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Useishi Kata Meaning

Gojushiho (Japanese: 54 Steps) is a kata practiced in karate, which has its origin in the Phoenix Eye style. (1) Its name derives either from the repetitive movements of a woodpecker pecking a tree-trunk, or from the staggering and hesitant steps of a drunken man. In some styles of karate, including Shotokan, there are two versions of this kata - Gojushiho Sho and Gojushiho Dai. An advantage of the two versions of the kata is to better master the difficult techniques presented therein, but not without facing some confusion, for many sequences are the same and others only slightly different. The embusen of both Gojushiho Sho and Gojushiho Dai are nearly identical. Gojushiho Sho begins straight off with a wide variety of advanced techniques and, as such, is highly recommended for study. Gojushiho Dai consists of many advanced open-handed techniques and attacks to the collar bone.

Gojushiho-Dai and Gojushiho-Sho are two versions in Shotokan of the same, single Shorin-ryu style kata called Useishi (54) or Gojushiho. Originally, the names were reversed so that Dai was called Sho, and Sho was called Dai. The name change seems to have happened sometime in the 1960's or 1970's.

It should be noted that, within the Shotokan Karate Do International Federation of Kanazawa Hirokazu, the "Dai" and "Sho" forms are reversed.

The composer of this kata is unknown. Most modern versions can trace their genealogies back to either Itosu or Kyan. Kyan learned versions of this kata from Matsumura of Shuri and Oyadomari of Tomari. The spear hand movements distinguish Useishi/Gojushiho from other kata. Useishi/Gojushiho has been labeled the "drunken monk" from because certain movements are designed to appear off balance to the unsophisticated eye. However, the practitioner should maintain perfect control and balance during execution of these movements. Literally, however, Useishi/Gojushiho is (translated as "54 steps". However, the 54 steps does not refer to the number of counts or movements in the kata. According to Zenko Heshiki, Kyoshi 7th Dan in Matsubayashi-ryu, the 54 steps refers to the concept of 108 defilements in Buddhist philosophy. These defilements or faults cause both the body and mind to suffer in Buddhist philosophy. When a Buddhist sees numbers that are factors of 108 (54, 36, or 18) according to Heshiki, he is reminded of the defilements. In Goju-ryu there are kata like Sepai, which means 18, Sanseru, which means 36, or Supernpei, which means 108. The relatedness of these numbers between kata from different styles is striking and suggests more than pure coincidence. Many Buddhist temples have 108 steps leading to the shrine. As each of these steps is climbed, defilement is enlightenment. Perhaps in the same way, as the Karate ka practices Useishi/Gojushiho he is symbolically polishing his spirit to receive the true benefits of karate training.

Gojushiho Dai is the major form of this kata, which has its origin in the Phoenix Eye style. Its name derives either from the repetitive movements of a woodpecker pecking a tree-trunk, or from the staggering and hesitant steps of a drunken man.(2) The advantage of the two versions of the kata is to better master the difficult techniques presented therein, but not without facing some confusion, for many sequences are the same and others only slightly different. The uniqueness of both Gojushiho Dai and Gojushiho sho are nearly identical. Gojushiho Dai consists of many advanced open-handed techniques and attacks to the collarbone.


1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gojushiho