Curricula - Required Forms

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Introduction to Forms

All Oriental martial arts systems have a series of formal exercises; in Japanese the term is "kata". In many systems these "forms" represent a catalog of the styles' techniques.

Forms are a ritualized series of movements that are designed to simulate a combative situation (attack and defense) against more than one opponent. In arts such as karate, kung fu, and tae kwon do, they are typically performed solo with the student imagining their opponents. Other martial arts (such as judo, kendo, or aikido) practice kata with a partner. Generally speaking, kata are designed developmentally and as such they are inherently tied in with the ranking system of an art.

Historically, these formal exercises were used during periods of oppression where the study of martial arts was forbidden. Instructors would teach forms to their students on their rare encounters and this would give the student an avenue of self-learning and a way to practice the techniques within a given system.

Forms teach students basic skills such as: balance, coordination, focus, mobility, stance integrity, accuracy, power generation, concentration, explosiveness, endurance, discipline, and patience.

The American Butokukan system teaches nine forms under black belt which correspond closely to the 10 kyu (grades) in the ranking profile. Students should take the study of forms seriously and work diligently towards perfecting them. The American Butokukan requires that all students gain proficiency in all areas of training: Art, Sport, and Self-Defense in order to facilitate the development of a well-rounded, proficient, and competent martial artist.

Conceptually, Forms are the practice of combat in an "ideal" state. Forms transmit technical understanding in a pristine manner, thereby teaching strong fundamentals that will form the basis of the student's training.

Forms are designed around a floor pattern. The beginning forms follow a basic "I" or "H" pattern. Forms basically begin and end in the same place (evolving from the philosophy of the circle/cycle). The beginning forms incorporate the four basic Cardinal Points or directions. Intermediate and advanced forms utilize different angles and more complicated floor patterns. The following terms are commonly used to describe directional movements in forms.

Compass points: Used as references for changing directions. All forms start with the student facing a conceptual North. South is behind, East is right, and West is left.

Clock Face: Also used as references for changing directions. All forms start with the student facing a conceptual 12:00. 6:00 is behind, 3:00 is right, 9:00 is left.

Clockwise: Turning refers to a direction consistent with the way clock hands turn. Counterclockwise is just the opposite.

The majority of forms start from the ready stance. When bowing at the end of the form (and the beginning when performing solo), the left foot always comes in for the bow, then back out unless otherwise specified. All forms start with a block to symbolize our philosophical reluctance to resort to physical conflict resolution.

Concentration: One's eyes should intently view the imaginary opponent; the head should turn sharply to look before turning the body. The student should perform forms with serious commitment and work diligently towards executing proper technique and stance.

Etiquette: Forms are carefully taught to deserving students with their instructors' permission. A student is expected to study each form and develop a proficient skill level prior to receiving their next form. Students are not allowed to ask for forms nor are they allowed to learn forms from written sheets or from their peers. Forms are learned only by permission.

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AMERICAN BUTOKUKAN

REQUIRED FORMS CURRICULUM

For more detailed information about each kata, including history and alternate names, click on the link for each form.

 

Required
for Rank:

Japanese

 

English
         
 
9
大極初段
First Effort/Cause No. 1
         
 
8
出発点
Starting Point
         
 
7
花の青年
Flower of Youth
         
 
6
コグリョ
name of a Korean kingdom
       
[1st cent. BC - 668 AD]
         
 
5
素振り
Weapon Exercises
   
• 合気杖素振り
• Aiki-jô Suburi
• Staff Exercises (20)
   
• 合気剣素振り
• Aiki-ken Suburi
• Sword Exercises (7)
         
 
4
半月
Crescent
         
 
3
三十一の杖
Sanjûichi no Jô
31 (moves) Staff
         
 
2
抜塞大
Bassai Dai
Penetrating a Fortress, Major
         
 
1
観空大
Kanku Dai
Sky Watching, Major
         
 
C
珍手
Chinte
Unusual Hands
         
 
Sho
コリョ
Koryo
name of a Korean kingdom
       
[918 AD - 1392 AD]
         
 
Ni
慈恩
Jion
name of a famous Buddhist Priest
         
 
Ni
鉄騎初段
Tekki Shodan
Horse Riding No. 1
         
 
Ni
新刀
Shintô
New Sword
         

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