The Meaning and History of Kata
To continue with the definitions of Kata names, I have researched and am
including some history that is available if you search. This will probably be
sufficient information for most of you. If you find more I would pleased if you
would share it with the rest of us. Thank you.
The Taikyoku series is a series of kata in use in several types of karate. The name Taikyoku (太極) refers to the Chinese philosophical concept of Taiji. The Taikyoku kata were introduced by Gichin Funakoshi as a way to simplify the principles of the already simplified Pinan/Heian series. The embusen, or pattern of the kata’s movements, are the same as in Heian shodan.
Students of karate systems that use the Taikyoku kata series are often introduced to them first, as a preparation for the Pinan/Heian kata. Gōjū Kai developed five of its own Taikyoku kata, based on the Shotokan katas and retaining the I-shaped embusen.
Taikyoku (First Cause)
Gichin “Shoto” Funakoshi Sensei named the set of three Taikyoku kata developed by his son Yoshitaka “Gigō” Funakoshi Sensei. In his book “Karate-do Kyohan” Funakoshi explains the development of the kata and why he named them Taikyoku, which translates as First Cause.
He also wrote: “Because of its simplicity, the kata is easily learned by beginners. Nevertheless, as its name implies, this form is of the most profound character and one to which, upon mastery of the art of karate, an expert will return to select it as the ultimate training kata” (page 42, ‘Karate-Do Kyohan’). (a side note:- The Chinese kanji used for the name Taikyoku (太極) are pronounced as “Tai Chi” in Chinese, which translated as “Grand Ultimate”).
Some people say that Sensei Funakoshi created 10 Taikyoku kata, but this statement may be false. On page 42 (‘Karate-Do Kyohan: The Master Text’), Sensei Funakoshi stated, “There are three Taikyoku forms (numbered by the ordinal terms: Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan).”
Taikyoku Shodan (First Cause, First Level)
Taikyoku Shodan, often simply referred to as “kihon” is the first of the series, and involves only two basic moves: the gedan barai or low block, and chudan (middle) oi zuki (sometimes “oi tsuki”), or lunge punch. All stances, except at the beginning and end, are zenkutsu dachi (forward stance).
Taikyoku Nidan (First Cause, Second Level)
The second kata of the series, Taikyoku Nidan, is similar to Taikyoku Shodan, except that the chudan punches are all replaced with upper-level (jodan) punches.
Taikyoku Sandan (First Cause, Third Level)
The third kata of the series, Taikyoku Sandan, is similar to Taikyoku Shodan, except that moves 1, 3, 9, 11, 17 and 19 are replaced with middle level arm blocks (uchi uke) executed in back (kokutsu) stance.
Taikyoko Yondan (First Cause, Fourth Level)
Practically the same as Taikyoko Shodan except after moves 1, 3, 9, 11, 17 and 19 a mae-geri is executed
Taikyoko Godan (First Cause, Fifth Level)
This is quite different from Taikyoko Shodan as after moves 1, 3, 9, 11, 17 and 19 instead of striking chudan the moves executed are age uke and then reverse punch and on moves 5 and 13 after the gedan-barai a mae-geri is executed before each strike.
Taikyoko Rokudan (First Cause, Sixth Level)
The final of the taikyoko series is also the most different of the previous five as each move is a gedan barai in kiba dachi (horse riding stance).
Wanshu is a name borne by several katas in many systems of karate, including Isshin-Ryu, Shotokan (under the name empi), Wadō-ryū, and others.
Wanshu is also the Okinawan-adapted name of Sappushi [Jp. ‘diplomat’] ‘Wang Ji’ (1621-1689), the leader of a large ambassadorial mission from China sent by the Qing government to the village of Tomari, Okinawa in 1683. A poet, calligrapher, diplomat, and martial artist in the Shaolin tradition of Fujian White Crane, he is often credited with teaching chu’an fa to the gentry of Tomari.
The Wanshu kata was either a creation of Wang Ji’s, or composed by his students and named in tribute to him. Regardless, many karate traditions include a kata bearing the name of Wanshu or a variant (Ansu, Anshu) which vary in schematics but carry certain distinctive similarities. One translation of the word “Wanshu” is “dumping form,” “dragon boy dumping form” (in Shuri-ryū), and “Strong Arm Form” for the dramatic grab-and-throw technique seen in most versions. Also Shimabuku Tatsuo is credited for being the dragon boy (though Tatsuo means “dragon man”).
The two main versions are Matsumora-Wanshu and Itosu-Wanshu, Itosu most likely having learned it from his teacher, Gusukuma of Tomari. Wanshu, while still bearing this name in certain karate styles, was renamed Empi by Gichin Funakoshi for use in Shotokan. This kata is also practiced in various Korean styles such as Tang Soo Do and Soo Bahk Do and depending of the organization is called Wangshu, Wang Shu, or Yun Bi in Korean. Due to its difficulty, this kata is often reserved for advanced students.
In the way, JWA