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Bunkai Bassai-Dai

The renowned Sensei Gimberline demonstrates his bunkai interpretation of the kata Bassai-Dai with practical exercises.

Bassai translates as “destroy the wall” or “storm the fortress”. Accordingly, the kata should also be performed powerfully. It is said to have been created by Matsumura Sōkon and can be traced back to the Okinawan Tōde-Katas. It is believed that it was taught in its original form by Chinese masters as early as the late 13th century and came to Okinawa as a result of trade relations. Today it is no longer possible to determine how far today’s Bassai Dai still corresponds to its ancient origin.

Bassai Dai belongs to the group of Shorin kata, whose training focus, in addition to the techniques to be executed, is to train the karateka’s speed. The main characteristic of the kata is that the individual techniques are performed very quickly and powerfully. It contains many defensive block and leverage techniques and comparatively few leg techniques. With about 40 individual techniques, Bassai Dai is one of the longer katas. Therefore, it is one of the katas that are very often performed both in Dōjō and in kata competitions.

“In karate, hitting, thrusting, and kicking are not the only methods, throwing techniques and pressure against joints are included … all these techniques should be studied referring to basic kata”

gichin Funakoshi

Find more content about Bassai Dai here.

Shotokan meets Okinawa

Shotokan meets Okinawa

History of Shotokan

Between Japan and China, this island was a strategically important point. So it happened that at different times the island was under Chinese or Japanese influence. Therefore, a martial art developed on Okinawa, which contained its own self-defense experiences and experiences of the Japanese samurai as well as Chinese boxing. In the last three centuries, the Japanese maintained the upper hand on Okinawa.

The possession of weapons was strictly forbidden on the island. However, the people living there wanted to protect themselves against attacks by the occupying forces. This is how karate and kobudo came into being. The new martial arts were initially called Okinawa-te (Okinawa hands). Some masters of Okinawa-te traveled to China to gain experience for their martial arts. When they returned, they passed on their knowledge to their families.

Shotokan karate meets Okinawan Karate. Tatsuya Naka begins a long journey to reach the origin of Karate through technical exchanges with the Okinawan karate masters.

Founder of Shotokan

Gichin Funakoshi (1868 – 1957) broke the family spell at the beginning of the 20th century and traveled to Japan to teach Okinawa-te. In the years 1917 – 22 he drew attention to this martial art through karate demonstrations at universities. In Japan, the ancient martial arts were just experiencing a period of renaissance. This had a positive effect on the spread of Okinawa-te. It was around 1900, when on Okinawa the value of the martial art Okinawa-te for education was recognized and this art was introduced to the middle schools. It was then that the name Karate was chosen for the first time. Under this name, this art spread very quickly.

Funakoshi founded Shotokan Karate, as it was later called. It contains all the great styles of Ch`uan-fa (also called Kung Fu or Kempo) known to him at that time, which can still be seen today in the differences of the master katas that have been handed down. Master Itosu developed student katas (Pinan) from these master katas for better learning of the arts. Gichin Funakoshi then renamed them “Heian“.

The Japan Karate Association

The Japan Karate Association (JKA; jap. 本空手協会, Nihon karate kyōkai) is the world’s largest and most renowned karate style organization. Guiding principle of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) is: “The supreme goal in the art of karate is neither victory nor defeat, but lies in the perfection of the character of the practitioner.”

Okinawa had many masters of the Okinawa-te. All of them had their own ideas and experiences. When they realized Funakoshi’s success, some followed him to Japan. Thus, other great styles emerged, such as Gojo Ryu, Shito Ryu, Wado Ryu, etc.