Origin and Characteristics of Goju-ryu Kaishu Kata
The following Goju-ryu Kata are classified as Kaishu Kata. Kaishu translates to mean open hand form. The idea here is that the Karateka's posture should retain a similar state of relaxation to that of an open hand.
The Gekisai kata were develop around 1940 by Master Miyagi as instructional kata. The basis for the Gekisai kata were to help beginner students, as a filler between Sanchin Kata and Saifa. As you can see both sides of the body gets to practice each set of techniques, starting off with beginner techniques and ending up with the most difficult of moves. The Gekisai kata introduces the student more complex moves with an easier form of execution. Students must grasp the concepts of the Gekisai kata if they want to be able to understand the the more advanced Kaishu kata. Techniques that Miyagi admired from Shuri-te such as the gyaku shuto were also incorporated into these kata.
Saifa (Smash and Tear)
Saifa kata was also believed to have been taken to Okinawa by Higaonna Kanryo Sensei. It is the first classical Kaishu kata to be learned in Goju-ryu Meibu-kan. Saifa introduces students to a new set of strikes and smashes (back fist, hammer fist, and under punch). Some historians believe Saifa was invented in China to help teach and execute combat tactics on a gun wall of a boat, mainly because all the techniques are done going facing forward or backward in a straight line. After much practice of this Kata, the student, in turn, should have a stronger sense of balance.
Shisochin (Fighting Four Monks)
Shisochin or Fighting Four Monks concentrates on four directional fighting with emphasis placed on turning fast and reacting quick to finish your opponent. Some of my resources stated that Shisochin was Miyagi's favourite kata. Shisochin is an intermediate level kata. Technically, it is comprised mainly of the nukite (spear hand) and also the Te sho (palm) for blocking and striking. One unique attribute of Shisochin is the turning sequence (heavy Shuri-te influence) performed just prior to the Atama ate. Also the arm break is introduced.
Sanseryu (36 techniques)
Sanseryu is a kata of 36 different fighting exercises. The number 36 could be symbolic of the 36 families who settle in Kume village (Kume Mura), Okinawa in 1392. An important historical note indicates that Dai Sensei Meitoku Yagi, Hanshi, has direct ancestral roots to this settlement in Kume. This is a more advance form which relies on strong kicking ability and also koshi. Koshi is the ability to use your hips to pack power in your technique. Another characteristic in Sanseryu is the foot placing after the Sokuto. This is a very important technique to master and requires years of dedicated practice.
Sesan (13 techniques)
Sesan, which translates to mean 13 techniques, is believed to be the oldest of all Goju-ryu kata. It is an advanced kata which relies heavily on knee kicks, stomping and strong punching. Two versions of Sesan exist, the Naha-te form and the Shuri-te form. Goju-ryu adopted the Naha-te version refined by Kanryo Higaonna Sensei. Dai Sensei teaches us that Sesan, along with Seiunchin are the training Kaishu Kata of Meibukan Goju-ryu. Sesan Kata best fits the body type of a big muscular man! Due to its early origin, Sesan has many different variations.
Seiunchin (Marching Far Quietly)
Seiunchin's origin lies in the internal system of Wu-shu, Hsing-I. Seiunchin's direct translation through time has been lost, but many Goju-ryu Karateka refer to it as Marching far Quietly. Seiunchin is a unique kata because only hand techniques are used. An advanced kata, Seiunchin works a lot on the shiko dachi and incorporates strike such as the back fist and elbow. Along with Sesan, Seiunchin is the other training Kaishu of Meibukan Goju-ryu, which is best suited for a smaller man with less physical power. Many times in the kata techniques are performed with the other hand used as re-enforcement!
Sepai (18 techniques)
Sepai or 18 techniques is one of the more harder forms of Goju-ryu. Its main characteristics is body twisting techniques. Also, for students who practice Sepai, they must concentrate on the hands and feet working together in harmony to properly execute certain techniques. Kanryo Higaonna Sensei brought this kata to Okinawa from China and adapted to Naha-te. Meitetsu Sensei often uses the analogy of the importance hands working together (one hand is father and the other is the son.......working together to have greater strength.)
Kururunfa (Holding Ground)
One English translation for Kururunfa is Holding Ground. Kururunfa teaches the Karateka balance. Within this kata, students are able to practice on their stance transitions. Also, in close hooking blocks and grappling manoeuvres are practiced. This is the second hardest kata in the Meibukan Goju-ryu system. One of the signature moves of the Kata is the difficult throwing procedure towards the end of the Kata.
Suparinpe (108 techniques)
Suparinpe is the most difficult of Meibukan Goju-ryu kata. Its Japanese Kanji reads 108 techniques. It incorporates many moves found in earlier kata (Sesan and Sanseryu, just to name a few) but of a higher degree of difficulty. Among its difficult hand techniques, it contains a unique flying kick. To practice Suparinpe correctly, one must acquire proper breath control, and a very precise timing of hands, feet and body. It is very long, strenuous, and should take a greater part of a lifetime to master.