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Gekisai dai ichi kata commentary

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Introduced by Chojun Miyagi as the initial form taught when systematizing Goju Ryu. In the comparatively short time since 1940 there are now several minor and major variations all bearing the same name.

The Gekisai kata do not typify Goju Ryu specifically but were intended as unified expression of Okinawan karate. This is a forceful kata using predominately straight line technique executed using both sides of the body evenly. Whilst higher level insights can be applied to the form it was intended to be basic and simple to learn.

To give a sense of location, the starting point of the kata when facing forwards is designated North (N) with the other cardinal points listed accordingly.

In the opening sequence the student by pivoting around the left foot, turns to the left (W) stepping back into Sanchin and defending with upper block followed by a forward step into Zenkutsu dachi and countering with upper punch.

The step back demonstrates the method of moving out of range so that an attack is over extended and then quickly stepping back into range in a forceful manner and counter attacking.

Sanchin is used so that the distance opened between the two combatants is kept short making a quick counter attack possible.

Zenkutsu dachi is used as it covers more ground than was given up producing a deep and powerful attack that is more difficult to avoid.

The concluding technique of this sequence is to step back into a ‘side on facing’ Shiko dachi and execute a Lower sweep. This technique is for some schools contentious as this is interpreted as lower block against a kick and there appears to be no counter attack before turning to face the opposite direction.

Stepping back into Shiko dachi demonstrates a pulling action back and down breaking the attackers’ balance. Whilst the Gedan Barai should be perceived as both a lower hammer fist strike and a lower block.

The student now turns on the right foot moving from Shiko Dachi (N) into Sanchin Dachi (E). The Gekisai kata use a simple but effective method of Taisabaki or body shifting by turning 90 O on the supporting foot.

The three previous techniques are repeated toward the West until the student is back to Shiko dachi and migi gedan barai.

From here the student steps forwards (N) into left Sanchin and left chudan yoko uke. This brings them to the outside of the opponents Kamae (guard) to close it down. The next forward step moves into the opponent and the chudan uke is used against the inside of the opponents Kamae to open it up. Chudan uke must extend out first before being pulled back and to the side, otherwise the technique will be too short to intercept an attack.

The following combination technique demonstrates the principle of 3 techniques in 1. In this instance it is short, mid and long range technique.

The 1st counter is a long range technique opening the opponent on the inside with chudan uke enabling a mae geri to be used to the groin or mid section, landing firmly on to the top of the attackers foot.

The chudan uke is maintained through out the technique and used in the 2nd technique to demonstrate the short range technique via the method of Hikite or pulling hand/arm. Here Chudan uke is used to seize and them to pull the attacker onto a mae empi uchi elbow strike to the midsection followed by Uraken – back fist strike to the opponents face/throat/sternum.

The back fist finishes in Chudan uke kamae the starting point of the 3rd technique, this drops down onto the opponent's upper forearm using Gedan Barai and then Gyaku tsuki, reverse punch is used as the midrange technique.

Following the combination technique a taisabaki technique is used to change direction, the rear leg of Zenkustu dachi performs ashi barai and the momentum generated pulls the body round (W), into side facing heiko dachi. In conjunction with the foot sweep the opponents arm is directed past the defenders by drawing back the leading hand across the upper body in a Nagashi Uke – flowing block . The rear hand seizes the opponents wrist whilst the Nagashi Uke is pressed against the elbow causing the opponents chin to lift as they try to extend the arm to escape the pain. This exposes the throat for a Jodan yoko shuto uchi – Upper side chop (S)

The right open hand of the extended chop closes as it is seized, the arm pulls back into chudan uke kamae as the feet pivot into renoji dachi using this transition of stances as a taisabaki. Stepping forwards into left sanchin (S) a left chudan yoko uke is used to 'tear' off the hold applied to the right wrist.

From this position the previously described combination technique and following upper chop in heiko dachi are repeated again but using the opposite limbs.

The final phase is from the left upper side chop to the front (N) whilst the torso stands in a side facing Heiko dachi.

The left hand forms a fist, as it is seized by the opponent. Next the left leading leg of the side facing Heiko dachi steps back (S) into a right Zenkutsu dachi (N). The left arm is pulled back into the side of the chest to extend the attackers arm, as the arm is pulled back the knuckles of the left fist remain uppermost and press into the opponents inside wrist to weaken the grips. A right middle side block is used used to tear away.

The counter is then Awase Tsuki a double punch with right fist held above the leading knee in a gedan position with palm upper most and the left fist in a middle position knuckles uppermost. The right fist hits the lower ribs a fraction before the left middle punch hits a inch below the nipple on the opposite side of the chest.

This technique is repeated but this time the counter is against a hold to the right wrist. The left leg is drawn up to the right into Heisoku dachi, the knees bent and pressed together to ensure that the groin is exposed as little as possible. During the transition, the right arm circles from its lower knuckles down position to a middle knuckles up position. This is a freeing technique using the side of the fist to press against the attackers wrist to weaken the grip. A left chudan yoke uke is then used to tear away as before and Awase tsuki used to counter.

Finally the bottom (left) hand opens and the right hand is placed knuckles down onto the left palm. The two hands are then lifted together before rotating inwards and pressing down again to finish.

Sodokan Goju Karate Association
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© Mike Clark 1997-2005. Reproduction of material on this site is not permitted