January: Kanku Dai


Translation:  “View the Sky Major”

# Moves:          65

Belt Level:        brown


Kanku Dai is an intense kata to perform, due to it’s length and energy. It is said this was Gichin Funakoshi’s favourite kata, as it displayed all of karate’s essential elements. Techniques include jumping, dropping and spinning, which challenge the student to move gracefully, powerfully and effectively. Kanku is an ancient form, originating from Kushanku, and is shared in many styles of karate and other martial arts. Further, Kanku Dai is the grandfather kata of the Heians – you will find most of the moves from Heian Nidan through Godan are put together in this kata.

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 Dai is Shotokan’s longest kata, and the larger version of Kanku Sho. The two Kanku kata have similar embusen and pattern of movements, but Kanku Dai uses larger motions, attacking both high and low.

Some things to note:

To finish the kata, you must pivot Clockwise on your front foot (not counterclockwise, as you might think).

Watch the placement of your feet with the yokogeri keage (when to move and not to, as opposed to Heian Yondan)

Watch the turning direction of your hand after the pressing block/spear hand strike (towards you, as opposed to Heian Sandan)

Some of the key moves are:

  • yoko-geri keage    –    side snap kick
  • tobi-geri    –   two level kick
  • shuto-uke   –    knife hand block
  • uchi uke    –   inside block
  • gedan-uke /furiage    –   forearm down block /rising swing
  • shuto-soto-uchi    –   outside sword hand strike
  • mae-empi-uchi    –   front elbow strike
  • kokutsu dachi    –   back stance

Additional Info

Kanku Dai is one of Shotokan’s 2 Shitei kata (together with Jion)

There are great many debates and thoughts over the significance of the opening moves ( tapping into a greater energy, using the diamond to focus and block everything else out, etc)




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