June: Kanku Sho


Translation:  “View the Sky Minor”

# Moves:           48

Belt Level:   



There are three sets of kata which have a big (Dai) and small (Sho) version: Bassai, Gojushiho and Kanku. The Dai forms usually have a larger frame and greater number of movements. Kanku Sho is the smaller, yet more advanced version of Shotokan’s longest kata, Kanku Dai. The two Kanku kata have similar embusen and pattern of movements, but Kanku Sho uses smaller and fewer movements.

Kanku Sho, which translates to mean ‘To view the sky minor’, was created by Master Itosu, and was developed using Kanku Dai as the basis. There are fundamental similarities in the kata, one being the physical looking to the sky (at the opening of Kanku Dai and before the jumping crescent kick in Kanku Sho).

Despite being shorter, this is an exhaustive kata, requiring a greater level of athleticism. It is one of Shotokan’s most acrobatic katas, and is a very popular choice for black belt competition for its aesthetic appeal. Complete with two jumps and impressive displays of body shifting, Kanku Sho demands very high skill levels.

Many of the movements of this kata are found in others, but there are a few things to note:

  •     The grasping movements are fundamentally different than Bassai Dai (the other hand firmly grasps the wrist)
  •     Focus on smooth, rapid body shifting throughout the kata
  •     The first jump is similar to Empi, but jumping in place

Some of the key moves are:

kaiten-tobi   – spinning jump

mikazuki-tobi-geri  –    jumping spinning crescent kick

oi-zuki & zenwan-hineri – lunge punch & forearm twist

tsukami-uke –    hand grasping block

uchi uke  – inside block

uchi uke/gedan barai  –  inside/down block

yori ashi  – shifting

Additional Info

At one point, this kata had 47 moves, and was later officially changed to 48

Kanku Dai emphasizes upper-level techniques while Kanku Sho emphasizes mid-level blocks and strikes

There are many variation where to kiai: (JKA officially teaches 1 & 3)

1. the third oi-tsuki close to the beginning

2. any of the movements during blocking and seizing the bo

3. The last oi-tsuki


Read more at Shotokan Karate CSL and The Shotokan Way


4 thoughts on “June: Kanku Sho

  1. i find kanku sho to be one of my favorite kata while jion also and kanku dai…although with kanku sho im not as athletic as i was once..nevertheless.i find it inspiring and a joy to perform…….oss good training.

  2. I miss it at ISKF Edmonton too! I’m practicing as much as I can so I keep up with all you exceptional students =). Question: What does Sensei say about the ‘bo staff’ movments in the middle of Kanku Sho? They don’t make much sense to me . . .

  3. I can’t believe you guys are working on Kanku Sho!!! I want to be there right now! The first time I saw Jeremy-sempai win Ontario’s Varsity tournament with this kata, it became a legend for me – almost a life goal to master it.

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