Goju-Ryu Katas and Their Meaning

Sanchin

Sanchin
Sanchin

  Sanchin means "Three battles". The underlying principle is the battle between soul, mind and body. Through hard training and steady practising the three of them should be united. Originally this kata was taught by Sensei Higa(s)hionna with open hands (as it is still practised in Uechi Ryu). Miyagi Sensei changed this to clenched fists.
  This is the first of the Katas or forms. Sanchin is the basis of Goju Ryu. This Kata serves to promote proper breathing, Kime(shime), focus and great power as well as tremendous resistance to body blows and strikes with continued practice.

Tensho

Tensho
Tensho

  Tensho means "Rotating palms". This breathing kata was developed by Miyagi sensei from the Rokkishu kata from chinese white crane style. Rokkishu is the meaning for "6 Hands" and denotes the different hand positions in this kata. Tensho combines movement with softness.
  Similar to Sanchin, it is usually practiced at the end of a training session. It is a combination of dynamic tension with deep breathing and soft flowing hand movements.

GeikisaiDai-Ichi

GeikisaiDai-Ichi
GeikisaiDai-Ichi
GeikisaiDai-Ichi
GeikisaiDai-Ichi

  The translations of these Kanji reads "to demolish, to destroy". The Geikisai-Katas were first introduced into Goju-Ryu by Miyagi Sensei for giving starters in this martial art a first insight. They were developed around 1944. In this year the 2nd world war was raging on Okinawa, which also left traces in Gekisai Kata: In early versions the first Tzuki were carried out much higher than ones own jodan. This symbolizes an (american) opponent which is mush taller than the performer of the kata.
  The Gekisai katas introduce the students to basic Goju-Ryu techniques of rapid execution, tension and relaxation between moves.

GeikisaiDai-Ni

GeikisaiDai-Ni
GeikisaiDai-Ni
GeikisaiDai-Ni
GeikisaiDai-Ni

(see GeikisaiDAi-Ichi)

Saifa

Saifa
Saifa

  Saifa means "destroying strikes" or "to tear, to shred, to crush". Traditionally the 2nd kanji reads "ha" but was changed to "fa" due to okinawan influence. The Bunkai of Saifa reveals several grippling techniques and very effective uke-waza (e.g. with strikes to the opponents elbow etc.)
  This Kata of Chinese origin and was brought to Okinawa by Kanryo Higaonna. Striking to the side and freeing techniques are emphasized in this kata. Strikes are circular with free movements in the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints to promote whip like speed and force.

Seiyunchin

Seiyunchin
Seiyunchin
Seiyunchin

  (Grab or pull in battle). This kata is characterized by breathing and slow movements with Muchimi (sticky hands). All movements are hand techniques with no kicks. This kata emphasizes a strong and stable stance, therefore shiko dachi is heavily stressed. As its name implies there are several pulling and striking techniques.

Shisochin

Shisochin
Shisochin
Shisochin

  (Attack from 4 directions). Also of Chinese origin as thought to Kanryo Higaonna by Ryu Ryuku. A lot of escape and push movements are emphasised with hip movement. In addition to pushing techniques to distance your opponent, this kata contains close in techniques such as joint locks and strikes.

Sanseru

Sanseru
Sanseru
Sanseru

  (36 Hands). Rapid movements in defending close range attacks from 4 directions as in Shisochin. Several take downs are implemented in this kata with emphasis on short range kicks.

Sesan

Sesan
Sesan

  (Thirteen Hands). Apparently this kata was a favourite of Chojun Miyagi Sensei. This kata stresses close range fighting with short punches and low kicks with many changes in directions. It is characterized by combinations of techniques containing fast explosive movements balanced by slower heavy movements performed with muchimi.

Sepai

Sepai
Sepai

  (Eighteen Hands).The attacks in Sepai are not always face to face, many are performed at 45* angles as well as attacks were you first sink down and then rise up into the attack. This kata contains many new combinations.

Kururunfa

Kururunfa
Kururunfa
Kururunfa
Kururunfa

  (Draw and suddenly destroy). This kata features Tai Sabaki (evasive maneuvers) and very quick movements. This kata features very fast movements of the hands and feet and as such is very important in Goju-Ryu for its balance of go and ju techniques.

Suparinpei

Suparinpei
Suparinpei
Suparinpei
Suparinpei

  108 hands).Also called Pichurin. Suparinpei contains many open handed techniques performed in tandem providing many applications. This is the last and longest kata in the system with many changes from hard to soft.