Kata (型, 形, or 方 literally: “form”) is a Japanese word describing a form or a way of doing something, and is completely generic in usage. … Kata, in the Western parlance, is a detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in pairs. Kata are used in many traditional Japanese arts such as theater forms like kabuki and schools of tea ceremony (chadō), but are most commonly known for the presence in the martial arts. Kata are used by most traditional Japanese and Okinawan martial arts, such as aikidō, iaidō, jōdō, jūdō, jūjutsu, kenjutsu, kendō and karate.
Kata are the base of any traditional martial arts system. Sometimes referred to as “forms” these are prearranged sequences of movements. Building blocks arranged to program the body, mind and spirit for fundamental fighting reactions. In the Uechi system there are three main kata. In order they are sanchin, seisan, and sanseiryu. Sanchin is the first kata a practitioner learns.
“Sanchin is everything.”
Sanchin is the fundamental base all other learning grows from. A karateka never stops learning sanchin. Even decades into his or her later years of karate life, when rank and personal achievements have run high, sanchin remains the most important element of a students training. Perfection of form is the grounding factor that humbles a true karateka. It is the litmus test for body mechanics, knowledge and spirit at any age or level.
Other intermediary kata are introduced along the learning path so as to expose the student to the depths of the system. As students discovers their Way in karate, the kata’s expand to include more advanced technique and encourage greater skill in movement, balance and timing. The intermediary kata build on sanchin and satisfy a natural thirst for new knowledge and more perspective, while maintaining the parameters of a well developed base.
“Without sanchin there is nothing.”
The Uechi Ryu Kata: