Ohtsuka sensei thought originally only nine kata; five Pinan kata, Naihance, Kushanku, Sheisan and Chinto. Later also were trained another additional six kata: Bassai, Wanshu, Nisheishi, Rohei, Jion and Jitte. It is also said that Ohtsuka sensei trained Unsu and Superenpei kata. But this is is a matter of conjecture Kata training is a very important part of the Wado karate technique and theory. In all Japanese martial arts there are kata. Predecessors created kata through imagination and experience over a long period of time. Obviously these kata must be trained and practiced, but not in the way that it remains just a ”form”. One must use kata to produce new (training)forms with no limit, otherwise kata is useless. In the end the origin of kata will become a habit, so that it comes alive without hesitation in the appropriate time.

Ohtsuka sensei always emphasized the importance that kata would be ” alive”. He makes the example in his book of differentiating Igata and Kata. Martial arts may never become an “Igata”. It is always “Kata”. “Kata” is to express, like a mirror does, it changes with every action and situation. “Igata” is dead and has no purpose. “Kata” is alive and therefor can be utilized.

Suzuki sensei refers to six principles which are important executing kata. Nowadays kata and kumite are separated according Suzuki sensei. They are considered two different parts within karate training. He emphasize though that kata and kumite are not different and has to be trained with the same intention and purpose. Kata is a fight where the adversaries has to be visualized. Other wise it is only a form. Kata no roku gensoku; the six principles of kata according Tatsuo Suzuki sensei 8th dan Hanshi.

IKI TA KATA Kata has to be “alive”. With the execution of kata one has to imagine the adversaries. Only then kata will get fighting value and a purpose. Otherwise kata will be nothing more than a kind of dance and thus not a fight and with that not karate.

I NEN I nen stands for ” kime, energy, force”. Suzuki calls it also the ‘power from inside’. This comes from the energy point under the navel, the Seika Tanden (hara). A kata has to be executed with ‘spirit’.

CHIKARA NO KYOJAKU Kyojaku is synonyms for Goju, hard/soft. Chikara means energy. Execution of the techniques has to be done with the right exchange of tension and relaxation.

WAZA NO KANKYU The timing of fast and slow. There has to be an alternation in speed. The exchange of action and no-action, (sei to do), looking (watching), combination of techniques, make the rhythm and the character of the kata.

KISOKU NO DONTO The rhythm of breathing. The right way of breathing is of great importance for the development of force and stamina, especially in long kata for example Kushanku. BARANSU ( Balance) One should take care of your balance in kata or in every fight for that matter. But kata itself has to be also in balance in its execution. The balance of breathing, technique, force, speed etc. Other than in other styles of karate, Wado ryu doesn’t emphasize on one specific meaning of kata techniques. Movement as used in fighting has more attention, with that it is keeping kata alive, keeping an open mind of what certain techniques in kata mean and how the ‘kata’ fight is developing. Of course it is necessary to keep Seichusen and Enbusen together.

Enbusen means literally performance line; enbu means performance, sen is line. So simply the line a person follows as he performs the kata. Seichusen is a concept that is fundamental to Wado.

Seichusen ; sei-correct,chu-centre, sen- line correct centre line. This is the imaginary line that the attacker’s punch or kick will follow as it goes towards the opponent. Conversely, this is the line that the defender must defend against because the attack is coming at him through this line. As long as you guard your seichusen you will not be vulnerable to the attack. In a living kata seichusen and enbusen are one. As you move along the enbusen you defend and attack through the seichusen. When you perform your kata, your seichsen must be as narrow as feasible. When you perform your kata, your movements must not be telegraphed, your body must move as one, without leaving parts behind (when you go, you just go) and when your body settles at the end of a movement, it never gets into a position were your centre of gravity forces you to be stuck to the floor (itsuki). All this makes for a living kata, ikita kata.


TRAD: Why are people not using the techniques from kata?

David Allsop: Well, first of all, I wouldn’t agree that people aren’t, lots of people do use them.

Of course most people aren’t looking anyway.

The culture of competition has probably caused this.

Bunkai can be brutal, not at all nicer and form me more important than looking pretty.

TRAD: Can you give an example of Bunkai?

David Allsop: Yes, for example, the first two moves of Wado Pinan Nidan (Shodan in Shotokan).

I see this as a block to a round punch from the front, followed by a head or hair grab, turning through 90 degrees to create space,stepping through and finishing with a neck wrench or break.

It can also be many other things, such as an escape to a left wrist grab from the side followed by a punch.

Or it could be as classically described as a block to a side punch followed by a punch attack.

If you examine different schools ways of doing each kata then different bunkai present themselves.

This is fascinating for me and an endless source of inspiration.

TRAD: When did you first become interested in kata bunkai?

David Allsop: Many years ago, but particularly since I turned professional 8 years ago.

At first I made many mistakes and misjudgements and probably still do.

I found the translation of the Bubishi and many other old books I have read over the years very interesting and informative.

There are many sources that can provide an idea that can be built on.

At all costs be careful, some of the bunkai can be very effective.

TRAD: What do you mean by this?

David Allsop: Very destructive. For example, the first 3 moves of Pinan Godan.

Classically a block followed by a punch and a move to another position.

For me this 3rd move is a gathering up of the opponents lowered head and twisting it to break his neck.

As I said, be careful, this is the sort of thing you can’t practice for real or carelessly platy with.

As a rule I don’t teach children very much more than rudimentary bunkai because of the danger.

Just enough to keep them interested in learning, they are usually adventurous in fighting anyway.

TRAD: How do you practice bunkai then?

David Allsop: Very carefully in private with high grade students.

It is not necessary to practice and analyse all the katas, only a few, but thoroughly.

Find good bunkai and practice, practice, practice – make it real and simple.

TRAD: What is your faveret kata for bunkai?

David Allsop: Naihanchi, fighting holding your ground with devastating applications, I Wado form it has real wado magic.