KATA are the prescribed forms or patterns that we learn and practice step by step. We have 13 kata in our school . One of the main forms in goju-ryu, is a kata called SANCHIN. A 'Kihon ' kata. Handed down through generations this kata is very old .We have two versions of this form. One with turns . Sanchin has a lot of principles contained within its relatively simple to learn pattern; but the 'big little idea' of goju ryu can often feel hidden inside its apparent simplicity.Amongst many things Sanchin teaches the proper way to relate the breathing techniques of karate : breath to movement.It's a basic foundational kata to the whole goju ryu system. The correct inhalation and exhalation as well as the correct posture.Sanchin training and practice should make it possible to harmoniously increase and decrease power . The structural building blocks of this kata will inform other approaches to learning about the internal and external strengths of the body, spinal alignment and connecting to the core, the 'tanden'. In Eastern philosophy breathing is not normally regarded as a mere mechanical activity of our metabolism; inhalation to assimilate energy (called Ki in Japanese) and exhalation to drain out what's not wanted but often held inside our bodies. When practising Sanchin it is important to think about breathing in this way.
Very similar to Sanchin kata is TENSHO Kata. Tensho was created by Chojun Miyagi Sensei to balance the 'Go' aspect of Sanchin kata with 'Ju' variations. Again we note the reference to 'hard and 'soft'. It is uniquely Okinawan. It combines dynamic tension with deep breathing that is more flowing than in Sanchin, with flowing hand movements. Tensho Kata particularly emphasizes the softer aspects of GoJu Ryu. It means 'turning/rotating' palms or 'revolving' hands. Both kata are known as 'Heishu' kata The turning rolling hands of Tensho come to life when practised in 'kakie' which has a resemblance to other Chinese arts touching hands/sticky hands practice, 'Chi Sau' for example. But Kakie is uniquely Okinawan and can include both hard and soft; with muscular tension or without. Kakie develops the ability to sense the enrgy of an opponent, or training partner. There are 10 further forms that we practice in the dojo and they are known as 'Kaishu' Kata. These Kata don't use the same dynamic tension as Sanchin and the breathing is relaxed and normal. With them, the state of tension is delivered at the end point of a movement,the so-called 'Kime' point
For reference here is a brief description of the Kaishu Kata that make up the core of the teaching syllabus
*GEKISAI 1 and 2 撃砕 (attack and destroy) these kata were created around 1940 by Chojun Miyagi as beginners' kata, to introduce the basic forms of karate (kihon) to help bring about the standardisation of karate, and to teach a basic set of techniques for self-defence. *SAIFA 砕破 means "smash and tear".Saifa has its origins in China, It contains quick whipping motions, hammer fists, and back fist strikes; it particularly emphasizes moving off-line from an opponent's main force, while simultaneously closing distance and exploding through them. *SEIUNCHIN 制引戦 (attack, conquer, suppress; also referred to as "to control and pull into battle"): Seiunchin kata demonstrates the use of techniques to unbalance, throw and grapple, contains close-quartered striking, sweeps, take-downs and throws. *SHISOCHIN 四向戦 ("to destroy in four directions" or "fight in four directions"): It integrates powerful linear attacks (shotei zuki) and circular movements and blocks. *SANSEIRU 三十六手 (36 Hands): The kata teaches how to move around the opponent in close quarters fights, and emphasizes the destruction of the opponent's mobility by means of kanzetsu geri. Many stories related to the significance of the number 36... *KURURUNFA 久留頓破 (holding on long and striking suddenly): Its techniques are based on the Chinese Praying Mantis style. *SEIPAI 十八手 (18 Hands): Seipai incorporates both the four directional movements and 45° angular attacks and implements techniques for both long distance and close quarter combat. *SEISAN十三 手 (13 Hands): Seisan is thought to be one of the oldest kata that is widely practiced among other Naha-te schools. *SUPARINPEI 壱百零八手 (108 Hands): the most advanced GoJu Ryu kata.