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Soji Kata Meaning

The word SOJI translates to foundation. The SOJI Kata (white belt kata) in our Shorin-ryu system is often called the “H Kata”. This kata is nontraditional. Instead, it is a "promotional kata". The kata, consisting of 20 steps, is the basic foundation kata for our Shorin ryu system, which is a relative to Shotokan’s Taikyoku kata, which is also a Fukyu kata. The word Taikyoku is often translated as "first cause”. Most historians credit Gichin Funakoshi for creating the Taikyoku kata. Shodan means "first step." Taikyoku Shodan is one of the simplest of all Shotokan style kata. It contains only one type of block and punch, and one main stance. This kata was created for the teaching elementary school students. (1) It is particularly interesting that some historians and authors give credit to Gogen Yamaguchi, who founded Goju Kai, as the founder of the Taikyoku kata and popularized Goju in Japan. (2)

Therefore, it is not accurate to consider these kata as traditional Goju-ryu kata (passed or created by Miyagi). Taikyoku are usually first taught in jukyu to ikkyu levels (white belt to brown belt). The Taikyoku katas teach basic block and attack pattern, and how to move in four directions.

SOJI is in the simplest kata in our system of Shorin-Ryu. Like wise, Taikyoku is one of the simplest of all Shotokan style kata. The major differences are the blocking sequences. Taikyoku sustains the same block throughout the entire kata. SOJI slightly differs, involves downward, center, and rising blocks throughout the entire kata. This “counter attacking kata” involves basic stances, blocks, kicks, and hand strikes, performed in an H (an H that has fallen down) or I directional pattern. Other Okinawa Ryu’s have different and diverse technique variation, but most all use the same directional H or I pattern sequence. With the exception of the natural stances at the beginning and end of the kata, all of the techniques are performed utilizing the front/forward stance. Understanding how to assume and move from a front/forward stance is therefore the essential training point of SOJI and Taikyoku. In addition to moving forward, there are several instances where the student is challenged to perform 45, 90, and 180-degree, turns while moving from one front stance to another. Turning is often one of the more complex aspects of kata instruction for new students and it should be diligently practiced given that turns appear in all future kata. Furthermore, while moving in all directions in the front/forward stance, students are also introduced to short snapping movements in Shorin ryu, involving rotations of the wrist, and hips with major emphasis of maximizing body mass to achieve vital power. The basic counter attack is “block and lunge punch”, involving three basic blocks (downward, center, and rising). in the SOJI kata, students will be able to focus most of their attention on proper use of balance, focus, and power while moving in the various directions required by the kata.

Many karate systems taught in the English language choose not to categorize these kata as Fukyu because the word sounds reminiscent of a profane cliché. For this reason, H or I kata is used to appropriately identify this kata.

1) http://www.i-clps.com/karate/taikyokushodan.html
2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C5%8Dj%C5%AB-ry%C5%AB