means to move the body off
balance to create a more fluid movement forward. The balance is quickly, confidently and
deliberately regained by the mastering of the footwork.
The kata I teach are a strict and dedicated version of the original kata. The Kuzushi version is
utilized to teach fluidity and timing in the application of advanced hand and foot motion. The
kuzushi kata is only taught after the student masters the basic kata.
Amor Kaicho, July 2005
|United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance